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Food-Included Weight Loss Programs: Should You Try One?

My husband decided to shed a few pounds, so to make it easier for him I volunteered to shed a few pounds also. (Misery loves company.)

How did we decide to do it?

We bought a month's supply of Nutrisystem meals.

The advertising is terrific. The demonstrations on the home shopping shows are compelling. By golly, it looks like real food, good food, and plenty of it. It's a system made in heaven. Or is it?


And I do mean yuk. If you've tried it and had success with it, good for you. But I hope you didn't stay on it too long. It just can't be a healthy way to eat for a long period of time.

Dried egg powder in a packet. Hotdogs in a packet. Dried soup in a packet. Cereal in a packet. Ham in a packet. Everything is either dried or vacuum-sealed. The packaging is designed to keep the contents edible almost forever. That may be ideal for a supply of survival food you keep in the garage in the event of a catastrophe, but food to be eaten every day? I don't think so. Even if you add your own fruit and vegetables, it's not acceptable.

The pictures on the containers of the prefab meals look so tempting. As example, the picture on the lasagna carton doesn't even remotely resemble what's in the carton. Truth be told, the meal is not very appetizing to look at.

To be fair, several of the pasta meals were tasty. Some of the snacks were tasty. Most of the dinners were just so-so. I had to toss a couple of roast beef dinners because the food trays were not sealed properly and the contents had been leaking. Not smart to eat that.

When you think about it if you are successful with the program, what happens after you lose the desired weight? Unless you rethink and retool your diet, in no time you will be back to square one.

It's easy to understand why these diet systems are popular. Many people accustomed and even addicted to our prefabricated, processed fast food way of life find it difficult and even impossible to lose weight. In some cases, the love affair with processed food is so overpowering that trying to lose weight is a lost cause.

Another problem is that many people are pressed for time and it's easier to stop at the burger place to eat than it is to go home and cook. The solution is to prepare food ahead so you have something in the fridge or freezer ready to go when you get home from work. Crock-pot meals are also helpful.

Weight loss is not difficult or time consuming if you have the will and determination to get back to basics. One of the best weight loss programs I've ever tried may no longer be around. I think it was called the Diet Center Diet. Our whole family went on the program many years ago because our daughter wanted to lose weight.

At first it was hard -- I missed the carbs -- but in no time we all became accustomed to it. There were no prepackaged meals. You cooked your own chicken, fish, and fresh vegetables, using a variety of provided recipes that were quite good. We stayed on it for a year without difficulty, modifying it as we went along, but still keeping it basic. I lost a lot of weight perhaps even too much. I was down to 95 pounds, but feeling great. It was truly the perfect example of what I call a back to basics diet. It was the way people ate before the processed and fast food revolution invaded our lives.

Bottom line: You don't need Jenny, you don't need Nutrisystem, or any other expensive program that provides prepackaged meals. You just need to decide that you can and will do what you need to do to be in charge of your health and your weight.

About the Nutrisystem food we didn't eat, which was most of it: I agonized about whether to give it to the homeless shelter or just throw it away. I decided that when you are hungry, something is better than nothing. The shelter was happy to accept it.

Barbara Morris is a pharmacist and author of Put Old on Hold. Visit her web site, http://www.PutOldonHold.com and sign up for her free content-rich newsletter and receive a complimentary copy of special report, "Thirteen Diva Tested Tips for Fabulous Skin."
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