March 10, 2022
JAKARTA – A growing number of white-collar Indonesians rely on healthy catering services to shape their diet.
Given the risk that comes with the convenience of eating fast food and the likely possibility of lack of exercise, some white-collar Indonesians have turned to healthy catering services in the belief that they would help keep them healthy and in shape.
More catering companies that offer healthier versions of tasty food have emerged in the last half-decade. These healthy catering services usually claim to be free of monosodium glutamate (MSG), preservatives or genetically modified foods (GMO). Some also offer vegan and organic options.
For Rachmatus “Rachma” Sa’diyah, a 25-year-old private bank employee in Surabaya, East Java, the abundance of options is just what she needs as she seeks to lose the extra weight she gained during the pandemic.
“My goal is to lose weight, but I don’t want to be too skinny,” said Rachma.
“My trainer scolded me once because my muscle mass decreased as a result of an unsuitable diet. Now I’m building muscle while eating catering meals that match my goals.
” Rachma managed to shed 9 kilograms after three months of intensive training and healthy catering meals starting from September 2021.
While calorie intake is also something to be considered, Levina Suprapto, a 29-year-old tech company employee in Jakarta, partakes in a healthy diet to improve her health and, eventually, productivity.
“I need to increase focus and concentration because of demanding working hours and irregular sleep patterns. Hence, I need to compensate for the lifestyle with better support in building the body’s immune system and endurance [especially during the pandemic],” Levina admitted. “[So I did some] research of potential programs and started adjusting [my diet].”
Because of her busy schedule, most of the food consumed by Levina was something she ordered through food delivery apps. Unavoidably, she would mostly order food from fast-food chains due to convenience.
“I had no specific restriction on the type of food and beverages I would eat,” she explained about her past diet. “I also had no clear arrangement on when I should eat.” It was time to change habits.
Not all about weight loss
MyMeal Catering was established in 2005 in Central Tangerang, Banten, and is considered as one of the first healthy and organic catering in Indonesia.
“We started from being a medical catering service that provided various meals depending on the medical condition of each patient,” said Jason Wirjawan, marketing manager of MyMeal Catering. “[At that time], people were still very unaware about healthy catering.”
According to Jason, Ignatius Zaldy, the owner of the brand, is neither a nutritionist nor a chef. However, due to his hypertension, he requires a strict diet.
“He thought, ‘Wow, it would be great if there was a catering service that provided food according to the requirements that my body needs with this health condition,” said Jason. “He used to work in the field of medical devices, so he often communicated with doctors.”
With this kind of history, MyMeal Catering has a very broad interpretation of what it considers “healthy meals”.
“The version of ‘healthy’ is different for everyone,” Jason admitted. “In terms of ingredients, all of our meals are organic, we do not use MSG and all of our spices plus seasonings are from plant-based ingredients. We also make all our own sauces and soy sauce as we found that both [store-bought] products contain a lot of MSG. We also only use canola oil and olive oil.”
To pursue her own definition of healthy, Levina has tried many catering brands to help improve her daily dietary habits, such as Gorry Gourmet, Delicieux Catering, Tiasa Catering and Hadi Kitchen.
“[I would] perform internet research of reputable catering companies [and leverage] the reviews from influencers,” she said. “[I would check] the menu variations and locations [as the biggest contributing factor in my selection would be the] menu variations and delivery flexibility.”
Rachma has tried at least four healthy catering brands so far. On top of pricing and quality, she also considers payment terms as one of the deciding factors.
“There was a catering brand whose meals tasted like hospital food, it didn’t taste good, so I stopped subscribing. Quality comes with a price, indeed,” she explained.
“The latest one I used is called the Wellington Diet. I found it on Instagram when I tried to search for a catering provider. It turned out that the program it offered matched [my fitness goals], so I took it.
“The Wellington Diet’s packages are more premium than the catering companies I used before, but the good thing is that we can pay using Shopee, and [it allows me to pay] in two installments. I think this is important because the price is indeed higher.”
Levina, on the other hand, recommends the Jakarta-based Gorry Gourmet due to its program and menu variations.
“Gorry Gourmet has various programs, ranging from weight loss, keto and customized programs, and meal variations that can be arranged based on consumer preference,” she said. “We can even set random selections as well.”
To further improve the health of its subscribers, MyMeal also employs nutritionists who have different tasks, including quality control, recipe creation and customer service, as they offer direct consultation services with nutritionists for subscribers. Patients who opt to consult with nutritionists will also get the Ultimate Diet Guide customized to their individual needs.
“We also have an arrangement for our nutritionists, similar to a hospital. The ratio of nutritionists to customers is 1:25. This is so that every nutritionist can focus more on taking care of customers,” said Jason.
Jason also underlined that MyMeal Catering takes customers’ preferences as its consideration in developing its meals, such as “how do they like fish to be prepared or which pieces of chicken they like” so that they can diet or eat healthy food more comfortably.
Despite the convenience, Levina conceded that there were several downfalls. A catering service can be costly, and some catering companies only provide service on weekdays and non-public holidays.
“I do cook and have tried cooking by myself,” she said. However, she would still resort to catering if she happens to follow specific programs “that have high ingredients complexity and require a bigger effort to cook them, such as Keto”.
Rachma, on the other hand, conceded that she couldn’t cook. Despite their differences, Levina and Rachma both agree that there is another convenience in subscribing to healthy catering providers on top of their time-saving feature: the calorie distribution from each ingredient has already been counted.
“[One advantage is I can have] regular meal timing arrangements, as the food is delivered on time on a regular basis,” Levina said. “There’s no need to calculate calories or measure ingredients; no need to worry about choosing the daily meal because it has been provided, and I just have to choose which one suits me.”
When asked whether she believed that this was truly beneficial for her health, however, she conceded, “I don’t know whether it actually has a direct effect on my body or not, asI also work out at the gym.”