Jenny Craig Weight Loss and the Gluten-Free Diet

Can you lose weight with Jenny Craig if you're also gluten-free?

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Spaghetti and meatballs is typical fare on the Jenny Craig weight-loss diet, which is not gluten-free-friendly. Getty Images/George Doyle

The Jenny Craig weight loss program—like some others, including Nutrisystem—requires you to purchase most of your food direct from the company. Unfortunately for those of us with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, Jenny Craig does not include menu options that would suit people on a gluten-free diet.

In fact, a quick glance at Jenny Craig's prepared meal offerings shows they're mainly gluten-based—lots of whole grain products, pastas, breads, crackers and pizza.

The company advertises "nearly 100 premium foods, designed to help you lose weight"—foods such as blueberry pancakes with veggie sausage, beef and cheese slider, chicken fettuccini and apple crisp.

Those types of meals obviously won't work if you're gluten-free, but even if you managed to identify enough Jenny Craig menu items with no gluten ingredients (there are a few), those products wouldn't be safe due to gluten cross-contamination in preparation and processing.

The bottom line: Jenny Craig isn't designed for those following the gluten-free diet, and the company in fact discourages those who are gluten-free from trying it.

Jenny Craig Considers Gluten-Free Options

A company representative told me that Jenny Craig doesn't have a gluten-free menu plan because "we rarely get requests for it." If the weight loss company did identify a potential market for such a menu plan, it would consider developing one, the Jenny Craig representative said.

As the popularity of the gluten-free diet has risen, the company has said it's aware of "the growing demand for gluten-free." But it added in a statement that it can't provide a gluten-free menu "with the range and high standard we require for our clients." It recommends that those who are gluten-free seek a professional nutritionist's advice for weight loss, as opposed to following the Jenny Craig program.

Diets to Follow While Gluten-Free

So what diet should you consider to replace the Jenny Craig diet if you've used Jenny Craig in the past to lose weight successfully, but now need to stay gluten-free? Fortunately, you have a couple of good weight loss diets from which you can choose.

You might consider trying Weight Watchers, which can work well when you're gluten-free. Weight Watchers isn't quite as convenient as Jenny Craig, since you'll be preparing many of your own meals. And only a few of Weight Watchers frozen entrees are gluten-free (Chicken Mesquite, Ham and Cheese Scramble, Three Cheese Omelet, and Santa Fe Rice & Beans are four selections labeled gluten-free). However, Weight Watchers is a tried-and-true diet that easily can be adapted as gluten-free.

Another possible option when you're gluten-free is the South Beach diet, a lower-carb diet that emphasizes gluten-free foods.

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