Consider Commercial Meal-Plan Diets for Healthy Weight Loss - dummies

Consider Commercial Meal-Plan Diets for Healthy Weight Loss

By Jane Kirby, The American Dietetic Association

Weight-loss programs based on meal plans can be good options for people who have trouble sticking to a diet plan on their own. The Journal of the American Medical Association has concluded that the structure of commercial programs gives some dieters an advantage that resulted in more weight loss than dieters who attended self-help programs.

Meal-based programs offer a variety of services, from special foods and custom-designed diets and exercise programs to liquids only. Having so many choices can be confusing, however — and sitting in the office of a recruiter for one of these programs can be intimidating. (Recruiters are salespeople, well trained at closing a deal.)

By carefully evaluating the diet programs, you can avoid signing up and then not showing up because you hate the foods that you must eat or because the plan doesn’t provide enough supervision.

  • Jenny Craig, Inc: The program is based on exercise, lifestyle modification, and a low-calorie diet. Members are advised to eat three meals and three snacks a day and increase physical activity. Prepared packaged foods are encouraged especially during the initial phases of weight loss. Rapid weight loss is discouraged. Expected weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week.

    Staff: Registered dietitians design the programs and trained, nonmedical personnel administer them.

    Availability: Centers are located in 46 states and in Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The program can be accessed via the Web.

    Contact: 11355 North Torrey Road La Jolla, CA 92038-7910, 800-597-JENNY

  • Weight Watchers: Diets are individualized and are based on a point system based on your current weight instead of calorie counting. You can choose any food you want to eat each day as long as you don’t go over your targeted number of points. You can “earn” extra points by exercising. Commercial Weight Watchers food products can be purchased but are optional for program participation. Expected weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week. Exercise is encouraged, and group counseling sessions are included. Lifestyle modification is a component of the overall program structure.

    Staff: Registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, and clinical psychologists developed this program. Leaders (who are Lifetime Members) deliver the program.

    Availability: In North America, 20,000 weekly meetings take place. To find a meeting, use the meeting finder feature on Weight Watchers’ Web site. Simply type in your zip code for a list of locations near you. Online meetings are also available.

    Contact: 175 Crossways Park West Woodbury, NY 11797 800-651-6000