Joining up to slim down: Jenny Craig

We took a look at Jenny Craig to find out: Is it right for you?

If you were choosing a weight-loss programme, which one would you go with? Common sense says that any logical strategy will work if you stay with it for long enough, but you can only stick with a programme if it suits your psychology and lifestyle.

Genevieve Guidroz, Jenny Craig and her husband Sidney started their weight-loss company in Australia in the mid 1980s. Jenny had developed an interest in the fitness and weight-loss industry in the 1960s, through her efforts to lose weight following a pregnancy. The company expanded into the US market in 1985, where it plugged into the huge American weight-loss market. Today Jenny Craig is owned by Nestlé and has around 660 centres in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Jenny Craig is the 'total control' option of the three big weight-loss options. Along with the eating plan, they provide most of the food. It's a no-brainer – just eat what you're given, turn up for your meetings and do what you're told.

  • You're looked after by a Jenny Craig consultant, who will have attended a comprehensive training course. Some, but not all, consultants have been Jenny Craig customers. Your food is provided, but you can choose what you'll eat for the week ahead using a booklet of 'healthy eating days'.
  • The 'Jenny's Cuisine' food is either shelf stable or frozen and costs around $20 a day. Every week you have a one-on-one 30-minute meeting with your consultant, to review your progress, address any challenges you may have, help with menu and activity planning and offer weight-loss tips and techniques. If you don't show up for a meeting, expect a call from your consultant to find out why.
  • Your consultant can keep your doctor in the loop, especially if you have a specific health problem.
  • You're encouraged to build moderate exercise into your day (30 minutes five days a week).
  • An 'eating out' guide helps you to cope at times when you can't eat Jenny's Cuisine.
  • Various support tools can be purchased – exercise and motivational DVDs, exercise equipment, pulse monitor and audio tapes.
  • When you're half way to your goal weight, you will be encouraged to start preparing your own meals. By this time, it's expected you will have gained the kilojoule and portion control awareness required to make good choices.
  • You get a maintenance manual when you reach your goal weight. If you lapse, you can get back onto the programme. If at any stage your Jenny Craig consultant believes you have a psychological problem or eating disorder, you'll be referred to an appropriate health professional.
  • Breakfast: Oven baked cereal, 1 cup non-fat milk, 1 slice bread, 1 teaspoon vegemite
  • Snack: 1 apple
  • Lunch: Hearty beef pie, garden salad*, 1 carrot, 2 tablespoons avocado
  • Snack: 1 kiwifruit, 1 pear
  • Dinner: Crumbed fish and wedges, garden salad, 1 slice bread, 20g reduced fat cheese
  • Snack: 1 kiwifruit, 1 cup fat-free yoghurt

* All non-starchy vegetables are unlimited

The Jenny Craig programme was designed by its staff of registered dietitians and psychologists and approved by an advisory board consisting of health and nutrition research experts. The three principle tenets of the programme are behaviour education, proper nutrition and exercise.

The Jenny Craig menus reflect current nutrition recommendations, as outlined in the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand formulated by the Ministry of Health and Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council. Composition of a day's eating is about 50-60% carbs, 20-25% fat and 20-25% protein.

"Let's talk about the obvious pitfalls up front. $140 a week on food just for you is quite a lot. Not only that, it means you're eating different food to the rest of the family. No problem if you're a high-earning singleton! Assuming you can get past those two issues, and many people obviously do, this programme should help you get into a healthy eating pattern. Some people will also prefer the one-on-one help over group sessions.

Having the food provided ensures that you get the portion control right – a big problem for many – and hopefully by the time you're into preparing your own food on this plan, you can stick with the portion sizes you've become accustomed to. Comes with practical, sensible support material."

Weight Watchers

First published: Nov 2007

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