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NutriSystem Isn't Forever

by Sharon Davis
(Louisville, Kentucky, USA)

I signed up for Nutrisystem at a brick-and-mortar location, which is where I went weekly to weigh in, pick up food and attend the required support meetings.

The staff was always pleasant and helpful, but clearly their goals were to sell memberships and the products.

None of them were trained professionals in the field of weight loss, particularly with respect to the emotional and psychological factors that are involved in overeating.

At first, the food wasn’t bad at all. I liked having limited decisions about what to eat.

The pre-packaged Nutrisystem products forced me into portion control and also gave me an idea of what a “portion” really is. After a short time, the prescribed amounts of food actually become too much and it became difficult for me to consume what I was supposed to.

I stayed with the Nutrisystem program for six month and lost about 75 pounds. During this time, I had no problem sticking to the diet.

I had three small kids, so dining out wasn’t much of an issue. I’m not one to party or a social butterfly; I like to be at home. The weight loss made it even easier to avoid temptation on the occasions when I did go out.

I then left on a three-week trip to South America, traveling with two journalist friends across the Andes. I didn’t take along the pre-packaged Nutrisystem food. Who would? I ate what I wanted, sampling all the incredible foods along the way. I gained 11 pounds.

I tried to get back to the Nutrisystem plan but couldn’t seem get back into the swing of it. The pre-packaged food had no appeal and tasted like cardboard. There was no going back.

The “weight loss experts” at the center had no clue what to do with me. I drifted away after another month or so and finally threw away all the unused pre-packaged food I had accumulated.

Throughout the entire Nutrisystem experience, I went to weekly meetings. These sessions were mostly the sharing of a few participants who whined about the lack of peanut butter cookies or mint chocolate-chip ice cream and who would often go on and on and on about (what I felt were disgusting) recipes for (what I felt were disgusting) family “treats” that they pined for daily. (These recipes usually involved Jello, instant pudding, gummy worms, Cool Whip, pork rinds and/or bacon grease, though not in combination with one another.)

The meetings got on my nerves. I didn’t want to hear about it. I felt like we should all just shut up and try to walk more.

The staff didn’t have the education or experience to run meetings that were constructive or helpful. I realized that the effort was simply “lip service” to Nutrisystem's claims of “support.”

Anyone can lose weight on the Nutrisystem plan. The food is virtually fat-free, portion-controlled and limited in calories.

But it’s not a system that is sustainable. You don’t learn anything about eating, about choosing food and about what constitutes good nutrition.

Worse yet, you don’t learn anything at all about food obsessions, emotional eating and food addiction, which is what most of the clients are suffering from.

While the Nutrisystem plan can work for someone with 10-20 pounds to lose, it doesn’t do the trick for people with greater issues. Being overweight is not in and of itself a problem as much as it is a symptom of a larger problem.

Nutrisystem is not equipped to address the larger problems. And as such, Nutrisystem is not a “forever” plan for weight loss and good health.

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