Pros: Pre-packaged foods, counselor support
Cons: Expensive, only palatable, made me ill
I struggled with whether or not to recommend Jenny Craig, and in the end I have to say No, although it might work for someone else. I went to Jenny Craig with my husband on Saturday and signed up. We are both obese and the convenience of a pre-packaged diet made us both feel that this could be the diet plan for us.
Jenny Craig is expensive. There are three sign up deals currently available, 10 pound for $10, $199 for Gold Membership and $340 for the Platinum Membership. The difference between Gold and Platinum that made me decide on the Platinum Membership was Platinum Membership allows you to return to Jenny Craig at any time, for example, if you gain some weight back and decide that you need to go back on the diet or if circumstances in your life change such that you need to go off the diet for some time for whatever reason. Because my husband and I went in together, we received 25% off his membership as a family referral. Although the sign up deal included the first week of food, weekly food purchases from Jenny Craig are about $90, not including fresh foods that you still have to buy for yourself. Although this can easily be a budget breaker for many people, my husband and I have been eating out almost every meal, so the weekly food purchases would actually save us money versus restaurant dining. We often joke that we could have bought a Mercedes instead of eating out so much last year.
The counselor took our height, weight, sex and age and put them into the computer to figure out what our daily calories count should be. Mine was 1700 calories and my husband's was the maximum at 2300. The least number of calories in a Jenny Craig diet is 1200. They have preplanned weekly menus or you can choose "Ultimate Choice," where you choose all of your snacks and entrees. I chose to try the preplanned diet and my husband, who is an extremely picky eater, chose Ultimate Choice. The basis of this diet is that you eat six small meals throughout the day, keeping your metabolism up and your hunger satisfied throughout the day. The diet is also broken up into Phase I, Phase II (1/2 way to weight goal) and Maintenance.
There is a wide variety of foods available from Jenny Craig. Breakfast entrees for the first week on my plan were French Toast, Pancakes, Triple Grain Crisps (cereal), Multi-Grain Cereal, Banana Nut Muffin, Sunshine Sandwich (like a McDonald's Egg McMuffin) and Pancakes. Lunch entrees were Chicken Stuffed Sandwich, Pan Pizza, Broccoli & Cheese Stuffed Potato, Chili con Carne, Spinach Tortellini, Beef Chow Mein, and Hearty Beef & Vegetables. Lunch also includes a salad with House Dressing. Dinner Entrees were Chicken Fettucine, Salisbury Steak, Macaroni & Cheese, Chicken Pasta Parmesan, Traditional Turkey, Pasta Fagiolo, and Chicken Fajitas. Snacks include Vitamin Bars, Jenny's Cheeses Curls, nonfat yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
The packaged foods are palatable, if not great. If you would like to give feedback about the quality of the food, you can do so by calling 1-800-JennyCare or sending the proof of purchase and your comments to:
Jenny Craig Cuisine
Client Relations Department
Jenny Craig Weight Loss Centres, Inc.
11355 N Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037-1013
The nutritional values and ingredients of each food are on the packaging. Most meals include a packaged food plus a fresh fruit or vegetable. Two cups of nonfat milk were included daily. Dieters are encouraged to drink 64 ounces of water daily, take nutritional supplements and exercise at least 30 minutes per day.
The general principles of the Jenny Craig diet are sound, but, unfortunately, the food made me ill. The first meal that I ate caused me to throw up violently. The counselor warned us that the supplements don't agree with everyone, and although I've never had a problem before, they didn't agree with me. My husband has reported also feeling a bit nauseous and believes that the supplement may be to blame as well. Also, the sudden change of diet to high fiber made me flatulent and uncomfortable throughout the day. Although I work in a fairly casual business environment, I'm not willing to be on a diet where I'm wondering if I'll be able to make it to the bathroom before I puke or if I'm going to make a fool of myself farting in a meeting.
I was also disappointed in the counseling. For the overall cost of this program, I'm surprised that Jenny Craig is not staffed by Registered Dieticians. The counselors seemed well meaning and friendly, but were more sales than diet professionals.
Finally, the Jenny Craig web site was disappointing. I'm not going to go into a full review because this is a review of the Platinum Membership, not the web site, but I will mention my initial reactions. It is mostly advertisement for joining the program. The members area is not very useful. I could not get registered for the Message Board. (I don't know why it's separate from registering for the rest of the site and my problem is not that I don't have cookies turned as customer support suggested by email.) Also, the menu planner only allows you to choose Jenny Craig foods and does not allow you to fully customize the entire menu with substitutions. (Fruit and vegetable exchanges, etc., are allowed on the diet.)
After deciding that this program is not for me and discussing it with my husband, who has chosen to stay on the program, I returned to the Jenny Craig center today to get a refund. The contract does have a three day refund clause. However, I am getting less than 40% of my money back after the food (which was supposed to be free for the first week), 25% family discount and additional products (manuals) are deducted. I don't consider this to be good business relations, and normally I would have made more of a fuss and probably gotten more of my money back, but I wasn't in the mood to haggle over the refund. In the end, I paid $98.42 for food that may not get eaten and $147.60 to find out what the Jenny Craig diet is. I hope my experience can help other make their decision for less than almost $150 for a preview of the program.
I can't recommend this diet because the food made me ill and I'm looking for a medically supervised diet with better business sense. However, the basic principles of the Jenny Craig diet are sound. My husband has decided to stay on the diet and it does work for some people. I would encourage anyone else to sign up on the $10 for 10 pounds plan if they are interested, then upgrade to Platinum Membership.