Although this topic wasn’t posed as a question by a reader, we wanted to post a review about this well-known, celebrity-endorsed program. Jenny Craig has been a front runner in the diet industry since it was launched in 1983. There are two big differences between Jenny Craig and other diets. First, Jenny Craig actually provides you with the food you are told to eat. Second, you are given a “weight loss consultant” to meet with weekly, who will hold you accountable for your healthy (or unhealthy) decisions and celebrate your successes on the scale.
Just like any other weight loss program, there are good and bad things that current and past clients can detail. But the bottom line that people want to know is: Does it work?
The answer has proven to be yes, people do lose weight on the program. Jenny Craig boasts a recent clinical trial* in which participants lost five times as much weight as others who attempted dieting on their own. One of our staff members is a former Jenny Craig weight loss consultant who saw literally hundreds of people come through the doors and lose weight.
There are other great things about the program. Since you are provided with the food you are supposed to eat weekly, it’s an easy program to follow. A team of professional dietitians, nutritionists and doctors have created the individual meals and weekly menus not only to meet your caloric needs, but also to make sure there is variety and wholesome value. Most people say that the food actually tastes really good, which is always a benefit to any diet program. Being held accountable weekly for your success or failure is also helpful for those trying to lose weight.
So why isn’t everyone flocking to this seemingly luxurious diet program? The main reason is cost. This could be one of the most expensive mainstream programs on the market, with menus ranging from about $100-$160 a week – in addition to the membership cost you paid upfront.
Another reason people steer clear is the ongoing sales pitches. The commission-paid and sales-trained consultants will be asking you (or telling you) to buy more products from the moment you arrive. Some of these things can be helpful, such as a scale, a pedometer or antioxidants. But it should be known that this is a huge part of the Jenny Craig program, and if you’re a client, empower yourself to decide what is necessary and what is frivolous.
Some clients have felt that the consultants are untrained and unhelpful. We would suggest that if you are doing the program and don’t like your consultant, ask for another one. These consultants are not dietitians, personal trainers or health professionals in any capacity, nor do they claim to be. They are simply there to facilitate you in following the program that the professionals have set up.
Jenny Craig claims to be an all-encompassing wellness program including “body” and “mind” guidance along with nutrition. Generally the “body” portion consists of you saying what you did for “activity” that week (which isn’t necessarily exercise) and making a goal for next week. There is little emphasis on exercise and how vital it is for a healthy lifestyle. Jenny Craig does have a maintenance program for helping clients keep the weight off once lost. But, just like many other diets, people tend to go back to old habits once they lose weight. Often new habits aren’t even learned because people tend to just eat what they are told instead of learning how to eat right once they embark into the world without professionally arranged meals and menus.
Our recommendation remains consistent that we will never discourage taking any steps to make your lifestyle healthier. Jenny Craig is a reputable and successful program, but it is not perfect. If there was a perfect program, America probably wouldn’t have so many overweight and obese citizens. If you choose Jenny Craig as your weight loss program, remember that YOU are still accountable for your own success, and not the program or the consultant. You would need to make exercise a regular part of your life even if it isn’t brought up during your consultations. Once you have attained your goal weight, whether through Jenny Craig or any other program, it is vital that you continue working out and eating as healthy as you did during your weight loss journey.
*Rock CL, et al. Obesity. 2007; 15: 939-949