Thanks in part to Jamie Oliver and countless government campaigns, we all know what should be gracing our kitchen tables.
However, having the energy and time to actually buy and prepare it, is often a stumbling block for those of us without a Gywnnie-style chef or a Kardashian-size domestic staff.
This realisation has created a mini-industry where some of that effort and willpower can be farmed out to companies who’ll both tailor a diet and deliver the actual food, so sticking to “the programme” is made as easy as possible.
Jane Plan is one such company and for one week over the summer, myself and Mr NappyValleyNet took part in their “weight loss” plan.
We kicked off with a telephone consultation with Jane herself where we discussed our eating goals and objectives. I guess most peoples are much the same (lose weight, more energy) and Jane talked about our lifestyles and how serious we were about these targets. Just talking to an empathic knowledgeable nutritionist about my eating habits was a pretty good technique for focusing on what I was doing wrong and that simple exercise alone gave my motivation a seriously healthy boost.
We also considered options for when I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick to the programme, such as a forthcoming barbecue for my closest friend and a long standing client dinner engagement. Jane’s tips for negotiating this foodie minefield were pretty strict (no protein bigger than your iPhone and one sip of alcohol for every three of water) but in practice this meant I didn’t “write off” those days so I was less likely to go totally “off plan” and ruin a bunch of previous good work. Something I’ve been very prone to in previous weight loss attempts.
The following day our food arrived, along with a plan outlining what we should eat and when and that was it, we were off!
The whole process is very very convenient.
We decanted the fresh food into the fridge, the dried food into a cupboard and bingo, our “adult” food shop for the week was done.
But that’s not all.
The meals are beautifully packaged and the personal planner/guide made me feel that real thought had been put in to ensuring I would lose weight. That’s a pretty empowering feeling and once I realised I was going to be eating fusilli arrabiata or chickpea cassoulet whilst on this diet, I actually started to get pretty excited about the days ahead.
Breakfast for both of us was typically organic muesli or branberry flakes with strawberries, a splash of milk and some fresh fruit (not supplied) to liven it up. Mr NappyValleyNet had *never* eaten muesli before and by the end of the week was declaring it his “new favourite thing”.
For lunch our plans differed slightly. Mr NVN was smugly on “double dinners” so would enjoy a fresh casserole or curry, whereas I had the choice of salad or soup. For evenings both of us would sit down to something hot such as a Thai chicken curry, chana masala or beef and mushroom stroganoff accompanied with fresh veg (for a full list of meals click here).
In addition we were also allowed a biscuit or a chocolate bar per day (whoo hoo!) which we usually ate mid-afternoon.
My second impression?
That the food was seriously varied and tasty.
I wasn’t a massive fan of every salad (I forgot to tell Jane that I didn’t like sweet corn) but I wouldn’t have stayed ‘on track’ without them. Everything else was a real pleasure to eat. One of the things I’ve really hated about past diets was the feeling that they transformed mealtimes from a time of joy and laughter into a sort of penury for past transgressions. Jane’s background as a nutritionist really showed through in both the quality of food and the variety of menu choice. There are over 55 meals on the plan plus snacks.
In a word, yes.
But we both approached the plans very differently.
Mr NVN stuck rigidly to the plan for a week. And I mean rigidly. We did go to a barbecue and he ate and drank nothing but an iPhone sized piece of steak and water. At the end of seven days he was over half a stone lighter. Between us, almost 12 pounds was shed at NappyValleyNet HQ!
When I asked him what he liked or disliked most, he explained that for the first time he understood how “much” food was healthy and that the discipline of being told what to eat and when meant being healthy was “easy”. In effect he had delegated all meal time decisions to Jane.
In contrast I felt that the plan wasn’t so much a discipline to bow down before but a framework for more sensible eating and drinking that would achieve the desired weight loss. I could imagine being on the plan for months at a time, steered by the guidelines, but not feeling ‘all was lost’ when a social or work situation loomed.
And that I think is the biggest endorsement I can give this programme.
I’m about to order my next food delivery and I’m really looking forward to losing even more weight after the excesses of the summer holidays.