How I Broke Up With Food Delivery Apps - by Anoop Menon

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“Dear food delivery apps, we need to talk. I think it’s time you see other people. It’s not you, it’s me. Well maybe it’s kind of you too! With those notifications right at every meal time tempting me with puns of my favourite dishes. But it’s over between us. I’ve moved on!”

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Confessions of a gastronomist

This was me at the end of April. I had just made a promise to myself to stop ordering restaurant food and get in shape, learn how to cook, and generally get my life in order. Gone were the days of an endless stream of medu vadas, sorbets, and masala dosas (not in that order). I was done with the needless spending and the guilt of eating unhealthy food. I was going to rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of my food delivery packets. I wasn’t going to let the pandemic win.

Now, as much as I’d like to blame my meteoric rise in ordering food on good ol’ covid, I’ll abstain. Because to be honest I’ve already loved the idea of pressing a few buttons and having a devoted valet appear at my doorstep with yummy meals. But the pandemic took that love affair and turned it into a full-fledged obsession. Some people eat to live, I was living to eat.

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Some math

I tried to stick to relatively healthy things (or so I’d like to think). But on weekends when I spent time at a friend’s house, it was no holds barred. I’m lactose intolerant so I skipped things like pizzas and white sauce pastas, but anything dairy-free surely made its way into my stomach. I would tell myself “Well I’m not the one ORDERING it! It’s my friends! So does it even count?” It counts. As evidenced by delivery bills and bad lifestyle.

I was spending about 3.2k a week on ordering food. And I wanted to be the kind of person who had more discipline than that. I wanted someone to Karate Kid me, whip me into having an unwavering level of self-control. So at the end of March, I deleted all food delivery apps from my phone and appointed myself my own Sensei.

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And it began...

Not going to lie, the first two weeks were rough. I’d mindlessly scroll through my phone at around 1pm, just itching to get the same dopamine hit as seeing ‘The restaurant has accepted your order. Your meal is on its way’. But nothing hit the spot.

Around this time, I’d just started working out virtually with a popular fitness app. So my higher rate of metabolism and my lack of ordered snacks made me quite, as the cool kids call it, “hangry”. But I persevered. I learnt how to cook and recreate some dishes I loved. I swapped unhealthier options for fruits and vegetables. And switched from post-work Netflix and being lazy around to working out or generally staying productive.

The next thing you know, I’d done it! 2 weeks turned into 2 months and I was peaking with smugness. Saying things like “Oh you still get food delivered??” And scoffing at my co-workers and friends on zoom calls while they rolled their eyes and ate their burgers and fries before my judgemental gaze.

But like Icarus and Voldemort and others of the same breed, I was flying too close to the sun. I was steeped in the arrogance that I would never falter. And as they say, never say never. One cheat meal turned into another, stealing food from friend’s plates turned into reinstalling the apps, and before I knew it I was at it again. Gifting my hard-earned money to the Food Delivery Overlords.

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We live and we learn

It was the equivalent of drunk-dialing your ex months into the break up. Makes complete sense while you do it but the morning after you regret ever being born. At least with that people have alcohol to blame. What was my excuse? I guess I was a slave to that insatiable mistress, Hunger. RIP, wallet. Forgive me, savings, for I am a fallen man yet again.

If you’re wondering if I ordered as much this around, I didn’t. Perhaps more is the real answer. But as I was interviewed for this story it finally dawned on me: moderation is key. If someone tells you not to think about a Pink Elephant that’s all you do. I went too extreme with my discipline and unsurprisingly yo-yo’d back into my food-ordering self.

As an experiment, the previous weekend I tried to order 0 dishes. Back on Earth from my high horse, and slightly embarrassed about my cockiness from April/May, my friends took complete pleasure in tempting me. But, dear readers, I survived. I may have stumbled, but I have gotten back on my low ordering horse. And if I can make it through this weekend, I can be humble, take it one day at a time and reduce my ordering (with Sensei-like discipline of course!)

Wish me luck!

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