With expert insights from Adrian Husbands MS, RD, CDN, CDE. Meal delivery services have increased in popularity, especially for busy people looking to save time planning, shopping, cooking, and meal prepping but still want to eat balanced nutritious meals. I was looking for a way to cut calories and save time. As a society, we are saturated with diet options and different ideas of “healthy.” Fad diets, juice cleanses, and weight loss programs are all highly marketed as “get lean fast,” but for people looking to make a lifestyle change, it can be an overwhelming experience. I will share my newfound experience with a popular meal delivery service, Ideal Nutrition, and include insights from experts in food and nutrition to expand upon the unexpected benefits I found.
Learning Portion Sizes
Portion control is essential for dieting because you need a tight handle on how many calories you’re consuming to see results. Ordering these pre-prepared meals helped me see and learn portion sizes. Seeing my daily meals in their pre-portioned containers at the start of each day also allowed me to visualize how much food I would be consuming for the whole day, which was a deterrent to mindless overindulging. It’s almost as if your “food budget” is laid out for each day. It helps to retrain your brain and allows your body to adjust to proper portion sizes.
Snacking between meals is another common habit that leads to weight gain. Snacking, especially on high-calorie or fattening foods, can reduce hunger at mealtimes, increasing the risk of losing out on important nutrients. “Meal delivery services that provide pre-cooked pre-portioned meals can be beneficial to ‘snackers’ because there is minimal prep time needed, and they provide satiety. So rather than munching on calorie-dense processed snacks throughout the day or snacking in place of a meal, a ‘snacker’ could easily pop one of the pre-cooked meals in the microwave. This would aid in helping the individual feel full, and therefore feel less of an urge to keep snacking,” says Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator Adrian Husbands.
Food for Thought from the Experts
Husbands, a fitness and health enthusiast with a Master’s in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University, also shared some helpful insight into some of the harmful mental habits surrounding overeating. “There is a direct correlation between our emotions and overeating. Feeling stressed, exhausted, anxious, emotional, or distracted are just a few reasons we might overeat. When we experience these feelings, we often gravitate towards foods that will make us feel better”, also known as comfort foods, and they “may not be the healthiest options,” Husbands added. Studies have found that eating junk food causes a release of dopamine in the brain, which gives an intense feeling of reward. This reward encourages susceptible individuals to eat more unhealthy foods and can ultimately lead to the never-ending battle between satisfying foods and unhappiness due to weight gain. “While I don’t believe that a meal delivery service can prevent an individual from overeating, they can aid in portion control. Finishing a meal can sometimes bring about a sense of fullness. While we might feel we could eat more, we’re more likely to resist because there is some satisfaction in knowing we ate a complete meal,” remarks Husbands.
While meal delivery services can be a great starting point for a weight loss journey, Founder of Trust Healthy Living, Health Coach & Professor Rhonda Trust makes a point by saying, “While these programs can be a good starting point, they are not recommended for long-term use. These pre-portioned pre-packed meals can help alleviate the overwhelming feeling of starting a new diet; however, it’s not teaching the person how to “fish “for their food. They are just being led to water.” The long-term success of meal delivery services and making proper food choices lies in the foundational education needed to be able to eat on your own. “I have used meal delivery services in the past and have been very satisfied with them. As a dietitian and fitness enthusiast, I rarely eat out. I like to know exactly what is going on my plate and in my body,” says Husbands.
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