Health And Fitness

What is the Jenny Craig Diet?

The Jenny Craig diet began in 1983 in Australia and hit the US about two years later.  It is a three-tiered program based on harmonizing a client’s food, body, and mind through prep-packaged and small portion meals in Tier 1,  increasing daily activity in Tier 2, and stress management/life management skills in Tier 3.  The program is available both in person (in over 700 centers worldwide), and online for those without a center near them.

Jenny and Sid Craig, who founded the Jenny Craig program in Meblourne, Australia in 1983.

jenny craig



TIER 1:  Diet.  Jenny Craig offers small portions of prepackaged foods that contain a nutritional content of50%-60%carbohydrates, 20% to 25% protein, and 20% to 25% fat and are designed to meet the USDA Dietary Guidelines.  This makes it very appealing to those who don’t like to cook or don’t want the hassle of figuring out the correct food combinations on their own.  The program allows its’ clients to supplement these meals with limited fruits, whole grains, low-no fat dairy products and unlimited non-starchy vegetables.  ”For a certain period of time we support people with this prepackaged menu that serves as a model of healthy eating,” Lisa Waltman (center manager for Jenny Direct) reports. “As clients become familiar with recognizing correct portion sizes, the counselors teach them how to cook and to eat out.”

Once a client is halfway to their goal weight (determined at your initial consultation), they begin to be transitioned to life outside of “Jenny Cuisine” and prepackaged meals.  You begin to make meals on your own, paying attention to portion sizes and daily activity.  After four weeks of this “weaning” phase, the client is entirely on their own and consume no more prepackaged meals.  

The main attraction of this diet is that when you are at your goal weight, no food is off limits.  A successful client has learned proper portion control and thus can have pizza and ice cream because they won’t overindulge.

kirstie_alleyTIER 2:  Exercise.  Each client is encouraged to exercise for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per weekand to start lifelong habits that induce regular exercise such as taking the stairs or parking in the furthest parking spot from your destination.

TIER 3:  Support.  Clients are required to come in to the center once a week to weigh in and discuss how things are progressing with their assigned counselor.  For those not near a center, this is done over the phone through Jenny Direct.

COST:  The prices will vary.  Sales are in a membership format, so it is a monthly charge. Their programs range from $20-$50 per month, depending on specials being run.  This number varies by how much weight you personally want to lose, and whether you are in weight loss  or maintenance mode.  This cost doesn’t account for the food which can run anywhere from $14-$20 per day.

Kirstie Alley served as a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig from 2006-2009, at which point her weight returned and she had a falling out with the company.  She credits learning to eat healthfully and learning proper portion control to Jenny Craig as she confesses she used to “eat like a trucker” and regularly overindulge before her days with Jenny Craig.