Meal delivery apps such as Uber Eats and Menulog have revolutionised the way we order and eat our food each and every day. At the click of a button, we can now have literally any cuisine, drink or snack that we are feeling like within the hour; and the cashless style of ordering means how much we are spending on food goes largely unnoticed.
So too does the hefty calorie load. Foods we would have once considered an occasional take away treat are now being consumed far more frequently. So if you are one of the many people ordering more than once a week, here are the ways you can balance your weight loss goals with your Uber Eats order.
Do not order hungry
In the same way that a trip to the grocery store can be a disaster when you are hungry, so too can a meal delivery order. Low blood glucose levels can drive up the desire for carbohydrate and calorie rich foods like sweet potato chips and extra bread, which would not usually form part of your evening meal if you were making it at home. Seeing tempting images of these foods as you scroll through many meal options will in turn prove difficult to resist, especially when they pop up at the end of the order at a discount price! You will find yourself a lot more in control if you order your meal before you are starving or better still, get someone else to put the order in for you to help avoid temptation altogether.
The greater the number of food options available to us, the more we are likely to eat. This means the longer you search and scroll, the harder you will find it to keep on track with making a healthy order if that is what you originally intended. On the other hand, if you know that the best choices for your meal will be a simple stir fry or poke bowl, search only for these items to avoid the millions of other visually tempting options tempting you away from a healthier choice.
Skip the sides
Much of the damage from meals delivered comes from the sides – the garlic bread, fries, bread, desserts, spring rolls and added extras we would never usually eat at home but which add up to 800 extra calories to a meal. If you create a blanket rule to avoid sides it will go a long way in keeping your delivered calories under control.
Be strict with the fried stuff
Unlike a meal we prepare at home, in which we (hopefully!) gravitate towards protein and vegetables, as soon as we think meal delivery our thoughts shift to burgers, pizzas and fries – all special occasion meals that should ideally be enjoyed just once or twice each month. So if you do find yourself ordering in more frequently, remember to keep these heavier options to an occasional order and focus your regular orders around salads, stir fries and grills that somewhat mimic a typical weeknight meal at home.
Make your meals last longer
If you consider that a standard take away will have double the calories of a home-cooked meal, it can be easy to see how meal delivery could be linked to weight gain. Knowing this, a simple trick to keep a lid on calories is to eat less of the meal and instead add extra vegetables, salad or soup to your order to reduce the calorie density. This may mean ordering extra vegetables to add to a curry, or halving the fish serve and eating the rest the next day, sharing a meal for two between three or order a soup to compliment your stir fry or sushi order but basically controlling the portions of the heavier meals ordered online is the key to avoiding weight gain when ordering in multiple times each week.
Susie Burrell is a nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter: @SusieBDiet