x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Meals that fit a new low-fat life delivered to the doorstep

The only takeaways I've ever tried have been from Chinese and Indian restaurants and they certainly wouldn't fit in with my new low-fat life

When you've been on a diet for several months as I have, there comes a time when you find yourself eating the same things over and over again just because they're easy to prepare. After the initial flurry of enthusiasm doing wonderful things with okra and bean sprouts, real life takes over, and trying to dream up new low fat recipes becomes tedious. I found myself eating smoked salmon and tomatoes or steak and tomatoes or anything and tomatoes most of the time.

Then somebody suggested that I take a break from cooking and get my meals delivered. I had never really considered it before. The only takeaways I've ever tried have been from Chinese and Indian restaurants and they certainly wouldn't fit in with my new low-fat life. It turns out that there are companies that specialise in delivering healthy food to your doorstep, which is how I found myself sitting in the offices of a nutritionist in a white coat staring in horror at one kilogram of wobbly rubber "fat" mounted on a plinth. Trust me, it's not a pretty sight. If I ever consider wavering from my diet, all I need to do is conjure up the memory of this blubbery mass and remember that I used to carry around eight more of them. I definitely think they should market them as an aid to slimmers.

Nathalie Hadid, a 30 year old with a Master's degree in nutrition and dietetics from McGill University, set up Right Bite (@email:www.right-bite.com) because she could see there was a demand for it in Dubai, where the sedentary lifestyle makes people pile on the pounds. "A lot of people want to eat healthily but are limited by availability or access to healthy meals. They think that a diet means they should only eat grilled fish or chicken and salad. We decided to give them what they want to eat but prepared in a healthy way and with sensible portions. We don't use anything artificial and we try to focus on what makes people break their diet. A lot of time it's cravings, so we try to give people their fix of chocolate or whatever for the day."

Sensibly, Hadid insists that her clients come in for a consultation during which they are weighed, measured and have their blood pressure taken. She also uses a body composition analysis machine and in my case suggested that I should lose another 4kg of fat from the abdominal area, which is related to higher risk factors such as cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. It's a little more than I was thinking of losing, as I have already shed 8kg but hey, I'm on a roll if you will excuse the analogy. I might as well carry on for a little longer.

Because I'm active and exercise quite a bit, she decided to allow me 1,300 calories a day. If I eat too few calories, she warned, I will lose muscle and that's not good. We went through some menus together and I was surprised at the variety of dishes on offer and that are constantly being refreshed. I found myself choosing muffins with jam, sugar glazed banana bagels, egg sandwiches or glazed apricot almond scones with jam and low fat cream cheese.

For lunch there's prawns and vegetables with noodles, okra stew with tomatoes and meat or beef lasagne, and dinner could be chicken pizza, steamed lemon grass and ginger chicken or pink pepper steak with sautéed spinach. And that's not all. There are snacks, side dishes and even cake for that mid-afternoon energy slump. A Right Bite club sandwich contains only 325 calories, compared to a regular club sandwich at 720 calories, and their chocolate mouse is a 100 calorie treat compared with the normal 275.

It all arrives at whatever time you want, either at your home or your office, neatly packed in a green cooler bag, your tailor made menu typed out with your name on top. I was amazed at how much food I was expected to eat in one day and wondered if the calculations were correct. The other thing I noticed was the size of the portions, just enough to satisfy my hunger but not huge and clearly carefully cooked. The food is very tasty, although I find the bagels hard work as I haven't been eating much bread recently.

A team of chefs works through the night at Right Bite's kitchens in Al Quoz creating meals for people all over the city before the start of the day. The food is then blast chilled and delivered in refrigerated vans. Every week you choose the following week's menus and you get reminder phone calls if you forget. If you are away they will cancel your delivery, credit you and start again when you get back. The service has been such a success that they are considering starting up in Abu Dhabi.

It's hard to give an exact cost as every package is different, but it's not all that much more than a weekly shop at the supermarket and there's no waste. It's perfect for very busy or very lazy people or people like me who just fancy a change.
pkennedy@thenational.ae