Are Meal Delivery Services Healthy?


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So you’re thinking about getting a subscription to a meal delivery service (like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, MyFitFoods, etc.), but you’re wondering… Is it worth it? Will it help me lose some weight? Is it even healthy?


Those are good questions.


The answer won’t be the same for every single person. So rather than giving a blanket “yes” or “no” statement, I thought I’d present you with the facts so you can easily make the decision for yourself.


Should You Trust Us?


There are three things you should know about Megan (wife/mom/nutrition coach) and me (husband/dad/personal trainer) before reading this particular advice:


1. We don’t sell meal delivery services.

2. Meal delivery services aren’t competitors to our business.


In other words, this isn’t an ad. There’s no conflict of interest on either side of the issue. We’re just offering you the same advice we give our clients.


I asked Megan to come up with the third piece of information to share (just because I feel like lists are better when they come in 3’s), and I decided to quote her answer exactly. Here’s the other thing to know about us according to her:


3. “We really like pizza and beer… And tacos… And cookies… Food. 🤤 I think just: “We like food.”


As goofy of an answer as that is, it gives you pretty good insight as to where we’re coming from when we talk about eating healthy…


This is real life.


“Healthy” isn’t some arbitrary set of rules — it encompasses everything from the nutrients in the foods you eat, to the people you share meals with, to how you feel physically, to the mental and emotional aspects that go along with ALL of that.


We don’t want to do something that makes us “healthy” for a few weeks — or even months — we want to build habits that set us up to feel stronger, have more energy, and maintain a healthy weight for the rest of our lives (i.e. regardless of age).


And we don’t want to give up all the foods we love to do it.


Keep that in mind as we go over the pros and cons of meal delivery services.


The Pros


1. They can make mealtime easier.


It’s easier to make healthier choices more regularly if you don’t have to fight a mental battle at every single meal. Even if your subscription only covers a couple meals per week, that can make a big difference, especially if you aren’t great in the kitchen.


It’s not the ONLY way to make mealtimes easier — you’ll definitely need other skills, too — but it can be an effective (but minor) tool in the toolbox.


2. They can help you discover new foods.


Trying new foods can be fun!


If that’s not an exciting idea for you though, think of it as a simple way to motivate yourself to eat foods you would never try otherwise, building up a bigger list of go-to healthy foods (specifically anything minimally processed) that you can make on your own someday.


Of course, you could just pick up one new food item per week at the grocery store and give it a try. But if a meal delivery service will make it easier to branch out, there’s nothing wrong with that.


3. They reduce the barrier to eating better.


Sometimes the hardest part of eating better is getting started.


Some companies will have more nutritious choices than others, but most of them will at least be a step up from frozen lasagna, chicken fingers, or fast food. If that’s the only step you’re ready for, start there.


Just be sure to think of it as a first step, not an independent solution.


The Cons


1. They can be a band-aid.


Being healthy and losing weight sustainably comes down to building better habits so your instinct isn’t to run to the pantry for a package of Oreos whenever you want a snack.


Having a healthy meal provided for you a few times each week doesn’t do anything to help you adopt new behaviors like paying attention to your hunger, eating slowly, or knowing how to make nutritionally balanced meals on your own.


2. They aren’t a solution for every meal.


You probably won’t have every dinner provided for you every day, but even if you did (without ever missing the deadline to make an order), there are a lot of other meals and snack times throughout the week.


You can easily undo any progress you make toward your health and weight loss on the weekend alone (and a lot of people do).


Use a delivery service to make a few mealtimes easier if you want, but work proactively on improving your other meals, too. Do things like adding more veggies or protein, or including higher quality carbs and fats in your diet rather than the typical processed variety.


3. They’re not tailored to you.


There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to eating healthy.


You have your own goals which will dictate what and how much you should eat. This can be a major problem, especially when the meals aren’t big enough. (You might think small meals are a good thing, especially if you want to lose weight, but significantly under-eating and feeling starved only works against your metabolism and your goals.)


You also have your own preferences (and the preferences of your spouse and kids) which will dictate what types of foods you’ll be more successful with in the long-term.


No matter how much a meal delivery service claims they’ll meet your needs, it can only work so well based on how it fits into the big picture of the rest of your life.


4. You won’t use them forever.


Even if you find success with a meal delivery service for a while, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually get bored of their options, or you may just want to spend your money on something else.


Your gut reaction to that might be something like, “I don’t have to use them forever — just until I lose 20 pounds.”


Unfortunately, that’s not how real life works.


If the only tool you use to reach your goals is something that can’t be used forever, you’ll have nothing left to prevent you from ending up right back where you started.


If you want to build healthy habits that are realistic for your lifestyle so you can have a guaranteed results that will help you look and feel healthier regardless of your age, check out how our coaching can help you.


TL;DR

The biggest benefit of meal delivery services is that they can make a few healthy meals more convenient for you and your family.


The biggest drawback is that they tend to be a band-aid to the bigger problem of not having realistic strategies for how to create long-term healthy eating habits around all the other meals and snacks in your life.


They can be an effective (but minor) tool in the toolbox, but if you don’t go into it with an end game in mind, you’ll wind up no better off than where you first started.


If you want to build healthy habits that are realistic for your lifestyle so you can have a guaranteed results that will help you look and feel healthier regardless of your age, check out how our coaching can help you.




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