ASK KOMAL: Is Eating Leftovers BAD For Health?

‘Throw away all perishable foods that have been left at room temperature for more than two hours,’ suggests dietician Komal Jethmalani.

Dear Readers, are you worried about your health?

Concerned about what you and your family are eating?

Struggling with weight gain?

Or are you facing other heath issues like diabetes, blood pressure, joint pain or heart problems?

Please mail your questions to Nutritionist Komal Jethmalani (Subject: Ask Komal) for her advice.

Dear Komal,
I am 37 years old and I have varicose vein problem for which I undergone surgery recently.
Before that I used to do walking exercise, now not able to do.
Kindly suggest which all exercise I can do to be healthy and also diets to follow.
Lijoice Jose

It is unfortunate that you are unable to do much walking due to varicose veins. But you can do strengthening exercises, mainly for the upper body. Stretch exercises and yoga will also help in increasing your metabolism.

Dietary modifications can include a low carbohydrate, low fat, high protein and high fibre diet. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, seeds and nuts to provide healthy nutrients. Avoid fast foods, fried foods, juices, sweets, savouries and alcohol.

Keep your weight under control.

Eat anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, avocados, ginger, cherries, grapes, banana and beets. Include oats and flaxseeds.

Drink plenty of water and sleep for at least 7-8 hours daily.


Dear Komal
I am a working professional and the mother of a toddler. I want to lose 10 kg but I don’t have the time or energy to exercise.
I wake up at 5.30 am and sleep by 11 pm.
I have my last meal at 7 or 8 pm which is usually something light or a snack.
I skip my dinner but never miss having my breakfast.
I have two cups of coffee in a day with milk and sugar.
How can I control or change my diet and habits to lose weight?

Being a mother of a toddler and a professional requires of lot of stamina. For this, you need to ensure a healthy dietary regimen with a high content of protein for sustenance.

Make sure you have protein rich food in every meal. Avoid high carb foods like white bread, maida preparations, juices, sweets, fast and fried foods and alcohol.

Include fruits, vegetables, pulses, whole grains, nuts and seeds to include the all-important nutrients in your diet. Two cups coffee or tea in a day is fine but remember to add a minimum amount of sugar only.

Do not skip any meal. Have three regular main meals and two mid-meals; focus on protein and fibre-rich foods.

You must set aside at least 30 minutes to do exercises like stretching or yoga.

Strengthening exercises will help increase your metabolism and thereby result in fat loss.


Is there any problem eating leftovers the next day?
Do they lose their nutritional value?
Are there some things that can be had the next day and some things that should be avoided?
What’s the best way of storing leftover veggies and fruits?
Should fruits be refrigerated?

Food leftovers can be kept for three-four days in the refrigerator. After that, there is a possibility of food poisoning.

Bacteria grow rapidly between the temperatures of 40°F and 140°F.

After food is safely cooked, hot food must be kept hot at 140°F or warmer to prevent bacterial growth.

Within two hours of cooking food, or after it is removed from an appliance keeping it warm, it (leftovers) must be refrigerated.

Throw away all perishable foods that have been left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Foods that carry a higher risk of food poisoning are those that are higher in protein and moisture content, two characteristics that allow certain microbes to grow.

Foods will change flavour when they are in the refrigerator. Some flavours are enhanced, as there is more time for the herbs to interact with the food and/or sauce. Others develop off-flavours, as some of the bacteria continue to multiply.

Wrap leftovers in airtight packaging or seal them in storage containers.

These practices help keep bacteria out, retain moisture and prevent leftovers from picking up odours from other food in the refrigerator.

Immediately refrigerate or freeze the wrapped leftovers for rapid cooling. However, frozen leftovers can lose moisture and flavour when stored for longer in the freezer.

Wash all your vegetables thoroughly before storing them in a cool and dry location or in the refrigerator.

A good rule of thumb is to keep high-ethylene gas-emitting fruits apart from other produce.

Apples, avocados, stone fruits, pears, bananas and tomatoes are a few of the top offenders, with delicate leafy greens being some of the most susceptible to ethylene gas.


I want to lose 20 kilo in 6 months.
I love to eat rice but avoid eating it for dinner. I try and walk as much as possible.
How many calories should I consume in a day to be able to meet my goals?
How many steps should I take in a day?
Would you recommend I eat small regular meals or stick to three meals a day?
Apart for junk and fried food, is there something that I should totally avoid?
By when should I have my last meal?
Will intermittent fasting help? How should I go about doing it?

Weight loss is a gradual process.

It involves strict adherence to good dietary habits and a fitness schedule.

Eating low carbohydrate foods and more focus on protein and fibre rich foods is ideal for fat loss.

Weight loss management does not mean eating less rice. It is a proper distribution of the nutrients throughout the day.

Depending on your BMI, you can decide your calorie intake.

Your activities, body composition, age and gender will also determine the total macro and micro nutrient requirements. To increase your BMR and lose fat, you can have a calorie deficit diet.

You can have a count of 5,000 -10,000 steps in a day based on your exercise regimen, dietary factors and any health condition.

You can follow a pattern of three regular main meals and two mid-meals in a day.

In addition to avoiding junk and fried foods, avoid white foods like maida preparations, fruit juices, alcohol, sweets, chocolates, savouries and aerated water.


I smoke and don’t exercise much.
There is cardiac disease in my family.
I have tried quitting smoking many times but I feel too depressed when I do, almost suicidal.
But I am very careful about my diet. I take a 45-minute walk every evening.
If I continue to smoke two or three cigarettes a day, since I can’t stop, what health measures and changes in my lifestyle should I make to combat the harm smoking causes?
I am a chronic diabetic. I am on dialysis. I go once a week.
I wanted to travel abroad for my son’s graduation in New York. Will I be able to do dialysis abroad?

Glad to know that you are careful about your diet. Being diabetic, and being on dialysis, does involve a lot of dietary restrictions.

Exercise plays an important part not only in increasing your metabolism but also in lowering your stress levels. Yoga is an effective stress reliever. You can think about doing this.

Smoking, unfortunately, is one of the leading causes of stroke and coronary heart disease. I understand that you are finding it difficult to give up smoking but if you want to lead a better life, then stopping smoking is the best solution.

Dialysis can be done abroad under a health insurance policy. You can inquire about the same.

  • You can read all of Komal Jethmalani’s columns here. 

Komal Jethmalani is a dietician with over 25 years of experience in food, nutrition and dietetics, with an MSc in food science and nutrition.

A certified diabetes educator and lifestyle coach, specialising in diabetic, cardiovascular, weight loss and various therapeutic diets, she consults under the brand The Diet Mantra.

And she will try and help you achieve your dietary and fitness goals through healthy lifestyle changes.

Do share your complete health details including age, weight, height and health issues if any.

Write to g[email protected] (Subject: Ask Komal), along with your name.

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