Friday, April 3, 2015

How to AVOID Delhi belly on business trips to India

They have a mission to Mars, but they can’t seem to fix the risk of diarrhoea for tourists in India, despite the common precautions we all take and are accustomed to. 


I’ve been brought up on a spicy Indian diet, so Delhi Belly for me has not been such a huge problem, but in the last 5 years I've been hit by the bug a few times.

Being a designer I put my user research hat on. I began by talking to an Indian colleague (Investigative news channel employee) who gave me an insight into his work. He mentioned the counterfeit food & drinks market which has emerged in India. Further research included talking to local grocers, families & friends who all confirmed the lack of fresh, genuine branded food. 

Here’s the basics!

  • Drink bottled water ONLY.
  • Ensure mineral water bottles are sealed.
  • Ensure your St Food is piping hot - NOT MY ADVICE!
  • 1st couple of days, eat light & prep your stomach!
  • Carry anti bacterial wipes/gels.
  • Take anti Diarrhoea medicine.

  • Use ice cubes.
  • Use tap water to brush your teeth.
  • Be pressured to eat as a guest - your host should understand foreign stomachs are sensitive. (Indian hospitality is renowned for feeding guests)
  • Take bottled water when visiting friends, as you may be given tap water by the host. 

Some OTT advice via some other blogs

Don’t shake hands with shop owners?! #wtf
If you’re shy or behave this way in your own country, or if you intend on putting your hand in your mouth immediately after shaking hands, then this is great advice!

Additional advice

Having researched food retailing habits & trends, the following sums up my findings & experiences.

Avoid having ice cubes from Western takeaway outlets such as Subway or Macdonalds. Six years ago they were fine, but I was informed in 2014 by one staff member that their ice cubes are now made with tap water.

Visit these takeaway outlets before lunch as you’re more likely to get fresh ingredients like non saggy lettuce.

Counterfeit Foods

Milk is a huge problem in the bigger cities. Fresh milk is a luxury mainly enjoyed by villagers who keep cows & goats in their back yard. For the record, Indian village tea is the best.

Spices made with ground dirt etc - so stay clear of any street food vendors who will be using cheap ingredients. 

Soft drinks - These will usually leave an oily aftertaste on the back of your throat and in some cases a sore throat! Buy your soft drinks from takeaway outlets, just to be safe!

Pesticides & Chemicals used to increase fruit & veg crops - this has been a problem for a while & many Indians have become ill as a result. Just watch out for the torpedo sized cucumbers! 

St Food vendors....RUN FOR THE HILLS!

Many people on forums & blogs advise that your food should be piping hot, when cooked by St Food vendors in India, but for me that’s NOT the primary issue. 

I once saw a food vendor heat up his pan first thing in the morning. He then threw an object which was dark grey with hints of pale yellow. I assumed it was a burnt burger, but as it started to melt I realised it was cooking butter. Days worth of scraped & consolidated cooking butter! 

Piping hot food made with fresh oil is not a guaranteed combo service from Indian St food vendors.  You’ve been warned!

Best restaurants in India

Two of my favourite restaurant chains in India by far, and the ONLY outlets I trust.


Some of the BEST Indian food you'll ever have! Haldirams offers fresh authentic Indian food served up with a fast food dynamic. There is absolutely NO risk of Delhi belly here as fresh ingredients are used. This brand has frozen meals & bombay mix/dried snack products which dominate shelf space in major supermarkets across the globe. 

A MUST for food fans - St Food with hygiene!


Haveli offers fresh authentic Punjabi food served in traditional surroundings for a charming dining experience! These chains are dotted across Punjab and are renowned for their hospitality & traditional atmosphere. 

Haveli - Charming, traditional and cosy

In any case just ask your driver for the best place to eat & if you’re in Delhi you’ll end up at Haldirams or Haweli if in Punjab.

Don't let me put you off! As designers we can be very fussy with various quirky OCD tendencies. With me it's hygiene so my personal preferences & advice in this blog will suit like minded travellers.

Enjoy your trip!

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