In daily life, it's not that likely the number of calories and nutritional intake would play a role in what people decide to order or consume, whether they're up for eating out or cooking their own meal. Save for the health-conscious type, you really can't say nutrition is a matter of great concern for urban denizens whose priority in life often revolves around work and work.
A sample of the daily five-meal diet set delivered by MediVisage. PHOTO: THANARAK KHOONTON
As Dr Nuttapon Pinnimitr of MediVisage, a total beauty and self-care clinic, puts it, many of us eat unhealthy food on a regular basis, not because we don't know what's good, but because it is difficult to find healthy, delicious food, especially since we can't afford to cook our own meals. Eating out, in particular, often exposes us to unhealthy, over-processed food served in larger portions than we need. As a result, we get too many calories and not enough nutrients.
"You won't find vegetables in most of the dishes served at restaurants, because they assume people in general don't like vegetables, so they don't put them in the food. Ideally, vegetables and fruits should be incorporated into every meal to ensure you get enough fibre and nutrients," he said.
The portion size is also a problem. Restaurants try to give the customers the feeling that they get their money's worth by making the portion generous, but coupled with drinks and free bread, you can sometimes end up consuming a whole day's worth of calories in one meal.
Big portions, the doctor said, train your stomach to feel it needs that much food to be full, while the caloric need of the body remains the same. We end up getting more than we need, and carry the leftovers around in the form of fat.
Diet Food Delivered, a daily meal delivery programme offered by MediVisage Clinique, aims to change the way people eat. You sign up for a programme - they range from a week to months at a time - and get fresh, nutritious, low-calorie meals put into your hands every day.
Why do we need five meals a day? Dr Nuttapon said that when you eat five small meals, your body does not feel food is scarce and it does not have to hold on to the calories. Therefore, your body burns calories more effectively. It also reduces pent-up hunger before the next meal comes.
"Eating every two to three hours makes you feel full all the time, and you don't overeat when you are full. Small meals are also easier to digest," he said.
Dr Nuttapon Pinnimitr.
The programme takes a number of factors into account - age, sex, weight, height, blood type, expectation and daily activities - in order to formulate the right meal for each person. Since it is tailor-made, the programme can only accept up to 20 clients at a time.
Diet food delivery is particularly popular among office women who, at lunchtime, are often faced with low-nutrition, fattening food. A plate of plain white rice topped with curry, for example, is loaded with simple carbohydrates and fat from the coconut milk in curry, without giving enough fibre, vitamins or minerals to the body. Even the seemingly healthier option like stir-fried vegetables comes with excessive, and most likely unhealthy, cooking oil made from animal fat.
"By bringing your own lunch box and snack box, you don't have to go out in the sun, push yourself through the crowds and surrender to unhealthy food. Our food also gives a new definition to health food, which is usually deemed boring and not very tasty. You can still enjoy the food, minus the guilt," he said.
Costing about 12,000 baht a week, five boxes are delivered to you daily, mostly in the evening. For maximum results, each meal is to be eaten on time, and no other food or drinks are allowed. A day's calories add up to about 1,500 calories for a woman aiming to lose weight. As a result, a heavy person can lose about 4kg in a week, while an average person usually sheds a kilo, which is a healthy goal for sustainable weight loss.
The concept, while quite new in Thailand, has actually been around for a few years in the UK and the US. Perfectly portioned meals are sent straight to the clients' doorsteps, some with SMS notifications, customisation and other added services. Models Yossawadee "Yo" Hassadeevijit and Namthip "Bee" Jongratchatawiboon, while in the UK recently, saw an ad for a diet food delivery service and gave it a try.
"I am a food lover, but with my job, I have to watch my weight. I felt energetic and healthy eating the food from the programme, so I wanted to stick to the habit when I was in Thailand," said Namthip.
With her best friend Yossawadee, they later had the idea of starting their own delivery business, called Yo & Bee Diet Foods Delivery. The first batch of boxes was sent out in early February, after a lot of research and a lot of tasting by the models.
"Bee likes tasty food, so I trust her taste on making sure the food we offer is healthy and delicious. We also focus on choosing the best ingredients and cooking the food healthily. I am health-conscious myself, and I've been reading a lot of books and articles about what's healthy and what's not.
"I want to use what I've learned over the years to benefit other people's health as well," said Yossawadee.
Their diet programme is different from MediVisage Clinique's. Yo and Bee, being busy and always on the go, believe that three meals a day is the way to go. Desserts are given, albeit in very small portions, to satisfy cravings, so that people can stick to the programme without suffering too much.
However, it takes a lot of commitment and dedication, especially for those who have been eating whatever they want.
"The key is to adjust the person's eating behaviour in the long run," said Yossawadee, who has successfully shed kilos from using the programme herself. "The first few days might be tough, but soon your body will learn to adjust. However, if you feel dizzy or really feel that you need more, additional treats are allowed, as long as they are healthy choices like unsweetened soy milk or a small piece of dark chocolate. Don't overdo it!"
These diets are not meant to be long-term services. Both operators said that their aim is to teach key lessons, like what the right portion size really looks like, what a good breakfast should be, and that healthy food is easy to cook and tasty to eat.
"I wouldn't want long-term clients because that would mean I have failed to inspire change. I want them to see a good example and cook their own meal or make smarter choices later," said Yossawadee. An example would be Namthip herself, who usually skipped breakfast, but now wakes up in the morning excited about eating it. "I never knew breakfast could be so healthy, filling and mood-lifting. It gives me so much energy."
About the author
- Writer: Napamon Roongwitoo
Position: Outlook Writer