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Diet Wars – Jenny Craig v. Regular Food

May 24, 2011

Health News Reporter Holly Hygeia

  • Holly Hygeia: Today I’m interviewing a man who claims to be a “regular guy who lost weight by eating regular food.” Okay, diet fans, I’m going to get to the bottom of this outrageous claim and expose the truth. What is your real name anyway?
  • Regular Guy: Guy is fine. Can I call you Holly?
  • HH: Why not! I just want to say up front that I’m not representing Jenny Craig or anyone else. I just want to get the facts straight.
  • RG: Okay, let’s go!
  • HH: Jenny Craig just beat out Weight Watchers and other plans in a new study. Jenny’s dieters reported an 8% weight loss in two years. Their program is all about eatng less calories, exercising, and getting support. What’s wrong with that?
  • RG: I’m not claiming anything is wrong with a special diet plan.  I’m just saying that I lost weight on regular food by following some basic guidelines for exercise and eating. Also, I didn’t need to transition from a diet plan like Jenny’s to regular food, and risk gaining the weight back. After losing weight on a regular food diet, I can just keep eating the same healthy food forever without ever spending an extra dollar!
  • HH: Okay, now you’re talking about cost. Food isn’t cheap no matter where you go, and besides people losing weight are going to spend money anyway to drop some pounds. Seems like Jenny and even Weight Watchers and others are a logical choice.
  • RG: Did you know that a Jenny diet can cost  $200 – 400  a month? That’s not counting the membership, video, and reading material. The total might easily be thousands of dollars a year. Think about the cost for an obese couple to both go on the plan. If money is no object, go for it, but you still have to switch over to regular food eventually.
  • HH: Well, people get educated by these nutrition and weight loss programs. Are you knocking that too?
  • RG: I know a free website, with no pop-up ads, and it’s unbelievable what you can learn there. You can print it out if you like, and you won’t need to buy books unless you’re a kitchen  gourmet who likes to be creative.
  • HH: Okay, I’ll bite. What’s the website?
  • RG: – the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” It’s from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • ****Special Update 6-2-11: The FOOD PLATE  has just been released by the USDA to replace the food pyramid, which is said to be too complex for American families. The Obamas are using it for their meal plans!
  • HH: Aw, c’mon. That’s a government site!
  • RG: Right, but we already paid for it! Besides, it was updated in 2010, and most of those expensive diet plans aren’t even that up to date. I challenge you to prove me wrong. is put together by doctors, dieticians, and others…where do you think Jenny gets her information from anyway? Nice that there is a group of experts who aren’t trying to profit from feeding us.
  • HH: Guy, I think you’re going out into left field. Next, you’ll start talking about the food pyramid that we learned about in school when we were kids. What makes you like a government food website anyway?
  • RG: I’m glad you asked. For one thing, we have a right to free health information, but more importantly I  lost 60 pounds by following those old food pyramid guidelines! That was 24% of my body weight! It took 3 years to do it, but that was over 10 years ago, and the weight has stayed off. Now Jenny wins a contest by getting people to lose 8% in two years? C’mon! And look what happened to Kirstie Alley – she used to promote Jenny but she gained back her weight and dropped her deal with them.
  • HH: Hmmm (looking RG over carefully). I don’t see any problems with your weight now. But Jenny gives specific exercise guidelines. You look like you exercise, too.
  • RG: I do. Holly, I looked at that website last night to bone up for your interview. I hadn’t looked at any guidelines in years. I was surprised to find a new hi-tech version of the food pyramid released in 2005, called “MyPyramid Tracker.”  ( It was fun. I was up until midnight, playing with the tools and calculating my numbers. It even tracks your favorite foods, and for exercise it will calculate calories burned for your height and weight for all major activities. I forgot I’ve been burning 685 calories every time I do 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise in the gym. I guess that’s why I’m not gaining weight from occasional chocolate or ice cream! I was also happy to find that I’ve been doing mostly the right things, and just need to make a few minor adjustments.
  • HH: Such as?
  • RG: Well, I’ve being allowing myself to eat a 12- 16 ounce steak once a week. That’s not good eating, because it’s  twice the recommended amount of daily meat. And, although I eat a lot of fruit, I forgot that I’m supposed to get a full 4-5 servings of vegetables every day.
  • HH: How’s your memory? Can you remember what you had for dinner last night? I’m interested because that was before you looked at the updated guidelines. Don’t cheat!
  • RG: Don’t insult me! I cooked myself 8 ounces of broiled salmon and 16 ounces of frozen vegetables.  The omega 3 fatty acids in the fish are keeping me sharp for your interview, and that much veggies is 6 servings.  But after I reviewed the guidelines, I realized I wasn’t eating enough vegetables every day. Also, 6-7 ounces of meat – lean beef, chicken, fish, or pork – is the limit.  If I cut the meat down to 3-4 ounces, I can have 2 or 3 eggs the same day. It turned out to be a good call yesterday to have Shredded Wheat with yogurt, berries, and a banana for breakfast.
  • HH: That seems like a lot of food! Ok, ok…well, what about counting calories?
  • RG: I didn’t even tell you about lunch. If you know your food groups, no need to be that strict. My meals are good for an active man who consumes 2600-2800 cals a day. Some athletes need 3-4,000 or even more. My wife likes to cook, and she just has it figured out from experience. We’re not that strict. Sometimes I read the calorie labels. Did you know a pound of vegetables only has about 200 calories?
  • HH: Whew!! Well, I’m afraid we’re out of time. I have to admit, you’re convincing me that eating regular food could be a good thing, especially if you’re on a budget, but you have to know what you’re doing.
  • RG: When you have useful information, it’s not that hard. A lot of it becomes common sense. I was astonished to find so much useful and free information. There are even sections on obesity and weight loss. You’ll find that you already know more about healthy eating than you think.
  • HH: (Winks at RG). Well Guy, how about lunch with me at the Outback?
  • RG: Are you buying?
  • HH: It’s on me.
  • RG: Okay Holly, let’s go. I’ll make sure the steak is under a half-pound, and I’ll double up on the veggies.
  • HH: Good, and I’ll order you a couple of beers!
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This is based on a true story;  Holly is a fictitious character.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2011 10:25 pm

    Nice article, thank you for sharing. I had no idea about the government food pyramid being so up to date. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    • May 24, 2011 11:00 pm

      You’re welcome. I find the food pyramid easier to use than counting calories. Once you get the hang of it it’s less work.

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