Tested by Karen Pasquali Jones, Friday Editor The concept: Lively healthy cuisine prepares and delivers wholesome, appetising meals tailored to each person’s requirements. The experience: After being weighed and having my body analysed on a special machine to calculate the entire make up of every kilo (including water, skeleton and fat), along with my metabolic rate and BMI, I met Lively’s chief clinical director and licenced dietician, Tina Choueiri Chagoury.
The bad news? I was 20kg overweight, with a high metabolic rate (so no excuses there – I burn a lot of calories naturally while sitting doing nothing, which is lucky because that is what I mainly do).
The good news? Tina was convinced I’d be able to lose 10kg in two months on the 1,200 calories a day programme she was putting me on. That sounded like meagre rations, but she reassured me it would be enough. “But you have to exercise at least three times a week for an hour each time,” she insisted. “It’s hard to lose enough weight just by reducing calories.” I promised to visit the gym in my block, go swimming in the pool and play tennis. At the worst, I vowed to buy an exercise DVD to do at home. I pinned my body analysis (almost 40 per cent fat. Eek!) on my fridge as a bit of thinspiration. The menu: Before I’d even arrived back in my office, the cuisine dietician had emailed me my first week’s menu. There was a huge choice, and it seemed I’d be eating lots. First there was breakfast, then a mid-morning snack, an appetiser, main lunch dish, vegetables or side salad, an afternoon snack, then dinner with a soup or salad.
With options such as jam and toast or pancakes for breakfast, and broccoli pesto pasta and stew with potato cubes and rice for lunch, I wondered how I’d eat all the side dishes and dinners including spaghetti Napolitana and Mdardarah rice with lentils.
I was right. A giant bag arrived packed with food every day and I struggled to get through it all. But if the quantity was an issue, the quality wasn’t. Every morsel was delicious and cooked perfectly.
I knew from the website blurb that Lively uses only the freshest ingredients, but it didn’t boast about the chef’s talents enough – everything was cooked impeccably. My spaghetti was al dente, and the salad crisp with light, but tasty dressings. By the end of the first week, I had eaten so much I was convinced I’d put on weight, but I’d lost 1kg, so was pleased. Pros: I was never hungry, and had so much choice I didn’t eat the same meal twice even though I was on the plan for a month. The food was tasty and well cooked. Cons: There was too much food, and it became a chore to get through it all. I also didn’t have the time to do the required exercise so I thought I should have eaten less. In the end, I was sharing salads, snacks and appetisers with my husband and colleagues as I was too full. Tina told me not to eat the afternoon snack unless I did a workout, which helped, but for some people this would have been a problem as it was the only sweet item on the menu (and the peanut butter cookies were delicious.)
It was a no-frills menu. I was on the gourmet plan and would have preferred smaller portions that were more high-end.
I also forgot to fill in my menu choices one week as I was so busy, and that meant the cuisine dietician
soup to delicious biryanis, Lively offers tasty meal plans for both vegetarians and meat-eaters chose for me, and I didn’t enjoy those meals as much. But that was my fault, and I made sure I didn’t miss the deadline again. Result: Fantastic – even though I was full, I lost a steady 1kg per week and lost 4kg by the end. If I had stayed on the plan for another month I expect I would have lost another 4kg – close to the 10kg promised by Tina, even though I hadn’t done any exercise (or even taken the exercise DVD out of the wrapper). Verdict: This is an easy-to-follow plan with plenty of choices and tasty dishes. There is so much food that it doesn’t feel like a diet.
And the scales don’t lie – the plan works. If I’d followed the chief clinical officer’s advice I would have had quite dramatic results.
As it was I still lost a lot of weight with absolutely zero effort. I simply had to open my Lively bag every day and eat! They did all the hard work for me. Price and details: Dh4,400 for the gourmet menu for 28 days. Call 04 348 1008, email email@example.com or visit www.lively.ae.
From wholesome lentil