While I pretty much stopped putting myself on strict diet plans after I turned 30 (I had tortured myself enough in my twenties), I had to admit… I was enticed by the celebrity endorsements and the sleek, modern branding. Stars such as J-Lo, Sofia Vergara, Mario Lopez, Sarah Michelle Gellar and many others have all been associated with this all natural, gourmet meal delivery service. While I was living in Canada, I didn’t have the option because it’s not available outside the U.S. So when I moved, I just HAD to try it.
I decided to opt for the Silver Plan – which consists of frozen vs. fresh meals. The Gold plan (which includes fresh meals) was approx. $49 per day which is a bit pricey and if it wasn’t something I wanted to invest in, I figured most people would feel the same. So I decided to try the one that was more realistic and therefore hopefully sharing my experience would be more relevant and helpful. Plus, with frozen items I knew I could store them longer in case I didn’t eat all of the meals in a given week.
It’s almost impossible to evaluate a weight loss program with a simple Yes or No, because weight loss success is very different for each individual. What works for one person may not work for another – it has a lot to do with lifestyle, personality, and personal preferences.
For me personally, I didn’t love it. And here’s why – it had less to do with the program, which I actually believe could work, but the fact that it wasn’t the right program for me:
1) While the quality was much better than many frozen meals I’ve bought from the grocery store, it’s still a frozen meal. Depending on the specific entrée, some were really good, others not so much… especially breakfast items where you are warming up pancakes with frozen fruit. It’s never going to taste as good as if you made it yourself. (This is where the Gold plan might be worth the extra $$ because I would imagine the fresh food would taste better).
2) You have to use a microwave, which I try to avoid. I have occasionally warmed up food when in a hurry, but definitely didn’t feel right eating 3 meals a day from the microwave, and the oven just takes more time, planning and defrosting.
3) This is where preference comes in – I typically like to eat a very simple breakfast, like oatmeal or a slice of multigrain bread with almond butter, or a smoothie. So when I open a breakfast that has a waffle and turkey sausage, I’m not exactly thrilled. I felt like I was forcing myself to eat things I didn’t feel like eating…which is the exact opposite of what I usually do and what I teach my clients through my nutrition and weight loss coaching.
4) Speaking of eating things you don’t feel like eating… while I’m not a strict vegan anymore, I still don’t eat a lot of meat. On this plan I found myself with meat in my breakfast dishes at least 3 or 4 times in one week, plus beef stir-fry dishes, and some sort of chicken or fish dish most days. This means that if you’re avoiding dairy, red meat or anything else, you won’t be able to eat all of the meals they send you (while they do have excellent variety in their menu, you can’t customize the meals). There were some vegetarian dishes, however I prefer grains and beans rather than pasta and fake meatballs as a vegetarian option.
5) Finally, I just found it didn’t fit into my life. There were days I went out for dinner or grabbed a bite for lunch while running errands, so it wasn’t practical to eat all of the meals for that week, which meant a lot of leftover meals and wasted money. Here again it’s good to have the frozen option because at least you can store them. They also allow you to put your plan on hold for several weeks so I’m assuming you could stop early and finish off your plan with the meals that you missed and accumulated in your freezer. The trick though is that if you are eating your own meals, you need to make sure you are following the same portion control or you won’t see the desired weight loss results.
In spite of my personal experience with it, I actually do think there are some benefits to choosing a meal delivery service as a way to lose weight:
1) It is a great way to stay within a target calorie intake, which is helpful if you have an important event for which you want to lose weight. Often we can over-estimate the calorie count of specific foods or meals and end up not seeing the results we want, which if you have a hard deadline, can be very frustrating. With this program, if you stick to the food that you’re given, you will lose weight.
2) If you’re busy and/or hate to cook, it’s a great way to have healthy, balanced meals and avoid the grab-and-go fast food options.
3) It’s easy and convenient and you don’t need to spend a lot of time in preparing for or understanding the “rules” of the program. You don’t need to stock up on anything, learn calorie counts or point systems. It’s pretty much all there for you. It’s a great short-term plan. Now having said that, if you don’t implement long term eating habits, then the results will be short term as well.
4) It’s much healthier than extreme diets that are very calorie restrictive (i.e. below 1200 calories per day), or involve a lot of shakes and pills that are full of artificial or unhealthy ingredients.
I’m not advocating any diet plan as the ideal way to lose weight. Ultimately lifestyle changes are the healthiest and most effective way to manage and maintain (and maintenance is key). You really can do it yourself. But life is life, and sometimes we are too busy, or need a kick-start, or want to look good for a specific event and feel like we need the discipline… or like me, sometimes you just don’t feel like cooking!
Either way, a meal delivery service could be the answer for you. You must be sure however, to choose a high quality service with natural food and well-balanced meals. As a healthier option I would definitely recommend Freshology if you live in the U.S. and for my Canadian friends, I would suggest the NIM Diet based in Toronto. It’s the healthiest option I’ve found out there.
If you have any questions about my experience with Freshology or perhaps with similar plans you’ve tried, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me via email.
As for me… I’m glad I tried it because at least I know that I’m not missing anything. And when I don’t feel like cooking, I will stick to my favorite options – Wholefoods deli and prepared foods, or Amy’s frozen entrees, which are all vegetarian and taste amazing!
Live Fit. Live Happy.