Jenny Craig was first conceived in the 1970s by co-founders Genevieve Guidroz Bourcq and Sidney Craig. Genevieve was working at a weight-loss salon called “Body Contour,” where women would step on a vibrating machine to lose weight, when she met Sidney Craig. Fast forward to 1979 and the debut of Jenny Craig.
Fast forward another 39 years to today, where there are millions of subscribers attached to this very expensive weight loss program. Along with the hefty fee a subscriber will fork out to be a part of this program, there are also shaky results attached to it.
The Jenny Craig diet is entirely pre-packaged food, which some people may cringe at the thought of. Most people associate “packaged” with “processed and unhealthy,” but is this diet the exception? There are also clinic visits (or phone or video chats for those who aren’t close to a clinic) and consultant meetings, and with additional price tags! The total cost for the program can vary but on average it will depend on which program you choose.
This program will appeal to those who need additional support from a “real person” and “place,” and to those who don’t have a lot of time to cook meals for themselves but want to get healthier overall.
How Does The Jenny Craig Diet Work?
One of the most advertised plans on the Jenny Craig website is the Rapid Results program, which is just $16 to sign up for—*plus the cost of food. That asterisk, according to the Jenny Craig website, is as follows:
12-week trial membership includes Rapid Results program. Plus cost of food, ($15-26/day US/ $17-26/day CAN). Discount split over 10 consecutive weeks with weekly full menu purchase (avg. $154 US/$174 CAN). Any shipping costs are extra. Continental US only. First 4-week full Planned Menu (avg. $154/wk) auto-ship order qualifies for free standard shipping; order split into two 2-week shipments; entire order billed up-front.  (emphasis added)
So that $16 in big bright letters on the website actually comes out to an average of $1848 plus shipping billed up front. Eighteen hundred dollars. With sixteen dollars advertised.
Is Jenny Craig Worth The Price Tag?
There are three steps to the program:
1. Consultation meetings with your specific coach
2. Choosing your food order from Jenny Craig’s frozen food menu
3. Exercising at least thirty minutes each day.
What Does A Jenny Craig Coach Do Exactly?
Jenny Craig says they will help you think about your weight differently, give you the skill set to maintaining a healthier weight, find solutions to weight loss roadblocks, and keep you accountable overall.
How Is The Food On The Jenny Craig Diet?
One customer tried the Jenny Craig diet out and said,
Most servings were small, some shockingly so: The “Tuna Salad Complete Lunch Kit” consisted of 2.9 ounces of tuna salad (about two tablespoons), six small crackers, and a small cup of sugary diced peaches. Even with the addition of a garden salad and two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, it was far from satisfying. 
She went onto say this program is ideal for those who love sugar, and those who need a lot of personal support along the way. A nutritionist who looked into the ingredients of the foods said that the foods were overtaken by additives and preservatives which is obviously not healthy whatsoever. She also said,
Perhaps the best thing this plan has going for it is convenience and built-in portion control…but I wouldn't be surprised to see you at the candy machine by 3 p.m. If you follow this diet, you'll probably want to take a fiber supplement. 
The company does a great job of making the customer think their meals are truly the only solution to their weight loss problems—which keeps the money flowing in. For those willing to stick it out, it will be costly and less than appetizing after a while. The company suggests that the user should lose around 2 pounds per week (average), eating three pre-packaged meals per day, two small snacks, and a dessert each day. If you do not lose 12 pounds in 12 weeks on this program you can get your money back…asterisk.
Lose 12 lbs. in 12 weeks or your first three month’s fees back. Member must follow program guidelines including but not limited to full menu adherence each week, plus 12 consecutive weekly consultations required. New members only. Members following our program, on average, lose 1-2 lbs per week. Only valid for all access premium or super premium membership. Restrictions apply.  (emphasis added)
Is The Jenny Craig Diet Safe?
While there is some order to the program with check-ins and consultations, not safe are the preservatives found in every single food item. I don’t know about you, but I do not like to buy grocery frozen meals because I know they are loaded with preservatives. Other than the frozen food items, the caloric content of Jenny Craig items is rather small, which could lead to some unhealthy choices because of hunger. There don’t seem to be any dangerous ingredients or side effects, such as substances that could make a dieter’s heart race.
Pros And Cons Of The Jenny Craig Diet
Jenny Craig is so popular that finding a clinic pretty much anywhere in the country—there are over 600 locations. Plus they offer phone and video consultations if there isn’t a clinic close to you. This makes the program easily accessible and easy to market to as well. If you’re time-pressed, you’ll appreciate the fact that there’s no cooking at all.
Unfortunately, there are some cons as well. The cost is exorbitant—$20 a day for one individual’s meals. I don’t know about you, but with $20 I can feed a family of four nutritiously for at least two meals. There are also signup fees and regular monthly expenses, which can make this program completely unaffordable for most families. Sure, the counselor can help you stay accountable each week, but you pay for that, too. Frozen meals do not appeal to everyone. Finally, this program is also very meat- and dairy-heavy, so it will not appeal to a vegetarian or someone who is lactose-intolerant. 
The Bottom Line
Jenny Craig is an expensive, monitored program that offers freezer meals. Unaffordable to many, it’s also not a long-term solution for weight loss—unless you continue to buy Jenny Craig for the rest of your life. Jenny Craig does not promote how to cook healthy for yourself. Nor does it promote self-willed weight loss even after you’ve reached your goal weight; rather continued counseling sessions. Sure, it might be a fit for some people temporarily, but the weight loss averages are less than impressive, and it is grossly overpriced for the quality of food and help you are actually going to get.
But to be fair…in-person support groups can be very helpful; truly feeling a part of a community that is striving to lose weight together. If Jenny Craig has a high point, this is it.
*Please keep in mind that with any diet or weight loss program, individual results will vary.
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*Individual results will vary.
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