Drinks With Meals


I have developed a habit of having iced milk tea with my lunch in the past few months. I do that partly because I feel the need to order something at the food court and sometimes because the food tastes absolutely bland without a drink. A habit I have been meaning to break.

Growing up in India (for me) meant that the drinks we had with meals was almost always water. Even now, I barely order any drinks when I eat out in India. However here in south-east Asia, ordering drinks seems to be norm. Many people go to the food courts and buy food & drinks. It is considered normal to have drinks instead of water. Banning soft drinks and having only water in the school canteens (like in France) is a bizarre  and unacceptable concept to a lot of people.

When I make my chai, people here are appalled that I add sugar to it and claim that I add too much sugar. Last week, I searched for the sugar content of the drinks found in the local food courts and was appalled to learn that they contain about 4-5 teaspoon in 1 cup (source)! It is so easy to be unaware when the sugar is not being added right in front of your eyes. Add to that, a lot of all drinks with milk use evaporated or condensed milk which have so many other chemicals along with sugar and trans fats rather than fresh milk.

Another drink  I now avoid is chai tea latte. I used to order it when I travelled in USA and later in cafes here because I missed chai. I promptly stopped when I read that it also has over 5 teaspoons of sugar in 1 cup and chai was made from some concentrate syrup not really freshly brewed chai.

Overall, I feel it is better to add your own sugar guilt-free rather than buy it with added sugar. I do not believe having these drinks every once in a while hurts anyone but it is important not to make it a daily habit *cough* like I have had. It would not be a problem if we weren’t eating so much processed food with added sugar but because added sugar is everywhere, it is up to consumers to look out for it.

Do you have the habit of ordering drinks with your lunch? Drinks like tea, coffee or soft drinks? How is that some societies have normalized purchase of drinks with food instead of promoting water? 

5 thoughts on “Drinks With Meals

  1. I happily drink ‘water, no ice please’ with my meals. My all-Amreekan buddy is appalled at how I can drink tepid water and we have an ongoing argument over what temperature water is better for metabolism. I claim warm and he claims ice. Even at the rare occasion of having soda with him, I put like ONE ice cube whereas he fills the cup with ice, which is so wrong in my miserly head. I rarely even go to Starbucks. My fav iced coffee is from 7-11 actually with which I treat myself intermittently.

    1. Ha ha the water temperatures matter. I believe it has to do with TCM and Ayurveda that recommend avoiding cold drinks. In fact you can get hot water to drink with food in many restaurants here and westerners can’t understand why people serve hot water in such hot weather.

      1. Oh man! This hot water thing reminds me: I went to my best friend’s wedding in December and he is a mallu. It was a hot day and being in heavy silks n all, I got super thirsty. By the time we got to our turn in lunch(it involved standing hawk-eyed behind people eating already and my mallu n Tamil bestirs claim that’s how it is supposed to be done;I don’t know), I REALLY needed water. The food servers come and go and finally I sight an angel serving pink water. I couldn’t wait for the sweet serbet looking water and as soon as he poured some in my glass, I took a sip and spat it out! It was hot!
        Apparently it’s a thing in Kerala to drink hot water. Rest of my friends have had that experience at his engagement in Kerala but it was all new for me. But the pink kokum serbet looking water fooled them too. Lol.

  2. I don’t think it’s a cultural thing so much as an eating out in restaurants thing. Restaurants make money on drinks so they push them. Probably even make money when including a drink as part of a set meal. I actually feel cheated when there’s a set with no drink. I’ve developed the habit of drinking iced tea with lunch. I cut it out when I was trying to lose weight but now that I’ve just maintaining and it’s summer, I add it on again. Yeah, it’s loaded with sugar and that’s why it tastes so good. I would never let myself add that much sugar. So I have to buy it.

    1. I admit, culture was a wrong use of the word in this context but when I was writing cultrues, I was thinking more in line of modern societies/cultures because this was clearly not the case 150 years ago. I edited it to societies.

      Actually, many restaurants do offer water along with food. It is fast food places that promote set meals with drinks. In this case, I am referring to food courts with different stalls. In these places, one has an option of not buying drinks because drinks stall is a separate stall from the food stuff. So, I can not buy the drinks and just buy the food but it has become a habit – order the food, then go to the drinks stall to get some drinks – mostly the ones mentioned in the source or canned stuff.

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