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FREE DIETS - What's the true cost?

There are thousands of "free" diet sites that offer forums, calculators, tracking tools, diaries, etc. You may find many of these tools helpful in your dieting efforts, but common sense will tell you that "you get what you pay for". Here's some things to consider when comparing free or automated diet programs to professional diet sites that charge for their services and individualized programs:

  • Safety

Professional involvement and accessibility. Many diet sites advertise that they have experts on staff to answer questions and this helps to establish a sense of credibility and safety of the information and program. However the actual active involvement of trained experts is limited on free web sites because professional services must be paid for their time and effort.

Free or automated diet sites limit the availability of trained professionals (dietitian, physicians, etc) to pre-programmed answers like F.A.Q.s, and support forums. Any personal one-on-one contact is minimal or non-existent because fees must be paid to professionals for their time and expertise. There are often additional fees for these services on "free" diet sites. This puts the safety and reliability of personal health and diet information from free diet sites into question and really limits the level of individualized personal attention available.

  • Can you trust the advice you get from free diets forums?

Free diets forums can be a fun way to interact with people but keep in mind that you are getting advice from peers (at best).
You can get the same free advice from your neighbors or co-workers! Free diet forums vary greatly in professional oversight. Often there is no expert to screen inaccurate or harmful information putting the reader at risk. At worst, free diet forums are littered with "contributors" who masks themselves as everyday forum users but instead make positive comments about diet products, supplements, or programs that they are actually selling. The advice and help on forums may not be monitored for accuracy or safety and those who oversee the sites may lack professional experience and expertise in nutrition or other health matters. Carefully weigh the advice given, especially if you have health issues. Look for diet forums that are monitored by credentialed experts for greater assurance of safety – again these services by professionals have a cost so they are not available on free diet sites.

  • How safe and effective are free diet menu planners and tools?

The down side with free automated menu planners and weight loss programs is that they are limited in their ability to individualize menus and diet plans to personal choices, lifestyle and especially personal health needs. They often have a limited range of calorie levels and have a set nutritional composition that doesn’t meet varying health needs. And, some menu planners are designed with the intent of promoting the sales of supplemental foods, shakes, and packaged foods or a specific diet that may not fit your needs or wants. Many websites off free tools including basic calorie calculators, BMI and body fat estimators along with free surveys which can be helpful in providing basic general information on diet. Recipe calculators and basic menu planners can also be good diet tools.

Individualization of diet is a key to long term weight loss (because it’s easier to stick to a plan that considers your needs and fits your life) and this requires a review of personal information and an individual assessment of client needs that free diet sites can’t provide. (see support for this recommendation - it's the first boldfaced sentence listed on the revised USDA PYRAMID: "No one size diet fits all"

  • Bottom Line on Safety

    A website that offers free services to clients must pay for it somehow. Typically this is done in the form of advertising of products. A free diet program can be a useful supplemental tool but it can also be a way to hook people who want to lose weight and then advertise needless (and sometimes dangerous) products and practices. It is also a way for new, unproven diet programs to enter the market place and establish legitimacy and get lots of traffic from those looking for free advice. They then take on advertisers to fund the website and later charge for their services. Look for established websites with a track record of success, professional oversight and involvement with diet programs that adhere to safe and healthy practices that promote long term weight maintenance.

  • Diet Results

Is your diet limited to a database of foods? Many "auto", and "e" diet type diets promise that they customize or personalize your plan. However, since these types of programs are 100% automated, it’s really up to the user to choose the right diet plan for their health issues since there is no professional matching your diet needs to the various options available. In many cases, even the support itself is automated, while automation makes it possible to provide free programs, options are limited, similar to getting a menu plan out of a diet book.

  • Automated diets and support tools are being studied to see how effective they are in producing results.
    A Brown University study reported on weight loss programs that did not provide any ongoing support versus two other groups: one group received automated e-mail support and another group received human e-mail support. Both groups that received some kind of support (automated and human) did better than those with no support. However more importantly:

"While average weight loss was similar for both groups receiving e-counseling at three months - the authors found that at six months, the human group experienced the greatest overall weight loss, averaging a loss of 13 to 15 pounds. " - Excerpted from Medical News Today "

When it comes to losing weight - diet services that offer you real email support like Personal Dietitian (aka PersonalDiets)
have been shown to lead to greater weight loss!
The value of a well designed diet program that provides ongoing personal human support along with tools and menus over automated programs seems to be in its effect on long term weight control, the key marker for successful weight loss. Who wants to do the hard work of losing weight, only to have it return 3 months later?

Diet Sample


How does Personal Dietitian (aka PersonalDiets) and other custom developed diet plans from a nutritionist benefit dieters over the automated, one-size fits all "e" type diets?
Diet and nutrition experts, like those utilized for the development of Personal Dietitian's custom diets, that are designed more to the individual's specific needs offer you a safer alternative to the automated "e" and free diets some try. The custom diets prepared by these experts offer you real food choices along with a more practical diet that offers you both greater flexibility and convenience. A diet should truly fit your needs and address your long-term diet success needs and not just provide you a "diet". All the dietitian we have worked with appreciate this important concept and provide their clients who lose weight with an appropriate with maintenance diet as well.

The Personal Dietitian company has provided more custom diets than anyone - ever! The reason for this is due to referrals from friends and family and our no fad no gimmicks approach. We don't sell or recommend the use of supplements or particular foods. You eat a more natural diet because experts plan you a custom diet that suits your preferences better and then provide you with real support. Our members appreciate that we our custom diets prioritize their health and safety needs. We develop and equal number of weight loss plans and again place the individual's preferences, safety and health and goals among as our priority when developing a Personal Diet for them.

Our diet and nutrition experts not only develop plans but also provide oversight of our support program providing email supported at no additional cost. The diet and program together make our program a real value especially when compared to our competition. We support you as needed and do our best to keep you on track and motivated. Personal Dietitian has a proven track record of doing just that providing diets that really work since 1999. We help you reach your health and weight goals - and do so one client at at time!


Jenny Craig