Can liquid and powdered meals really replace food?

Would you pick a nutrient shake over a freshly cooked meal?

Once again, a food replacement is in the news. Yesterday the guardian wrote about new product Huel, a powder that offers to provide everything you need in your diet in one easy, dissolvable sachet.

soylent claims to provide all the nutrition the body needs Soylent, image credit - rklopfer

Like Soylent three years ago, a product like Huel could be very popular among some of the customers we serve. The world of technology and computer science attracts an extremely focussed bunch, who want to be healthy and optimise their diets, but don't want to sacrifice mental space on figuring out how to eat a balanced diet. Not when there's code to debug.

And who wouldn't want a quick, one stop shop to complete, perfect health? With so many competing messages and so many decisions to make every day about our diet, these powdered meals could mean a massive weight off our mind.

But in the long run, do they really work?

Well, we guess that depends what you're comparing it to. Food reporter Joanna Blytham, in the guardian piece, points out these powdered meals are highly processed foods, even if the ingredients do come originally from natural sources like peas and coconuts. But I still think it's hard to argue with the idea that a perfectly balanced food replacement is better than, say, a supermarket ready meal or takeaway pizza stuffed full of salt, sugar and empty carbs (if you ignore the taste, at least).

Still, I find it hard to believe that a processed powder is going to be healthier than a balanced diet made up of fresh, unprocessed ingredients cooked from scratch just before they go on the plate.

When looking at healthy eating habits, we like to talk about Brazil's fantastic dietary guidelines, which are all about eating together, cooking with fresh ingredients and taking the time to enjoy your food. The reason we love these guidelines is that they take the stress out of healthy eating. They tell us that, instead of panicking over the perfect maths of vitamin and mineral recommended daily allowances, we should just enjoy fresh food and eat lots of vegetables. That's not just good for our physical health, but our mental health too.

fresh, unprocessed food is by far the healthiest option All of our food is cooked from scratch on the day it's served

Likewise Aaron E Carroll in his Simple Rules for Healthy Eating says the basic rules of healthy eating are all about sticking with complex, unprocessed foods, rather than doing complicated nutritional calculations all the time.

That's the basis of our catering model too - giving staff freshly made, delicious food for them to savour every day. It's also about taking the tricksy eating decisions off our customers' and clients' hands so they can focus on loving their food, eating nutritiously, then doing what needs to get done. So in one way, we're maybe not that different from those packets of powder after all.

Pretty sure our meals taste better though.