As an Instagram diet war heats up, I wonder, could I be the next Diet Diva?
Tuesday night my friend Kristine who blogs at www.dressformfriends.com texted me the article The Great Diet Crash with the message “You need to write about this scandal!!!!”. The diet in question is The F-Factor Diet, an apparently well-known juggernaut of a weight-loss program based in Manhattan and headed by a model-thin, model-beautiful registered dietitian. I had never heard of it or her. But I was intrigued, as I always am, by other registered dietitians who manage to make a financial killing in our notoriously low-paid profession.
The secret to success on the diet is fiber – that’s what the “F” is for. And of course the merchandise. The program’s pricey merch includes powders, bars, and brownies that help clients get lots of fiber at 20 grams a serving. Your daily need for fiber is 25 to 35 grams so just a few servings a day would have you pooping out that weight pronto.
So what’s the big scandal? It involves an Instagram influencer who has been posting anonymous – and uncorroborated – stories of people who have suffered serious side effects from the diet. One of these stories turned out to be a phony planted by the cousin of one of the other dietitians who works at the company. Both women have over 100k followers on Instagram where the drama is playing out. And this is where I lost interest in the story. It’s the modern-day Instagram version of Tonya versus Nancy – sans the knee bashing (thus far). I was 30 during that tumultuous saga and followed every twist and turn. But I like my scandals splashed on the check-out line tabloid headlines and on the nightly news. The F-Factor fracas just isn’t doing it for me.
Where my interest did pique was when I read another article about the diet diva who founded the company and how much she charges her clients. If you want to meet with her, as opposed to her equally model-esque but less famous worker bees, it’ll cost you $10,000 for a package of 10 consults (products are not included in that price). That’s $20 a minute. That’s gutsy. But her clients love her and credit her support for helping them lose weight. You can’t knock that. According to a 2013 New York Times article, they can even call her from a restaurant when they don’t know what to order. One client describes being “trapped” at Le Bernardin in Manhattan where the vegetarian tasting menu will set you back $170 ($265 if you want the wine pairing). That’s a lot of money for a meal with no meat. Looking at their doll-size portions online (one of their desserts looks like it’s served in an empty eggshell), when you leave you’ll need to head straight to McDonald’s for a McMilkshake to get you through the night.
All of this makes me wonder: could I do that? Would you pay me crazy high fees for counseling and being there for you when you don’t know what to order? I imagine that scenario:
My phone rings.
You: Hi Beth. I’m at Chick-fil-A and don’t know what to order. Help!
Me: No worries! I’m here for you! You know they have a Crunch Kale Salad that’s pretty healthy. It’s good!
You: Is that what you usually get?
Me: Well, um, no I usually go for the waffle fries.
You: Their waffle fries are the best!
Me: I know, right? But you know the best fries are the garlic fries at the Cantina food truck. They’re amazing.
You: Oh wow, I so need to try those. Have you ever tried the ones at Saw’s?
Me: Of course! Delicious! And those little onion rings? To die for! So you’re going for the kale salad right?
You: Uh, no I’m getting waffle fries.
Me: How about ordering a small? Does that sound doable?
You: Sure – I can do that!
Me: Great progress! Keep it up. Just Venmo me the $100.
You: But we only talked for three minutes.
Me: I round up to the nearest 5.
Obviously, I’d never make it in Manhattan. I’ll never have 100k followers on Instagram. Or even k followers. But that’s okay – waffle fries are enough for me.