Food-by-Mail Weight Loss Programs and Diabetes

Some weight loss programs claim to do all the work for you by delivering your meals already made. But, is doing all the work for weight loss the same as doing all the work for controlling blood glucose? Two of these popular commercial weight loss plans have a specific program targeted at diabetes management.

Nutrisystem

Nutrisystem was founded in 1972, and in 1999 began its current business model selling prepackaged foods directly to customers. The current Nutrisystem program offers weight loss programs tailored to men or women, each with a subcategory for seniors, vegetarians, or people with diabetes.

The plans are calorie restricted for weight loss, and deliver meals and snacks for 28 days each month to the participant’s door. Fresh produce, dairy, and some protein foods must be purchased separately. Nutrisystem offers transition and maintenance plans when you’re ready to leave the program, or to maintain a target weight.

A members’ website offers educational information and tracking tools, and some membership levels include telephone counseling.

The Nutrisystem plan is built, according to its promotional information, on the glycemic index, and its diabetes plan, called Nutrisystem D, offers access to Certified Diabetes Educators at all membership levels. The women’s diabetes plan is 1,250 calories per day, and 2,300 milligrams sodium.

Many of the food choices are specifically for the diabetes plan, and the cost at the lowest level for 28 breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks is advertised at $260.00 per month for men (slightly less for women) if you select the automatic shipping option. Remember, the participant must supply some food.

A 2009 study involving 69 obese participants, funded by Nutrisystem, concluded that the Nutrisystem D was significantly more effective for weight loss, A1C reduction, and other health indicators than a program described as “a diabetes support and education program.” This group participated in a group session about diabetes management every four weeks, but its diet was not controlled.

The Nutrisystem D plan is almost certainly suitable for diabetes management, but some qualification may be necessary. One important note to the Nutrisystem-funded study of the Nutrisystem D plan is that participants consumed a certain number of Nutrisystem food servings as well as additional sources of dairy, fruit, and vegetables.

It is fair to deduce that some of the daily carbohydrate choices that are part of the Nutrisystem D plan are purchased weekly at a grocery by the participant, prepared by the participant, and portioned by the participant. Including fresh foods is a good thing, but this element of the Nutrisystem D program suggests that you won’t escape thinking about, and planning for, carbohydrates in your diet.

Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig is another commercial weight loss program that delivers food to their members and advertises a plan for diabetes. The Jenny Craig program began in 1983 in Australia and moved to the United States in 1985. The company is now owned by Nestle.

This diet plan emphasizes an approach known as volumetrics, where a focus on less energy-dense foods (lower-calorie foods) allows for more volume. The Jenny Craig program includes a tailored physical activity plan and weekly one-on-one sessions with a Jenny Craig consultant.

These individuals aren’t necessarily nutrition professionals, however, and focus on motivation. Even though the program delivers meals, there are Jenny Craig centers where you can pick up your food and meet with your consultant. The Jenny Craig program can be expensive, with membership costs running from $7.00 to $10.00 per month plus the cost of Jenny Craig food. Like Nutrisystem, you shop for your own dairy, fruits, and protein.

The Jenny Craig diabetes program is called Jenny Type 2, and claims to help you maintain healthy blood glucose levels, manage blood pressure, and control cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The actual program, however, isn’t separate from the standard weight loss regimen.

That doesn’t mean a Jenny Craig plan isn’t compatible with managing your diabetes effectively. Weight loss always benefits people with type 2 diabetes, and the volumetrics philosophy emphasizes healthy nonstarchy vegetables almost by default. You’re not going to escape managing your own carbohydrate intake, however.

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