Eunice Lucero, Preview Associate Editor
“It’s not a diet,” Kay (Kitane of NUIU) told me. I was hard-pressed to believe, because for me by definition, a diet is any time you’re not allowed to eat just whatever you want. “We’re advocating more of a change in awareness, of lifestyle,” she and her husband Brian add. The last bit is what sold me on the idea, since—and this is without a tad of false modesty—I’m hyper-aware I’m one of those “fat skinny” girls who ostensibly have no pounds to lose but who are, essentially, not the picture of health. Or fitness. (At all.) And coming from the Juju Cleanse a few months back, January was the perfect time to start. It was a go for NUIU for the New Year.
“It’s best if you pair it with exercise,” Kay smiles at me. Lifestyle change indeed! My Pilates equipment and I haven’t been on the best terms lately—Sleep > Workouts—but I’ve been an on-and-off practitioner since ’03 so figured it wouldn’t be a problem getting back into the groove. And for the effort I was putting into following my meal plan, it was in my best interest to exercise while I was at it.
The NUIU “non-diet” is, in a nutshell, calorie counting. I’ve always, always found this to be the most tedious thing, especially in Manila where not everything comes with nutrition information labels, like, say, my yaya’s sinigang. The NUIU nutritionist measures you, gets your stats, sets a goal with you (and with no judgments too—she doesn’t flinch when you set your target weight a wee bit below what’s ‘healthy.’ “Whatever feels healthy for you,” Ara, their nutritionist/dietician says). Best part, they deliver the food to your house, meticulously labeled—down to stickers on fruits indicating whether they’re for “lunch” or an “AM snack.” For P800 a day, you get five set meals—three squares and two snacks, to keep energy levels constant—all adding up to your calorie level of choice. Depending on your BMI (which they compute) and your target weight, they decide whether you’re to consume 1200, 1400, 1600, or 1800 calories a day.
The meals consist of all of the good stuff: Expect lean meats, fresh everything, veggies, fruits, brown rice and yes, even dessert, with a ratio of around ½ carbs, ¼ healthy fat, and ¼ protein. After choosing 1200 calories, I was put on the plan for 2 weeks (14 days) with a goal of getting back to my fashion-vanity weight of 100 lbs, a number I’ve chased since college. I also asked for no food delivery on Saturdays and Sundays, since I would most probably cheat on the weekends anyway (Pizza! Alcohol!). They also text you your menu the night before presumably so you can either get in the mindset, or plan cheating around it (more on that later).
The menu consists of multi-cuisine offerings like eggplant caviar, seared salmon, pasta ala medrelina, rustic cornbread, prawn thermidore, satay, and nicoise salads, among others—a nice surprise, and a lot tastier and more creative than what you’d expect diet food to be. I barely got hungry while on it, and even ate more, portion-wise, than I usually did regularly. I also mixed and matched as needed—what I didn’t consume for a morning snack was saved for dessert, and so on.
Eating set meals was no issue since I always bring packed lunch to work; the challenge was when I had to eat out while on the plan. NUIU teaches you to cheat responsibly, meaning learning how to eyeball your portions, or opting for a light beer instead. I did one of three things: brought my meals to the restaurant, ate beforehand, or just met up for drinks (or said light beer). In the event I did have to cheat outside of my five meals, it wasn’t a big deal—I got used to eating within my portions, so my “cheats” naturally became minimal-to-none too. Drinkers, a foreword: You generally eat less and are taught to avoid high-calorie mixers, so expect a faster buzz.
I didn’t binge on my cheat weekends since I didn’t feel deprived, and at the end of 14 days I was shocked: I had lost 7 kilos without feeling it. I had lost a whopping 15 lbs I wasn’t even aware I had stored away—I’m now officially the lightest I’ve been since high school. My BMI dropped from 19 to 17, body fat percentage from 26 to 19%. Ara had to ask me if I wanted to go on a weight-gain plan since now we kind of overshot my 100-pound goal… but well, that’s another story!
To learn more about NUIU, view their directory listing here.