Balance Well-Being 360°
Tested by Friday editor Karen Pasquali Jones
The concept: A tailor-made healthy menu based on your Ayurvedic body type delivered to your door along with customised spa programme of massages and exercises.
The experience: A love of brunches, dislike of gyms and lack of any kind of willpower around pizzas and pasta means I now know the diet delivery drill well. Turn up, give your height and get weighed, choose your dishes from a menu, and that’s it. Er not quite at Balance.
First I had to meet Ayurvedic consultant Dr George Chandy to determine my Ayurvedic Dosha body type. These are based on the fundamental principle of Ayurveda: that everything in the universe, including our bodies, are made from the five elements of air, space, earth, fire and water. The elements come together to create different Doshas – Vata (Space and Air), Pitta (Fire and Water) and Kapha (Earth and Water.)
He asked me a lot of questions about my health – I am a strict vegetarian, get eczema and sleep badly when stressed – and declared that beneath the fat is a fit girl. I’m a Vata. That means that when balanced – my mind and body – I’m a lively and creative person (correct!) but unbalanced I get insomnia (yes), dry skin (yes!) and have difficulty focusing (sadly I can’t do that with my job but I do get tired and irritable).
Next, Dr Chandy felt my pulse, and from that ascertained that I would have a problem with my knee (I do!). He also could tell my health history, which was scarily accurate. Finally, I had to step on a special SlimManager machine, which could tell the physical make up of my body, as well as my weight.
The good news was that I had good muscle tone, the bad news was that these muscles were covered by a layer of fat. I didn’t drink enough water, and had a sluggish metabolic rate. He put me on a diet of 1,200 calories a day, said I had to lose 20kgs over the three-month programme and that I had to come for Ayurvedic herbal massages at the spa every other day to speed up fat loss.
“Bring a swimming costume,” he said at the end of the consultation. “We’re going to put you on the aqua bike to burn fat.” Eek! Before all of that I had to do an Ayurvedic detox massage to get rid of pollutants/toxins and stimulate my body’s elimination system. I also couldn’t eat anything that wasn’t in my diet bag that was delivered every day. “And I mean anything,” Dr Chandy repeated.
I sighed, knowing this was going to be tough. A diet delivery bootcamp, if you will, but as everything was being done for me, I just had to open the bag and eat, then turn up for massages. Not that tough, after all.
The massages were with Ayurvedic herbs and oils, to stimulate lymphatic drainage, and involved quite vigorous kneading of my body, to break down fat. Afterwards, I’d sit in the spa’s steam room for 15 minutes to let the herbs and oils take effect before showering. The spa bike was literally in the middle of a pool, based on the premise that it is much harder to do anything in water, so it burns fat faster. It was fun!
The results were fast. I had a ‘detox’ headache for a couple of days and had to go to bed early at 9pm but slept better than I had for years. The weight came off quickly too, but Dr Chandy insisted it was actual fat, not water loss, which was good. I also had to drink up to four litres of water a day, which meant my skin looked radiant and I felt better than I had in years.
The menu: The food was delicious, and there was a lot of choice. The portions were huge too, and for the first couple of days I struggled to get through it all.
The dishes were delivered to my office every day, but they weren’t labelled as breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I had to refer back to my menu choice to see what I was supposed to be eating when. The food was mainly savoury, with only a few snacks, and no obvious breakfast choice.
Breakfast: Saffron-soaked pear.
Morning snack: Carrot and zucchini cake.
Lunch: Couscous with vegetable stew or vegetable biryani.
Afternoon snack: Broccoli soup.
Dinner: Vegetable skewers with cauliflower mash.
Being English, I’m used to toast or cereal, but the menu was mainly Indian, Asian and Italian. I was never hungry though, which is always the worst bit of a diet, so I didn’t feel like cheating. If anything there was too much food, but it was healthy and I felt much better overall. I also slept brilliantly so it was treating my whole body not just my waistline.
The result: 5kg in 4 weeks. Fantastic! I am on a three-month programme so hope to lose at least 15kg.
Pros: The 360-programme literally does everything for you – the food is delicious and delivered fresh every day, and the spa massages and exercise are all managed. I just had to turn up – and the weight literally dropped off.
Cons: The menu was seven days a week, with no cheats, so was tough even though I was full and not hungry. The spa massages and bike routine is easy but you have to devote time to the programme to make sure it works.
It’s a full time commitment but it guarantees results, so it’s worth it. I do wish there were some cheat days in there though.
Verdict: A life- as well as body-changing diet and massage programme that really works. It’s strict, but it gets results that are fast but long-lasting as they changed the way I looked at healthy food and exercise.
The programme starts at Dh1,000 onwards, depending on body type. Contact: 04 515 4051/04 501 4796 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tested by Mark Setchfield
The concept: A daily calorie controlled meal plan you select from a weekly menu.
The experience: I headed from the office to Healthtrendz based at the World Trade Centre, Dubai, where I met Senior Nutritionist Lovely Ranganath, the brainchild of the concept.
She worked with catering chefs at WTC and was increasingly being asked to prepare healthier options for guests and so ‘Healthtrendz’ was born – a line of healthy, portion-controlled meals delivered to customer homes or offices.
The words ‘calorie controlled diet’ is enough to make the happiest person frown. But the simple healthy lunch boxes are packed with tasty bites like Quinoa porridge, berries, greens, brown rice, kebabs, koftas, biryanis and tagines. They are all freshly prepared by an award-winning team of gourmet chefs in the HACCAP certified, Dubai Municipality A-Grade Awarded kitchen of the Dubai World Trade Centre.
I always try to eat a balanced diet. I have a veggie night once a week and eat lots of fresh fish. However, after moving to Dubai from London with just a suitcase in tow has seen me be at the mercy of endless brunches, takeaways and room service. So I was psyched up and ready for my very first diet plan to begin.
My consultation confirmed I was a little over my ideal weight. In fact at 83kg I was five kilos heavier than I should be and my BMI was also 27 (just north of normal). It was clear where the weight had gone – “it’s mostly around your trunk,’’ Lovely informed me.
With a revised gym schedule and a fizzy drink-free fridge I chose my six-day meal plan from a weekly menu.
On the first day my doorbell rang bang on time. As I unzipped the cooler bag, I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of food I had for one day. At first I thought this can’t be right! It was like my personalised diet picnic all neatly laid out including sweeteners, face wipes and cultery.
The menu ranges from Indian and continental to Arabic food, and in the first few days I couldn’t eat all the dishes, even giving some away to my colleagues.
Breakfast: Peach with custard sauce
Morning snack: Extend snack bar (Peanut butter chocolate delight)
Lunch: Poached chicken and pomegranate salad, steamed green beans
Afternoon snack: Chocolate walnut cake
Dinner: Mustard grilled fish kebabs with pumpkin
The food was zingy spicy and deeply tasty. The fish was steamed instead of being poached or fried, the salads contained a lot of pulses which help fill you up and slowly release energy. And the chocolate sponge squares with caramel were a clear favourite (several times a week).
But what can I say – I have a sweet tooth. “It’s in the diet bag so it must be part of the plan,” I said to my colleagues! I must admit I did doubt how all this really delicious food could be part of a strict diet plan. But the weight started to come off and I realised the secret is the portion size and cooking style.
The result: Lost 3kg and 1 1/2 inches from my waist.
Pros: A tasty varied diet plan, that didn’t ever leave me feeling hungry. The food was beautifully packaged, airtight and never spilt or leaked.
Cons: None, it was like having your own chef deliver your tailor-made diet plan using fresh ingredients.
Verdict: I’ve used some of the meal recipes myself and have continued to follow the sugar free and healthy option lifestyle, so it has made a lasting impact.
Prices from Dh2,490 for a 20-day plan and available for 24 and 28 days. Contact: 04 3086338 or email email@example.com.
Tested by Verina Durand, Friday’s Picture Editor
The concept: Healthy fast food delivered to your doorstep.
The experience: When I got offered to do the Kcal diet for a month I was delighted. When I don’t have time to cook (which is most days, I’m not big into cooking) I tend to pop over the road to my Kcal takeaway shop anyway. But I wasn’t very experimentive, tending to stick to what I know – my favorite being the wheat-free lasagna. So having the option to try different food from the menu every day was great. I was genuinely looking forward to starting the diet plan.
But by the time I arrived at the bright green-and-white offices in JLT, I was a little nervous about getting weighed and all the personal questions that were bound to follow. I have not weighed myself in about a year or done much exercise since I arrived in Dubai last December so I was dreading the weigh in.
I got called in by nutritionist Sarah who was very slim and attractive and came armed with a clipboard of questions. I gulped. The food police! But she just needed to know my height, age and how much I snack in the day. Nothing too personal and her smiley nature put me at ease as I reeled off what I’d eat in a typical day. “Cereal for breakfast; a chicken wrap and bag of crisps for lunch; chicken and rice for dinner; pasta or the occasional Chinese takeaway,” I said. I immediately started to feel more relaxed and I must say a little silly for feeling nervous.
“Verina you have nothing to worry about,” she reassured, telling me I was in great shape already and what I ate wasn’t all that bad after all. Always nice to hear!
Sarah explained that I eat about 1,500 calories a day and she’d cut that down to 1,200. Then it was time to get weighed. “Good news, Verina” Sarah said with a big smile. “Your body fat is in the normal bracket.” The main bulk of fat was around my tummy. “That’ll be the bowl of pasta I indulged in last night,” I thought.
I opted for a wheat-free diet as wanted to see if cutting out pasta would make me feel less bloated.
Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes.
Morning snack: Handful of mixed nuts.
Lunch: Chicken salad.
Afternoon snack: Carrot stick with low fat dip.
Dinner: Salmon, mixed vegetables.
Sarah said that I only had to lose roughly 6kg. With a whole new diet that would be easy enough, right?
But Sarah smiled as she explained it would be a challenge and I was soon to find out she was right. My diet was only five days out of the seven. So I had two days off on the condition I didn’t gorge on burger and chips on those days. It sounded good to me, I was ready to give it my best shot.
The result: I lost 3kg in a month. Not exactly on target, but I was still happy with how much I’d lost.
Pros: Kcal is healthy fast food. It’s things that you would want to eat each day, but just cooked with less sugar and fat.
Cons: There weren’t any! I still visit the shop to get my weekly fix!
Verdict: Would definitely do it again. Beats having to decide what to eat on a day-to-day basis. Plus I have started to cook some of their dishes like the tasty and low-fat chicken with tomato and olives. So Kcal has given me inspiration for my own cooking.
Tested by Tripti Singh, Head of advertising
The concept: The Lively programme offers a package of not only a healthier diet plan but also lifestyle changes.
The experience: During my meeting with the dietician, I was asked about my general food habits and health issues and was asked to take on lots of healthy changes to my lifestyle like to drink at least 8-12 glasses of water daily, exercise a minimum of 30 minutes daily, cut out caffeine and replace it with green tea. I normally drink two glasses of water as soon as I wake up, but only drink when I’m thirsty for the rest of the day.
The plan consists of five small meals 2-3 hours apart, the last to be eaten no later than 7.30pm. This approach keeps you full and increases metabolism. I was OK with this since I do not eat after 6pm.
All snacking on sweets or anything high in fat was off limits and there was certainly no binge eating allowed! I am addicted to dark chocolate, so this was a bit difficult. But I made a conscious effort to eat only the dessert provided in the plan. Now that I’ve come off the plan, I have actually reduced my consumption of chocolate which is great.
On starting the diet plan, I was weighed and had a body composition analysis which determined the fat and other components across my body. It turned out that my muscle composition was good but my fat was a bit on the high side. The menu is tailor-made to suit one’s requirements. Since I am lactose intolerant, my meals were prepared bearing that in mind.
The menu: The meals are delivered to home or office in a cooler bag. I chose for the food to be delivered at home in the evenings.
The meals were balanced and a weekly menu card was provided with a very large option of dishes for each meal. I filled out the forthcoming weeks’ menu choice on a form Lively provided every week and returned it in the delivery bag or you also have options to email choices too. The great thing about the menu plan was there was no restriction on items like rice or desserts, which were allowed in moderate portions a few times a week. So there was never any food cravings, although I did miss having my dark chocolates.
Breakfast: The Breakfast options had 35 items including a gourmet breakfast list spread over the week to choose from and included toasts, cereals, pancakes, eggs, cheese, sandwiches, Arabic bread and Manakeesh. My favourite breakfast option was omelettes and sandwiches.
The 11 am snack: Mainly consisted of 15 kinds of salads with different dressings, grilled vegetables, lentils, eggplant moutabbal, baba ganoush, sautéed spinach and baked potatoes.
Lunch: Options of vegetables, subs or salads, or a variety of fish, poultry or even red meats. There were about 35 items to choose from across the week, including my favourites tuna and veggies ciabatta, delicious salmon fillet with veggies and potatoes, chicken biryani, spicy balti shrimps and rice.
About three times a week I was allowed an afternoon snack from a variety of 20 desserts to choose from, like the delicious Lively cheesecake, chocolate tiramisu, or an assortment of nuts and fresh fruits.
The result: I lost 7kg in two months. My meals prior to the diet plan were sporadic and not fixed. Now I try and stick to 5 small meals a day.
Pros: The Lively meals are like gourmet meals. They are healthy and tasty. The choice of menu is fantastic.
Cons: None that I can think of. Given a choice, I would be on a Lively delivery diet for a whole year!
Verdict: I was happy with the whole experience. I had a great variety of meal options and I didn’t have to worry about what I was eating as I knew it was all healthy.
Dh3,600 for the Standard Menu, Dh4,000 for the Gourmet Menu and Dh4,500 for the new a la Carte Menu for 28 days. Other packages are also available. Contact: 04-348.1008 http://www.lively.ae
Reviewed by Shreeja Ravindranathan, Friday’s lifestyle writer
The concept: Nutritious food delivered to your doorstep for those looking to swap regular meals with more nutritious fare without compromising on taste.
The experience: Having signed up for the 21-day Right Bite’s Renew You package I was hesitant – fad diets and food deprivation in the quest to slim down have never appealed to me so I was venturing into new territory.
Riham Shamseddine, my dietician, put my mind to rest during the short consultation as I told her I was happy with my current weight, but wanted to trade in ready-to-eats and heavy Indian home-cooked food for healthy, nutritious meals. The reason? I have a dreadful metabolism and gain weight effortlessly – the outcome of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
Riham explained how the plan could increase my nutrient intake and boost my metabolism by eating five portion-controlled meals a day (wait, what!) while limiting calories to 1,500 a day – perfect for my 156cm frame.
Then the fat, water and weight analysis divulged my unhealthy habit of not drinking water (a measly 27 per cent of total body water) and skewed body fat-muscle ratio quashed any misguided notions I had about being lean and active – 30 minutes of yoga on Fridays and Saturdays clearly didn’t cut it, I was slim, but had more body fat than muscle and that needed to be fixed.
I confessed my lifestyle influenced my deplorable eating habits compounded by shuttling between Al Ain and Dubai for my busy new job eating two meals a day at odd times, plenty of caffeine and no aqua. But Riham was understanding and began to devise my three-week plan.
The goals were to try and drop three kilos, build more muscle through exercise, eat no food after 8.30pm and stick to 1,500 calories six days a week. On Saturday when I could consume as much food as I liked, just no junk, fried and oily dishes. Sounded do-able to me.
The menu: I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to mealtimes before, especially breakfast since I usually just skip it. Now a typical brekkie consisted of scrummy gourmet delights like tomato, tofu and white beans puff, low-fat yogurt, laban or milk and fresh fruit. Delicious.
Morning snack: A piece of fruit.
Lunch: A salad or puréed vegetable soup served with anything from pastas to zaatar and halloumi sandwiches.
Afternoon snack: A mix of healthy crunchies like vegetable crudités with a dip or sinful low-fat desserts and the likes of chocolate citrus profiteroles and macaroons – just 150 calories a dish!
Dinner: A side of soup or salad and spicy vegetarian chili or a scrumptious gourmet chicken burger.
The result: My metabolism and energy levels have upped, my skin and hair were grateful for the water I drank (8 glasses a day). And I also lost 1.5kg.
Pros: I could choose from an array of cuisines (Arabic, Chinese, Italian Indian and Continental) that allowed me pleasure of experimenting scrummy looking and tasting food without the fear of calories.
Cons: There were days I couldn’t stick to my meal times if I had to work out of the office or would reach home late.
Verdict: Becoming three kilos lighter would have been great but my lack of exercise was the culprit. The plan is ideal for both serious dieters and those seeking nutritious grub sans the hassle.
The flexible plan costs Dh960 for 7 days; Dh3,620 for 28 days and is also available for Dh1,420 and 24 days. Contact: 04 338 8763/04 342 5208 www.right-bite.com
Special discount from Right Bite awaits Friday magazine readers! Enjoy a 15 per cent discount on Right Bite’s full package for 20 days when you quote RBFM333615; please contact Right Bite on 04 3388763 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Please note that no two discounts or promotions can be availed together. Offer valid until August 30, 2014. For more information about Right Bite, visit www.right-bite.com