Mobile technology is awesome is so many ways. With your Android phone, you can order movie tickets, organize your to-do list, and stay in touch with friends. Unfortunately, it also offers more ways than ever before to get access to food, and when it comes to your health, that’s not always a good thing.
When smartphones first became ubiquitous, there wasn’t quite as much integration with the real world as there is today. Sure, you could probably look up the location of your favorite restaurant, or the ingredients in a Big Mac, but that was about it.
These days, you can get whatever you want, whenever you want, and however you want it. The future is here, and weighing in at a hundred pounds above my ideal, healthy weight, I can testify to the power of the Android phone to alter your health for the worse.
Here are just four ways that your smartphone can damage your health.
1. Ordering Fast Food
Probably the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone looking for a healthy lifestyle was when fast food chains caught on to the smartphone trend.
These days, you can order just about any fast food on the go. In my case, our family loves pizza, so when one of our favorite pizza chains, Domino’s, caught onto the mobile-food-order trend, I knew I was in trouble.
And it isn’t just Dominos — most pizza joints like Papa Ginos and Pizza Hut have an app now. Pizza Hut promotes their app with the fact that you can place an order in just five clicks.
Burger joints like McDonald’s and Burger King haven’t jumped on the mobile-order craze, but they do have apps that show you their entire menu, and offer some money-saving coupons. This isn’t quite as dangerous as the convenience of ordering with a few taps, but it sure doesn’t help when you can get fast-food for even cheaper than normal with coupons.
Other burger joints have caught on, though, like 5 Guys Burgers & Fries. With their app, you can click and order sandwiches, fries, and, of course, their famous greasy burgers.
The busier your life is, the more dangerous these apps are. When you’re strapped for time and can’t make dinner for the family, the temptation to open up one of these apps and have dinner ready in just a few taps is overwhelming.
There is the Subway option, where you can order sandwiches that are at least a little bit healthier than fat-infused hamburgers and pizzas, but it’s still not as healthy as a lean, home-cooked meal.
When I first discovered that these apps existed on Google Play, it was a bit of a novelty. Our family ate from these mobile menus quite a bit at first, and as a consequence my pants stopped fitting right. We don’t order from the fast-food chains quite as much any more, but the damage is already done.
If you do use fast-food apps, make sure to practice moderation.
2. Ordering from Restaurants
It isn’t just the fast-food industry that has caught on to this mobile-ordering trend. Many restaurant chains realized that a workaholic public requires convenience. People who are always on the go may not have time to sit down in a nice restaurant for a leisurely meal, but most of them are more than happy to order food off an app on their cellphone if it means they can pick up a nice meal on their way home.
Applebee’s was one of the first American restaurant chains to figure this out. So, they provided an app that you could use to order anything off their menu as part of their “Carside To Go” program.
What does this mean? Well, it means that now you can justify getting takeout because it isn’t technically “fast food”. It’s a full, restaurant-quality meal just as good (or maybe in some cases better) than you could possibly cook at home.
You place your order with the app, pull into the “Carside To Go” parking spot just outside the restaurant, and one of the restaurant employees will bring you your meal all nicely packaged in a take-out bag. How could access to food get any easier than that?
There are actually many restaurants around the world that are getting into the smartphone app game. During our recent vacation to Washington DC, I noticed that there were more Chinese restaurants in town that accepted online orders than those that didn’t.
This means that you don’t even need an app on your phone to order Chinese takeout now. You just need a smartphone with a browser.
I tried this out during our vacation. Without having to talk to a single person, my online order was delivered in 30 minutes. I could even pay for the tip right on the online order form.
3. Having Groceries Delivered
Whether it’s fast food or restaurant quality eats, it’s obvious that access to food is easier than ever. But, this phenomenon doesn’t stop at restaurants. The ease with which we can overeat is thanks to online shopping sites like Amazon as well.
If you think that you can’t get much food or groceries on Amazon, then you probably haven’t tried shopping for it lately. You’d be very surprised just how much of your grocery list you can cross off by ordering from Amazon — particularly dry goods and non-perishables.
However, Amazon is looking to also serve your grocery needs when it comes to perishables as well. AmazonFresh is a service available in many areas in the US, which delivers fresh groceries — yes, even fruits and vegetables — right to your door.
It isn’t available everywhere, but with the advent of drone deliveries, this is something that’s sure to spread to many areas in the near future. Just as online movie streaming disrupted the entire physical DVD rental industry, online services and the speed and convenience of ordering food is very likely to transform how and where people buy food.
Will it lead to grocery stores closing their doors? Probably not any time soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in the not-too-distant future, technology eventually does most of our shopping for us.
4. Using Virtual Assistants
Another very surprising way that I discovered convenient access to food is when I tested out several virtual personal assistant services.
Virtual personal assistants are people you can email, text, or call and ask them to do errands and other tasks for you. One of the most common tasks people use these services for is to make restaurant reservations or place food delivery orders.
One service in particular that I tried — Fancy Hands — actually provided clients with an ultra-convenient Android app that you could use to place your requests for your team of personal assistants.
That meant that I didn’t even have to search the web for the number of the local Chinese restaurant. I didn’t have to pick up the phone and dial in my order. All I had to do was send a quick message to the team of personal assistants and I could have food delivered straight to my hotel. In total, it took less than 30 seconds to place the request and 30 minutes to get my food.
What Do You Think?
For anyone looking for a streamlined life of convenience, all of the mobile apps and tools mentioned above are amazing. But, for anyone looking to eat a moderate, healthy diet, these things are simply horrible. They bring food temptation to a whole new level, and encourage eating more out of convenience than from hunger or need.
In my case, I can’t outright blame these apps, or the companies that offer them, for my situation, but I can easily correlate my own climbing weight and deteriorating health with the time when I installed and started using these apps more frequently.
Does this mean that using these apps will have the same effect on you too? That depends on a lot of things: your relationship with food, your genetics, your metabolism, your age, your level of physical activity, your body type, etc. It’s possible that these apps offer wonderful convenience and save a lot of time, but if you do struggle with food or your health, it may be best to avoid these apps at all costs.
Have you ever used any of the fast food or restaurant ordering apps mentioned above? Do you have your own favorites? What tricks do you use to avoid over-using these conveniences? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!