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Delivering on their Promise

Photo by Margaux Salcedo

With summer just around the corner and after the excesses of Christmas and Valentine’s, it is time for Lenten penance. Time to start counting calories to resurrect our bikini-worthy bodies or, in most cases like this columnist’s, get rid of that built-in salbabida (floater) in our middle!


I have been inspired by the weight loss of friends and relatives who went on the Cohen diet, the 2013 Diet of the Year. The diet is based on blood type and is designed individually. You are given a meal plan with recommended grams for each meal, i.e., you are only allowed a specific number of grams per meal.

It is effective: I have heard and confirmed the personal testimonies of people who lost 30, 50 even 80 or more pounds on this diet. Unfortunately, some of those Cohen dieters gained the weight they had lost in about the same time it took to lose them. Sigh. Lifestyle change is hard to sustain.

Because in this day and age when eating out is the norm, when lunch means a quick trip to the nearest fast food chain, when counting your calories is as burdensome as paying taxes, it is nearly impossible to stick to a diet. And for those of us who really value the simple joys of life like eating rice, these no-rice diets—Atkins, South Beach, Cohen—are hell!

To lose the 30+ pounds I have gained since becoming a food writer, I tried running (5 kilometers on the treadmill three times a week) but, horrors, only my boobs shrank, not my bilbil (love handles)! Lesson learned: You cannot exercise off excessive eating.

Apparently you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose just one pound, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Because 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound (0.45 kilogram) of fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose one pound.”

Some have tried apps that count calories such as MyFitnessPal. What is great about this is that it includes the calorie count of things we really eat everyday like Chickenjoy (380 calories for thigh) or McNuggets (280 calories). I tried it, but lasted on the program for only three days despite my commitment to plug in and count calories for each meal.

I guess I am not alone in this dilemma. Recently, healthy meal deliveries have become all the rage. These diet providers present a menu on their website or Facebook page one week before the meals are cooked and delivered. People are asked to place their orders not later than the weekend before deliveries begin. The packed meals of only 1,200 calories per day are then delivered to you. Ergo, no need to count your calories per meal, no need to do groceries, no need to cook. Just stick to what is delivered and you are bound to lose around two pounds a week.

My editor told me about The Good Box, one of several healthy meal delivery services in the Metro today. I tried it, expecting Cohen-like food: mushrooms, Jacob’s crackers, bland fish. But my heart leapt when my first order was delivered: The boxes for lunch and dinner included rice!

Because of age (sob!) and a sedentary lifestyle of sitting before the computer 12 to 15 hours a day, I gain three to five pounds, without fail, when I eat rice two days in a row.

All the fad diets of the past few years—Atkins, South Beach, Cohen—discourage rice, so I was stunned by the Good Box’s inclusion of rice.

I called the company and spoke to Joni Tan Cardoso, who created The Good Box with her husband, an oncologist, and her daughter, a chef. “Healthy ang kanin! Huwag kang maniwala na hindi healthy ang kanin (Rice is healthy! Don’t believe that rice is not healthy.),” she laughed.

At first I was skeptical. Then I learned that she won her battle with diabetes through this diet, without giving up rice. “But it’s brown rice,” she clarified.

The Good Box was born out of Joni’s need to address personal health issues involving her blood sugar. “After two weeks of taking this diet continuously, my glucose levels went down and even my eyesight got better,” she said.

With the success of her own diet plan, Joni created another diet to control her husband’s hypertension. Realizing that others might benefit from such personalized diets, especially those without the time nor the patience to prepare their own meals, the group started The Good Box.

“This is healthy food, not necessarily diet food,” Joni explained. “It’s not for losing weight but for people on the go who need to eat healthy.”

To create the meal plan for their customer’s needs, the group ask health-related questions: weight, height, if one is diabetic, has allergies, etc. They then suggest a calorie-count for you.

There are at least five other healthy food delivery companies in the Metro (see table, page 5) that offer 1,200-calorie meals for weight loss.

But The Good Box distinguishes itself by offering not only the 1,200-calorie count meals but also 1,500-, 1,800-, 2,100-, 2,400- and 2,700- calorie menus with proper proportions of fat, carbs and protein as planned by its in-house nutritionist and dietician.

“We created a medical diet for those who have diabetes, hypertension, gout, high cholesterol, high uric acid, or allergies,” Joni explained. Today they offer special diet programs even for pregnant diabetics.

Another advantage of ordering The Good Box’s diet meals is the taste and quality of the food offerings. The group hardly uses salt or oil (unless it is extra virgin olive oil) and usually steams or cooks the meals with broth.

“Even our rice is cooked with chicken stock. That’s why it’s so flavorful and fragrant,” Joni said.

I was also surprised to learn that since the group started this meal service in November 2013, they have not yet repeated a meal. She credits her daughter, Cristina Tan Cardoso, a graduate of Enderun Colleges, for constantly being creative in the kitchen.

I like the idea of these healthy deliveries because it promotes gradual weight loss and healthy eating. As long as you commit for the week, you would most likely lose two pounds. And there are cheat days allowed as they have no deliveries on weekends, I think it’s worth the commitment! •

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