Getting in shape has just as much to do with properly fueling your body as it does with putting it through the paces at your gym, so retooling your routine sometimes requires a balanced diet, portion control and a strict calorie count. But while this sounds simple in theory, many of us struggle with actually putting it into practice.
“I’ve tried several diets but could never get past a certain plateau, so I was beginning to believe I would be overweight for the rest of my life,” said Carol Beaudoin, a registered nurse from Oceanside, Calif. “Before menopause, I was only a size six and never really had a weight problem. I have an hourglass shape, so when weight goes on it gets evenly distributed, but after menopause it was getting distributed into a size 12!”
Enter today’s meal delivery programs, which feature pre-made, perfectly-portioned meals containing specific calorie counts, plus an ideal ratio of carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats and fiber. And unlike the freeze-dried, preservative-laden diet delivery systems of days past, today’s crop of programs boasts freshly-prepared meals that are delivered direct to your door at regular intervals for a culinary experience that is more ‘indulgence’ than ‘deprivation.’
Yes, not having to shop, chop and cook your way healthy feels like a luxury once reserved for only those who could afford personal chefs, but are these services all they’re cracked up to be? Athletes and actresses alike swear by the convenience factor, plus the fact that they’re virtually foolproof, but with prices that shrink wallets as quickly as waistlines, is it really worth it? Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing the most popular programs and weighing in on everything from taste, variety and freshness to price, delivery and ease-of-use. First up? The Fresh Diet.
Established in November of 2005, The Fresh Diet was created by a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who based it on the 40% carbohydrates, 30% proteins and 30% fats diet concept, although today’s meals stray a bit from this original ratio. Today, the program’s claim to fame is daily delivery of three freshly-prepared meals, plus two snacks, for an experience that’s truly made-to-order.
The program kicks off with an online meal planner dashboard, which gives clients hands-on control over their service plan, including exclusion of disliked foods, notations of dietary restrictions and even the ability to reschedule meals without penalty. Most impressive, however, is being able to to pick and choose from several options for each meal, making it feel as though you have a personal chef at your beck and call. At first it can be a bit overwhelming, but after you sample a few meals and find your favorites, it’s nice to be able to have the option to customize it based on personal preferences – i.e. go for the sweet dessert over a second savory snack.
“I tell people that everything is done for them; all they have to do is enter their personal info online to The Fresh Diet site, such as height, weight and goal weight,” said Beaudoin, who has been ‘getting fresh’ since February 2010 and has lost 26 pounds on the program. “Whether they have allergies, high cholesterol, heart problems or diabetes, and whether they are pregnant, vegetarian or want to eat gluten-free, The Fresh Diet will cater to them.”
And cater The Fresh Diet does; below is a sample daily menu that clients can expect to receive on the program. Don’t like what you see? There are multiple options from which to choose when setting your day’s selections, and if you should select, say, too many carbs and not enough vegetables, a pop-up alert nudges you in the direction of a better decision.
- Breakfast: Whole wheat waffles with fresh blackberries and papaya yogurt
- Hors D’oeuvre: Mushroom crowns stuffed with creamy broccoli
- Lunch: Grilled Mahi Mahi Caesar salad with crisp romaine lettuce, tomato, whole wheat croutons and Caesar dressing
- Dinner: Pan-seared sea scallops with ginger jerk sauce, lemon-roasted grenn asparagus and roasted spaghetti squash
- Dessert: Maple cheesecake
“I love The Fresh Diet foods because they have a variety of fish to choose from, plus very lean meats such as chicken, veal, pork, beef and even lamb,” said Beaudoin. “There are savory as well as sweet snacks, soups, salads, wraps and sandwiches – all healthy using just fresh ingredients, whole grains and healthy fats.”
An executive chef oversees the nutrition component of the program using a nutrition data analysis program, while certified chefs prepare the food in six kitchens in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Toronto. All food is prepared using natural ingredients and delivered fresh (never frozen) from the closest kitchen directly to doorsteps every day (except Saturday) in insulated containers between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Clients have the option to sign up for 7-, 14-, 21- or 31-day plans, with the flexibility to change orders or cancel meals within 48 hours of scheduled delivery. And if you’re headed out of town, you can either put your meals on hold or have them delivered to another location, as long as it falls within the program’s delivery zones.
If you can afford it, The Fresh Diet provides balanced, delicious meals that jump start a diet or simply help teach the kitchen-phobic to eat better. This convenience does come at a cost, though; a month on the program costs $1,395 per person, which is probably not an option for most families. It’s a terrific choice for busy people who want to eat healthier but have no time to cook, however. It’s also an excellent short-term treat when kicking off a healthy-eating regimen. The food is delectable, and having it magically appear on your porch each day is akin to the adult version of Christmas morning.
“As a nurse, I know that this is really how a person should always eat in order to maintain optimal health, along with drinking water and exercising,” said Beaudoin, who was so thrilled with her results that she started a personal blog detailing her experience with The Fresh Diet. “I’ve seen my cholesterol and triglycerides levels – which have always been a struggle – reduced to a desirable level doing The Fresh Diet Plan. The final reward is not only delicious gourmet food but a trim and healthier you!”
The Fresh Diet delivers to most of Northern California, including the San Jose and San Francisco areas. For more information on the program, to view sample menus or to sign up, visit TheFreshDiet.com and check out their Facebook page here for daily updates.