How Home Delivery Is Affecting The Food Habits Of Families

As a busy working couple, do you often order food online because it is more convenient to do so? Eating outside food regularly may have adverse effects on your health. Let's find out how.

By Dr Deepti Bagree

How Home Delivery Is Affecting The Food Habits Of Families

The busy lifestyles and hectic work schedules of urban families do not allow much time for other activities. So, many people may choose home-delivered foods over home-cooking. Also, time constraints and the convenience factor mean that families with working parents may depend on food delivery services on weekdays. Moreover, bachelors and college students too prefer ordering food instead of cooking at home. 

Home-cooked vs home-delivered

Here are some of the reasons that make ordering food online so popular:  

  • Saves time — cooking at home requires too much preparation.
  • Needs only a click of a button — sourcing and stocking all the food items required for cooking may be difficult at times. So, getting food home-delivered at a click of a button or a call, can be a godsend. 
  • Helps avoid wastage — Buying groceries and storing them at home needs time and effort. Moreover, the procured items need to be stored well to prevent them from going bad. Home-delivered foods often come in the right serving size for an individual, thereby avoiding wastage.

But is home-delivered food nutritious?

Home-cooked food is hygienically prepared, using healthy cooking methods. This safeguards the nutritive value of the food. In a commercial set-up, many shortcuts are used. This can include using baking soda to fasten the cooking process, cooking the food till half done a day early, reheating leftovers, etc. These methods destroy the nutrients in food.

Isn’t it too oily?

Salt, sugar, oil add to the taste and flavour of foods but when used in excess, these are detrimental to health. Most restaurant foods tend to be salty and oily. Excess salt is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, and sugar in foods can affect diabetics. Moreover, consumption of oily food can lead to high cholesterol and fat deposition in the body.

Weight gain and home-delivered food

Weight gain depends on what you eat and the lifestyle choices you make. If you don’t put limits on the amount of food – even if it is home-cooked – you end up putting on weight. However, chances of weight gain from regularly eating home-delivered food are more.

Convenience over nutrition?

Home-cooked foods retain their nutritive value when you use methods like par-boil or steam cooking. Commercially cooked food is generally low in nutritive value as it is prepared in bulk without considering healthy cooking guidelines. Of course, food delivered at home is convenient, but in the long run, it could pose health problems.

Impact on the health of children (6-13 years) 

How Home Delivery Is Affecting The Food Habits Of Families

Children must eat nutritious food in their growing up years. Teenagers tend to eat out more and try out new food joints or order food online as they are more bothered about taste than nutrition. Experts attribute the increasing incidence of PCOS, diabetes, obesity, thyroid issues, as also skin and hair problems among teenagers, to excessive and frequent eating out.

Is your child more vulnerable to stomach infections?

Hygiene has always been a cause of concern while ordering food online. No food can beat the taste, quality or safety of home-cooked foods. If you or your child suffers from low immunity, you will be more prone to diarrhoea, constipation and stomach cramps. Eating out often can also affect gut health leading to stomach infections and various other health problems.

The best way to avoid these issues is to eat home-cooked food as much as possible. If you must order food, select a site/place which is reliable and high on hygiene. Always order food that is hot, steamed and boiled. Avoid ordering raw foods like salads. 

Cut cooking time without compromising on your family's health

Ordering food is convenient, but too much outside food is certainly not good news. It is also bad for your family's health. So, here are a few tips to make cooking at home easier: 

  • If you can afford it, hire a domestic help/cook to help you with cooking and cleaning. 
  • Involve your spouse and children in the cooking process. Making a dish together can be fun for the whole family. 
  • Children will learn about nutrition and be more excited to try out a new dish if they help in making it.

Home-delivered food and obesity

Home-delivered foods could lower your immunity and lead to hormonal imbalances. This in turn, could lead to obesity. However, obesity is the result of several factors, not just food. Although food plays a critical role, to rule out excess weight gain, remember that you need a holistic lifestyle. Avoid processed foods as much as possible and choose healthy options over high-sugar, high-fat foods. Foods with fibre are always a better alternative.

Of course, outside foods may not affect everyone in the same way as immunity levels of different persons vary. At the same time, strengthening immunity is another way to avoid food-related infections, especially for those who do not have a choice but to order food from outside. 

The author is head of the department, healthcare division, at a leading holistic living centre. 

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