Does Jenny Craig Live Up To Her Word?
In the early 1970's in New Orleans, Genevieve Guidroz Bourcq was working at Body Contour, a weight-loss salon where women strapped themselves into vibrating machines believing it would help them lose weight, when she met Sidney Craig. They bonded over their common love for the weight-loss industry and quickly became a couple. In 1979, the pair moved to Melbourne, Australia, where they launched Jenny Craig, a powerhouse international weight-loss company that has garnered millions of subscribers over the last 37 years. However, despite its household name status, Jenny Craig is a very expensive program with wavering results which unlike most modern day diet programs has stayed behind times still offering processed food which in recent decade has become an epiphany of what bad food is. Let's look at it to determine if maybe processed and prepackaged does not really equal “bad”.
How Does The Program Work
The three-pronged program goes as follows: attend weekly meetings with a Jenny Craig coach, eat from the official Jenny Craig frozen food menu, and complete 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. With 600 centers worldwide, participants must pick up or subscribe to a delivery system to receive their weekly food rations for a hefty price tag of $560 a month.
“The coaches help you find solutions,” says Mary, a representative for Jenny Craig. “They’ll teach you the skill set to maintain your weight. They’re going to hold you accountable, and they’re going to motivate you the right away.” Jenny Craig coaches are the company’s main strength. Many of them are former subscribers of the diet themselves, and all have gone through comprehensive training. Weight-loss coaching is considered one of the best ways to shed the pounds. According to a 2011 study from Rio de Janiero University, those who receive weight loss coaching are 17 percent more likely to lose weight than those who fly solo.* In addition to the weekly coaching, Jenny Craig offers chat rooms, forums, and Skype sessions with your coach when you’re traveling.
Representatives are encouraged to mention the popular 2015 John Hopkins University study when pitching the diet to potential subscribers. “In the study, over the course of a year, people in Jenny Craig lost the most weight out of all the diets,” says Mary. This is only partially true. According to the study, Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are the two most successful diet programs, and both are more effective in maintaining weight loss than any other plan. However, the researchers determined that no plan has proven to sustain weight loss over 12 months.*
Unlike other diet programs, Jenny Craig tries to go by the federal regulations as much as possible. Dieters are told they should be losing no more than two pounds a week because that’s what the National Institute for Health recommends. Yet, at $560 a week, depending on your weight-loss goal, this could be a very slow and expensive path to losing weight.
The second you hop on the phone with a representative, Jenny Craig has a surreal way of making you feel like it’s the only solution to your weight loss struggle. Representatives sweet-talk potential clients with promises of permanent results all while eating delicious meals with minimal calories. Their pitches are peppered with mentions of studies and awards.* It’s hard not to be swayed by Jenny Craig’s allure.
Do Dieters Lose Weight With Jenny Craig?
Jenny Craig insists that all three recommended meals a day only encompass around 1,200 total calories. Generally speaking 1200 calorie a day diets will help lose weight but the question is if that loss is sustainable?
We have found many customer reviews and conclusion to make is that most do lose weight but the weight is regained once the diet is stopped.
“You really are just a number they don't care, the longer you are there the better for them, but if your weight loss slows down it looks bad for them. I see more bad reviews here than good. Kirstie Alley lost and gained it all back, and we never see or hear about Valerie Bertinelli any more wonder if she gained it all back too. Stop wasting your money people looking for a quick fix, you can do it on your own without going bankrupt. I did, it just takes a lot of discipline and really wanting to do it for you. Jenny is not a lifestyle change, the food is processed and unhealthy and I now suffer from joint pain, which could be a result. Good luck to all of you who are battling the bulge, but Jenny is not the answer. I feel sick when I think of the money I have wasted, could have put my daughter through university. Sad but true.” – Tracey of Calgaryp*
Despite boasting more than 70 meals, the Jenny Craig menu is meat-heavy, with very few vegetarian options. Vegans and the lactose-intolerant should forget about it, as all vegetarian dishes are made with dairy.* Clients are required to adhere to a strict food regiment: three prepackaged meals, with options such as Cheesy Chicken Enchilada and Florentine Breakfast Pizza; stick to two snacks or desserts a day, like Cheese Curls and Key Lime Pie; five servings of fruit and vegetables; and at least two non-fat dairy foods. All these items may sound quick and tasty, however only eating prepackaged foods for an indefinite amount of time has its eventual consequences. According to a 2010 study from the University of Melbourne, those who only consume processed foods are much more likely to suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, and general emotional distress.*
Jenny Craig offers what seems a good return policy but beware, you only have 3 days to “change your mind” and might have trouble getting your membership fees back. One of Jenny Craig Diet users found herself feeling “ripped off”, please see her experience explained bellow.
“”I was shocked at the prices and not really happy when I discovered I had not been given everything I paid for. The food was awful. Pasta was gummy, rice mushy, too much or not enough seasoning. The meals I enjoyed were no longer on the menu, and I was hopeful some of my choices might be as good, but most of what I tried I didn't finish. My dogs turned their noses up at the Beef Merlot. I didn't go back the following week and did not receive any kind of follow-up call. I called customer service, and the phone rep was nice but the policy apparently is, “Too bad, we got your money, so what if we don't deliver as promised”. Can't even describe how ripped off I feel. Don't know if it is true that a big company bought out JC. I would never have gone back if I had known it was this bad.” – Teresa of Miami*
Eating prepackaged meals is damaging to your nervous system and overall mental and physical health. The exceedingly low calorie count without meeting nutritional needs of clean, unprocessed food is bound to cause an uptick in stress and other emotional challenges. Yet, the most concerning aspect of Jenny Craig is there’s no telling or proof if the regiment will help you to permanently keep off the weight.
- “Diets and Depression In Women.” PubMed. Web
- “Calorie Estimations.” CNPP. Web
- “Low Calorie Dieting Increases Cortisol.” NCBI. Web
- “Dietary Counseling On Long-Term Weight Loss.” NCBI. Web
- “Few Commercial Weight Loss Programs Show Reliable Evidence of Effectiveness.” Johns Hopkins. Web
- “What Does Jenny Craig Have To Say.”Larry King CNN. Web
- “Jenny Craig” Consumer Affairs. Web
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*Individual results will vary.
Information on this website is not to replace the advise of the doctor, but rather for general education purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any diet or taking any dietary supplements.
Articles, reviews and investigations are our own opinion, and written based on the information publicly available or simply contacting the companies. We try our best to stay up to date with constantly changing information. If you find any information inaccurate, please email us, we’ll verify for accuracy and update it.