One Small bite at a time

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One Small bite at a time

  1. 1. UNWIND HEALTHOne small bite at a timeBy Maria M. Stapleton, Features WriterPublished: September 25, 2009, 22:05Nutrition and catering services offer a range of tasty options for their calorie-consciousclients.Every Saturday evening, I resolve to improve my eating habits. Despite my good intentions, byTuesday the strain of the working week has crushed my willpower. According to reports, obesitylevels in the UAE are on the rise and it seems I am not the only one with a dependence onconvenience food.With diets panned as ineffective and even dangerous, the UAEs expanding waistlines looked to anew concept that integrated hospitality and healthcare. Dubbed "nutrition and catering services",these health and wellbeing companies monitor clients body compositions, deliver health-consciousmeals on their doorstep and promote a healthy lifestyle.Established in December 2004, Right Bite was one of the first companies to introduce the service tothe UAE. "Right Bite started as a request by clients who wanted to consume healthy food but found alack of choice," says Nathalie Haddad, managing director of Right Bite, Dubai.According to Thuraya Baalbaki, founder, partner and managing director of Lively weightmanagement programme, the schemes attract a broad customer base."We have young children, teenagers, men and women, pregnant women, diabetics, people onchemotherapy, people suffering from heart or kidney problems and those with food allergies orintolerances," Baalbaki says."We do not target one part of society because weight and health are common concerns foreveryone," she adds.Although details may vary between programmes, the core principles are the same, as Baalbaki
  2. 2. explains."Following a consultation with a clinical dietitian, a tailored meal plan is delivered daily to the client.This is supported by weekly or fortnightly follow-ups to keep motivation high and to monitorprogress."According to Haddad, clients can choose from a menu developed by dietitians. "We offer differentmeal packages to suit individual needs and lifestyles, ranging from one meal a day to a completedaily intake. Many clients are surprised at how much they can actually eat and at the variety offood," Haddad says.The downfall of many overweight individuals is the notion of portion size - something that thecatering-service aspect of the programme addresses, says Seema Shetty, executive director ofBiteRite, a nutrition service based in Abu Dhabi. "The portion size is the usual lesson they learn whenthey follow the BiteRite plan. Most people are used to having double or even triple quantities," sheadds.Shetty believes education is a key aspect of healthy-eating programmes."Nutrition education improves and strengthens a programmes fundamental concept in the clientsdaily life," she says."Education is part of the 360-degree approach of BiteRite. Besides sending e-mails about healthyliving, we also conduct seminars on the subject twice a month. Our sole purpose is to train the eyesand tongue on understanding what comprises a healthy diet, including the concepts of balancedmeals and acceptable quantities," Shetty adds.Educating clients will ensure they do not relapse into bad habits once they complete the weight-lossprogramme, Haddad says."As dietitians, we firmly believe that the role of nutrition education is essential to helping individualsmake positive and lifelong changes to their eating habits. We aim to give individuals a betterunderstanding of how food affects their overall health and wellbeing," Haddad adds.Baalbaki agrees. "The Lively box educates clients about portion size, food selection, cookingmethods and self-control. With the education and training they receive, they begin applying whatthey have learnt," she says.The main criticism the programmes receive concerns their cost. Programmes vary between Dh2,000and Dh3,300 per month for the full package of three meals and two snacks but Baalbaki believes theprice is more than justifiable."Our prices are reasonable when you consider the quality of food, the standard of service and thepersonalised care we offer. If you compare our prices to eating at a restaurant, you will find themcheap," Baalbaki says.If UAE residents are serious about tackling their weight, perhaps its about time they replaced thedelivery boy with the delivery bag.The bite that was right for meWhen I moved to the UAE, I laughed - albeit nervously - at the prospect of gaining the dreadedDubai stone. Three years on and countless brunches later, I had a wardrobe filled with clothes that
  3. 3. no longer fitted. Desperate to regain my figure, I signed up for Right Bite.During my first consultation, my assigned dietitian Nadine explained the basics of the programme.Rather than eating three large meals daily, I would be provided with a green chiller bag containingfive food portions, to be consumed at regular intervals throughout the day - breakfast (8.30am), amid-morning snack (11am), lunch (1pm), an afternoon snack (4pm) and dinner (7pm). I also had toe-mail her the details of my food intake on Fridays - the plans day off - and my exercise regime.After choosing meal options for the first week from a specially tailored menu, Nadine carried out adetailed analysis of my body composition. From this data, she outlined targets relating to my weight,muscle mass and percentage body fat.The variety of food that arrived each day was surprising. Instead of tasteless rice cakes and blandgrilled chicken, there was a selection of Indian, Arabian, Oriental and Western dishes. Meal choicesincluded a bagel and peanut butter for breakfast, pizza for lunch and chicken tikka for dinner. Theafternoon snacks were the daily highlights, with choices including "trim" tiramisu, carrot cake andfudge brownies.Besides salt and fat, the sugar content of each food is also carefully monitored so although theportion sizes were smaller than I usually ate, I never once felt hungry and my craving for sugardiminished. After following the plan for six weeks, I had achieved the goals that had been set. Toensure I continued to eat healthily, Nadine devised a maintenance programme I could follow.Right Bite taught me to think about my diet in a different way. I think about what I eat, when I eatand how much I eat - questions I never asked before.My energy levels have increased. Best of all, I have no problem finding something to wear and theonly thing bulging in my life is my wardrobe.StatisticsBefore Weight (kg): 55.1 Fat mass (kg): 17.8 Muscle mass (kg): 20.1 Waist (cm): 74 Hips (cm): 89After Weight (kg): 53.6 Fat mass (kg): 15.6 Muscle mass (kg): 20.5 Waist (cm): 67 Hips (cm): 87

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