Is The Rise Of Food Delivery Making You Sick?

Foodora, UberEats, Menulog, Deliveroo: the extraordinary rise of food delivery services over the last few years has been matched only by the serendipitously timed growth of on-demand streaming services. Netflix and chill were born and more people than ever are kicking back on a Friday night – or any other night of the week – to binge the latest TV series and a few plastic containers worth of takeaway food. It has become one of life’s most convenient pleasures. But at what cost?

How much Australia spends on food delivery

The financial cost is staggering – there are 7,000 online food orders every hour in Australia with an average individual spend of nearly $AUD1,600 per year. If you’re in Sydney, the average is closer to $AUD2,000 – yup, we Sydney-siders cannot get enough of our food delivery.

Maybe it’s something to do with the shifting landscape of Sydney’s nightlife – or lack thereof – so that making a night of staying in becomes ever more appealing. Either way, takeaway deliveries are taking it right away from our hip pocket.

The cost to our health and wellbeing

There’s no getting away from the fact that takeaway food just isn’t that good for us. Yes, we love it – and with good reason. After all, life can really take it out you, right?

There are days when it’s all you can do just get through the door and pick up the phone after a long slog at work, a tedious commute, hours hitting the books, or just, you know, an epic stint at the beach. No judgement here for leaving the kitchen light off and going for some mee grob and chicken satay sticks. If you drop a bit of peanut sauce on your uggs and leave the takeaway containers on the coffee table until the next day? We’ve all been there, friend.

But don’t go mistaking your love for food delivery as a mutually sustaining relationship. The affair is sadly one sided – takeaway food does not love you back. Sure, there are healthier options starting to become available, but even they are likely to be less healthy than what you could rustle up in the kitchen in less than fifteen minutes.

We’re good at reaching for our rose-coloured (or rosé-filled) glasses when it comes to our food orders.

“Hang on,” we say, “I ordered the gluten-free pizza.” (This is as the mozzarella drips down our chin.) “But I got Japanese,” we insist, while tucking into some deep-fried tempura. “I chose the wholemeal bun,” we argue, taking a huge bite out of a burger with the lot.

We’re good at reaching for our rose-coloured (or rosé-filled) glasses when it comes to our food orders. Combine that with some handy rhetoric about how we “deserve” to treat ourselves tonight and suddenly a double order of fully loaded fries starts looking like an act of pure virtue.

Deep down, we know it’s not. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional splurge on deliciously salty takeout but when it’s happening a few times a week, our poor bodies start to suffer the consequences.

The main culprits

High sodium

…is one of the main ingredients that keeps us wanting more of that crispy, tasty, moreish takeaway food. We love the taste but our hearts, blood pressure, kidneys and livers don’t love the impact. A healthy intake of sodium is about 1.5 grams per day. But most of us are consuming around ten grams per day. Hello hypertension. A chicken BLT from Oporto has about 1.6 grams. And that’s just one meal of the day.

Added sugar

…it seems like everyone is hating on sugar these days but that’s because the stuff is so damn sneaky and seems to find its way into everything. The added issue with takeaway food is that it’s much harder to get an accurate reading of how much sugar is in it. There’s no nutrition details or ingredients list on the list of the pack. Too much sugar will inevitably lead to weight gain and it’s no good for your heart, liver, hormones, teeth, skin… need we go on?

Too much trans and saturated fats

… ups your risk of heart disease and increases your cholesterol. And guess what’s filled with fat? The most commonly ordered food: pizza, Thai, burgers.

There are all kinds of other baddies that find their way into much of our takeaway food but I think we get the picture. It’s not just what’s in the foods that’s making us unhealthy, it’s how, when and in what quantities we consume them. For example:

  • Sitting on our butts with only the short walk from couch to door and back again. There’s no evening stroll after a meal out, no bustling around the kitchen or walking to the shops
  • Late at night, which is the worst possible time to consume large meals packed with sugar, salt and fat
  • Too frequently because we’re increasingly time poor and less inclined to cook
  • In larger quantities so we can meet that minimum order requirement, or because there’s no one to disapprove of our order of extra onion rings.

No one likes being judged for their food choices, but no one likes getting sick, fat, tired and cranky either. If we keep consuming takeaway foods so often and in such large quantities – sick, fat, tired and cranky is exactly where we will find ourselves.

Tonight, for a change, maybe wander down to the fresh food market instead of opening your food delivery app. Grab yourself some green stuff and some orange stuff, throw some pasta on, grill a piece of chook, and enjoy eating off a plate. It could be the start of a beautiful new relationship.

Tess Durack is a Sydney-based writer who loves the ocean and the desert in equal measure. And olives. And corgis. Witness her attempts at witty hashtaggery @tessdurack.