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Chicago dietitian puts her weight loss advice to the test on new ABC show

PHOTO: Dawn Jackson Blatner with contestant Jasmiin Queen on ABC’s new show, “My Diet Is Better Than Yours,” which debuts Thursday (Jan. 7).

Chicago’s own Dawn Jackson Blatner makes her debut on a new ABC weight loss competition that’s got a different angle.

On “My Diet Is Better Than Yours” — which has its two-hour premiere at 8 p.m. CST tonight (Jan. 7) — five contestants join forces with one of five experts from across the country, including Blatner. Each has his or her own eating and exercise plan that their contestant follows.

The show airs for four Thursdays in January.

And here’s the twist: you know how on similar shows it’s the contestants who leave if they haven’t lost enough weight? On “My Diet,” it’s the professionals who can find themselves heading home if their candidate don’t feel he or she is having success meeting weight loss and fitness goals.

That aspect is “very stressful,” admits Blatner, a registered dietitian many will recognize from her frequent media appearances.

Because of her background, when the producers came calling (“randomly, out of the blue”), Blatner knew she’d do the show only if she were convinced the contestants would be treated respectfully. And she says the show, which will air every Thursday in January, “treated everyone with the utmost respect.”

The contestants are introduced to each of the experts eating/fitness/wellness philosophies and pick the one he or she thinks will bring the individual success.

Blatner tailored hers using her latest book, “Superfood Swap.” With this eating plan, a person decides what foods he/she likes and then those foods are re-created with better ingredients.

Is pizza what you want to eat? Well, any diet that said it was off-limits would end up being something you couldn’t sustain forever. Under Jackson’s plan, the pizza would have a sprouted whole grain crust (‘more protein, minerals”), would go easy on the cheese, have a sauce made from tomatoes alone (not the traditional one that’s generally loaded with sugar) and go heavy on the veggies. Alongside it would be a salad.

Jackson admits it would look and taste different, but it’s “one-thousand times” better for you.

The whole idea is to get a better ratio of what we put on our plates. “We have to start retraining our eyeballs as to what an actual plate should look like.” (Under Blatner’s plan that amounts to a little grain, a little protein and a whole lot of vegetables.)

Each expert spent seven weeks at their contestant’s home base. The contestant has to follow the new eating/exercise regime not off at a remote location, but while dealing with the realities of everyday life: juggling work/home/kids and other commitments. “They have to live their real lives,” says Blatner, who also pointed out that those seven weeks were then followed by seven when they were on their own. The thinking is that the contestants have to be able to follow their chosen plan on their own as well.

Blatner hopes those of us at home will be “super motivated” by watching everyday people like ourselves mastering the eating plans and restructure the way we eat and think about exercise.

There’s a three-pronged major prize for the winner. Will Blatner be there at the end? Tune in to find out.