Seamless Exposed: The Secret Behaviors Surrounding a Seamless Meal Order
Laura Cipullo, RD, CEDRD, NYC, NY and Closter, NJ
The company Seamless originally launched in 1999, as SeamlessWeb is an online system for ordering meal delivery. It seems like such a great idea for convenience. You create an account, store your credit card information, and voila, now you have a seamless experience ordering takeout/delivery food. Why is there shame surrounding use of this service? Why do I recommend some of my clients to cancel their account? The short answer is an anonymous meal delivery system, effortlessly accessed by the tap of your finger at any time of day, is a dangerous accomplice to binge eating. You eat large amounts of food in an uncontrollable manner in the privacy of your home. The only human interaction needed is receiving the meal from the delivery person. It is you and the food until the food is gone leaving you to feel shame and guilt.
Don’t get me wrong, services like Seamless are not to blame, nor are they the cause of a binge eating episode (keep in mind, binge eating is a form of an eating disorder found in the DSMV). Rather, the anonymity and ease of this service allow emotional eaters and binge eaters alike to order a lot of food or multiple meals from multiple restaurants in one very short period of time. The customer may order Chinese food from food establishment A and a cheeseburger with cheese fries from food establishment B. There is no face-to-face accountability, and this removes the inhibitions as well as perceived and or feared judgment. The binge eater becomes the only person to judge his/her food and the act of eating his/her food. This person already feels shame when feeling hungry, when thinking about food and even more when someone sees him/her buying, ordering, and eating food. Seamless and other web-based meal delivery services remove this immediate shame, but in the end it bites you in the rear.
I would guesstimate that once week, a client reports ordering his/her binge foods from an online meal service, which is then followed by eating in an uncontrollable manner. In no way does this act of eating remove the individual’s guilt. While it may be easier for the person to order the food, it is still an act of self-soothing or self-sabotage. My clients feel shame when just reporting this behavior. I never want my client or any individual to feel shame. In an effort to change this behavior and prevent impulsive actions, I typically encourage the client to delete the app and remove his/her credit card from the account. We are simultaneously working on creating and following a meal structure further supported by using mindfulness or coping skills. The goal is create awareness and give the client the opportunity to change his/her harmful behavior. When a client identifies the urge to binge, he/she will have to download the app again and re-enter credit card information, delaying the binge and therefore, helping to create a new neuro-pathway. Option 2 would be to stop the impulsive mindless ordering and instead eat adequately throughout the day, as well as use breath work or mindfulness to identify and address the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the moment.
While online meal delivery services offer a great convenience, think twice before downloading the app or storing your credit card information in your account. If you have a tendency to eat for emotional reasons and/or suffer from Binge Eating Disorder, consider developing a plan of action with your certified eating disorders registered dietitian!
Work, Move, and Be Mindful of Your Seamless Account.