It's not delivery, it's… well, actually, it is delivery. Ordering from your favorite local restaurant may seem innocent enough, but your takeout habit can spell bad news for your waistline. We found some pretty eye-opening evidence by looking at GrubHub's "A Year in Delivery" report, the online and mobile food-ordering company's analysis of delivery trends throughout 2016.
One metric GrubHub offered in their data was most popular dishes ordered in America. The top four? (4) Southern fried chicken, (3) ramen, (2) chicken and waffles, and—drumroll!—(1) mac and cheese. Although our first thought was "yum!", these American and Asian comfort foods reminded us of a noteworthy study that came out earlier this year and resulted in one of our 47 Best New Weight Loss Tips of the Year…
Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the study found that a staggering 92 percent of meals from local restaurants have more than double the calories recommended for an average meal. If you only look at the cuisines that serve up the most energy dense dishes—which includes American and Chinese fare—your meal would average a staggering 1,500 calories. Judging by the most popular GrubHub orders, it looks like the average person is hitting that 1,500-calorie mark.
Eat This! Tip: Instead of immediately delving in once the door is closed, serve up half your meal on a plate and package the rest of the order to eat tomorrow for lunch. This trick can save you a cool 750 calories.
Another interesting component of GrubHub's report is their analysis of the newsworthy moments of the year and how they influenced food orders. It reminded us just how much people's emotions influence what they eat—whether they realize it or not. The day the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, hot dog orders in Chicago spiked 36 percent. And on Election Day, demand for alcohol was up 97 percent.These are perfect examples of how our social situations (like watching the big game) and emotions (like stress) influence our food choices and can drive behaviors that lead to greater weight gain.
Eat This! Tip: To keep these factors from getting the best of our healthy eating habits regularly, we recommend keeping a journal that tracks your food choices and current mood. It'll help you recognize the connection between unhealthy eating patterns and emotions, as well as lose weight! An American Journal of Preventive Medicine study found that dieters who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who didn't journal. Once you're more aware of your emotional connections to food, it will be easier to adopt healthier eating habits.
And as long as you don't order as much as GrubHub's biggest fan—who placed 751 orders between January and November—splurging on takeout doesn't have to be a flat-belly disaster. Just make sure to follow our exclusive guide, Eat This, Not That! for Takeout Addicts!