Many Americans need and want to lose weight. Two popular programs that include pre-packaged foods are Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. These programs require the purchase of their foods to regulate intake and teach portion control. The programs vary in price and services offered.
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According to its website, Nutrisystem offers a variety of menu plans focusing on the individual needs of women, men, teens, vegetarians, diabetics and the elderly. There is no membership fee, but you do need to join to access all of the online features and to order food. Food is selected online and delivered to your door. Prices vary, but are estimated at $11 per day by Top Diet Review. Free online features include an online community chat room, weekly education e-chat with a registered dietitian, newsletter, daily motivational contact, dining-out guide, grocery shopping guide and weight-loss tracking tools (log, measurements, graphs, food diary, exercise log and mindset makeover program).
Jenny Craig’s website offers promotional pricing for membership and outlines the menu options available. Contact with a program representative and visitation to a local center are encouraged. The Food, Body, Mind principles are reinforced with the interpersonal contact and coaching of the program representative. This person also helps choose the foods you will eat, based on your age, sex, medical concerns and preferences. The program does offer some free e-tools such as a progress tracker, recipes and an activity journal. Participants are encouraged to visit the center to weigh in periodically. Jenny Craig's food costs run about $14 per day, and there is an additional membership fee of at least $20 depending on the promotions offered and amount of weight to be lost.
Weighing the Options
While both programs take the time and thought process of meal preparation out of your hands, they do seem geared to different users. Nutrisystem is almost exclusively web-based and focuses education, support and weight-monitoring involvement to the user’s discretion. Therefore, you do need to be minimally computer-literate. Jenny Craig encourages interpersonal involvement via telephone calls and consulting sessions with program representatives at their center; therefore, the dieter does not need many computer skills, but would benefit from being geographically close to one of the centers. A recent survey from Top Diet Review rated Nutrisystem No. 1 primarily due to affordability. Jenny Craig rated No. 16, with some negative comments based on price of food and commission-based incentive activities of program representatives.
Sustainable weight loss must include lifestyle changes to eat healthy foods and increase activity. Calories are a measurement of energy. If you take in more than you burn, you gain weight; eat less than you burn to lose weight. With either program, you will eventually need to eat normal food again so pay attention to the educational opportunities and tools available.
Gradual weight loss is the best way to keep the weight off long-term. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, reproductive problems, joint pain and respiratory problems. Making changes to lose excess weight is beneficial at any increment; every pound is important. Keeping the weight off can be very challenging; focus on portion control and activity. Feeling good and looking good are excellent motivations too.
How Much Is Too Much?
To understand the impact of participating in a food delivery diet, figure out your current daily food cost. Include all coffee drinks, vending snacks, meals out and estimated actual cost of portions consumed at home. This will allow you to see how much of a change using pre-packaged food programs would have on your budget.
Which Is Right for You?
Assessing which plan will work better for you is a personal decision. Nutrisystem has fewer out-of-pocket expenses due to less-expensive food and no membership fee. It would be a good fit for someone who is familiar with using a computer and prefers the autonomy and anonymity that computer discussions provide for support. Jenny Craig is a little more expensive, but may be a better choice for people who want face-to-face accountability (including weight checks) and more hands-on support.