Remember when, back in January, I made all of those new years resolutions regarding my health, fitness and weight loss and introduced a new series called 'Gym Bunny' - well, the good news is - I haven't actually been slacking (well not entirely) and at the beginning of May I started testing a variety of products from diets to dvd's to tools (hello Shake Weight!) to treatments.
All the reviews will be coming over the next few weeks and likely months - I like to really try something before I endorse it (or on occasion don't endorse it) and that means not just starting a yoga workout and giving up halfway through - it means sticking to it for at least a few weeks to give you, the reader, a full review.
The Fresh Diet Overview:
The first review on the agenda is The Fresh Diet. The Fresh Diet is a gourmet food delivery service - that is they literally deliver, daily, chef prepared meals, straight to your door. Each days meals consist of: breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks.
Upon signing up to the service I first had to select my choice of calorie intake and select dislikes. About a week before I was due to start the diet I received my menus online. For each daily meal and snack I had a choice of four items. The video above documents the first five days of meals as I discovered them (the last two days are unfortunately missing as I was too sick - yep this was that week)
Meal Examples in Pictures:
Clockwise: Strawberry Stuffed French Whole Wheat French Toast with Honeydew Melon and Cinnamon Apple Yogurt, Honey Roasted Granola with Fresh Diced Pineapple and Passion Fruit Yogurt, Roasted Poblano Pico de Gallo Omelet with Queso Blanco and Whole Wheat Toast and Whole Wheat Blueberry Waffles with Strawberries and Blueberry Vanilla Ricotta Cheese.
Lunches pictured: Blue cheese salad with baby corn, artichoke hearts, alfalfa sprouts, enoki mushrooms, romaine lettuce and balsamic vinaigrette and roasted beet and orange salad with baby lettuce and crumbled goats cheese and raspberry vinaigrette. (Other lunches not pictured included artichoke and mozzarella panini's)
Snacks and Desserts pictured: White chocolate chip cappuccino cheese cake and Roasted garlic and herbs with parmesan whole wheat crostini. Other snacks and desserts not pictured: Lemon Zest cookies, baked sweet potato stuffed with spinach and gouda cheese.
The Fresh Diet Review:
The biggest issue for me with the food came from the fact I'm vegetarian. Despite being able to select dislikes (and unfortunately you had to select any meat products as "dislikes" as there was not an overall "I'm Vegetarian" option) I still ended up with meat products in my food choices. Out of every four options for meals there as, more often than not, only one veggie option. Meaning I had absolutely no choice.
Additionally, this became even more of an issue when the only "choice" I had was one that contained one of my dislikes. Most of the things I dislike are a mild issue but some are serious dislikes, goats cheese for example, which found itself in my meal choices far more than I could bear. So some days I found myself eating things I just didn't like - before I'd even tried them - and I did try and eat them. The worst day for me was the beets and goats cheese salad. Detest beets, despise goats cheese. But the lettuce (that wasn't contaminated) was good....ha.
Another issue which barely has anything to do with my vegetarianism or my dislikes but everything to do with skill - is the fact that they cannot cook tofu. "Searing" the outside of a 4x2 lump of tofu and pouring sauce on it is not how you cook tofu. Tofu takes on flavor - without taking on flavor (in the cooking process) it's effectively flavorless goo. Really gross. Something that could 100% be improved upon.
The last criticism comes down to portion size itself. Now I went into this to loose the optimum amount of weight possible so, knowing nothing about nutrition, I opted for the lowest calorie option, 1000-1200 calories a day. I was hungry, almost every day, to the point of distraction. Albeit I'd never been on a diet before and I expected to find it a little tough but I did not expect starvation. I discovered later, after speaking with a nutritionist, that at 5ft 10 and 170lbs I need 1596 calories just to cover what the calories I would burn laying still all day. So by consuming under 1200 calories a day I was effectively starving myself. I would, therefore, strongly suggest The Fresh Diet have a BMR calculator be a mandatory part of the process to keep people healthy.
Now for the good stuff. Some of the meals were truly delicious. I enjoyed every breakfast (aside from one omelet featuring sour cream...on my dislike list...) one of the breakfasts was a sensational granola - I'd never had anything quite like it and it was amazing. For lunch, the panini's were good - it'd be great if there could be other instructions that didn't involve microwaving - it made the bread soggy. Something I really enjoyed was some of the more unusual ingredients - enoki mushrooms were new to me, and very yummy. Artichoke hearts, baby squash and hearts of palm I love and rarely eat - so it was a treat to have them as part of my daily meals. The side dishes were always good - I didn't have a bad one - the orzo was especially good and the best overall dinner was the veggie "meatballs" (the quotes are due to the fact that these were effectively falafel..similarly my veggie "burger" also appeared later in the week as a veggie "cutlet")
The snacks and desserts were always delicious, I didn't have a bad one - and the cheesecakes were phenomenal. The more savory snacks were really great but the portion sizes were just depressing.
In terms of service, it was all very straight forward with absolutely no hiccups. My freezer bag seemed to arrive around Midnight (they can deliver anytime between 7pm-5am) as it was always on my doorstep just as I went to bed - so it worked with my late night working schedule very well.
Obviously this was press trial and I didn't have to pay. I do think the prices are quite reasonable (it starts at $35 a day) - perhaps not for the long haul but definitely for a perhaps a month or so to correct bad eating habits and encourage healthy habits. For me this was the most rewarding part of the whole experience. It absolutely taught me about balance (veggies and protein) portion size, and meal timing - all of which is key to a good diet plan and effective weight loss.
Despite my experience I would recommend The Fresh Diet - but only if you are not a vegetarian - not having a choice for your meals was pretty awful and I can't even imagine how difficult that would be for someone who had allergies. But if you eat meat I can only imagine that the meals were delicious (when I was going through my "choices" I was tempted more than once to cheat on my veggies...) I lost 3 lbs in a week - with only a little exercise. My only caveat to that is, I was really sick at the weekend (actual vomitting) and didn't eat anything (I couldn't actually keep it down) for a whole day. But I had already lost 2lbs by that point. I actually think I would have lost more weight had I been on a higher calorie plan as I would have had more energy to exercise!
You can learn more about The Fresh Diet here.