French women are known for their slender figures, despite their preference for cheese, croissants and wine, and the secret of their decorated waistlines has long been a subject of fascination.
Now a new delivery service for diet meals wants to prove that you can dine on crepes for breakfast, pasta for lunch and beef bourguignon, followed by chocolate mousse for dinner and lose weight at the same time.
Dietbon was created by French chefs and was launched in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain in the UK just after success and claims that you can lose up to one kilo or 2 pounds a week by eating like the French.
In addition to bread and pasta, even cheese and alcohol are on the menu – as long as you stick to the recommended portion sizes.
Busy mother-of-three Natalie Brown, 38, from Hove, East Sussex, put Dietbon to the test to see if it could help her her & # 39; mama-tum & # 39; before she would sink into a bikini during a vacation.
Natalie Brown, 38, (pictured below) gave her opinion on Dietbon's weight loss plan praised by dieters in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Spain
Natalie, pictured before starting the Dietbon plan (left), wanted her & # 39; mom tum & # 39; before she went on vacation. Right: after four weeks on the Dietbon plan, Natalie had lost 9lbs and inches of her waist
Since I have my third child and go back to work in 2017, it is reasonable to say that life has been hectic.
In our house, the adults' main meal is often the last thing thought of at the end of a busy workday.
I had entered a cycle of eating the children's leftovers or ordering takeaway meals, and piled on the pounds on top of my three-time mother's vote in the process. It was high time to get back on track. Could Dietbon be the answer?
As a busy mother, the concept appealed to me at different levels: no food is limited, as long as you stick to your daily calorie quota; and the microwave meals are ready in just two minutes, so hardly a meal is ready.
The Dietbon program was created in 2014 and is adapted to every person following a diet following a telephone consultation with a dietbon dietician from France.
A typical day on the Dietbon plan
Breakfast: 1 Dietbon breakfast product + 1 low-fat or natural yoghurt + 1 portion of fresh fruit (+ 50 g of bread in the men's program)
Lunch: 1 dietbon slimming meal + 1 dietbon fruit compote or dessert
Snack: 1 Dietbon snack product + 1 low-fat or natural yoghurt
Dinner: 1 dietbon slimming meal + 1 portion of raw or lightly cooked vegetables (+ 1 portion of fresh fruit in the men's program)
& # 39; The theory revolves around helping you to restore balance – in French we say & # 39; rééquilibrage & # 39 ;, Dietbon nutritionist Charlotte Debeugny told me.
It's all about balancing your food intake in a healthy and nutritious way.
The meals contain all food groups, so it's not that it's a low carbohydrate, and it's not like it's a protein shake. It is based on the pleasure of eating real meals made and designed by French chefs. & # 39;
You can choose from one-month, two-month, three-month and four-month plans of £ 44 a week.
To put it in context, that is from £ 7 a day for three Dietbon meals and a snack, delivery and diet consultation.
During the consultation, they will discuss the goals of your lifestyle and weight loss with you and tailor the plan to your needs – in my case 1200 calories a day.
After my telephone consultation with Charlotte – who is also present to provide diet support with a 30-minute phone call for each month that you are scheduled – I was able to sign up on the Dietbon website and choose my meals.
There are 80 to choose from, so it's easy to avoid anything you don't like.
I opted for breakfast crepes, which I could supplement every day with a yogurt and a portion of fresh fruit; pasta dishes including pesto and goat cheese ravioli for lunch, and bourguignon of beef or Sauté de Poulet rôti (roast chicken) for dinner.
All meals are 100% natural – so no additives, preservatives or artificial colors – and no GM ingredients, artificial sweeteners or palm oil are used.
Natalie, photographed before trying the diet plan, had the bad habit of finishing her children's leftovers and ordering takeaways (left). After eating Dietbon meals for a month, Natalie was a clothing size smaller (right)
You can add as many raw and lightly cooked vegetables to your meals as you wish.
And I was happy to see a whole range of pouched snacks and desserts, from chocolate-covered cereal bars and linseed and poppy seed shortbread, to mashed potatoes and chocolate mousse too.
& # 39; What we do is portion control, which is a problem for many people & # 39 ;, Charlotte explained.
& # 39; The average woman needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain her weight, and the program comes to around 1,200 calories a day. In theory, that's enough for more than a pound in weight loss per week.
& # 39; We have invested a lot of resources in devising food that tastes good & # 39 ;, Charlotte said. & # 39; It must already be perfectly seasoned and we have involved a three-star Michelin chef in the business. & # 39;
Everything you need for the month arrives in one delivery and it's all attractive, so you don't have to worry about tidying up the fridge and you can leave everything in a box in the corner of the kitchen.
Be prepared to turn your head back to French lessons at school – all packages are in French, including the cooking instructions.
Dietbon nutritionist Charlotte Debeugny, told Natalie that Dietbon teaches portion control, this boeuf bourguignon (photo) was one of Natalie & # 39; s choices for dinner
Before breakfast, Natalie indulged in crepes with yogurt and kiwi (photo), a chef with three Michelin stars was involved in making Dietbon meals
Natalie (pictured below) revealed the most difficult part of following Dietbon: every week you were only allowed to drink a small glass of wine
Like the speed with which the Dietbon meals are ready, the other thing that appealed to me – and intrigued me – is the fact that you actually follow the plan only six days a week.
The seventh day is a & # 39; free & # 39; day on which you can make your own choices, designed to help you get a grip on the management of your meals.
& # 39; We are trying to give you a day off so that you have some flexibility in your social life & # 39 ;, says Charlotte.
& # 39; Other plans are pretty fixed, but we are not trying to tell you when to eat. You have four products and you add yogurt and fruit and vegetables, but you can eat them according to your appetite. & # 39;
For me, the most difficult part of the diet was only allowed one (small) glass of wine a week (you can have two if you're a man).
I decided my & # 39; free & # 39; halfway through my plan to break the week, making it seem more manageable and meant that I was actually only on a three-day diet before I had the chance to be a little less strict.
Natalie (photo above) decided to have a day off mid-week to feel like she was on a diet for only three days in a row
Natalie (pictured below with her daughter Marigold) lost 9.7lbs and dropped from a British size 12 to a British size 10 within 28 days
Natalie (on the photo on the right) believes that reducing the amount of bread she eats was crucial to her weight loss and felt less bloated
So how did I get started? After four weeks on the Dietbon plan, I lost 4.4 pounds – that's 9.7 lbs – in weight, which is actually more than the 2 pounds a week they say you can.
However, what surprised me the most was the loss of the centimeter. I lost a whole centimeter around my waist in just 28 days, dropped from a clothing size 12 to a clothing size 10, and I put that centimeter loss in one thing: bread – or a lack thereof.
Although there is bread on the Dietbon plan – you can opt for organic sandwiches as a breakfast option, for example, I have not opted for bread with one of my meals.
This meant that I did not eat bread for a whole month and what was interesting was that within a few days I felt lighter and less bloated.
I really think that removing bread from my diet contributed to the loss of centimeters while I was planning.
Would I do it again? Oui! If you have an event or a holiday to lose weight because I think the Dietbon plan is a healthy quick fix option that does not entail replacing meals or cutting entire food groups.
And if you have more weight to lose – or a mother like mine – for a longer period, I think it's a healthy, pleasant and flexible way to lose extra pounds. After all, there is a reason why they say French women don't get fat.