Nutrition tips I learned from using a meal service

Shine On
Courtesy Fuel Foods

A few months ago I bought a house (#grownup) and switched jobs at the same time (#insane). Life was busier than usual and the hustle was on. The first few weeks of packing and rushing around for my new gig, I let my nutrition slide completely. My issue wasn’t eating junk or fast food, rather I simply wasn’t eating enough throughout the day. I felt like I didn’t have time to stop for meals and when I did they were things I could take on the go – protein bars or a shake and that’s if I was lucky. At the same time I was looking to take my fitness game to the next level but was feeling (understandably) low energy considering my lack of proper nutrition.

Finally, I decided to do something about it and called my friend Nick McNaught who owns one of Toronto-based meal service Fuel Foods. Despite the connection, until then, I had never considered doing a delivery service. I don’t know if it was a pride thing, a cheapness thing or a laziness thing, but suddenly it made so much sense: why not invest in a system that would help my energy, health and physique and make life easier during this transitional time? So I did. Turns out there was a lot to be both gained and discovered from having healthy meals delivered to my doorstep. Here’s what I learned from my time on a meal system.

Take a break

I’m a huge advocate for mindful eating, but the truth is, when life gets busy, the do-to list long and spare time at a minimum it’s hard to resist reaching for those quick fixes, even for me. Even though the on-the-go options can be healthful, like a meal replacement bar or shake, the way they’re consumed is usually completely mindless.

Having the perfectly packed meals stashed away in my gym bag made a huge difference. Taking a moment to eat my food with a fork and knife forced my mind to catch up with my stomach, allowing me to feel full, satisfied and re-energized. Also sitting down to a well-balanced plate with all different colours, textures and food groups causes the brain to feel more satiated than after a smoothie or a bar, even if the calorie and nutritional counts are the same. I noticed an immediate impact on my energy levels, especially at lunch.

Portion proportion

A common misconception about meal delivery is that it’s success works on restriction and deprivation. From my experience this is far from the truth. Firstly, every meal incorporates all food groups, including a healthy serving of – gasp – carbs! Sure, the portions are controlled to give the optimal amount of calories but they also works to deliver the proper nutrients and energy to meet the body’s needs. This actually amounts to quite a bit of food; think - steak, sweet potato fries and broccoli; turkey burger, quinoa and green beans; chicken, rice and asparagus. The only thing that is restricted is going back for seconds, which, let’s be honest – we could do without. The service reminded me of the importance of including all food groups at every meal, as well as the unnecessary nature of those extra helpings.

Spice of life

We are all guilty of falling into culinary ruts from time to time. Yes, most of us get in the habit of rotating through slight variations of the same half dozen recipes every week. Getting the meal delivery inspired me to expand my home chef horizons. The Fuel Foods meals were simple, yet flavourful. The trick? Not sauce, dip, or fancy garnish -- their infusion of taste is all thanks to plain and simple spices. From cinnamon to cumin to cayenne – not only do the spices give each dish their own, uncomplicated and unique flavour but they also offer an extra boost of health benefits.

No waste zone

When we cook for ourselves inevitably there is a substantial amount of waste involved; whether it’s because we’re forced to buy more ingredients than the recipe calls for, waited too long to eat the left overs, or forgot about the produce hiding in the refrigerator drawers. With meal delivery, simply, there is no waste. We eat what is on the plate, nothing more, and nothing less. This vastly reduces the amount of food thrown out, consequently reducing the money that is thrown out with it! This is what makes meal delivery a financially viable option – the expense of the service is balanced out by the savings of not tossing away those pricey grocery items.

Caleigh Rykiss is a boxing coach, personal trainer, nutritional consultant and TV producer.