Diet in a box which worked a treat
By Catherine Lillington
For 28 days I ditched biscuits, cake and bread and put my faith in a diet which promised me I could lose a stone by the end of the month. The idea behind Diet Chef is to provide all your meals for you so theres no calorie-counting and less chance of getting tempted when you go shopping.
Just as A-List celebs have on-hand nutritionists preparing low-fat meals, I had my very own hamper with meals like chilli con carne, Thai chicken curry, paella and lamb hotpot. For lunch I had a choice of soups or milkshakes and breakfast was either porridge or granola.
My only treats would be a daily packet of savoury oat bakes, a couple of oat biscuits or a cereal bar which the packaging told me was made by little green pixies who stay up all night lovingly smooshing raw fruit, nuts and oats into these uber-healthy yum-bombs. Hmmm, I could see I was going to struggle here.
Along with my provisions I was allowed two portions of fruit a day and a portion of vegetables with my dinner or 40g of dried weight of pasta or rice. Now 40g really isnt a lot and worked out to about four forkfuls. Hardly worth cooking I thought, but I badly needed my carbs.
Part-way through the first day I was already fantasising about the plum and apple crumble I could make with the fruit Id bought. I washed my car and the cherry-scented foam drove me to distraction. I had started to dream about food and it was everywhere I looked. I hadnt realised how much of it was on TV. The Hairy Bikers were the worst with their cake-baking. How was I going to last?
I weighed in anyway, hitting the scales at 13.5 stone, which made me more determined to see it through. And it wasnt so bad. The chicken casserole I had for my first dinner was a smaller portion than I was used to but it was big enough. I swapped my breakfast for a banana bread-flavoured cereal bar which was really tasty. Later on I had the treacle and pecan granola and that too was delicious.
By the end of the first week I had lost half a stone and was feeling great.
The early success spurred me on and even though I still dreamt about food I found myself able to turn down goodies Id usually snaffle without a second thought. Mid-way through if I went without a veg, rice or pasta and had it the next day instead it felt like too much food and I realised my stomach had shrunk.
I must confess I did eat a chocolate bar. Im not proud. It was day nine, Id only eaten a soup and two bananas all day and was waiting to meet friends after work who were running late. It was in my bag and I was starving so I gave in. I felt terrible but it tasted wonderful.
The hot meals came in sachets not dissimilar from the ones used for cat food and the odd one probably tasted little better. If I was ordering supplies for another month I would definitely avoid the pork meatballs which were pretty vile.
The thick milkshakes were each 225 calories, came in vanilla, banana, strawberry, chocolate and cafe latte flavours and contained a long list of vitamins. Id normally have something like a jacket potato for lunch so at 330ml a pop it was a lot less than I was used to but it kept me going until dinner.
Of the evening meals I preferred the spicier options which added extra flavour to what could otherwise be quite bland. Some of the dishes tasted a bit like how Id imagine meals on wheels would. Beef and lamb worked the best while the chicken tended to be a bit dry. Then the pasta-based meals were soggy from being stored in a sauce for so long. There were a few vegetarian options which included three bean chilli, mushroom stroganoff, vegetable curry and chickpea tagine. The curry was one of the best meals I had and was packed full of flavour.
All the meals are said to have a low GI so youll feel full for longer, contain no artificial colours, preservatives, flavourings, trans fats and are low in salt.
The diet is not so strict that youre not allowed to eat out but, if you do, it obviously recommends you try to eat healthily. If you have a Chinese meal it says go for stir fry with boiled rice or, with Indian food, have tikkas instead of creamy kormas and a poppadom or chapati instead of naan bread. In one meal out I ordered a chicken and chorizo salad which tasted so full of flavour compared to what I had become used to I hardly minded it was on a bed of lettuce.
By the third week I could fit back into my old clothes.
It kept me going on the home straight, especially when I found myself in a supermarket queue with people behind me buying chocolate muffins and someone in front with a box of chocolate tea cakes.
Eating what I wanted and how much I wanted was all I used to think about early in the diet, but as the pounds dropped away, I changed my mind. With my final weight down to 12.5 stone Im going to try my best to keep it from going back up.
* The diet costs s38 for a weekly hamper when you buy five weeks worth. For more information go on-line to www.dietchef.co.uk or to order call 0845 094 9796.
Read on for more details on the Diet Chef menu...