The South Asian Times

15 October 2019 21:58 PM

In a first, Indian restaurants to promote healthy eating

By Jinal Shah

New York: New Jersey based Shree Krishna Nidhi (SKN) foundation- a not for profit organization promoting total wellness- along with physicians, dieticians and members from the hospitality industry have launched a healthy eating at restaurants initiative to help you make healthier choices at local Indian restaurants.

This initiative is part of the foundation’s ongoing ‘Move It to Lose It’ (MITLI) program- an afterschool dance program to prevent childhood obesity. The six week program, currently running at three schools in New Jersey area, promotes healthy living through physical activity, nutrition instruction interventions for children 8 to 15 years of age.

So why restaurants? Dr Naveen Mehrotra founder of SKN foundation and MITLI program, points out that with both parents working and kids too on a tight schedule, more families are opting for food on the go or a quick bite at a food joint. Introducing healthy choices in restaurants “is just a natural extension to the MITLI program,” said Dr Mehrotra.

Studies on American eating habits show that more than one third of US adults (approximately 35 percent) and 10 percent of Asian Americans are obese. Partly also because of large portions served. 

For many Indian Americans, going to a restaurant is a way of treating themselves and do not mind some extra calories. But Kamal Arora of the Arora Hospitality group explains how calorific Indian dishes could be, “just by baking the bhatura in channa bhatura, you save about 200 calories. This does not mean all items on the menu are fatty or bad. There are some hidden gems on the menu card that with some minor tweaks can taste as delicious.” Arora is in the process to launch healthy options in his six restaurants.

Dr Meena Murthy, chief of endocrinology department at St Peters hospital and advisory board member of SKN foundation strongly believes that there are takers for healthier options at restaurants. “Contrary to belief there is a sizeable population which is open to the idea of a healthy yet tasty meal. We gauged that at the Edison Family Day event (held in June) where we asked the chefs from one of Kamal’s restaurant to prepare two thalis – one regular and other with some minor changes like adding more green vegetables, replacing sweet with fruits and we got an overwhelming response from the crowd,” she said. 

Arora’s staff has already rolled out new options like healthy pav bhaji and a diet thali. “We have tried to replace potatoes with bananas and reduced the size of pav in pav bhaji. In our thali we have replaced creamier vegetables with more green veggies, white rice with brown and desserts with fresh fruits,” explains Arora. 

As the idea picks up Dr Mehrotra hopes more Indian restaurant will join the initiative.

Update: 12 Aug, 2014