6.2.14

Rant: Boost Your Energy Diet from ilumi



Surely, I cannot be the only one who is upset at a recent marketing campaign by Ilumi? Bloggers are promoting ilumi’s “7 day Boost Your Energy” gluten free diet, to help get rid of the bloat feeling and lose weight!


Honestly, I think my head is going to explode. I can understand Ilumi wanting to appeal to a wider audience and I don’t object to “normal” folks eating products originally targeted at people with allergies/intolerances. Making free from mainstream is welcomed, it could result in lower costs, more variety, wider availability, improved products, acceptability and inclusion. What I object to is the implication that removing gluten from your diet has similar affects to say using calorie controlled diets like Weight Watchers. The idea of a 7 day meal plan delivered to your door makes me question if ilumi think they need to compete with the likes of Diet Chef.


One blogger who took part in the campaign, claims an improvement in energy and some weight loss but makes no reference to the diet they had before eating ilumi food. For all we know they ate McDonalds every day therefore it’s no surprise that they would experience a fluctuation in weight. Everyone knows that a balanced diet will help boost energy, eat crap and you'll feel crap, simples! If you followed this ilumi “diet” and chose to maintain a gluten free lifestyle, you would probably supplement it with other free from products and it is at this point where I think there is a strong case to argue you could see weight gain. People are often mistaken in thinking free from food is healthier but gluten free food in particular, is often full of calories, sugar, lacks fibre and lower in nutrients. You won't be feeling so light on your feet when you're constipated and can't take a poop!

I have moaned about ilumi’s marketing techniques before now, mainly on Twitter and among friends. I do feel ilumi have an innovative product for the free from market and controlling for many allergens makes them unique in comparison to their competitors. I do not doubt that ilumi products are appealing to everyone, you only have to look at the supermarkets aisles to see them overflowing with convenience meals but if you want to expand your market to those outside of the allergy community, why does there always have to be a gimmick? This is where you all yell at me and yes, I know about marketing spin but this campaign just feels wrong. I guess what I am trying to say is, I would like to see a different approach with non-freefrom bloggers. I believe ilumi are sending mixed messages and fuelling the controversial side to living a gluten free lifestyle, the side promoted by media and celebrities. I don't believe any Coeliac would encourage others to live their lifestyle, it certainly is not an easy diet. The sad thing is ilumi are not the first to promote gluten free living in this way and I am sure they won't be the last.

Before publishing this post I asked my sister (who has been gluten free for medical reasons for 20 years) to share her thoughts.


"I have battled to lose the extra pounds that I put on as I had no idea that gluten free foods where higher in carbs! Therefore whilst I was substituting for my cravings, I actually was piling on the pounds! It was only when my doctor said that I need to carefully think about what I ate, I looked into it all. Gluten free foods are actually higher in everything! Going gluten free should not be a fad – it’s a change of lifestyle for people with a disease. I am not suggesting that you shouldn't go gluten free – but cutting down and eating the correct foods is far better for you than cutting out gluten altogether. It's true about the fibre, my body wasn't getting enough and I had to drink that fibregel or whatever its called to get a healthy amount of fibre in. I was constantly tired and all I wanted to do was go to bed! Going gluten free for normal people should not be marketed as a ‘diet’. If I had a choice, I’d rather be able to eat normal food. (I) cannot believe how they have marketed that! That’ awful........ok so yes, there is a lot more in the world about gluten free – great exposure – but I want to be known for having a disease not because I am on a fad diet – terrible – someone might not take the disease seriously and potential contamination could happen."


If you think you have a problem with gluten, seek medical advice. You do need to continue eating gluten until tests have been carried out (blood test and gut biopsy) so eliminating gluten beforehand will be more hassle than it's worth.



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14 comments:

  1. Great post Sarah! I hate it when a certain food is made to be the enemy and suddenly everyone thinks it's bad for them. Fad diets make people unhealthy because they aren't balance, how do people not recognise that yet? One of the first things people ask me when I say I don't eat dairy is "did you lose weight?". I always try to be careful with my answer...in my case I did lose quite a lot of weight, but that's MY body, it doesn't mean it's good for everyone to cut out dairy completely! Plus, I feel it monopolises the reason I choose to exclude it from my lifestyle.

    Mayah x

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    1. Annoying that weight loss is the focus and as you suggest it's going to depend on the individual I gained weight but that will be all the DF chocolate I ate because now we have replacements compared to the olden days ;-)

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  2. I fully understand yours and your sisters anger. I think ilumi have a wonderful product range. When they first appeared on the market I was raving about them. I continue to love their products. However, I too have noticed some questionable marketing approaches. I have chosen to ignore the questionable side as it will always be present in society. I do agree that misleading people on diet choices and confusing diet with medical need is very dangerous. I hope they review their strategy if they want to keep loyal allergy and coeliac suffering customers.

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    1. ilumi suggest (on twitter) that they are not encouraging this behaviour "we had no intent to market it as a "fad diet" or a "lifestyle," just a low-stress way 4 ppl to try" and we should blame the bloggers who have written about the campaign for misunderstanding them *sigh* I personally feel the blame lies 50/50 after all we do not know what was said via their blogger outreach programme.

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  3. great post Sarah. As a Coeliac, I would never tell someone to go on a GF diet for weight loss. I DO believe all the crap that goes onto modern flour does cause side effects and someone who goes GF will probably feel better. But as you sister said, GF food is higher in everything! Plus, is you ARE a coeliac, once you go GF, your gut starts to heal itself, and your body starts to absorb the nutrients in food that previously you were losing = more weight gain. Infact, the docs tell you that weight gain is probable once you go GF. I struggle with being a coeliac and I do stick to it, Going GF for a week to lose weight, that makes me angry. Shame on Ilumi.

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    1. I'm with you on the modern flour issue, one of the reasons I switched over to brown bread years ago & I certainly have a few less stomach complaints but I would never declare that gluten was behind the problem, it's the junk products overall.

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  4. I actually agreed to review their 7 day meal plan and I will be trying it out next week. It will be interesting to see how it works for me, because I eat a very clean diet (mostly fruit, veg, fish, nuts and seeds - all freshly made and healthy). My younger sister and my mother in law have Coeliac disease and it is not fun. They certainly don't find it easy to keep the pounds off and my sister is actually obese and really struggles to lose weight. The shocking part- even the doctor kept telling her that if she sticks to her gluten free diet, she will lose weight, which is a load of bullsh... That's how uneducated and ridiculous some doctors are...

    Anyway... I am glad I will be able to share my experience with Ilumi, because the outcome could be the opposite of how I feel right now. I am full of energy, I am not bloated at all etc.. I noticed that the meal plan doesn't really have a lot of fruit and veg in it, so I am worried that I won't be getting enough fiber. Just like you said, gluten free substitutes are usually full of sugar and lack in nutrients. I think it will be good to see a review from a person like me, who actually cares a lot about what goes into their body and promotes a healthy diet and lifestyle.

    I will make sure to let you know how I get on, but I must admit...I am slightly confused about the marketing techniques used to advertise their new meal plan and... the choice of bloggers for the campaign...

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    1. Sandra, you clearly have first had knowledge of Coeliac disease which puts you in a stronger position when writing a review and perhaps makes you more qualified to understand that ilumi was set up to provide meal options for those of us who have allergies/intolerances. Even if I didn't have the allergies I'm not sure ilumi would be my first port of call for a diet plan. I'm very keen to get your opinions once you have digested your last mouthful ;-)

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  5. I think the problem here lies with the non-free-from bloggers - Ilumi makes no mention of losing weight, but people confuse the word 'diet' with weight loss instead of the correct usage: the sum total of food going in your mouth. These bloggers should not be marketing it as a way to lose weight.
    However Ilumi definitely misleads regarging gluten - they talk about it as nutritionless and this encourages people to associate GF as better for you.
    You're totally right Sarah. People shouldn't skip some part of a diet if not sensitive to it. That's like missing out the roof on a house. Stuff caves in!
    Leanne x

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    1. I agree something has been lost in translation between ilumi and the blog posts I have read. I agree with you, It also shows how little people understand about the food they eat which is why some are in a pickle with obesity. I think people's obsession to lose weight people means they latch onto the first available that promises the world, this week it's sugar, then it will be fats, then gluten and so on.

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  6. Good post. My OH is a coeliac and can testify to the amount of rubbish that goes into a lot of GF foods. They certainly aren't any kind of weight loss solution and promoting it as such does nothing to educate anyone about sensible healthy eating for weightloss. I agree with Little Lass, the word "diet" has become so misunderstood.

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    1. I saw an interesting tweet the other day with a link to an article from HuffPost "Diet: Do We Need To Rebrand What The Word Has Come To Mean?"
      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/01/13/rebranding-the-word-diet-_n_4507164.html

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  7. Hi Sarah! Like to see a good rant!! However, I am not sure that ilumi meant a 'diet' in the weight loss sense...rather in the 'try eating different things and see how you feel' sense! I am in the middle of reading a book called Grain Brain that you may or may not be familiar with. It is written by a neuroscientist in America called Dr David Perlmutter and is very very interesting with respect to what gluten does to the brain...something that is not really reported on (people only ever hear about what gluten does to the gut). He suggests a low carb (and therefore no sugar) 'diet' (in the sense of what you eat) that has no gluten...as a way of preventing and treating all kinds of illnesses. Whether you choose to believe it or not is another matter, although the evidence is pretty compelling. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that ilumi are just tapping in to a group of people who want to try a gluten-free diet to see if it makes them feel better. I believe it could help lots of people feel better provided that they are not just eating tonnes of carbs and gluten replacement products (ie loads of processed food). I know many of ilumi's meals do have lots of carbs in them, but for a ready meal they are pretty good I think (in terms of sugar, salt, preservatives etc). If someone wants to try a gluten-free lifestyle for a while and they don't know how to cook then ilumi offer a pretty good choice...

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    1. You are of course entitled to your opinion but I'm afraid I don't agree with & I believe that gluten free should not be promoted as a diet of any sorts unless there is medical reason behind needing to eliminate from your food. I would not advocate "ready meals" as a daily food for anyone whether they come from ilumi or not.

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