Updated: 03:13 EDT, 25 April 2011>
Many women enlist the help of a personal trainer to keep their fitness on track.
Some seek the advice of in-store stylists to add oomph to their wardrobe. But nowadays, personal shopping has spread to a new frontier — supermarket aisles.
We've all felt the monotony of visiting the supermarket — picking up the same old food week after week.
Every little helps: Linda Kaur and her food shopper Mark Hughes
But would you join the growing ranks of women spending up to £400 a month on personal food shoppers (PFSs) to help 'manage their weight'?
'Women are utterly confused about what we should and shouldn't be eating,' says nutritionist Vicki Edgson.
'What we don't realise is that by repeatedly trying fad diets we're damaging our metabolism. This increases the chance of putting on weight and raises the risk of serious long-term illness such as diabetes and kidney disease.'
Linda Kaur, 33, a Leeds-based management consultant, believes having a personal food shopper has changed her life in just six weeks.
'It's not unusual for me to work 14-hour days then take work home,' she says.
'I was stressed and, although underweight, I'd noticed a layer of fat accumulate on my belly and couldn't understand why.'
According to Mark Hughes, a personal trainer and sports scientist who Linda employs to shop for her, she was eating so little that her metabolism had decelerated and her muscle mass declined.
Skipping breakfast, she'd spot a croissant in the office and eat it for a quick burst of energy then resort to the comfort of chocolate by the time her stress levels had reached a climax towards the end of the day. All that sugar was causing her to store fat around her waist.
TOP TIPS OF THE SHOPPING PROFESSIONALS
• Keep a packet of mini oatcakes and a pot of nut butter or tahini paste on your desk and limit yourself to two scoops as a snack between meals.
• Clear out the sugar-laden treats or condiments from the back of your cupboards. It's no good filling the front with healthier foods if your downfall foods are behind.
• Walk anticlockwise around the supermarket for inspiration — you'll be surprised at how many new things you spot.
• We're more likely to pick the wrong foods when hungry. So instead of buying that Chinese ready-meal on your way home from work — and eating the prawn crackers in the car — have a snack before you leave the office.
• If you’re too busy to remember to eat regularly, set yourself a reminder on your phone or computer. Sounds silly until the pounds start dropping off.
'When Mark said I needed to up my calories from 1,300 to 2,000, I was daunted,' says Linda.
'But he gives me recipes that make it seem less overwhelming.
'Sunday and Wednesday evenings are cooking nights, when I'll make batches of Thai curry or stir-fried prawns with buckwheat noodles ready for suppers.
'Having fresh eggs and smoked salmon also means it's much easier to make a quick protein-packed omelette before work.'
Linda adds: 'The biggest help was having Mark take me around the shops near work one lunchtime to steer me away from the sandwiches I'd been grabbing.
'Together we found delis where I get my choice of salad with quinoa or soup.
'Then I'll keep Mark's chickpea guacamole in the office fridge or sprinkle cinnamon into a small pot of Greek yogurt for a quick snack that lifts my energy and balances my blood sugar. I've noticed that since eating these types of food, I've felt more level-headed.
'Included in each shop are a couple of Mark's homemade protein smoothies that I keep in the fridge between his deliveries.
'Having a personal food shopper can cost £365 for six deliveries, and that's not including the cost of the food, but it's worth it even for a short period if it helps you kick-start a new way of eating.
'What works for one woman might not work for the next, but my plan is tailored towards me and my lifestyle.
'And even on the days when I don't see Mark for deliveries of breakfast, snack and supper ingredients, he's always on the end of the phone if a certain food becomes dull or if the timings of my meals prove difficult to manage. He'll adapt it immediately.
'When I have to go out for working lunches, he also gave me a game-plan to start with a salad then follow it with fish.
'I can always ask them to leave the butter out or replace potatoes with low-starch but filling vegetables such as broccoli.
'I've found that by hiring a professional to confiscate my secret stash of chocolate bars, teach me to use the juicer that's been gathering dust in my cupboard and fill my fridge with healthy options, it makes it hard to find an excuse not to eat well.'
Yet while having a PFS is convenient, shouldn't we all be able to take responsibility for our own choices rather than relying on someone else to do it for us?
It seems that some women don't lack the know-how, they just lack the time and inclination to stop reaching for the sugar and carbohydrate-filled foods.
Karen Wellman, 50, took on nutritionist Zana Morris as her personal food shopper when her fitness regimen didn't seem to be helping her lose weight.
As part of the package, Zana carried out an initial 'kitchen raid' to rid Karen's home of sweet treats and white bread, pasta and rice.
Worth it: Having a personal food shopper can cost £365 for six deliveries, and that's not including the cost of the food
To replace these, she delivers a mix of ready-made smoothies and cooking ingredients to Karen twice a week.
'The children range from nine to 18, so I felt as if I'd spent almost ten years being pregnant,' says mother-of-four Karen, CEO of a design company.
'I was exercising for 90 minutes a day, yet couldn't lose the baby weight around my stomach and felt that rather than toning up, I was becoming weaker.
'I'd rush the children to school, skip breakfast then head straight into meetings. By the afternoon, I'd be so starving I'd grab the nearest biscuit.'
On her kitchen raid, Zana removed the temptation. By exercising every day and relying solely on the fast-releasing energy of carbohydrates, Karen was losing muscle mass — rather than fat — so felt her strength slipping away by the day.
'Breakfast is now a must,' she says.
'I'll separate a few egg whites when I have the time then make a quick omelette in the morning.'
Zana filled the fridge at Karen's office with smoked salmon, cottage cheese and yogurt, so she could create a protein-heavy salad.
The granola bars Karen would buy on her way home have been replaced by bags of walnuts for her to munch on when she picks the children up from school.
Karen says: 'Having a food shopper meant I understood that my body needed these unsaturated fats to stabilise my blood sugar, reduce cravings and break down fat around my stomach.'
In three months, Karen has dropped two dress sizes and is now a size ten.
'As a busy woman, it's easy to think about changing your eating habits tomorrow.
Having someone to give the family advice, shop for food and put a structure in place means it becomes a reality.'
If over-exercising and under-eating were the cause of Karen's weight gain, sliding into that all-too-easy habit of constantly grazing has been that of Nicky Burton's — a 45-year-old wife and mother.
She says: 'While my two teenagers like pizza or burgers, my husband and I love having people for dinner. I'd end up picking my way through two meals and knocking back half a bottle of wine before even sitting down.'
Nicky called in Vicki Edgson to help her get her eating back on track. 'The weekly food shop mainly involved me re-tracing my steps, picking up the same things,' says Nicky.
'On the first few occasions, Vicki took me shopping to get me to think about what I was buying for my family and why.'
Instead of traipsing around on autopilot, she was soon selecting the perfect avocado and bypassing packaged tomatoes and instead picking each one by their smell to get a bigger burst of the plant chemical lycopene for healthy skin.
Nicky adds: 'Vicki and I have regular cooking sessions. We all know small amounts of olive oil are good for you, but I'd been dousing my food in it. Now, I'll lightly brush a whole sea bass with olive oil. I've radically reduced my intake of the fats that raise cholesterol.
'The new house rule is that everyone eats the same meal. Just cooking fewer meals means I have less time to graze, so my weight has started to go down without much effort on my part.
'It seems obvious, but when you get into a routine, it's easy to forget these things.
Having an expert point them out and help you work through them makes it easier to change.'
Having a PFS can clearly be convenient and effective. Yet until all of us can afford the luxury, it's back to navigating those supermarket aisles for ourselves.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1380182/Cant-resist-treat-You-need-latest-weapon-war-weight--personal-shopper.html1897