The bold statement on the cover of new book, Nourish and Glow: the 10-Day Plan by Amelia Freer is seductive: ‘Lose weight, feel great and kick-start a lifetime of healthy eating.’ This presumably is what the author is suggesting will happen, should you take up the challenge to follow her 10-day menu of breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
What’s the promise?
Amelia leads us into a gentle world where we’ll explore negative mindsets, peel away emotional baggage around food we may be holding on to, and wipe the slate clean of conflicting messages. No guru, blogger, celebrity chef or self-styled expert, we are assured, should be telling us what works best for us as individuals, as we can achieve good nutrition through a lifelong experiment of trial and error. So far, so good.Looks as if we have a nutritional therapist on our hands who is going to break the mould…
What does it involve?
I spoke too soon. Granted, it took over 50 pages to get there, but my heart sank when I arrived at the remark: ‘While wheat and dairy are not “bad” for you (in most circumstances)… I have excluded them from the 10-day plan.’ Along with, of course, ‘refined’ sugar.
Then comes the most confusing warning. ‘As with all major nutrition changes, it is important to ask a qualified nutrition professional to guide you through this process if you are planning to eat a restrictive diet beyond a few days or so.’ It seems an odd statement to make about your own plan for a lifetime of healthy eating, but it’s sound advice. In fact, were you to heed it and consult a registered dietitian or registered nutritionist, they’d tell you right away there’s absolutely no need to jettison either gluten or dairy without a medical reason.
The good bits
To be fair, initial chapters dish up some helpful advice. There is some sensible guidance on how to deal with the well-known phenomenon of diet saboteurs, the long-known benefit of creating a community of people around you to spur you on and support dietary changes, and tips about there being ‘no such thing as failure’. It’s good stuff. So too, initially, is the tone of guidance with an ‘I like to do this’ and ‘I prefer to do that’ approach, which replaces the bossy speak of many of Amelia’s competitors.
What’s not so good
It doesn’t take long for this the-choice-is-yours voice to feel slightly more prescriptive. By the time you hit the 10-day plan itself, it’s clear this nutrition therapist means business. This diet isn’t about clean eating, but you could be forgiven for not really seeing much distinction from others that are.
Amelia goes on to overturn decades of world-renowned nutrition research, rubber stamped by respected organisations including The British Dietetic Association, Cancer Research UK, the UK Department of Health, the World Health Organization and the British Heart Association. She’s weighed in and redesigned the Eat Well Guide and created her own Positive Nutrition Pyramid instead.
This has eight glasses of fluid at its base, followed by a layer of six vegetables. On top of the veg is a layer of three fruits, then three proteins. Two small servings of non-gluten carbs come next and then two servings of acceptable fats and a finale of handful of nuts at the top.
What can you eat?
In an organic nutshell, quinoa, sweet potatoes, chia seeds, fruits and vegetables and ‘high quality’ chicken make the cut. So do canned chickpeas, even though, confusingly, ‘processed foods’ are frowned on and get the chop. Coconut (rich in saturated fats) is in but sunflower oil (rich in unsaturated fats) is on the author’s ‘red’ list. Coffee apparently makes you tired (even though it’s known to stimulate the central nervous system), so it’s limited to one to two cups a day.
A typical day…
Involves a breakfast frittata for your first meal, chicken paté in lettuce cups for lunch and wild salmon parcels with Asian-style salad for dinner, plus three portions of seasonal fruit, one after each meal.
The plan is high in protein (93g in total – women have a recommended target of 55g daily), has carbohydrates totalling just 55g, making it most certainly low carb, and has 10g more than the 70g fat advised for women each day. On the plus side, saturated fats are below the 20g maximum and salt is 2g less than the 6g limit.
However, in spite of all the vegetables and fruit in the plan, you don’t make your 30g target for fibre and, on the particular day described above, you’ll get less than half your daily calcium needs and only a little over half of a woman’s iron need for the day.
But is it an effective weight-loss diet?
A typical day provides 1,360 calories, and most of us will certainly shed weight if we eat at that kind of energy level over 10 days. If you follow the 10-day plan and have the time, money and inclination to go on eating in this fashion after that – then, yes, most people will shed pounds and, in the longer term, stones if needed.
Whichever way Amelia Freer wraps it up, ultimately this is a clean eating wolf in the guise of a healthy eating sheep’s clothing. Having said that, the initial chapters on how we think about what we eat have some good points to take away. Ultimately, however, it’s a plan for people with the time and money to get this kind of food on the table. Amelia’s suggestion of doing it with the guidance of a nutrition professional would at least highlight the nutritional deficiencies that could be picked up along the way if followed long term.