The sun has been shining, lockdown is lifting and every day I open my wardrobe doors I am tortured by the sight of all the summer clothes I can no longer squeeze into.
I have piled on weight in the past 12 months and urgently need a plan of action if I’m to drop some timber before the summer. After months of indulgence, the idea of watery, flavourless slimming shakes and soups makes my heart sink. What’s a (chubby) girl to do?
Anybody tuning in to Downing Street press conferences will have noticed that there is far less of our PM than at the start of lockdown last year. After falling seriously ill with Covid, Boris Johnson worked hard to shift the weight by working out with a personal trainer — and, it seems, by getting delicious organic food delivered to his home.
Claudia Connell (pictured) gives verdict on trying to lose weight with naturally low in calories and fat meals from Daylesford
Last month it was revealed the PM and his fiancee Carrie Symonds have chomped their way through £12,500 worth of gourmet grub from Daylesford Organic in the past year.
The company, established 14 years ago by the Bamford family, also sell online and via Ocado.
Its prices may be eye-watering, but so is trying to squeeze my size 16 bum into my jeans. Could a regimen of high-class cuisine — let’s call it the Daylesford Diet — start me on my journey to dropping two dress sizes? Here’s what I discovered . . .
As a yo-yo dieter, I’ve tried every slimming plan under the sun; and I’ve found the most effective is good, old-fashioned calorie-counting.
I decide I am going to aim for 1,200 calories a day via three meals and the occasional snack.
Daylesford offers a huge range of ready meals (average price £8) and soups (average £4.99), with all the nutritional information given on the website, meaning it’s easy for me to plan a week’s worth of food without waste (which, at these prices, you don’t want).
Although none is marketed as diet foods, many are naturally low in calories and fat.
Claudia who has tried every slimming plan under the sun, aimed for 1,200 calories a day for a week. Pictured: A Daylesford food delivery at No 10
My haul of goodies arrives from Ocado and it feels like I’ve been shopping at a farmer’s market. The bread and butter are wrapped in paper and the milk is in a quirky, biodegradable bag.
BREAKFAST: I start my day as I always do with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, this time using Daylesford Organic Ground Coffee and a splash of its skimmed milk that comes from its ‘herd of happy, healthy cows. We milk our cows twice a day, right next to the lush green meadows they call home, then pasteurise and pour the milk right on our farm’.
I don’t know if I’ve been swept away by the advertising blurb but, my goodness, this is the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. So much so that I have a second mug.
Claudia said Cacao & Coconut Porridge (pictured) made with water tasted bland
I mix myself a small bowl of Cacao & Coconut Porridge. I make it with water but with hindsight should have used some of the delicious milk from the world’s happiest cows, because what I end up with looks like prison slop and tastes bland.
LUNCH: A bowl of roast tomato Soup with mascarpone & Herbs. One 500ml pouch serves two, but as the whole carton is just 232 calories, I polish off the entire thing: delicious and tangy. I add a salad made of little gem lettuce, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, celery and chargrilled artichokes. I dress with a drizzle of olive oil (a staggering £19.99 a bottle) and a squeeze of lemon juice.
SNACK: A bag of beetroot crisps: slices of dehydrated and baked beetroot that are surprisingly tasty.
DINNER: Like the soups, all Daylesford ready meals come in 500ml pouches to serve two. For my first main meal I opt for Lamb Casserole With Peas & Mint Leaves. Once again, as the whole carton is 396 calories, I eat the lot. It smells delicious, but it’s watery and a bit school dinner-like. Steamed broccoli on the side gives it some much needed crunch.
Total calories: 1,193
Claudia said the chicken broth with ginger & seasonal vegetables (pictured) was deliciously satisfying and she couldn’t finish it
BREAKFAST: I don’t wake up ravenously hungry like I normally do on a diet. After a mug of coffee, I mix myself a bowl of crunchy oat granola with a couple of tablespoons of natural yoghurt. Daylesford isn’t joking about the ‘crunchy’ — a full jaw workout — but it’s tasty and filling.
LUNCH: Daylesford fans rave about its Chicken broth with ginger & seasonal vegetables. The carton’s just 128 calories and is so deliciously satisfying I can’t finish it. I also have a side salad with just lemon juice for dressing.
SNACK: Two squares of organic raw chocolate, so rich and intense it’s the only chocolate bar I’ve never wanted to eat in one go.
DINNER: My super low-calorie lunch means I have enough calories in hand to devour an entire 500ml portion of spinach and paneer curry at 522 calories with a side helping of Daylesford’s white fluffy basmati rice. I’m a curry fiend and this is among the best I’ve had. I even have to undo my jeans when I watch TV. That’s my kind of diet — although I can’t picture the chic, elegant Carrie lying on her sofa, zip undone, in a post-dinner food coma.
Total Calories: 1,161
Claudia (pictured) said the pea & watercress soup with creme fraiche felt indulgently creamy despite being just 250 calories a carton
BREAKFAST: As well as ready meals, Daylesford also delivers store cupboard staples. And it’s these ingredients I use to make myself some scrambled eggs (laid by hens who are ‘free to roam on clover-rich pastures from dawn until dusk’ apparently).
I add the tiniest knob of its creamy salted butter. The scrambled eggs are fluffy, but I make the mistake of serving them on a slice of Fruity Rye Pumpernickel bread. It’s got so many raisins, it’s more like fruitcake — the 179 calories a slice should have been my (very calorific) clue.
Calories: 579 calories
LUNCH: Luckily my pea & watercress soup with creme fraiche makes amends. It feels indulgently creamy despite being only 250 calories a carton.
SNACK: All Daylesford produce is organic. But, as I’m discovering with my fruit and veg, it means it starts to go off after a few days. As my avocados are mushy, I have half a one on two rye, spelt and raisin crispbreads.
Calories: 161 calories
DINNER: Having binged all my calories on breakfast, I can’t face another soup, so heat up a pouch of Organic Red Thai Chicken Curry with aubergine.
I have just half the pack as I can’t spare the 416 calories for the whole thing. I add a couple of courgettes to bulk it out, and though the curry has a great spicy kick, it’s a very small portion.
Total Calories: 1,218
Claudia said the green juice shot was absolutely foul
I’m halfway through my week on the Daylesford Diet. The good news is the food has been mostly delicious. I haven’t been hungry and I’m not bored of what I’m eating. The bad news is I’ll have to take out a bank loan if I want to continue for a second week.
BREAKFAST: I start my day with a green juice shot, a mixture of leafy greens with apple, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger. It’s absolutely foul and how I imagine week-old bath water might taste.
Only two mugs of the world’s best coffee can make amends. I also have a bowl of toasted nut three-grain muesli with a few dollops of yoghurt.
LUNCH: After the pumpernickel bread disaster, I decided to go for beetroot bread. Bright pink, a doorstep slice is 114 calories and I have it with half a tub of hummus. It feels like a healthy but decadent lunch. I can imagine Boris and Carrie tucking into this in front of Netflix.
Claudia said the arrabbiata Tomato & Chilli Sauce tasted like something you’d be served in a top Italian restaurant
SNACK: Beetroot crisps.
DINNER: I make myself some spaghetti using Daylesford’s wholewheat dried pasta and top it with a whole jar of arrabbiata Tomato & Chilli Sauce. I’d normally add a mountain of parmesan cheese, but I think of my jeans and resist. It honestly tastes like something you’d be served in a top Italian restaurant.
Total calories: 1,183
Claudia said the beef meatballs with smoked bacon in tomato sauce (pictured) tasted fresh
BREAKFAST: I decide to start the day with a different flavoured juice shot. This time carrot, apple, celery and ginger. It’s better than yesterday’s, but it leaves a nasty aftertaste, a bit like cough mixture. My granola and yoghurt (as before) sets me up for the day.
LUNCH: I’m getting careless with my portions. I heat up and scoff an entire 500ml pouch of carrot & ginger soup, and it’s only afterwards that I realise it’s 556 calories for the whole thing, due to the cream content.
SNACK: Half an avocado and two seaweed wheat biscuits, which sounds hideous but tastes divine. For a moment I close my eyes and imagine I’m eating Pringles.
DINNER: All day I’ve been looking forward to my Beef Meatballs with smoked bacon in tomato sauce. But due to the carrot and ginger soup cock-up, I can’t eat the entire 670-calorie pouch. Instead, I settle for half and have to forgo the rice. It tastes fresh and wonderfully flavour-packed.
Total Calories: 1,377
Claudia said Daylesford Organic Baked Beans (pictured) aren’t as sweet as regular baked beans
BREAKFAST: Daylesford Organic Baked Beans are not like regular baked beans. They’re not so sweet and they taste . . . well, posh. I cover them in the world’s fanciest ketchup and garnish with a poached egg courtesy of those happy hens.
LUNCH: Lamb massaman curry (half a pouch) with a side order of brown rice. With cayenne pepper and chilli, it really packed a punch. I’ll say this for Daylesford, it does a good curry.
DINNER: I can’t stop thinking about those marvellous meatballs and eat the rest of the packet, but this time serve them on a portion of penne pasta.
Total calories: 1,268
Claudia said the organic spiced chicken tagine (pictured) was the perfect way to end her week
BREAKFAST: Time for a different granola, this time blueberry flavour with yoghurt, and coffee.
SNACK: Two squares of chocolate.
LUNCH: Thai chicken broth with lemongrass & Red Chilli. (Wow! I like spicy food, but this really has a kick.) Luckily the hummus and seaweed biscuits cool me down.
DINNER: My last Daylesford supper and I want to go out in style. I’ve been saving my organic spiced chicken tagine With Apricots & Chickpeas and I have the whole pack with broccoli on the side. Not quite meatball-tastic, but it’s the perfect way to end my week.
Total calories: 1,260
VERDICT: The moment of truth has arrived and even though I’ve eaten some of the richest, tastiest food I’ve ever had, my scales tell me I’ve dropped 3 lb.
Unfortunately, I’ve also dropped £214.89 — double what I’d normally spend on groceries in a week.
If I could afford to carry on like this, I’d be back in my size 14s in no time. Euromillions it is then . . .