Waaaa, waaaa! Is that a baby we hear? No, it’s the sad wail from the belly of a hungry grown woman. Lady Gaga, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and others have been rumored to have tried “The Baby Food Diet.” Of course, we haven’t dined with any of the starlets, and we’ve yet to see any pictures pop up on the internet with the stars dining on Gerber’s baby food, so we have no idea whether the hype is true or false.
This diet may be so simple a baby could do it, but does it work? Here’s what you need to know.
What does the baby food diet entail?
The diet, reportedly created by trainer-to-the-stars Tracy Anderson, has yet to be developed into a formal diet program. Although you’ll find slight variations of the diet, the basic idea is to eat 14 servings (1 serving = 4 oz. jar) of pureed baby food and one sensible meal each day.
Does it work?
Anderson describes the diet as a type of cleanse where you can still eat, which she claims detoxifies your system while avoiding the usual weight regain after the cleanse. I’m wary of “cleanses,” but beyond that, this diet seems to be just another way to trick yourself into eating fewer calories. A quick survey of my own supply (for my baby, not me) of organic baby food reveals that most 4 oz. jars contain 60 to 80 calories. That amounts to about 1000 calories of baby food, plus whatever you choose as your regular meal. Depending on your individual caloric needs, this may or may not lead to a caloric deficit, which is needed for weight loss.
Is it healthy?
Assuming you choose a variety of jarred foods — veggies, fruits, beans, meats, and grains — and are eating a healthy ” adult” meal each day, then this diet should meet most of your nutrient needs. It may fall short in fiber, however, as most baby foods are pureed without the fibrous fruit and vegetable skins. The baby food portion of the diet will also be low in fat, so be sure to include some healthy fats in your regular meal – choose nuts, avocado, olive oil, and fish high in omega-3s.
You’ll also want to read the labels of jarred foods carefully, as some have added sugar or salt, which isn’t good for baby and isn’t good for you either. Check out our article about choosing healthy baby foods; we uncovered the truth about the high salt and high sugar content that lurks inside those cute baby food jars.
Are there any pitfalls?
Unless you’re a parent, the last time you tasted jarred baby food was probably a few decades ago. Sure, pureed apples and sweet potatoes are tasty, but what about pureed turkey? The biggest challenge of this diet is probably finding a way to feel satiated. If you choose healthy, good quality baby foods, you may find them bland as they should have no added sugar or salt. The absence of any texture or crunch may also leave you feeling unsatisfied. And, with relatively little fat or fiber — two elements of food that help you feel full — you may be jonesing for more food a just short time after eating. The danger of missing that feeling of satiety all day is that when your adult dinner comes around, you may be more inclined to overeat, thereby sabotaging the caloric deficit you achieved during the day.
The baby food diet might help Hollywood starlets drop a few quick pounds before filming their next nude scene. But for the rest of us, drastically restrictive diets such as this are not sustainable and may lead to yo-yo dieting. In fact, no “diet” is for the long haul. If you’re looking to lose weight in 2011 — and keep it off through 2012 and beyond — I’d suggest making attainable and sustainable lifestyle changes including a balanced, varied diet and regular physical activity.