My week on the baby food diet
October 18, 2010
by Shawn Bean
© Courtesy Nestle S.A.
The tabloid website’s bold, black headline read, “Jennifer Aniston put on baby food diet.” Most guys see that headline and visualize the Friends star in a bikini. I saw that headline and visualized a jar of green mush. Occupational hazard, I suppose.
It was yet another story about the baby-food cleanse, the latest fad diet (see also: Atkins; macrobiotic, South Beach) that allegedly helped Aniston lose 7 pounds. The basic premise: Eat 14 servings of pureed food every day, followed by a normal adult-sized dinner.
Being a wealthy TV and movie star, Aniston probably hired Emeril Lagasse to run the Cuisinart. However, the majority of Americans trying this diet will blindly fill their shopping carts with Gerber. That’s where I come in. My mission: to go on this diet for a week and report the results. It's a dad's job to protect those he loves from potential harm, right? Except when my personal-trainer wife, Brandy, heard about this genius idea, she said something to the effect of being a sandwich short of a picnic, which, frankly, was an inconsiderate metaphor considering the circumstances.
My first order of business was contacting Emily Korns, R.D., spokesperson for Nestle Infant Nutrition, which develops Gerber’s infant edibles. She explained via email that Gerber “is aware of the current ‘baby food diet,’ and while consuming pureed fruits and vegetables can contribute toward the recommended [daily] intakes, Gerber does not promote the use of baby foods for weight loss purposes.” OK, OK, but can you hook a brother up with some sweet potatoes? Emily was kind enough to send a box of baby food, even letting it slip that she regularly enjoys the Gerber Graduates Zesty Tomato Lil’ Crunchies; half of the container totals 105 calories. Adding to this gloop-topia, HappyBaby sent a cooler of its organic baby-food pouches on ice packs.
I kicked off Day One with HappyBaby’s salmon with lentils and vegetables. While the consistency of the pink paste took some getting used to, it wasn’t half bad. Luckily, the day’s menu had other highlights including Gerber’s vanilla-flavored Smart Sips (an amazingly tasty toddler smoothie); a Yogurt Blends, which hardly differs from adult yogurt in both flavor and fat content; and HappyBaby’s green puffs, two handfuls of which equals approximately 25 calories.
For lunch the following day, I tried HappyBaby’s Chick Chick (organic chicken with sweet potatoes and brown rice pasta) and Stage 2 banana, beet and blueberry combo (which would make an excellent mixer for a frozen drink). When I weighed myself after 48 hours, I was down 5 pounds.
It’s easy to see why the diet works. The most familiar tenets of a good diet—lots of fruits and veggies, small portions scattered throughout the day—are staples of the baby food diet. The foods are also very low in sodium, which minimizes water retention. Other surprising side effects: I didn’t get hungry during the day, and found myself more focused and alert, which is also a byproduct of fasting.
In total, I lost 6 pounds in five days. The baby food diet is a bit intense as a way of life (try remembering to do anything 14 times a day), and it certainly doesn’t provide all the nutritional requirements a growing, unshaven man like myself needs. Baby food could work as small, low-calorie, vitamin-packed snacks. Or at the very least, it can jazz up a rum runner.