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All About Jenny Craig

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Updated February 15, 2014

How Long has this Diet Been Around?

The Jenny Craig program has been around for more than 20 years, but it has had a surge in popularity thanks to celebrity spokesperson Kirstie Alley shedding nearly 100 pounds on the plan.

What is the Diet Based On?

The Jenny Craig program is based on developing a healthier relationship with food -- with an eye on good nutrition and reasonable portions -- and it encourages a more active lifestyle.

Jenny Craig says the program is overseen by a team of dieticians and medical advisers and is based on standard dietary guidelines, including those set by the U.S. government.

What Will I Eat?

Jenny Craig sells its own brand of pre-packaged, single serving foods called "Jenny Cuisine." Jenny Craig says the purpose of requiring these pre-made meals is to teach dieters about nutrition and to use portion control skills.

In addition to the pre-packaged meals and snacks or desserts, you will also be eating fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products that you purchase at your usual market.

How Long Will I Eat This Way?

Once someone following the Jenny Craig program is halfway to their pre-set goal weight, they can begin transitioning to eating regular foods again. After a four-week "transition period," you will stop eating Jenny Cuisine entirely and you will be eating "meals on your own."

Eventually, you will be able to eat virtually anything you want as long as you keep an eye on portions. For example, a transition meal can include French fries, a food that many traditional diets would forbid.

Will I Have to Exercise?

Yes; you should be wary of any weight-loss program that does not encourage exercise as part of its plan.

Jenny Craig encourages its clients to participate in physical activity five days a week (at least 30 minutes each of those days) and to generally be more active.

What Else does the Plan Offer?

Everyone on Jenny Craig is assigned their own "personal consultant."

If you are near a Jenny Craig Center and signed up in-person, you will actually physically meet with yours one-on-one each week at your local Center. You will weigh in at this time.

You can also do the program at home with the Jenny Direct At-Home Program. You can receive your consultations via telephone as well. This is referred to as "Jenny Direct."

If you're near a local center, you will have access to both your personal consultant and telephone consultants.

The purpose of these consultations is to review each week's successes and challenges. He will assess your previous week's eating, exercise and mental/emotional progress and help you set goals and a menu plan for the following week.

What are their Qualifications?

Consultants themselves are not nutritionists or dieticians. JennyCraig.com actually lists the position title as "Consultants/Sales" (Customer service and sales skills are the main required qualifications.).

Some consultants are clients who have successfully lost and maintained weight loss on the program.

How Much Does it Cost?

Membership fees can range between $20 to $50 a month, but this varies according to the amount of weight you need to lose or if you are in maintenance.

In addition to membership fees, the food itself will run at least $14 to $20 a day. Some food discounts may apply.

Specials are also sometimes available as advertised online or on television commercials that offer such discounts as "Lose as much weight as you want for $20." But the fine print will state that it's for a certain number of months and that the food is an additional cost.

To learn more, visit jennycraig.com or call 1-800-597-JENNY.

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