What Is the Seattle Sutton Diet?

In This Article

Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating offers calorie-controlled meals delivered directly to your home or office. While the program isn't known to be trendy or follow diet fads, it is based on solid evidence-based nutritional guidelines. If your goal is weight loss or healthy eating to manage a health condition, the program may work for you. But as with all diets, it is not a good fit for everyone.

What Experts Say

"Though costly, this calorie-controlled meal delivery service is relatively balanced, emphasizing produce, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats. However, the traditional plan is only offered at three calorie levels which may not be appropriate for everyone."
Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH

Background

Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating is a family-owned business located in Ottawa, Illinois, 90 miles southwest of Chicago. The company was founded in 1985 by a registered nurse, Seattle Sutton, at the age of 53.

Ms. Sutton was inspired to start the company based on her personal and professional experience in healthcare. Sutton received a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and became a registered nurse after graduating from Jamestown College, North Dakota, in 1954. She eventually married a physician and worked as a registered nurse in his medical practice located in Illinois.

Seattle Sutton became inspired to start the meal program after a patient claimed that he wouldn't eat a healthy diet unless someone else cooked it for him. Sutton developed the company while raising her five children, several of whom became registered nurses. Sutton’s own father died from complications of obesity.

The company has had its ups and down since inception, reaching a peak in 2006 with 8,100 customers and then losing ground (and customers) by 2013 when certain diet fads became trendy.

Franchises are still located in retail locations throughout Illinois, northwest Indiana, and Wisconsin. Customers in these areas can pick up meals to avoid delivery costs. Customers in other parts of the country can choose to have meals delivered to their home or office. According to reports, the average Seattle Sutton customer stays on the eating plan for about two months.

How It Works

Seattle Sutton customers can choose from one of three meal plans. Each meal plan includes three portion-controlled meals per day, seven days a week.

1,200 Calorie Per Day Traditional Diet Plan

This program is designed for customers seeking weight loss or weight maintenance. According to the company's website, customers with an average build can expect to lose weight on this program even without exercise. Customers with a smaller, slighter build and a fairly sedentary lifestyle can expect to maintain weight on this program.

This meal plan can also be used for preventative health, according to the company. It is designed to benefit customers with congestive heart failure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney disease, or high blood pressure when used in combination with a physician-approved regimen according to information on the company's website.

2,000 Calorie Per Day Traditional Diet Plan

Designed for healthy weight loss in customers with larger, taller builds or who are very active (defined as "physically active several times a week or actively training to meet fitness goals"). Also, this plan can be used for weight maintenance in customers who are moderately active.

Like the 1,200-calorie per day plan, the company says this plan can also be used for preventative health.

1,500 Calorie Per Day Vegetarian Diet Plan

This program is designed for beginning vegetarians who may be unfamiliar with the range of vegetarian cooking. It can also be used for weight loss by customers with larger builds and those training to meet fitness goals or for weight maintenance in customers with slighter builds or more sedentary lifestyles.

Like the 1,200 and 2,000-calorie per day plans, this plan can also be used for preventative health.

Seattle Sutton meals rotate every five weeks, meaning that no meal will repeat itself within a five-week time period. However, meals cannot be customized. For example, if you don't like a certain meal or a certain type of food, you can't replace that meal with a different selection.

Meals are not available for delivery outside of the United States and they cannot be delivered to a customer's P.O. box.

What to Eat

Compliant

  • Three calorie-controlled packaged meals

  • Six or more glasses of water

  • Two to three 8-ounce glasses of nonfat milk

  • One (optional) serving of alcohol per day

  • Occasional restaurant meals when ordered according to healthy guidelines

Non-Compliant

  • Dietary supplements (unless prescribed by medical professional)

  • Additional snacks, treats, or desserts

  • Sugary beverages (sodas, sweetened coffee drinks, sports beverages)

  • Full fat or 2 percent milk

  • Additional sauces or condiments not provided with meals

Compliant

Pre-Packaged Meals

All of your daily food is provided on this plan. That is, you won't need to supplement this food plan with your own groceries. In fact, in order to stay within the calorie ranges provided, you should not supplement the meals with additional food.

Each meal provides 24 percent of calories from fat, 53 percent of calories from carbohydrates, and 23 percent of calories from protein.

Produce included in the meals may or may not be organic. Meals do not contain high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial food dyes, or other harmful additives as preservatives. There are also no trans fat or partially hydrogenated oils. Poultry in the meals does not contain any antibiotics or hormones.

Beverages

You'll supply your own beverages on this diet, but drinks are limited to water and two glasses of nonfat milk (or three glasses on the 2,000-calorie per day diet).

Alcoholic beverages may be enjoyed in moderation. That means one glass of red or white wine, 1 ounce of hard liquor or one light beer per day. Other caloric beverages will increase your calorie intake and put you over your daily food goal.

Non-Compliant

Dietary Supplements

According to the Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating website, the organization believes that you should never take supplements unless your doctor or dietitian has prescribed them for your specific medical need. They also do not support the use of weight loss or diet pills.

Additional Snacks

The cornerstone of the SSHE program is calorie restriction. Each meal is precisely measured so that the portions provide the calories you need. If you consume extra snacks, you risk consuming too many calories. As a result, you may not get the weight loss results you desire.

Sugary Beverages

Many sugary beverages like sodas, sweetened teas, and even some coffee drinks contain hundreds of calories. Drinking these beverages will increase your total caloric intake and yet provide very little nutritional value or satiety.

Full or Low Fat Milk

While nonfat milk is supported on the plan, drinking low-fat milk or whole milk can add substantial calories to your daily intake.

Additional Sauces

Sauces (such as barbecue sauce, ketchup, or tartar sauce) you may add substantial calories to your meals. For weight loss and for long term weight maintenance, SSHE suggests learning to avoid these foods.

Recommended Timing

Even though specific meals are provided, you can follow your own timeline when consuming them within the day. For example, if you are not a breakfast eater, you can consume the morning meal as a nighttime snack.

Additionally, you can swap meals throughout the week. If you're craving Friday's tuna casserole on Monday you can eat it on that day and have Monday's flatbread pizza on Friday.

Resources and Tips

On the Seattle Sutton Healthy Eating plan, no cooking is required. You won't need to follow any recipes or spend time in the kitchen doing anything other than reheating meals (if required).

However, unlike some other weight loss programs, there are no support resources available. For example, plans like Weight Watchers provide group meetings. Other commercial diet plans provide personalized coaches or online communities. Seattle Sutton does not provide these support services, although an email is provided on the website for customers who have specific questions.

This program does not include an exercise or activity plan. There is also no transition plan for customers who want to gradually move away from the program and begin to cook healthy meals on their own. In fact, there is no way to reduce the number of weekly meals on the service.

Modifications

There are no modifications for this diet. The program suggests that you eat only the prepared meals that are delivered. However, there is room for limited restaurant dining. The program suggests ordering broiled fish or chicken with a dry salad, sparkling water, and fruit for dessert.

When dining at someone else's home, the program recommends that you bring your own Seattle Sutton meal.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Meals are built on evidence-based guidelines

  • Delivery available in most areas

  • Ordering process is simple

  • No cooking is required

  • Meal plan is easy and straightforward

Cons

  • Meals are sometimes described as bland

  • Delivery costs are high

  • Meal plans are inflexible

  • No exercise/activity plan offered

  • No community or expert support

  • No satisfaction guarantee


Pros

Evidence-Based Guidelines

Each meal plan follows guidelines set forth by the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, National Institutes of Health, Center for Disease Control, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Additionally, less than 7 percent of total calories come from saturated fat and meals are trans-fat-free.

The menus provide less than 200 mg of cholesterol daily and are far lower than the typical American diet in sodium. Meals also include heart-healthy omega-three fatty acids, antioxidants, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts to give customers a well-rounded diet.

Since the meals are developed with these standardized guidelines in mind, they will likely be suitable for people with different health conditions and under medical supervision.

Simple, Easy to Follow Program

Many people seeking to lose weight or improve dietary habits often cite lack of time as a barrier. The Seattle Sutton program is accessible, simple, and requires almost no effort, so very little time is required to stick to the plan. Delivered meals are kept refrigerated and need only to be reheated when you are ready to eat them.

Cons

Food Variety and Taste

While the meal program allows for variety from week to week, there is no way to customize the menu to meet your tastes. Additionally, if you have food allergies, you may not be able to consume certain meals.

Also, although taste varies from person to person, anecdotal reviews have described the food as somewhat bland. This is not surprising as the program follows recommended guidelines for sodium and many people are used to consuming salty foods.

In describing their food, the company says that it is "not too spicy." They suggest that customers add seasonings (no salt) if desired.

Delivery Costs

Depending on where you live, delivery costs may be substantial. In fact, in some areas, delivery costs are almost as high as the cost of the food (which varies based on the plan you choose). For example, a one-week meal plan (21 meals) delivered to the New York City area would cost just over $300. Of that amount, $146.67 is delivery fees.

Since retail locations are limited, most customers will need to pay the delivery fee in order to participate in the plan.

Lack of Supplemental Services

If you are looking for a comprehensive plan that includes motivational support and guidelines for physical activity, this is not the program for you. The Seattle Sutton Healthy Eating program provides food only and no other services.

While there is no program for weight loss or healthy eating that meets everyone's needs, it is important to take both the pros and cons of any plan into account in order to choose the best plan for you.

How It Compares

The Seattle Sutton is similar to other commercial diet programs in some ways but not in others.

For example, many of the popular meal delivery weight loss programs offer eating plans in the 1,200 per-day calorie range. Other programs for men often provide about 1,800 calories per day (slightly lower than the 2,000 calories per day provided by Seattle Sutton).

However, many of the other plans offer more flexibility in terms of food choice. For example, at programs like Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, or Nutrisystem, you have the option to choose your own foods based on your personalized tastes. Many of these programs also include snacks (at an additional cost).

USDA Recommendations

The Seattle Sutton Healthy Eating meal plan includes a wide range of fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy in accordance with USDA guidelines. The calorie counts for each of the programs is also in line with typical energy needs for women (1,200 calories per day) or men (2,000 calories per day) who are trying to lose weight.

However, there are many factors that can affect your specific calorie needs. In addition to gender, body size, age, and activity level determine the number of total calories you should consume each day.

It's smart to use a calorie estimator or meet with a nutrition professional to get a personalized estimate of your energy needs.

Once you know your personalized calorie target, you can determine if one of the Seattle Sutton meal plans is appropriate for you.

Similar Diets

There are several commercial diet programs that provide meals through a delivery service or pick up option.

Nutrisystem

  • Nutrition and calorie goals: The Nutrisystem plan provides between 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day. Fifty percent of calories from low-glycemic carbohydrates, 25 percent of calories from protein, and 20 percent of the calories from fat
  • Flexibility: Nutrisystem customers get breakfast, lunches dinners and snacks provided. However, there is quite a bit of flexibility to choose from a wide variety of selections within each category.
  • Sustainability: Customers are not likely to stay on Nutrisystem indefinitely. However, recipes and tips are provided to customers to help them transition off the program once they've reached their goal.
  • Cost: Prices vary from approximately $440 to just over $600 for a four-week plan depending on program you choose.

WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

  • Nutrition and calorie goals: WW does not assign calorie goals but rather uses a SmartPoints system. Foods are assigned a SmartPoints value based on their calories, saturated fat, sugar, and protein. WW clients have SmartPoints goals based on their intended weight loss and activity level.
  • Flexibility: WW is much more flexible, offering prepared meals, snack, and beverages online for purchase. But also provides recipes and tips for home cooking.
  • Sustainability: For some people, WW may be more sustainable simply because you are encouraged to prepare at least some of your own foods.
  • Cost: The cost of joining WW prices does not include food. Basic prices range from about $3/week to about $12/week not including meals or snacks. Food that you cook at home or buy prepackaged is an additional fee.

Jenny Craig

  • Nutrition and calorie goals: Calorie goals range from 1,200 to 2,300 calories a day. Calories come from protein (about 25 percent), carbohydrate (about 55 percent) and fat (about 20 percent).
  • Flexibility: There is substantial flexibility in the program as members choose from a wide range of meal options. Members are also encouraged to fill out their meals by adding fruits and vegetables.
  • Sustainability: Jenny Craig members learn portion control, self-care, and the benefits of exercise. They are also encouraged to cook at home and learning healthy kitchen techniques. A maintenance program is available once you have reached your goal.
  • Cost: The typical Jenny Craig customer pays about $20 per day or around $150/week. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks.

A Word From Verywell

If you are a consumer who does not like to cook at all or if you have almost no time to cook, the Seattle Sutton Healthy Eating program might work for you. While delivery costs are substantial, the total food costs are not much higher than the cost of some pre-packed food that you find in the grocery store or buy at a local restaurant and it is likely to be healthier.

Additionally, if you are managing a medical condition, the food may align with the diet suggested by your healthcare provider. For example, this may be a smart program for a patient who is learning to eat a lower sodium diet to manage hypertension.

However, if weight loss is your goal, keep in mind that the cost of this program may not be sustainable. At some point, most consumers will want to learn how to cook their own food. Because there is no way to decrease the number of meals and because there is no transitional support offered, this program may be more of a challenge than competitor programs.

As you explore different eating programs for weight loss or wellness, keep in mind that there is no single program that is right for everyone. Consider factors such as cost, food variety, convenience, and availability in mind before you decide on the right program for you.

Was this page helpful?