Popular Diets Reviewed: Jenny Craig

Heather Reese Health Guide
  • Have you called Jenny yet? And I’m not talking about the one at 867-5309; I’m talking about Jenny Craig. This weight loss program has been around for more than 20 years, but with the recent use of celebrity spokespersons like Kirstie Alley and most recently Queen Latifah, the program is increasing in visibility.

    I have a confession to make; I worked for Jenny Craig many years ago when I was in school. It was my first foray into the field of nutrition and I think it’s a really good weight loss program. It is overseen by a team of esteemed dietitians and medical advisors and is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
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    While Jenny Craig has always been a weight loss program, their new message is about focusing on living a healthy lifestyle over achieving an ideal weight. This new message corresponds with the addition of Queen Latifah as a spokesperson. The program is now advocating the health benefits of losing as little as five to 10 percent of your body weight and increasing your physical activity level.

    The Food

    The program is designed around portion controlled, pre-packaged foods that you purchase from the center. The program provides a daily menu that includes Jenny Craig meals and desserts. Participants supplement these foods with fruit, vegetables and dairy that you purchase at your local grocery store.

    The program does have dining out days built into the daily menus and they provide you with guidelines for dining out using exchange lists. These are lists of foods and serving sizes that equal one exchange of each food group. Once you have achieved your goal weight, the program provides a maintenance period during which you will gradually stop eating their foods and begin to plan meals on your own. Eventually you will be able to eat anything you want, within moderation and keeping portion sizes in mind.

    Exercise Recommendations
    The Jenny Craig program also encourages participants to be physically active at least five days a week. Their general recommendations are 30 minutes on each day, along with a general increase in your overall activity level.

    Other Program Features
    Jenny Craig participants visit the center each week to be weighed and purchase their food. While at the center, you will meet with a consultant who will help you tailor your weekly menu to your needs as well as help you overcome barriers to weight loss as well as challenges you’ve experienced during the week.

    Many of the Jenny Craig consultants have followed the program themselves and can provide you with suggestions from their own experience. A new feature that Jenny Craig offers is their at-home program that allows you to communicate with your consultant via telephone.

    The cost of the program depends on your membership level and the cost of food is about $15 a day for the Jenny Craig food plus the cost of additional items from the grocery store.

    My Thoughts
    Obviously I believe in this program. It is a well-balanced plan that includes foods from all the food groups and physical activity recommendations. The weekly meeting with your consultant also provides reinforcement and support. A potential barrier to the program is the cost, as it may be outside the price range of some people – however, they do offer budget plans. Because you are eating pre-packaged, portion-controlled foods, your best chance for success comes if you’ve followed the program through the maintenance phase.

  • * Grade: A. This program is well-balanced and includes all the food groups and physical activity guidelines.
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    * Popular Diet Rating System

    A: This diet meets accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It recommends food from all food groups with an emphasis on healthy choices within each food group.
    B: This diet meets most accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It emphasizes healthy foods but does not include food from all food groups.
    C: This diet only meets some accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It does not differentiate between food choices in each food group and therefore does not emphasize healthy foods.
    D: This diet does only meets one or two accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet.
    F: This diet does not meet any accepted standards for a healthy well-balanced diet. It does not differentiate between healthy foods and unhealthy foods and/or does not meet caloric needs.
Published On: January 27, 2008