I’m not the kind of person I think of when it comes to dieting: too fond of a take-away and a bottle of something. Even as a vegequarian (no meat, just fish) I’m not very disciplined: “You not having the rest of that lamb madras? I’d rather eat it than you throw it away, stick it in the fridge.” And ‘portion control’ might as well be an alien language: cook loads and freeze the rest = cook loads and go back for thirds before it goes cold. So a freshly-prepared diet delivered to my door sounded right up my alley – and the kick I needed to shed that spare stone.

How it works

Soulmatefood is part of Soulmate Lifestyle Consultancy, a team of 16 specialists who offer a variety of holistic services including personal training, life coaching and their five-star diet delivery package. The food plans range from straightforward weight loss to pre- and post-natal nutrition to one-on-one consultations for pro sports people. I was on the basic, feel better, get thinner package. I signed up on their website and filled in a survey about my likes and dislikes to tailor my week’s menu. All the food is cooked and prepared fresh – nothing is frozen or processed – and delivered to you in batches every three days. It arrives in a large, insulated box, containing all your food plus a menu to follow. Only now did I become nervous about what I might have let myself in for…

The menu

I needn’t have worried. When I unboxed in the office – to the coos of my colleagues – I was relieved there was not a pink shake in sight. Instead there was what seemed to be a mountain of colourful, fresh, delicious looking chilled meals, soups, smoothies and snacks, all labelled with the day and time they were to be enjoyed. And what was that at the bottom? Yes! A curry. Closer inspection of the menu revealed that the notes accompanying each meal were fun and friendly as well as informative: “As we’re writing this it’s minus three outside, but this warming and spicy dish with a high protein content from the paneer and lentils should keep you warm in this winter weather.”

The food itself was so tasty I always looked forward to tucking into the next inventive item on the list, wondering how my taste buds might be tickled this time. A typical day’s food consisted of:

Breakfast: smoked salmon and pea frittata

Morning snack: nut crunch, chocolate strawberries

Lunch: Mediterranean falafel and pasta salad

Afternoon snack: jerk fruit and nut mix

Dinner: Herb encrusted baked haddock accompanied by spring vegetables

The positives

If all that doesn’t sound much like a diet, it was the portion control that was the magic ingredient. To begin with it was hard work to stop eating at the end of each meal, knowing I couldn’t top it up with a slice of bread and butter, but I never went to bed hungry and after a few days I realised I was simply becoming unused to overeating. Having my week’s food planned out was a treat too, especially as it included meals I’d never have prepared myself: the chicken (Quorn fillets for the veggies) with lemon, thyme and baked pears with roasted root veg was a revelation! Another touch it was nice to see was the large postage-paid bag in which to return the insulating foam, ready for the next delivery.

The negatives

I did get hungry during the afternoons but, as this was essentially a detox diet rather than strict weight loss, I was able to supplement with apples and green tea to keep the wolf from the door. I also felt lightheaded and more tired as I cut my calories but I put that down to being an inevitable result of eating less. Also, the diet was a six-day rather than seven-day a week program. The reasoning is that this allows you to have a social life, or have a day off to start to plan your food independently. All the same I think I’d like to have not been given the opportunity to fall off the wagon, at least early on in the program.

Did it work?

It certainly did and the greatest lesson it taught me was that I could get by on about a third less food. I felt more energetic and clearer headed (eventually!) as a result – and lost seven pounds into the bargain. I didn’t cheat once (even having just beans on toast and cereal on my ‘day off’) as I was determined to see it whether I had the will power to change my eating habits. I did and, although I’ve slipped a little since, it’s shown me that I can still enjoy all the food I like, I just don’t need to lick the saucepan clean.

Soulmatefood starts from £25 per day. For further information visit www.soulmatelifestyle.com/food or call 0870 803 3833. If you really want to splash out, Soulmatefood have launched three exclusive diet and detox packages with The Body Clinic, Urban Retreat at Harrods.

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