Baby Food Diet Guide: Pros, Cons + Does It Work?

We analyze infant nutrition for adults and if it can provide the weight-loss results you are looking for.

As a Certified Personal Trainer and NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach, I work with a lot of parents of young kids who are looking to get back into shape and follow a healthy diet.

One of the chief complaints that parents often seem to have is that they struggle to lose weight because they are constantly eating off their kids’ plates so that food doesn’t go to waste.

This is pretty common practice, and if the foods you’re toddlers or young kiddos are eating aren’t part of your diet plan, you might be consuming more calories than you’re aware of.

The Baby Food Diet takes things one step further—the entire purpose is to replace some meals with jars of baby food deliberately. But you may wonder, Can I lose weight by only eating baby food?

In this diet guide, we will discuss what the Baby Food Diet plan involves, how to follow this eating plan, and potential Baby Food Diet benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s jump in!

Jars of baby food.

What Is The Baby Food Diet Plan?

The Baby Food Diet is a fad weight loss diet that is based on the idea that if you replace some regular meals with just a small jar of baby food, you will inherently lose weight.

This is thought to work because the portion sizes and calories are restricted to a meal intended for a small baby rather than a grown adult.

There are several iterations of the Baby Food Diet plan regarding how many meals you are supposed to replace with jars of baby food.

The original Baby Food Diet replaced all meals with a jar of baby food until the day’s final meal; however, the typical Baby Food Diet meal plan now has a lot more latitude.

Some people just have baby food for snacks instead of “adult“ snacks, whereas others replace one, two, or three meals a day with jars of baby food.

Rather than being a long-term dietary approach, the Baby Food Diet is typically followed as a “cleanse“ or “crash weight loss diet.“

Jars of baby food.

What Can You Eat On The Baby Food Diet Meal Plan?

As can likely be surmised, the Baby Food Diet involves consuming baby food.

While baby food can mean many different things, in the context of the Baby Food Diet meal plan, “baby food“ typically prefers just two jars or pouches of pureed vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and/or meats marketed towards babies.

You can find baby food jars at the grocery store or online in the baby aisle.

For the “adult meal” of the day, most advocates of the Baby Food Diet suggest having no more than 500 calories when you are following this plan for weight loss.

The rest of your calories would come from consuming only jars of Baby Food.

The Baby Food Diet adult meal should be centered around lean proteins and carbohydrates such as chicken breast with sweet potatoes or fish with a garden salad and quinoa.

The Baby Food Diet food list also permits non-caloric beverages like water, tea, and black coffee.

Baby food.

How Does The Baby Food Diet Work?

The Baby Food Diet is a low-calorie diet for weight loss. The caloric restriction is naturally imposed by confining portions to baby food jars.

Depending on the type of baby food you are eating, most jars have between 20-100 calories at most, with many closer to the lower end.

Although the Baby Food Diet claims that you can lose a significant amount of weight, weight loss will depend on how long you follow the diet, how many meals or snacks you replace with jars of baby food, the types of baby food you are eating, the other meals you are eating, and your caloric needs versus your energy expenditure.

Moreover, while you might experience impressive Baby Food Diet weight loss results, in most cases, the Baby Food Diet is not healthy nor stainable, particularly if you are following it for an extended period and/or replacing many meals and snacks with just a serving size of baby food.

Most baby food options are primary carbohydrates, as typically the base is pureed fruits or veggies or a combination of both. This excludes the rest of the food groups an adult may need to fulfill their nutritional needs.

Jars of baby food.

Stage 1 baby foods are intended for the youngest babies just starting to incorporate solid foods.

First foods are usually single-ingredient pureed foods like green beans or mashed prunes, so they are very low in calories and nutrition. 

Stage 1 baby foods will probably be 100% carbohydrates, of which the majority is simple sugar with little to no fiber.

Stage 2 baby foods will start to blend different fruits and vegetables into combinations, but the nutritional profile will be similar.

Stage 3 baby foods start incorporating more greens, beans, rice, and pureed meats like turkey and chicken, pumping up the calories and providing a little more protein and fat.

Although salt and fat are usually quite low (and “stage 1 baby foods” and most “stage 2 baby foods” don’t have any added salt or fat), there is sometimes added sugar or other sweeteners in commercial baby food jars.

Spoonfuls of baby food.

Is The Baby Food Diet Good For Weight Loss And Health?

Nutrition professionals and health experts do not recommend the Baby Food Diet for weight loss or health for any adult.

Baby food is intended for babies and baby needs, and it is very difficult to get an adequate number of calories and meet your nutritional needs as an adult eating baby food, particularly if you are eating it almost exclusively aside from one “regular meal“ per day.

What Are The Potential Risks And Benefits Of Following A Baby Food Diet For Adults?

That said, here are some potential Baby Food Diet benefits.

  • You may lose weight on the Baby Food Diet due to being in a caloric deficit.1Weight Loss Depends on Less Calories, Not Nutrient Mix. (2015, May 22). National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/weight-loss-depends-less-calories-not-nutrient-mix
  • Eating jars of baby food restricts portion sizes so you do not have to count calories, weigh your food, measure serving sizes, or risk overeating because your caloric intake and food portion are restricted to whatever is provided by the small jar.
  • Eating baby food can be convenient because you do not have to cook or prepare healthy weight-loss meals.
  • It is low in fat, sodium, and salt. Even though they are processed foods, they are usually relatively minimally processed.
  • It does not permit alcohol, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, etc., because these ingredients are not used in commercial baby food.
Jars of baby food.

Despite the potential benefits of the Baby Food Diet plan, there are also quite a few downsides and risks:

  • The Baby Food Diet does not provide enough calories for the typical adult,2United States Department of Agriculture. (2020). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 -2025 . https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdfand may be insufficient to support even your basal metabolic rate.
  • While it is true that we often overeat with increasingly inflated portion sizes, a jar of baby food is typically designed to be one or two servings for a baby and just one serving for a toddler.
  • High-quality, organic Baby Food is expensive. If you are eating 14 jars a day or so, this can be a very costly diet per calorie consumed.
  • The lack of structure can make it difficult to follow. There are tons of options for types of Baby Food so you might have way too much fruit or some other highly imbalanced meal plan.
  • Many popular baby foods are limited to one or two ingredients. Therefore, unless you are eating a wide variety of foods or replacing regular snacks alongside normal, well-balanced meals for an adult, you may develop nutritional deficiencies.
  • You are not learning lifelong habits for portion control and weight management that will carry over into real-world eating.3Indian Journal of Medical Research. (n.d.). Journals.lww.com. https://journals.lww.com/ijmr/pages/default.aspx
  • It is socially restrictive. It can be “weird“ to eat baby food in public when other people are consuming regular adult food.

Overall, the Baby Food weight loss diet is one of the least sustainable, balanced, practical, and appropriate diets for health or weight loss.

Instead of making such a drastic and restrictive change, consider adjusting some of your habits to clean eating. You can check out our healthy eating guide, here:

References

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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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