Jenny Craig clients lose a lot of weight when they first get started, but do they keep it off?
Kirstie Alley, who stars in the reality television show “Big Life,” and promotes her own Organic Liaison weight loss system, is not the first woman in America to gain all the weight back and more after losing weight with Jenny Craig.
Valerie Bertinelli and Sara Rue are a few of the company’s success stories – at least for now. Jenny Craig doesn’t teach anything magical. It’s just about six mini-meals that I’d classify as low-calorie comfort foods.
As a lifetime Jenny Craig member, I’m familiar with the menu changes throughout the years. I joined in the late 1990’s when they were promoting the “Chocolate lovers’ diet.” In the last few years, it’s been the Volumetrics approach.
I like the idea of Volumetrics because it means more fruits and vegetables or filling items such as soups. I don’t like the fact that there are few to no gluten-free or wheat-free items on the menu, and therefore I don’t visit the Jenny Craig Centers anymore.
Another major concern I have with Jenny Craig is the fact that most of the meals are intended to be heated up in the microwave. I’m not a fan of nuking anything.
People often lose a lot of water weight while on Jenny Craig for the first week because the food items are relatively low in sodium. Most menus recommended are too low calorie, especially for athletes or those who just exercise a lot.
If you do purchase Jenny Craig food, add vegetables whenever possible. Heat the food up in the oven or use the skillet on the stove.
Here are a few healthier ideas that mimic Jenny Craig menu items:
No. 1: Instead of Jenny Craig French Toast with Lite Table Syrup, try Van’s or another brand of gluten-free frozen waffles with fresh or frozen blueberries (may be heated up on the stove) Drizzle with 1 tsp. real maple syrup.
No. 2: Instead of the Jenny Craig Turkey Burger, just make a bread-less burger of any kind with lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, avocado and mushrooms. Serve with a medley of sautéed onions, peppers and red-skinned potatoes. Always use a small amount of olive oil for cooking on the stove.
No. 3: Instead of Jenny Craig Chicken Fettuccine, make 3/4 cup of rice fettuccini pasta mixed with fettuccine sauce, peas and broccoli along with a splash of cooking Sherri and herbs.
No. 4: Instead of Jenny Craig personal pizza, make a healthier version. Heat up an Ezekiel or sprouted-grain tortilla using a little olive oil on both sides. Then lay the tortilla on a baking sheet. Top with tomato sauce, oregano, seasonings, shredded mozzarella or havarti cheese, and toppings such as green pepper, onions, mushrooms, natural, no-additive pepperoni. Heat under the broiler for 3 or 4 minutes to melt cheese.
No. 5: Instead of Jenny Craig cheesecakes, Jenny Craig Lemon Cake and Chocolate Cake, eat fruit, dark chocolate, or a raw food bar such as Larabar. I won’t lie; the Jenny Craig Lemon Cake is one of my all-time favorite desserts in the diet universe. Having that kind of treat is fine once a day but not if all of your meals are processed and full of sugar and wheat flour.
Jenny Craig has some pros and some cons. It’s great for people who aren’t used to eating health foods and need help learning portion control. Jenny Craig meals are also low fat which is a positive. Jenny Craig consultants are like one-on-one cheerleaders which is also nice, but they are also in sales.
After being on the plan for a few months, try to transition to healthier homemade options: fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted grain foods, lean proteins, herbs, raw foods and lower sugar items. One thing you can take away from Jenny Craig — it’s OK to enjoy comfort food favorites. Jenny Craig probably won’t cure you of any emotional eating problems you have.
Bottom line: Focus on nutrition — not just calories.