Weight loss is difficult no matter what the time of year but Christmas is famously a difficult time to focus on the figure. Festive fare is famously perilous for the waistline as the mince pies and advent calendar chocolates pile up. I turned to diet regime the Jane Plan in a bid to slim down ahead of a winter sun getaway that would inevitably see me spending my days in a bikini, as well as the slew of inevitable Christmas parties. This is what you need to know about the Jane Plan diet – is it for you?
What is the Jane Plan?
The Jane Plan, set up in 2010, delivers calorie and portion-controlled meals developed by nutrition and weight loss expert Jane Michell.
The plan provides professional support as soon as you sign up and everyone is assigned their own qualified nutritionist who personalises your plan and calls you (or emails, if you’d prefer) on a weekly basis to ensure you stay on track.
Food arrives on a monthly basis alongside a very helpful booklet packed with tips about the diet, exercise, how to cope with eating out and healthy recipes for when you need to break away from the plan.
The plan provides you with breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks; dieters can choose to opt for meals every day or to have weekends off.
There are over 75 meals to choose from, whatever your requirements – gluten or dairy-free, low sugar or high protein meals vegetarian or Halal.
I start my diet at a weight of 52.50kg. I stand at 5ft tall so Jane advises putting me on a 1,000kcal diet to (hopefully) help me slim down in a month ahead of my beach holiday and party season.
Initially, this feels incredibly restrictive – surely I cannot actually survive on so few calories? Thankfully, it turns out I can – although there are inevitably a few pangs of hunger along the way.
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How does the food keep?
The food comes pre-packed so there is no need to store it in the fridge. Although I’m grateful it won’t be taking up precious fridge space, this fact initially causes alarm bells to ring.
The idea of meat products not being refrigerated for weeks on end seems very bizarre to me indeed – can it possibly be safe?
Jane assures me that it is – and a chef friend of mine corroborates. I’m told the dishes stay fresh due to a unique cooking method. The meals are created in the traditional way – they steam the rice, sauté the meat, add a sauce and so on. The finished meal is then put into a tray or pouch.
The tray or pouch is then sealed and steamed in a pressure cooker. This preserves the food naturally without the need for preservatives. It is a method used by all the baby food brands such as Ella’s Kitchen and quite a few others such as Daylesford and Duchy Originals.
Similar to vacuum packing, the natural method preserves the nutrients and the flavours and means they don’t need to ‘spray’ anything to ensure it maintains its colour (this happens with almost all chilled food) and, most importantly, no preservatives are used.
Can you eat anything else on the Jane Plan?
Another initial source of concern was that I wouldn’t be eating any fresh food for an entire month. However, the aforementioned handy booklet points out that you’re to match the packed foods with fresh fruit and vegetables.
I start having low-fat Greek yoghurt with my Jane Plan granola or muesli and a handful of raspberries and blueberries. I enjoy a piece of fruit for a morning snack and try to eat fresh veggies with my lunch and dinner.
As for eating out – your nutritionist is on hand to help. Mine gives me some top tips for navigating a Sunday roast with the girls, for instance.
What is the Jane Plan food like?
Thanks to the diverse range of meals available you never find yourself getting bored – often the downfall of any diet and certainly where I’ve fallen foul in the past.
The food varies quite a lot, I found. Some dishes were rather yummy while others were distinctly less appetising. The good news is that they offer a free swap up facility if you find you really don’t like some of the dishes.
Some of my favourites were as follows: cottage pie, mushroom soup, vegetable lasagna, naked beef burrito, tuna pasta bake, penne Bolognese and the aloo sag. As you can see – there’s plenty of variety. No Ryvita and cottage cheese here!
It was particularly exciting to find the snack selection included not only nuts and seeds but also popcorn, biscuits and chocolate (in appropriate portion sizes, of course).
How easy is it to stick to the Jane Plan?
I confess I begin the regime thinking that surely this is a diet for people with no willpower. Then I remember I’ve eaten two huge curries and a Dominos pizza in the past week – who am I kidding, this diet is ideal for me.
The Jane Plan really is great in that it means never having to think about the food- it’s always there and ready for you and is super easy to heat up in a jiffy in the microwave.
There’s no trawling through the supermarket aisles in a bid to find low calories items or anxiously inputting meals into My Fitness Pal to make sure you haven’t gone over your calorie allowance.
It’s just all done for you – if you eat the assigned three dishes and one snack a day then you really are just sticking to your nutritionist-approved allowance. No maths or stress needed.
That said, there are still points when I struggle with the diet. Drinking with friends and the weekends prove rather tricky.
I decide early on that I will simply take the weekends off. I will try where I can to keep calories low but I do still want to enjoy being out and about with friends – and food often takes centre stage at these events.
While this, of course, proved a slight hindrance to my weight loss, I like to think a little break from the plan every now helped keep me sane.
Luckily with the set diet to go back to the next day, I never fall off the wagon completely – which I have certainly done before when attempting to follow a regime.
What was the end result of the plan?
I succeed in losing roughly 2lbs per week, which, given my frame to begin with and the fact that I often indulged at the weekend, is rather pleasing.
Indeed, according to the Jane Plan, the average weight loss their customers report is a healthy and maintainable 2lbs per week.
In fact, even after I finish the month-long diet I continue with a 1,000-1,200 kcal allowance until I head off on holiday, so thrilled am I to see the weight drop off.
While foodies might cringe at the idea of solely existing off packaged meals, the Jane Plan certainly makes for a very easy diet, which is key to slimming down in my opinion. It’s fuss-free and really does work.
Now all I have to do is make sure I don’t undo all my good efforts at the all-you-can-eat buffet on holiday…