French women are known for their slim figures, despite their fondness for cheese, croissants and wine, and the secret to their trim waistlines has long been a subject of fascination.
Now, a new diet meal delivery service aims to prove that you can dine on crêpes for breakfast, pasta for lunch and beef bourguignon followed by chocolate mousse for dinner, and lose weight at the same time.
Created by French chefs, Dietbon has just launched in the UK after success in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain, and claims you can lose up to one kilo or 2lbs a week by eating like the French.
As well as bread and pasta, even cheese and alcohol is on the menu - as long as you stick to the recommended portion sizes.
Busy mother-of-three Natalie Brown, 38, from Hove, East Sussex, put Dietbon to the test to see if it could help her shift her 'mum tum' ahead of slipping into a bikini on holiday.
Natalie Brown, 38, (pictured after) gave her verdict on the Dietbon weightloss plan which has been praised by dieters in France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain
Natalie, pictured before she started the Dietbon plan (left), wanted to get rid of her 'mum tum' ahead of going on holiday. Right: After four weeks on the Dietbon plan, Natalie had lost 9lbs and inches off her waist
Since having my third child and returning to work in 2017, it's fair to say life has been hectic.
In our house, it's the adults' main meal of the day that's often the last thing that gets thought about at the end of a busy working day.
Having fallen into a cycle of eating the kids' leftovers or ordering takeaway, piling on the pounds on top of my three-times mum tum in the process, it was high time to get back on track. Could Dietbon be the answer?
As a busy mum, the concept appealed to me on a number of levels: no food is restricted, as long as you stick to your quota of calories each day; and the microwave meals are ready in just two minutes, so there's barely any meal prep involved.
Created in 2014, the Dietbon programme is customised to each dieter following a phone consultation with a Dietbon dietician based in France.
Breakfast: 1 Dietbon breakfast product + 1 low-fat or natural yoghurt + 1 portion of fresh fruit (+ 50g of bread on the men's programme)
Lunch: 1 Dietbon slimming meal + 1 Dietbon fruit compote or dessert
Snack: 1 Dietbon snack product + 1 low-fat or natural yoghurt
Dinner: 1 Dietbon slimming meal + 1 portion of raw or lightly cooked vegetables (+ 1 portion of fresh fruit on the men's programme)
'The theory is it's all about helping you rebalance – in French we say "rééquilibrage", Dietbon nutritionist Charlotte Debeugny told me.
It's all about balancing your food intake in a healthy and nourishing way.
The meals contain all the food groups so it's not like it's low carb, and it's not like it's a protein shake. It's based on the pleasure of eating real meals created and designed by French chefs.'
You can choose from one month, two month, three month and four month plans from £44 a week.
To put it in context, that's from £7 a day for three Dietbon meals and a snack, delivery and your dietary consultation.
During the consultation they will talk through your lifestyle and weight loss goals with you, tailoring the plan to suit your needs – in my case 1,200 calories a day.
Following my phone consultation with Charlotte – who's also on hand to offer dietary support with a 30-minute phone call for each month you're on the plan – I could log on to the Dietbon website and pick my meals.
There are 80 to choose from, so it's easy to avoid anything you don't like.
I opted for crêpes for breakfast, which I could supplement with one yoghurt and a portion of fresh fruit each day; pasta dishes including pesto & goats' cheese raviolini for lunch, and beef bourguignon or Sauté de Poulet rôti (roast chicken) for dinner.
All the meals are 100 per cent natural - so no additives, preservatives or artificial colourings - and no GM ingredients, artificial sweeteners or palm oil is used either.
Natalie, pictured before trying the diet plan, had