Sticking to a diet is hard—even if you have the willpower. I tried living on a Paleo diet once, but the sheer number of restrictions that complicated my grocery shopping list meant it wasn’t long before I was back to eating boxed pasta.
An Alexandria meal delivery service is seeking to change that.
Formerly known as Power Supply, the healthy meal service has been up and running since 2011. Now operating under the new name Territory, the company has recently relaunched to make it easier to select more diet-specific options into their line-up of pre-cooked, healthy meals that customers can choose from the online menu and have delivered to their homes.
Prior to the relaunch, the service offered meals that fit under the categories of “mixitarian,” vegetarian, and Paleo. Now, Territory has set the filters on their online menu to pull up meals that fit a much longer list of diets, including the initial three plus trendy diets like Whole30 and Mediterranean, as well as commonly practiced low-carb or low-fat diets, in addition to some eating plans of Territory’s own design: the “Air, Sea, & Plants” diet and one for new and expecting moms.
Territory’s co-founder, Patrick Smith, says that the goal of these new filters is “helping people sustain their commitment to healthy eating over time.” While some diets, like Whole30 or Paleo, may sound good in theory, they can be much harder to stick to when you’re standing in front of your refrigerator at 8:30 on a Tuesday night, wondering how to turn frozen chicken and wilted lettuce into dinner.
The new filters are also intended to emphasize just how personal nutrition is—that choosing a healthy eating plan for yourself isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. Rather, the service allows customers to try on different diets for size, to see which one suits them the best.
The filters for the different meals were set in place with the help of consulting nutritionists. The nutritionists outlined the guidelines for each diet, and those rules were applied to the meals that Territory chefs were already making to identify which meals fit the diet. In some cases, such as the “new and expecting moms,” the nutritionists came up with the rules from scratch.
Ashley Koff, the DC-based nutritionist who designed the “new and expecting moms” meals, created guidelines by not just looking at the long list of foods pregnant women can’t eat, but also looked at what nutrients pre- and postpartum moms should be getting more of in their diets. Additionally, Koff planned for the meals to be broken up and eaten as two or three mini meals, since pregnant women sometimes have difficulty keeping down food. Included in the “new and expecting moms” category are meals such as basil chicken with garlic broccoli or apple BBQ pulled pork with beet slaw.
One diet that Territory offers wasn’t designed by their team of nutritionists. Rather, the “MedStar Healthy” meal filter on the site represents a collaboration between the meal delivery service and the DC-area hospital group. The partnership was inspired by MedStar’s Health for America fellowship program, in which four recent college graduates were challenged to find an innovative way to improve care for diabetics. The fellows worked to develop a system of healthy meals for diabetics, then tapped Territory to help with the delivery side.
According to Dr. Michelle Magee, director of the MedStar Diabetes Institute and lead physician mentor for the fellowship, the meals are intended to be diabetic and pre-diabetic safe. But because the meals—which range from pistachio-crusted tuna to ginger scallion pork patties—are low in saturated fat and sit in a good calorie range, they’re really healthy for anyone, even those with no diabetes concerns.
Ultimately, it may not be cost effective for everyone to order all of their meals online—Smith says that most of their customers order five or six of their meals through Territory each week—but by getting to know what a tasty Paleo or a Whole30 or vegetarian meal looks like, people can become familiar with how to make healthy meals on their own. If nothing else, the delivery service can make it easier for those who have healthy eating goals without the time to fulfill them.
“I believe that the way that we identify and enable our health is by having better tools,” says Koff. “Cooking can be what we call ‘some assembly required’—and sometimes we don’t even have time for some assembly required.”