Buying Diet Meals: Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, and Etc.

You’ve seen the advertisements:

Check the video to see how appetizing these are

Check the video to see how appetizing these are

Old Sports stars and TV talent talking about losing weight the “mans” way with “man” meals.  Did you see those beautiful photographs of hte food?  Well when I checked out the food I found they didn’t quite look as they appeared on television (check out the video).

Then, back from the 1970’s – Marie Osmond – rocking the diet. She gained weight after all those children, and now years later she has kept it off – but how is the food she is eating?

So did you ever see what those meals are made of? Have you ever wondered what they really taste like?

I have had some of those meals brought to me by patients, and sitting on my desk for a few years.  Some I have obtained fresh from other patients who have tried them.

Many of these meals come dehydrated – not as good as what the NASA astronauts get — after all, they have taste and require some good food. But these are small portions of food that you add things to- like vegetables, fruit, or the occasional bun.

Do these systems work? They do – they are a very restricted diet. Some of the burgers in this were one ounce (the typical small burger you get is four ounces). Low calorie diets do not work in the long run for the majority >90% of people.
Are they expensive? Very – compared to what you can make, or get from the frozen food section.

How do they taste: honestly – they were sent to me in freeze dried form and when I took a whiff of them they were simply unpalatable. Still people buy these for the “quick fix” to their weight problem. The Jenny Craig chili smelled a bit like chemicals I use to clean my computer and not the savory delight of a great home-made chili (oh, and there were beans, my Texas friends would tell me that isn’t chili).
Do they have long-term results – not really. Long term results come from you changing what you eat and you can’t buy these forever. Long term results come from lifestyle changes, and buying these meals every month costs a lot of cash.

Funny thing: people will spend as much per month on these as they would to pay for a weight loss surgery.

My advice: skip these – learn to cook.  If you won’t learn to cook then check out your grocery store aisle for fresher and better choices.  And if you think Marie is popping these in the microwave in Vegas I have a bridge to sell you.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and went to medical school. Dr. Simpson, a weight loss surgeon is an advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he believes teaching people to improve their health through their food and in their kitchen. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcolm Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska and in 2013 Dr Simpson won the National Indian Health Board Area Impact Award. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit

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