What Is It?
Jenny Craig is a diet program that is over 30 years old. It's a three-tiered, personalized weight loss program that focuses on food, body, and mind. The core of the diet is portion control that begins with prepackaged meals, which are usually frozen. The price of the meals, as well as the costs of enrolling in the program, varies depending on which plan you choose and which food items you purchase.
The Jenny Craig program also provides support to their clients through one-on-one consultations. The consultations are available at more than 600 locations throughout the world, over the phone, or via video chat. Jenny Craig consultants discuss diet, exercise, and overall well-being, and attempt to provide inspiration for their clients.
While the program's initial focus is on the prepackaged, portioned meals that are supplemented throughout the day with fresh fruit or vegetables, its ultimate goal is to wean people off the prepared meals and teach them to make healthy food choices on their own.
There are two main types of the program:
- In-center: After a personal meeting with a consultant, clients get started on their personalized program and have regular visits with their consultant.
- At-home: For those who can't get into a Jenny Craig center, there is the option of an in-home plan where participants can use online resources, delivered meals, and over-the-phone or video chat consultations to work through their plan.
- Jenny Craig is convenient. Meals come prepared and can be delivered directly to your door.
- The diet is expensive, between the signup fees and meal costs.
Jenny Craig is based on portioned meals that reduce daily calorie consumption to between 1,200 and 1,300 calories a day. It also focuses on different ways to exercise, and provides constantly available support from trained professionals. Weight loss goals are determined by the client, and a meal plan and exercise routine is developed with a trained consultant. Instead of "promising" a certain result, Jenny Craig aims to teach weight loss for long-term success.
Pros and Cons
One of the biggest positive qualities of the Jenny Craig diet is that it is custom-tailored to the client according to their goals, current weight, and body type. This includes different types of meals that cater to a person's diet restrictions, such as vegetarian or vegan.
The one-on-one counseling, whether through the Jenny Craig centers, their toll-free number, or video chat, is another plus.
Another big pro for Jenny Craig is the convenience. Meals come prepared and can be delivered directly to your door. In one box, you have your meals ready for the week, and preparations require nothing more than a few minutes in the microwave and a fork.
While convenience may be nice, Jenny Craig's own prepared meals are also a con. They may be more costly than preparing your own meals at home, and months of meals straight from the microwave can become tiresome. Another hindrance is the potential challenge clients face after eating the prepared meals for an extended time and later preparing their own meals.
At its core, Jenny Craig’s principals — low-calorie proportioned meals with regular exercise and peer support — teach not only how to lose weight, but how to keep it off. The regular checkups from Jenny Craig employees can help keep you on track for your goals, as well as have someone to help you celebrate when you meet each one. The Jenny Craig counselors are not registered dietitians and should not be relied upon for specific nutrition advice or medical nutrition therapy.
The program may be too expensive for some people because its initial step focuses on frozen prepared meals that can only be purchased from Jenny Craig. Besides the price of the meals, there are signup costs and regular monthly fees that may be too prohibitive to people looking to lose weight and not have to pay too much for it.
Along with cost, the diet may not appeal to those who don't want to microwave the majority of their meals. Good diets offer variety, and while Jenny Craig provides an array of prepared meals that can be supplemented with other foods, with this diet, a person's daily caloric intake comes primarily from a microwave.
You asked, we answered
- What is a diet program that is comparable to Jenny Craig?
Programs similar to Jenny Craig include Nutrisystem, BistroMD, and DiettoGo. They all vary in terms of their nutrition education, support, accountability from experts, exercise component, and variety of meals.- Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N