LighterLife - the group therapy approach to VLCDs
LighterLife is a VLCD (very low calorie diet) programme, that offers a structured weight loss package along with weekly group sessions, to help seriously overweight people achieve their weight loss goals. It is currently available across the UK and Republic of Ireland.
It was originally offered only as a total meal replacement scheme, open to those medically signed off and with a BMI of 30 or over (clinically obese); recently they have introduced a programme for people with less weight to lose (25-30 BMi) with an additional meal, called 'LighterLife lite'
The unique thing about the programme is the weekly group meetings, designed to reeducate members and recreate a healthy relationship with food and eating. Using their bespoke materials drawing techniques and approaches from cognitive behavioural therapy and transactional analysis the programme helps participants to look at why they overeat and became obese in the first place, and how to make lasting changes to their lifestyle and diet. Groups are started simultaneously and progress together, and members find the environment supportive and encouraging as they undertake their weight loss journey alongside one another. Groups are always same-sex, and delivered by franchised counsellors who receive diploma-level training in delivery of the programme. Additional support is offered via online forums, but the packs can only be bought via the structured group programme. This may mean travelling to your nearest counsellor, as well as waiting for a group to reach sufficient numbers to start a new course.
LighterLife have a clear position about the use of food packs as meal replacements, that they regard them as a temporary means of safe 'abstinence' from eating food whilst this reevaluation takes place (although they comply with NICE guidelines and encourage the addition of 500 extra daily calories for one week every 12 weeks, easily achieved by adding milk to one pack per day).
Participation in the programme costs £66 (€95.00)per week for the full 'abstinence' programme, which includes not just the food packs but the full support system and programme. The costs of different VLCD programmes are heavily debated in various forums and LighterLife is regarded as one of the most expensive, but it probably is the one with the most scrutured and comprehensive support. It's also worth considering that the foodpacks replace EVERYTHING you would normally eat and drink in a week... therefore you have to offset against not only a weekly grocery bill, but that glass or two of wine in the evening, the lattes at the station, the snack at break time etc etc. A single person doing this kind of diet could theoretically cleanse their home of all foodstuffs, in fact that would be a great way to remove all temptation! - and not have to buy a single other thing for at least 12 weeks.
Following the 12 weeks, where a weight loss of over 3stone is typically achieved, clients attend a transitional 'route to management' session where food packs are systematically replaced by meals, and are then encouraged to attend monthly 'management' meetings free of charge, to receive continued advice support their newly learned healthy eating habits and lifestyle. Clients needing to lose more weight can continue with a further cycle of weekly meetings and foodpacks, until their desired weight loss is achieved.
The promotional material and website trades very heavily on 'before and after' personal testimonies - many successful former clients attest to the success of the programme.
LighterLife shakes are available in the following flavours:
Caramel, Chocolate, Raspberry, Strawberry, Banana, Vanilla
there are also soups:
Chicken, Mushroom, Vegetable and Thai Chilli
Fruit Flavour, Lemon Flavour, Toffee Flavour, Crispy peanut, Crispy cranberry and raspberry, Chocolate raisin crunch
There are also powdered drinks flavourings permitted for sparing use and to encourage water consumption:
Fruits of the Forest, St Clements, Orange Sunrise and Savoury
ALL are suitable for vegetarians (although it's hard to imagine a vegetarian wishing to eat anything chicken flavoured, even though the flavour is completely artificial),
NONE of the foodpacks are suitable for vegans
To join or find out more about LighterLife, click here
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