By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD
WebMD Expert Review
Strange as it may seem, the plan is said to be popular, with celebrities rumored to have lost weight noshing on baby food.
It is a very simple idea -- substitute tiny jars of baby food instead of higher calorie snacks and meals. Instead of real food that you chew, The Baby Food Diet consists of replacing one or more meals each day with jarred baby food. There are several variations of the plan -- replace all food, one or more meals, or just as a replacement for high-calorie snacks.
Diet experts say it can work if calories are kept in check, but it is more likely just another diet gimmick that won't last.
The Baby Food Diet: What You Can Eat
The Baby Food Diet has few specific guidelines on the quantity or type of baby food or the types and amounts of adult foods allowed for snacks or meals.
The basic plan calls for eating 14 jars of baby food throughout the day, with an option to have a healthy adult meal at dinner.
Another option is to have three healthy adult meals per day, swapping higher-calorie snacks for baby food.
The Baby Food Diet: How It Works
The theory: Bland, mushy baby food served in portion-controlled jars will prevent overeating and keep you satisfied with smaller portions of food. If you stick to the plan, you should get fewer calories and trigger weight loss.
But you will only lose weight if you control the types of baby food, number of jars, and the calories in the supplemental meals. Jars of baby food range from 15 to 100 calories.
One advantage is that most baby food is fortified with plenty of nutrients, free of additives and preservatives, and low in fat, sugar, and salt. And there is a wide variety to choose from, including organic baby food.
There's also a chance you'd wind up overeating and not losing any weight if you overeat the baby food and adult food.
There are no guidelines to help dieters keep the weight off. Are you going to eat baby food forever? And there aren't any exercise recommendations.
The Baby Food Diet: What the Experts Say
At best, most adults are only going to tolerate The Baby Food Diet for a few days or a week, predicts American Dietetic Association spokesperson Jeanne Gazzaniga-Moloo, PhD, RD.
"It is an interesting concept that removes the pleasure of chewing and controls calories with portioned jars, but it could backfire and lead to binges or overeating too many little jars," says Mooloo, a nutrition consultant based in Sacramento, Calif.
When you choose pureed food over natural foods you miss out on valuable nutrients and fiber.
"Eat an apple or carrot instead of a jar of applesauce or carrots. It is more satisfying to crunch and chew and you get the benefit of more fullness and fiber at much less expense," Mooloo says.
Chewing is associated with feelings of fullness and satiety that can't be replaced with pureed foods that go down easily and may make you feel hungrier.
But if you want to try baby food, Mooloo suggests storing a few jars of low-calorie fruits and sweets in your briefcase, drawer, or pantry for a quick, healthy, calorie-controlled alternative to higher-calorie treats.
The Baby Food Diet: Food for Thought
In my opinion, a diet of baby food is just another gimmick that will likely lose its appeal quickly because most adults will miss grown-up meals and the satisfaction and pleasure of chewing food with texture.
Applesauce, peaches and pears may sound tasty enough. But pureed meats are more likely to send dieters running in search of a more suitable plan.
My advice: Skip this diet in favor of a real-food diet rich in fruits and vegetables that are crunchy, full of fiber, and are much more satisfying than baby food.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.
Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, PhD, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association.
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