Jenny Craig is a weight loss program which started in 1983. It began in Australia and moved to US operations in 1985. The core idea behind the Jenny Craig method is a three-level food-mind-body plan to help people lose weight and keep it off. The first level focuses on how to eat the foods, the second level on how to increase energy levels and in the third level the program teaches how to build balance into an individual’s life.
You can participate in a Jenny Craig program either center based or using an at-home direct program by through phone and mail. The keystone to the diet is the prepackaged meals. For the most part they follow the USDA food pyramid and clients are encouraged to supplement this with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and reduced fat dairy products.
The program focuses on teaching individuals how to eat a balanced diet in moderation while getting enough exercise. And, built into the program are occasional splurges that allow an individual to indulge themselves in foods they really enjoy. The Jenny Craig diet plan is basically a calorie based program that gives the individual a greater amount of structure by sending the food prepackaged and frozen.
One of their programs is called volumetrics. Volumetrics is advertised as the principle behind eating more while still taking in less calories. The company teaches that individuals are “able to eat more healthy food”, feel full and achieve all of this with less calories.
However, what they are describing is teaching individuals to eat more fruits and vegetables which contain complex carbohydrates and help the individual to feel full for longer periods of time. This takes advantage of the lower calorie dense foods in the fruits and vegetable category.
The program also advertises that counseling is available for individuals who join their program. However, counselors are given very short 2-5 day training program during which many of them role-play with other new counselors. These counselors are really there to help the individual double check whether they drink enough water or ate enough of their food for the day. They are not trained to answer any individualized questions or offer motivation to the clients.
In side-by-side cost comparisons, Jenny Craig comes out well ahead of other diet plan programs which provide prepackaged foods. In other words, Jenny Craig charges to not only join their program, but they also charge a higher cost than other programs for the prepackaged frozen foods delivered directly to the home. And, another caveat, is that individuals who are paying a higher cost for food than they would normally, are also being asked to supplement these foods with fresh fruits and vegetables from their produce department in large enough quantities to keep themselves full.
The person considering using Jenny Craig has read any diet or nutrition book or articles and has lived for more than 20 years they are definitely well aware of the concepts needed to achieve the negative calorie balance and lose weight. The keystone behind a program that delivers prepackaged frozen foods should be the convenience and cost savings of using a program and not delivering classes and counselors at a higher cost.
Research has shown that individuals who achieve a greater rate of success for weight loss will have sought the assistance of a mentor, coach or accountability partner. Nowhere in their program does Jenny Craig offer these options. And, inherent in the program is the question of whether individuals are able to learn portion control by using prepackaged foods. Once going off the packaged meals it is difficult to translate the portions of food received in the mail to real meals prepared at home. Another problem with the program is that it is does not assist the individual with the re-integrating back to normal eating habits.