Damian Walther is the out gay founder and CEO of spoon, (yes, “spoon,” with a lowercase “s”), a new meal delivery service that launched the first week in December. The company provides healthy, balanced and tasty meals a la carte.
When Walther was in college — at Philadelphia University, now Thomas Jefferson — he took medication for Crohn’s disease that did not make him want to eat much. After talking to a doctor who suggested exercise and a very strict diet, Walther spent three years working out and learning what he could eat — and what his body could tolerate.
He recalled, “I kept a food journal every day. I [wrote] about how my body responded to certain ingredients and certain nutrients. I was eating chicken, eggs, brown rice and sweet potatoes for three years to monitor how my body responded. Through that, I became very passionate about nutrition and fitness.”
Meals from spoon are prepared as either lean, balanced or bulk, depending on one’s goal. “I want to get away from the stigma of a diet and offer a balanced meal,” Walther explained in a recent interview. “We offer perfectly-portioned meals with protein, carbs and vegetables that are low on fat. They allow you to understand what a well-balanced 300-500 calorie meal does — and feels like to — your body.”
Walther started doing personal training in 2012 and eventually joined the team at OrangeTheory Fitness, opening a studio for the company in Blue Bell in 2014. He worked as a head coach and studio manager, but after opening spoon, he now only coaches part-time. It was his experience with fitness and monitoring food that inspired him to create spoon.
“I had empathy for people who were struggling with not knowing what to do. I know that from being a personal trainer,” he acknowledged. “I realized as a coach, people are working out really, really hard, six days a week and not seeing the results they want. They are either eating too much or too little or not eating the right things. They need the fuel and need the carbs — but they are scared of carbs. I don’t think people understand what carbs can do for the workout and the weight loss and muscle gain process. People also need to understand caloric deficit. If there is too much of a caloric deficit, the body goes into ‘starvation mode’ and begins to store all the nutrients it gets over time.”
The customized meals available from spoon range from veggie and cheese breakfast omelets, to turkey lasagna, fish tacos, and Dijon salmon — all foods one could order from a favorite restaurant. They are prepared with sides, such as a cup of brown rice and a cup of sweet potatoes, with the side portions varying depending on the meal selection.
Moreover, spoon offers snacks such as a gluten-free and dairy-free “protein donut” which is made with vegan protein, a little bit of almond milk, and egg whites. The donut is baked, not fried, and contains 80 calories, 10 grams of protein and 1 gram of carbs. And it’s delicious. It not only satisfies a sweet tooth, but it provides a healthy snack after a workout.
Walther observed, “Mentally people can think, ‘I treated myself,’ but it’s a healthy fix.”
When it comes to eating and exercise, the mindset is very important. Walther’s strategy with spoon is to focus on one week at a time. He insisted, “You create a 30-day plan, but I want people to think in chunks, and work a week at a time. You have to be consistent week after week, not just do this for one meal. It’s changing the mentality around eating and around the focus you have when you set up your weekly plan for success. Commit to doing good this week. Your body and effort are going to change. ...Your stomach starts to shrink or expand based on what your goals are, you’re going to be less hungry, or more hungry.”
The food from spoon is cooked fresh and delivered to be consumed within a week. There is no startup fee or subscription cost, only a $10 delivery charge. Folks can order as much or as little as they like, and the menu is expected to change every two weeks. Delivery is available in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks and Delaware counties as well as in Camden, Gloucester and Burlington counties in New Jersey.
But perhaps Walther’s greatest delivery so far has been to help feed the homeless in Philadelphia. He, along with his husband, Adam, an executive at Jefferson Health, and their 5-year-old daughter Harper, served 300 hot spaghetti and meatball meals to Project Home in North Philadelphia and the Station House Transitional Shelter on Broad Street. “We drove around and handed out hot food, and folks were so appreciative,” he effused.
Walther is also grateful to his husband, Adam, for being supportive and giving him the push to start spoon from scratch. Hopefully, the company will continue to grow and help people eat healthier.
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