Good Morning America (or GMA as some have come to call it) did a diet food contest in hopes of finding out what both chefs and everyday people thought of the foods most often associated with the three major diet programs—Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and NutriSystem.
You can click the link above to see the results, but here is my overall opinion of all of those programs: they work so long as you are using them in a manner that suits your lifestyle, but it seems counter-productive to only use pre-packaged food items to reach your goals.
As much as frozen and shelf-stable (which is what brands like NutriSystem are considered) can be a great way to start getting acquainted with portion-control and and calorie counting, they can also become health hazards if they are not appropriately monitored by the user.
For instance, if a meal states that it is under 500 calories, be sure that it offers enough vegetables to help you reach your dietary goals for the day. If it doesn’t, plan to add to your meal by preparing a small salad or adding a side of steamed veggies. Furthermore, be cognizant of the nutritional label of every frozen or shelf-stable food item you choose to purchase—how much sodium does the item contain? How many grams of dietary fiber does it offer?
While it’s easy to get addicted to eating frozen meals as a means of losing weight, you should really begin working towards the preparation of your own—fresh food based—meal planning. In the end, a diet based around pre-packaged snacks and foods is not one which will be valuable over the long haul because what happens when buying 15-21 meals a week (at $4-6.00 a pop) is no longer viable?
In most cases, if a person has not learned to prepare his or her own meals, they will revert to the old way of doing things—much of the time resulting in unhealthy purchases.
My humble advise, as always, is to use whatever plan you choose to follow in a sensible way by taking advantage of the supplemental services each offers (i.e. personal coaches, chat rooms, and weight-loss support meetings) but start working towards becoming your own personal chef and finding great, naturally grown, foods that will both enhance your life and your health.