The diet has many variations, mainly because it is primarily an Internet phenomenon, and in 2012 was named amongst the worst 5 fad diets by the British Dietetic Association.
The main idea behind the baby food diet is to replace some snacks or meals with baby food. The amounts vary, with some stating that just snacks be replaced with one or two jars of baby food a day, whilst others follow a more drastic diet, replacing all snacks and two meals per day with up to 14 jars of baby food. The final ‘adult’ meal of each day is usually low fat protein and vegetables, again to limit the number of calories consumed whilst dieting.
This diet works as a crash diet because baby food is very low in calories. Each jar typically contains between 20 and 130 calories, depending upon the contents. Jars that feature meat generally contain more calories.
Pureed fruit or vegetable jars contain less calories, and are usually favoured by followers of the diet. However, there are no official restrictions of what flavours and ingredients should be consumed, allowing dieters to choose out of the full range of baby foods available on the market.
What are the Benefits?
Whilst the diet is certainly a fad diet, and can not be easily followed for a prolonged period of time, there are some benefits to the baby food diet. It is relatively easy to follow, as baby food is widely available, and the large range of flavours means that people should be able to find something to suit their taste. There is also little cooking or preparation involved.
Portion control is also easy on the baby food diet, as baby food is typically sold in single portion jars. The diet can also be adapted to be suitable for vegetarians, as many baby foods are totally fruit or vegetable based.
As baby food typically does not have much added sugar or sodium, it can be considered relatively healthy. However, some brands do contain preservatives, colourings and flavourings, unless you are shopping organically. The downside of shopping for organic baby food is that it is even more expensive than non-organic brands.
Are there any Side effects?
Numerous side effects have been mentioned by people who have followed the baby food diet. Both diarrhoea and constipation have been mentioned in reviews. Other side effects may include constant hunger, heartburn, headaches, lightheadedness, tiredness and nausea.
Whilst not a side effect, there is also a problem with the flavour and texture of baby food. Because chewing is a large part of the psychological process of feeling satiated following a meal, consuming only pureed foods is not physically satisfying.
Despite the large choice of flavours and ingredients, many reviewers found themselves wanting more variety in terms of presentation and texture. Also, those following the 14 jars a day variety of the diet found that they were required to eat either a large number of jars at once, or had to consume single jars every hour throughout the day. Even with a large choice available to them, once disliked flavours had been ruled out of their daily diet, there is less choice. Eating the same flavour several times per day, even a liked flavour, quickly became boring and unappetising.
Cost of The Baby Food Diet
The diet can actually be quite expensive. As baby food is sold by individual jars, the cost adds up quickly. This is especially true when trying to follow the 14 jar variation of the diet. With many jars retailing at around a pound each, the cost of following the diet for just one week can be around £100.
There are many meal replacement programs that offer much better value for money than this, whilst also offering a more favourable selection of meal replacement options. The cost of the baby food diet is even more expensive when considering the number of people who have reported giving up the diet after only a few days, despite their investment in a considerable amount of baby food. Unless the dieter has a baby themselves, any unwanted, disliked or unused jars will ultimately go to waste, making the diet very cost ineffective.
Weight loss Results?
It is claimed by some that the baby food diet is not for weight loss, but weight maintenance. This would make sense if the jars were eaten in small numbers as an alternative to higher calorie snacks.
However reviewers of the diet, most often curious journalists, all lost weight very fast over a short amount of time. One reported a weight loss of five pounds over the course of a week. However, the majority of journalists who tried to baby food diet either gave up very quickly or struggled through to the end of a week with the diet being a very negative experience for them.
Our Verdict on The Baby Food Diet
The Baby food diet is a controversial way to follow a meal replacement plan, which requires a lot more dedication than preparation. It is most likely used as short term crash diet because of the unsuitability of its use long term. Only a minority will be disciplined enough to follow it for more than a few days or a week or so.
There are also faults with the idea that the baby food is fairly healthy; baby food is actually lower in dietary fibre than expected because the skins of fruits and vegetables are removed to make it more palatable for babies. To get the largest variety of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, it is best to choose a variety of baby foods. The fact that the creator of the baby food diet has distanced herself from the idea shows just how inadvisable it is to follow the diet at all.