Tuesday, September 18, 2012


As a journalist I am used to getting email from public relations companies.  I received this one early this month.  

"Hi Merie,

I was wondering if you’d be interested in this human interest story about a local woman whose fight with cancer has forced her to lead a healthier life.

Always struggling with her weight, Little Neck native, Julie McGlone never really believed in weight loss programs, until she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and health became her top priority.

Once her cancer metastasized to her liver, Julie decided that she needed to do something about her health in order to have the best fighting chance to live. Cysts, lesions, surgeries, radiation and chemo were all in the cards for her. Monitoring her weight, although important to keep her immune system up, fell short on the priority list. This is when Julie discovered bistroMD, a metabolism-correcting weight loss program that combines fresh frozen meal deliveries with the personalized assistance of a registered dietitian under the leadership of bariatric specialist Caroline Cederquist, M.D. She saw it recommended by Dr. Phil and decided it was worth a shot.

Not only did this program help her shed her excess pounds, it helped reassure Julie that she was getting the appropriate nutrients her body needed in order to have a chance in the fight against cancer. She relies on bistroMD to ensure that she is eating nutritious, balanced meals that are effortless to prepare.  

I would be happy to put you in touch with Julie if you are interested in her incredible story. Or if you’d like to review bistroMD, we can send you a sampler of the program. Dr. Cederquist, the brainpower behind bistroMD would also love to speak with you upon request. We have several before and after shots of Julie as well.

I am looking forward to your feedback!

I thought that best way for me to write about it as well as interview Julie or Dr. Cederquist would be to experience a week of meals.   Options are either 5 or 7 days and with or without snacks.   I wanted to not have to figure on what to eat for a snack as well as seeing if I would lose any weight.    

There was an agreement that I would get a week.   Angela asked about dietary restrictions, etc.  I told her that I didn't want anything with garlic or cumin.   Garlic does not sit well with me and I have an allergy to cumin.    Pretty much everything else was not an issue.

I received a 5-day meal program without snacks.    Breakfast. lunch, dinner.    There was cumin in two of the meals (I need a magnifying glass to read the ingredients and just assumed that the message was gotten).   One had "roasted garlic" in the description let alone others that contained garlic.   No seafood and there were two days that chicken was two of the three meals.   Chicken in crepes were a few of the breakfast items.   I did call one of their customer service to ask what they would do if given the info about what I couldn't have.  I was told that they can't make adjustments but would avoid sending me meals with those contents.  

If you look at a sample of the 7-day plan, it seems to feature something like a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast.   

At first I thought that Bistro MD was the source of the issues.  Do they just send you what they want even if you can't or do not want to indulge in the item?  Did they get it wrong about the difference between the "sample" and a weeks worth of food?  I kept communicating with Angela about what I received and about the agreed upon "one week".   I realize that the initial email said "sampler" but she had later sent an email saying that the client agreed on a week.   Was the sampler used just to allow me to try items and not what would actually have been sent if I did a 5-day plan with no snacks?   I'll never know. 

Now it's one thing if I'm reviewing the food itself. Aside from the issues, the meals are sent frozen like "tv dinners"....if you're too young you won't understand what I mean.   They basically are set up for you to reheat in a microwave oven.   I do not have one.   I placed the meals in a pan and used my Precision Induction Cooktop.   Oh yes, there are no instructions on how to heat if you don't have a microwave. 

Taste and quality was not an issue .   Rather good for a frozen dinner.    I certainly cannot give you any weight loss results.   With no snacks and even having one of their dietitians tell me what to basically have,  I resorted to items that I was not supposed to have and containing sugar.   Oh yeah....they use sugar substitutes in their food.   

As for Angela, each time I confronted an issue I got one of those apologies without really answering my questions including telling me that she did not get the email about the garlic and cumin.  I resent it to her and she said she still had not gotten it.   I then forwarded the back and forth emails that had this.   She said that she did not read that one...apology again and wants to send meals to replace the cumin....did not say anything about the ones with garlic.   Too late...day 5 just ended.  

When I confronted her about it being 5-days she said that a sample program could be 5-days.  However, she seemed to forget the conversation we had over the phone when we talked about the seven days of this sample weight loss program in regards to the delivery date and when it would end.  

Now, I'm not looking to be fed for a few weeks.   She emailed me and I wanted to follow up by experience as I usually do.   The basic article was to be in the Queens Times this week but due to that constant broken agreements, I canceled it.   I also said that I would be doing this as a weight loss program.   I'm getting that this won't happen.   So, is it the public relations company or the client that hindered this?  

Update!   Angela finally called me and did her p.r. voice of apology.   However, the phone call wasn't really about this.   It was about my removing the name of the person who was the cancer patient.   Angela wanted me to remove her name due to her going back into the hospital.   Privacy issue?   Had the article gone through in the Queens Times, there would have been no way to remove it.   The publication would have already been out on the streets and available on the internet!   Needless to say, the situation may not look good for BistroMD.   It makes me wonder if having 3 meals per day for however long Julie did this, was not doing well due to the use of a microwave!!!!

Note to Julie....I do hope you have a speedy recovery.   

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