The Jenny Craig Plan has gained popularity recently due in large part to the success of its spokespeople, among them Valerie Bertinelli, Kirstie Alley, Queen Latifah, Sara Rue, and Jason Alexander. The Jenny Craig program has been around since 1983. There are over 640 diet centers around the world, as well as an at-home program for those who don’t live close to a center but still want to follow the program.
When you start on the plan, you meet with or talk to a counselor on the phone, who can help tailor your diet plan to your specific needs. The program is comprehensive, covering behavioral attitudes towards food, nutritional moderation as you learn portion control, and overcoming limits to moving your body. There are five different types of Jenny Craig Programs available: Jenny Craig for Women, Jenny Craig for Men, Jenny Craig for Teens, Jenny Craig for Seniors, and Jenny Craig for Spouses. There is also a diabetic-specific plan, called Jenny Craig Type 2, for those who have diabetes. So within these programs, your counselor works to address emotional issues, nutritional issues, and changing your attitude towards exercise.
Once your counselor has discussed your goals and eating habits with you, she will work with you to establish your eating plan. The typical Jenny Craig plan is based on 25% protein, 25% fat, and 50% carbohydrates. Calories are limited to 1200-1300 per day. You are allowed 3 meals (1 with dessert) and 1 snack per day. You can then choose to have meals delivered to your door or to pick them up during your weekly check-in sessions with your counselor. You supplement these pre-packaged meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, low or nonfat dairy products, and whole grains. Since the plan is customized to your own preferences there is no typical meal plan; however, a day on the program might look something like this:
Scrambled egg whites with veggies; Small cup of fruit; One 8 oz. glass of skim milk
Banana nut cereal; Skim milk
Nonfat, sugar-free yogurt
Jenny Craig Yogurt Dream Bar
Thai chicken soup; Rotini with meatballs; Salad
Turkey Club Panini; Small fruit cup; Salad
Jenny Craig Anytime Bar
White cheddar popcorn
Chicken fajitas with peppers and onions
Lemon cake with nonfat whipped topping
Jenny Craig has come under some criticism because the diet plan relies so heavily on prepackaged foods. However, for dieters on the go, the prepackaged meals are a great way to stay on track without needing to find time to cook. Other critics note that dieters may find it difficult to make the transition to “the real world,” after eating the prepackaged Jenny Craig diet foods for a long period of time.
The program also relies on weekly check-ins with your assigned counselors to stay on track. If you chose the at-home program, also known as Jenny Direct, you will have weekly check-ins by phone. The website has many recipes for making your own Jenny-friendly foods. There are also diet forums where dieters can interact and support each other as they embark on their weight loss journeys.