So today I must leave Weight Watchers behind me and start the second of my twelve diets in twelve months.
This month I have decided to follow the Happy Heart plan. This is a four week online course which was originally designed to help reduce cholesterol but now claims to help with the reduction of blood pressure and weight too. The course has been put together by David and Stephen Flynn, owners of the Happy Pear cafes and authors of the Happy Pear books.
I have categorised this diet as ‘All you can eat – with restrictions’, rather than ‘Calorie Counting’ or ‘Prescriptive Meal plans’. I chose this type of diet because this month I will be taking part in Runvember (a local running challenge where I need to run every day in November) and I will also be completing an intensive driving course (and hopefully passing my test) so I could do with some simplicity and scope for extra food if needed.
The course costs €99 for four weeks and is described in the following way on the Happy Heart website:
After living on a plant based diet for over a decade we knew we were onto something. Our bodies were in peak condition and our energy was sky high and we wanted to share our learnings and created The Happy Heart Course, a 4 week plant based course.
A few courses in and the impact of the course on peoples health was clear. In 4 weeks people saw a 20% drop in cholesterol levels across the board. On top of this blood pressure and weight were down too.
To date hundreds of people have completed our online and classroom courses with great success.
We’ve had thousands of people complete our Online Happy Heart course with great success.
* 4 week online course
* Meal plans and diary templates
* Online forum & support network
* Interactive learning with videos & assignments
Whilst €99 may seem pretty steep, you do get a lot of content and interaction with the Happy Pear duo for this amount, including many many PDF’s which you can save and use after the four weeks are up. It is also worth noting that I can still access my content online after 9 months (I originally did the course in February) and so I have not signed up again (I’m not sure if this is an administrative oversight or by design).
Before the course starts you receive an online login to the Happy Heart (HH) system where all the course content will be downloaded as the weeks progress. On initial logon you have access to the HH toolkit, including shopping lists and recipes for week one, as well as a video introduction from David and Stephen and the HH 10 Commandments, which are as follows:
1. Do not eat meat. By this we mean nothing that had a face or a mother so that is no beef, lamb etc..
2. Do not eat chicken, or any white meat.
3. Do not eat fish.
4. Do not eat any dairy products. That means no skimmed milk, no low fat yoghurt, and NO CHEESE at all.
5. Do not eat eggs. That includes whites and even egg substitutes that contain egg whites.
6. Do not use ANY OIL AT ALL. Not even virgin, cold-pressed olive oil or canola/rapeseed oil. No added oils at all. There is a more detailed dedicated topic on this as this can be very strange to most people.
7. Use only whole grain products. That means no white flour products. Be sure the list of ingredients uses a phrase like ‘whole wheat’ or ‘whole grain’. Avoid semolina and wheat flour, which are actually white. Use brown rice.
8. Eat nuts and seeds very sparingly. Portion them out and don’t sit with the whole bag in front of you. 6-10 nuts is a the maximum amount of nuts you should consume per day. This may seem extremely little for most people. Nuts are great but only in small portions.
9. Do not over eat avocados – that includes guacamole. We recommend you eat no more than ½ an avocado every 2 days. As although they are very healthy, they are higher in fat and calories and best to be eaten in small amounts.
10. Ensure that all foods are whole foods and they contain a fat content of below 15%
Alcohol: We advise anyone going to the effort of doing Happy Heart to eliminate alcohol but it’s not the be all and end all. If alcohol makes you eat more veg then the odd glass of Rioja is fine by us!
Coffee: Sure you can drink coffee, it’s a fruit in it’s original form after all! We suggest limiting your intake and using only dairy free milk such as almond, rice, oat milk etc.
There are also instructional videos on HH support (the Facebook group and live chats with Stephen and David on Monday evenings), General Tips & Tricks along with all the course recipes (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/Dessert/Salad Dressings/Snacking Suggestions – all accompanied by a video full of tips from Stephen and David). So it is fair to say that you have more than enough information to start getting ready for the course (shopping and batch cooking) and to learn the rules and think of any questions for the first live chat.
Wish me luck!