Jenny Craig Diet
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Jenny Craig Diet

Overview

The Jenny Craig program was designed with help from a medical advisory panel and a team of registered dietitians. The goals of this program are to help clients develop a healthy relationship with food, live active lifestyles, and find balance in their life. On this diet you start by eating mostly Jenny Craig cuisine, supplemented with some healthful foods of your own, but the end goal is to have you plan and prepare your own meals.

How Is This Diet Supposed to Work?

The Jenny Craig diet helps you lose weight by limiting your calorie intake. When you are eating mainly prepackaged Jenny Craig foods, you don’t have to worry about portion sizes and your calorie intake is controlled. But once you start switching to “regular” food, you will need to know how to control your calorie intake on your own.

What’s Involved?

The Jenny Craig program begins with a 28-day diet plan that consists of eating mainly prepackaged Jenny Craig meals that are supplemented with limited amounts of fruit, vegetables, and nonfat dairy products. Daily meal plans include three meals plus one snack and an evening dessert, totaling between 1,200-1,500 calories per day. After a certain point on this program, you begin to prepare some of your own meals, using recipes provided by Jenny Craig.

The program also includes a weekly in-person or over-the-phone counseling session. This is to provide you with support to stay on the plan and educate you about healthy weight habits, such as practicing portion control and getting regular exercise.

There are two versions of this program: the centre-based and the home-based. The centre-based program includes weekly visits with a trained Jenny Craig consultant at one of their 650 locations in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. These visits include private weigh-ins, as well as the chance to select and purchase your Jenny Craig food. The home-based version entails weekly phone sessions with a Jenny Craig consultant, as well as food delivery.

After you choose between the centre-based or home-based program, you can choose between the Jenny Rewards plan or the Jenny Tune Up plan. The Jenny Rewards plan is a 12-month program that includes:

  • Food discounts of up to 35%
  • Planned and personalized menus
  • Personalized activity and motivational plans
  • Product discounts
  • A personalized profile
  • One-on-one consultations
  • Weight loss success manuals and guides
  • Weight maintenance support
  • Online support (including message boards and live chats, personal menu planner, weight loss tracker, and weekly tips newsletter)
  • 24/7 customer care support

The Jenny Tune Up is designed for people who only have a small amount of weight to lose and consists of:

  • Planned and personalized menus
  • Personalized activity and motivational plans
  • One-on-one consultations
  • Weight loss success manuals and guides
  • Online support (including message boards and live chats, personal menu planner, weight loss tracker, and weekly tips newsletter)
  • 24/7 customer care support

Jenny Craig also offers programs that are suitable for women, men, spouses, seniors, and teens.

The cost of the Jenny Craig programs vary, but their website advertises that you can lose 20 pounds for just $20, plus the cost of food. The cost of food ranges from $85-$120 per week.

What Does the Research Say?

While there are no studies looking specifically at the Jenny Craig program, the diet itself is based on sound nutrition. Meal plans are designed by registered dietitians and adhere to the US Department of Agriculture's nutrition guidelines.

Are There Any Concerns With This Diet?

The cost of food on this program is expensive if you also have a family to feed. But if you are just buying for yourself, then it may make sense when you factor in how much you would normally spend on groceries or eating out.

Another concern is that Jenny Craig’s weight loss consultants don’t have formal training in nutrition or behavior modification. Therefore, they may not have a lot of knowledge in these areas.

But the main concern with this program is that the diet, which consists mostly of prepackaged meals, quickly gets boring and can be hard to stick with. And while one of the goals of the program is to get clients to prepare their own healthful food, part of the appeal of the program in the first place is that you don’t have to do this. Thus, many people see Jenny Craig as an easy way to lose weight, but don’t really think about the long-term maintenance of this weight loss.

Bottom Line

Overall, Jenny Craig is a healthful weight loss program that may be right for you if you don’t mind living on prepackaged food for a while. This program is especially good if you tend to do better with the motivation and guidance of a counselor—versus being self-motivated enough to follow a plan on your own. The success of this diet in the long run depends on how well you transition to planning and preparing your own healthful food, and how well you maintain your newly developed habits such engaging in regular exercise.

RESOURCES:

American Dietetic Association
http://www.eatright.org

Choosing a Successful Weight-loss Program
http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/choosing.htm

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canada's Food Guide
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index_e.html

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

References:

Jenny Craig website. Available at: http://www.jennycraig.com. Accessed May 17, 2008.

Nutrition fact sheet: Jenny Craig. Northwestern University website. Available at: http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/nutrition/factsheets/jenny-craig-diet.html. Accessed June 19, 2007.



Last reviewed May 2008 by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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