Monday, May 25, 2015

OMG!!! Medifast Gave JezebeI Blogger an Eating Disorder

Does Jezebel has a truthiness issue?
One of the first rules of PR is to know your audience. You would not send a press release for tampons to a men's magazine. Nor would you send a gushy evite to a snarky anti-diet website asking it to write a blog post on a quick and easy weight-loss program for brides.

Except that a naive Medifast PR staffer (maybe a MacDonald niece who needed a job after college?) did just that.

The resulting blog post on Jezebel's I Thee Dread blog titled "I Tried a Wedding Starvation Diet and It Really Fucked With My Head" was the most scathing review of the Medifast 5&1 Plan I have ever seen.

Here are just a few choice excerpts:

You read that correctly. 850-1000 calories a day. This is a starvation diet and it is being marketed towards brides.

I chugged the rest of my water to cleanse my palate and got up to pour another glass. I’d been rather dreading the water requirement but I quickly see that it will be no problem at all to hit my daily quota of eight glasses: all that fake food isn’t going to wash itself down.

I grimly finished the pretzels and left the house to run an errand. The sourness lingered. The food felt like a punishment.

The thought of eating a reconstituted packet of dust fills me with dread, so I decide that today I’ll stick mostly with the bars and try some of the Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Cereal Crunch I’ve been sent.

 This diet was, very quickly, sending me into a depressive spiral and it was time to cut bait. So I did. As of this writing, I’m still shaken by the experience and, if I’m being really honest with you, I had a hard time returning to healthy eating habits. Three days is all it took for this diet to essentially trip my wires into disordered eating.

Yes, you read that right. Just three days of following the Medifast diet program GAVE THIS BLOGGER AN EATING DISORDER!!!!! Or so she claims.
Even a fifth grader could tell from the first few paragraphs of this hit piece that blogger Jolie Kerr planned to pan the Medifast 5&1 program even before her food arrived and use as much hyperbole doing so as a teenage girl with a humongous stash of exclamation points.

There are so many things factually wrong with the Jezebel piece that the blogger's credibility -- starting with spelling the company's name wrong (um, it's Medifast, not MediFast) and including the not-so-irrelevant factoid the writer was suffering from an ear problem during her three-day pseudo science experiment, which likely colored how sick she felt and how bad the food tasted.

But, hey, let's not let facts get in the way of a good story. Real news sites that stick to the boring truth are quaint artifacts in the online media age in which snark and exaggeration make the tastiest click bait.

What's surprising is that Medifast brought this $#!+ storm of an article on itself by sending Jezebel an email which began:

“As you are aware spring wedding season is right around the corner. This year, another wave of brides-to-be will want nothing more than to look perfect on their big day.”

Then they sent the blogger a free supply of Medifast food and assigned her to one of its less helpful TSFL health coaches.

But the clues were there all along that the published piece would be anything but a love poem. A quick review of other blog posts from this Jezebel blog channel surfaced the following juicy nuggets:

On brides:

She’s got a Pinterest board filled with pictures of Queen Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she’s gonna look dewy if it kills her, and she’s commissioning a trio of ice sculpture mermaids for the reception, which would look out of place almost anywhere but especially in the suburbs of Cleveland, where this is taking place

On wedding planners:

Weird that at a time when natural births are so in vogue, so too is having cosmopolitan, white-gloved sherpa guide you through each and every choice you make about a big party, down to the very last ahi tuna wonton crisp.

On wedding guests:

Forbes suggests planning early and getting a cheap gift, but even that’s not going to save you from the price creep. Maybe the best idea is to just cut all your friends off as soon as they get engaged. That’s when they stop being fun anyway.

Hey, I like satire as much as the next person. I grew up reading Mad magazine and am old enough to have watched the first season of "Saturday Night Live," um, live. 

But there's a difference between stretching the truth for laughs and twisting the truth so it forms a fiction pretzel.

Because the truth is that Medifast replacement meals are processed foods that are not designed to taste like something from the Food Network. Once you figure out which foods are doable and how to prepare them in a way that is completely different than the package directions, they are perfectly edible. More importantly, after losing your weight on the 5&1 Plan, you can transition to a diet of mostly fresh whole foods and avoid eating all the floury, sugary foods that made you fat in the first place.

But, hey, that is way too boring for Jezebel and its readers who would rather believe you can get an eating disorder from cutting up a Medifast bars into 16 pieces.

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