The baby food diet involves replacing breakfast, lunch, and snacks with 14 containers of baby food. You then eat a regular dinner in the evening. The diet is meant to last for 3 days.
The baby food diet gained popularity around 2010. It’s rumored that actress Jennifer Aniston, with the help of her celebrity trainer, used the diet to lose 7 pounds in a week during the filming of the movie “Just Go with It.”
The idea of losing a pound per day may sound tempting, but the baby food diet fits into the category of a fad diet.
Many fad diets might help you lose weight in the short term, but they’re usually difficult to follow for an extended period of time.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly the baby food diet is, as well as the pros and cons of this eating plan.
The premise behind the diet is that the small portion sizes of baby food will reduce your daily calorie intake. The bland taste of pureed baby food is also supposed to discourage you from overeating.
There are several less restrictive versions of the diet, like replacing only one meal a day with baby food.
Compared to many fad diets, the baby food diet has loose guidelines. For instance:
- The diet plan doesn’t specify which type of baby food you can eat. The calorie content in baby food can vary from about 20 calories to more than 120 calories per jar.
- It doesn’t put a limitation on what you can eat for dinner.
Here’s an example of what an average day might look like on the baby food diet.
- Breakfast: 5 jars of baby food
- Lunch: 5 jars of baby food
- Afternoon snack: 2 jars of baby food
- Dinner: your regular dinner
- Evening snack: 2 jars of baby food
Most reports of weight loss on the baby food diet are anecdotal. According to people who’ve tried it, it can help you lose weight in the short term.
However, there’s currently no scientific evidence to back up these claims or to prove it’s an effective diet for long-term weight loss.
Replacing your usual meals with baby food will likely lower the number of calories you eat per day, which is probably one of the main reasons why you may lose weight while you’re on this diet.
Because this diet typically lowers your intake of fiber and sodium, the weight you lose may be from water retention and not necessarily from fat.
In theory, it’s possible to get most of your essential nutrients while following the baby food diet. Many baby foods are made from pureed fruits and vegetables. Some baby foods are also made from high-protein foods or whole grains.
Following the baby food diet for the recommended 3 days likely won’t hurt you. But following this diet for a longer period of time could lead to nutrient deficiencies if you’re eating far below your daily calorie need.
With restrictive diets like the baby food diet, it’s also important to keep in mind the risk of developing disordered eating, which could lead to an eating disorder if the diet is followed for a longer period of time.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the baby food diet.
- High in fruits and vegetables. Most baby foods are made from pureed fruits and vegetables.
- Low in sodium. Most baby foods are low in sodium. Babies have a lower sodium requirement than adults.
- Low in fat. Most baby foods are low in saturated fat.
- No preparation. Besides your evening meal, there’s no meal prep necessary. Just open a jar and eat.
- Restrictive. The baby food diet lacks the calories and nutrients you need to properly fuel your body.
- Not filling. Most baby foods are low in protein and fiber. You may find that you feel hungry even when consuming adequate calories.
- Low in fiber. You’ll get a lot more fiber from eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, rather than from food that’s been pureed.
- Expensive. Most baby foods are fairly expensive per serving.
- Large variation in calories between brands. The number of calories in a container of baby food varies from about 20 to 120 calories. Eating 14 containers per day could provide you with anywhere from 280 to 1,680 calories.
Following the baby food diet may help you quickly shed a few pounds, but it’s unlikely to cause sustainable weight loss.
Instead, a healthier strategy for long-term weight loss is to:
- Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean protein, and healthy fats.
- Limit your intake of foods and drinks that are high in added sugars.
- Focus on portion control. Resist eating more than you need to satisfy your hunger.
- Exercise regularly, at least 150 minutes a week.
- Don’t skip meals.
If you’re looking to quickly lose a few pounds, the baby food diet may help you achieve results. But if you’re looking for sustainable, long-term weight loss, it’s far from ideal.
The baby food diet falls into the category of fad diets. These types of diets often promise rapid weight loss and include a strict list of foods you can and can’t eat.
Containers of baby food are relatively low calorie, but research has shown that restricting too many calories can slow down your metabolism. This means that as soon as you go back to eating normal meals, you’ll likely put the weight back on.
A safer and healthier option for long-term weight loss is to follow a balanced eating plan that includes all food groups, while also keeping an eye on your portion sizes, and including regular exercise in your weight loss program.