Nutritionists probably wouldn’t recommend eating at a restaurant every night if your goal was to lose weight and get healthier. But, what if someone else was making the menu choices, and they had your interests in mind?
HealthyOut is a new type of food delivery service that makes sure you live up to your stated goals. Say you want to go meat-free for a month, or cut down on carbs. You go on the site, or app, sign up, and twice a day, HealthyOut arranges a meal based on your preferences. You set the time and place for the delivery, and of course you can change your mind. Ninety minutes before each meal, you get a text asking you to confirm the order, cancel, or choose something else.
Co-founder Wendy Nguyen describes HealthyOut as "guard-rails." By setting your goals ahead of time, and having someone organize your food, you’re more likely to stay in line, she says. "By committing to a program of being healthy, it becomes automatic. You’re not going on GrubHub at 10 at night when you’re starving, and making a bad decision."
HealthyOut recently launched in New York, and is slowly accepting customers as it scales up (you can sign up now, but you may have to wait until your first order). It currently covers 2,000 restaurants, or about 10% of the city’s total. That includes the likes of Galli, on Mercer Street, falafel chain Taim, and Balthazar, on Spring Street. It costs $28 a month, on top of the meals themselves. HealthyOut keeps your card details, and organizes payment, including tax and tips.
Nguyen says you probably wouldn’t use the service for every meal. But, if it’s just 10 times a month, you might still eat healthier overall. She compares it to your gym membership—something you use as much as possible, but not necessarily twice a day.
HealthyOut developed an algorithm that scours menus, categorizing ingredients and dishes. From that, it is able to generate a meal plan, based on your wishes and what’s available in your area. Nguyen claims the results have been tested with nutritionists in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the company was founded last June.
Most of the options are in the 500 to 600 calorie range, and tend to be lower in fat, carbs, and salt than average. However, Nguyen insists the point isn’t to be hectoring or over-stringent. "We just want people to eat good, healthy food," she says.