Ding Dong, Dinner Calling
The Get-Back-on Track Diet
Ed Jo Upcraft spent one month on an eating plan by Right Bite
“Don’t tell my mother but for the past six months mini cheddars, packet pasta and Ferrero Rocher has been my staple diet. The combination of moving to Dubai and starting a new job means that my usual healthy eating routine has gone down the tubes. I’ve got into the pattern of wolfing down my meals quickly during the day and eating large portions late at night before falling into bed and I appear to have developed a penchant for the Noodle House around the corner who uncannily know what I’m going to order before I’ve ordered it. The result? A bloated belly, stomach pains and big-style lethargy. I don’t need to lose weight, but I do need food that’s going to provide me with my five-a-day and boost my energy levels, fast.
The consultation: The Right Bite office on Jumeirah Beach Road is a haven of tranquility. My nutritionist, Hala, steps me onto a machine that cleverly reads all my particulars – height, weight, BMI and waist-hip ratio. At 5ft 5in and 52.5kilos, my Body Mass Index (BMI) is within range but at 14.9 per cent my body fat is really low (it should be from 18 per cent). I explain my current eating habits to Hala and she sets me up on a monthly plan of breakfast, lunch and dinner with two side dishes and two snacks a day amounting to 1,300 calories per day (she recommends I have more calories to increase my weight but being a girl I refuse!). The rules? Eight cups of water a day, no sugar or juices, limit alcohol intake to three glasses a week and no eating past 8pm.
The diet: I spend ages poring over my foodie options online. You choose all your meals two weeks in advance (these can be changed later) and the choices available are endless – think cheese croissants or wheat waffles with berries for breakfast, barbecued chicken, risotto, tuna with veg and noodles for lunch and pumpkin curry, salmon or warm beetroot salad for dinner. Snacks range from peanut cookies to tiramisu and side dishes are salads or soups, along with two portions of fruit a day. All the food comes packaged in a cool bag to my door every morning (except for Fridays which is a ‘day off’). I initially balk at the amount I’m eating – I never seem to stop – but the portions are perfect and it makes me see how much I over-pack my plate. I never feel hungry because I’m eating little and often, but I do miss sugar in the first week. I’m used to eating something sweet after most meals, as well as drinking lots of lemonade but fruit has to suffice. The hardest part is eating before my 8pm curfew – this rarely happens – plus regular Ladies’ Nights makes sticking to three glasses of alcohol a week tricky and I do sometimes slip up. My favourite part is not having to think about what to cook at all – the ease of it just being there all ready for me and all I need to do is heat it up in the microwave is fabulous.
The results: Almost immediately any stomach pains I’d been experiencing before stopped while on this plan. Hala puts it down to the fact that I’ve been eating smaller portions more often. After one month, my belly is flatter and I have far more energy. Plus, because I’ve been consuming more fat than usual, my body fat percentage has increased to 16.3 per cent – much closer to the healthy recommendation for me. I’ve tried to replicate the meals and more regular eating since completing the diet and so far so good.”
Standard package costs Dhs3,300 for 28 days. Call (04) 338 8763.
The Need-to-Lose-Weight-for-Summer Plan
Sub Beth Davie got her meals delivered straight to her door for four weeks by Live’ly
“So, you know, I’m thinking of going on a diet,’ I tell my friends one day over brunch. There’s a collective intake of breath as some stare at me in horror, others in fascination, but I know that all of them are wondering what’s happened to the ‘real me’. To give you a bit of background, I hate diets. Abhor them in fact. My idea of dieting is to watch fat people on Oprah – it never fails to make me feel better about myself. But, I quickly reassure my friends, Live’ly isn’t about dieting, it’s about eating healthily – if I happen to lose weight, fantastic, if not, well I’m happy as I am anyway. But secretly I’m a little curious about all this diet stuff...
The consultation: I head into the Live’ly office on Al Wasl Road full of good cheer – if all goes to plan, I won’t have to cook for four whole weeks (NB: love food, hate cooking). That thought alone is enough to see me happily hopping onto the scales (not scales my nutritionist, Yasmine, tells me, a Body Composition Analysis). After, we head up to Yasmine’s office and go over my results. Turns out, there’s a lot more to it than just finding out your weight and getting food. At 5ft 3in, I’m shocked to discover I weigh 70 kilos. My body mass index is at 26, which is just over the normal range of between 18.5 to 25. Yasmine then goes through what I eat on a day-to-day basis with me and we discover that while I eat reasonably healthily during the day, I eat a lot in the evenings. This makes sense as this is the only time my boyfriend and I get to see each other, so we’ll often go out for dinner. This is a big no-no according to Yasmine and I’ve got to get my portion sizes under control. She puts me on 1,200 calories a day.
The diet: I’m a hungry girl and the idea of 1,200 calories a day is not an inviting one, so I’m relieved to find I can still choose from a varied menu and deciding my meals for the following weeks becomes a highlight of my days. Lunch becomes my main meal and I spend my mornings looking forward to Spanish meatballs with olives and rice, Thai shrimps with spring onions, baked fish with ginger and soy and Mexican beef pizza (a definite fave). The evenings are lighter meals and must be eaten three hours before I go to bed. While I munch on halloumi bagels and Caesar salads, my boyfriend chows down on lasagna and fajitas throughout the four weeks. While I initially thought I’d be salivating over his food, because I’d been snacking continuously throughout the days on nuts, fruit and yoghurts, I found myself curiously indifferent. Although the portions do look small when I first look at them, I soon get used to it and begin to wonder how I ever used to be able to eat a mountain of mash in one sitting. The biggest let-down was the breakfasts. I’m not creative when it comes to food, so I was happy with the cereal and toast on offer (an occasional whole wheat pancake did make its way through), but seeing my colleagues come in with Spanish tortillas and waffles, made me just a little green with envy.
The results: After three weeks, I’m down to 67 kilos. I’d lost a kilo a week, which is good going considering the most a person can lose in a month on this plan is four kilos as the whole point of Live’ly, says Yasmine, is to lose weight sensibly.The down side? I’m heading back to the UK next week and without my trusty Live’ly deliveries, I’m terrified I’ll put all the weight back on. But at least I now know that I can survive on much smaller portion sizes than I used to.”
Standard package for four weeks costs Dhs3,300. Call (04) 348 1008 for details.
The Drop-the-Dubai-Stone Diet
For two weeks art ed Kerri Bennett was portion controlled by Health Factory
“In the UK, I ate a balanced diet and exercised regularly. Since moving to Dubai eight months ago, my new lifestyle of eating out and socialising in bars has taken its toll on my stomach and thighs. I try to eat healthily during the week, but come the weekend I pig out on carb-heavy foods and calorie-laden drinks. It was obvious, I needed an intervention. Enter Health Factory. They agreed to supply all my meals for 14 days, to stop me from bingeing and to teach me the all important lesson of dieting – portion control. To kick myself back into shape, I also joined a gym and got myself into a new routine of exercise to run in conjunction with my new diet.
The consultation: My first appointment with the Health Factory was with Dr Archana. I brought her up to speed with my eating habits, exercise and general wellbeing and, knowing my body very well, I had a feeling I was at least a stone overweight. I was attached to a machine that measured my body composition, including my BMI. Waiting nervously for the results, I watched as the machine printed out my readings. At 5ft 4in, I weighed 69.2kg, just a kilo over the average. My muscle mass was normal and my body fat mass was a surprising 4.6 per cent above the healthy range. When she told me that overall I was 10kg overweight, I realised I’d been right about how much extra weight I’d been carrying. Time to do something about it! Based on the results, Dr Archana put me on a diet of 1,300 calories a day. Smaller meals and snacks throughout the day would cause less stress on my stomach as I had been overeating at meal times and starving in between, creating a whole heap of problems, but this new regime would start to shift the excess fat around my middle.
The Diet: I had a choice of four options for breakfast, lunch and dinner and picked my menu online. When I opened my very first package, I found a collection of small containers filled with food, each one with instructions on when and how to eat it. Being used to large plates of food, at first I struggled with the little amounts I was given to eat. Even though each meal was really tasty, I was constantly hungry in the first week. Friday was a free day and I shamefully treated myself to spaghetti bolognaise and garlic bread. But I was back on the diet come Saturday and was totally converted when the following week I wasn’t hungry at all.
The results: Considering I was only on the diet for two weeks I wasn’t expecting major results, but I was pleasantly surprised. My muscle mass had increased, purely because I’d been working out so much, but my body fat had gone down nearly a kilo. I was amazed that in such a short time I had lost so much! Following the diet plan has made a huge difference to the way I cook and enjoy my food. It encouraged me to stick to the portion sizes and have regular snacks and I now prepare my food on a Saturday evening for the week to come.”
The Miracle package costs Dhs2,950 for four weeks. Call (04) 347 3808.