(Just submitted to Huff Po, been holding on to this article for a while after I dropped the case. I’m just a small legal assistant taking on a Goliath. Please join my cause).
Here we are heading into the summer. The dieting industry has been inundating us with their commercials, which are fat with promises of a thin and happy life. Many of us fall into the dieting trap in the summer or the start of every year because we’re so hungry for physical, emotional and spiritual freedom (not to mention thin thighs and a flat stomach).
Enter Jenny Craig, a 30-year-old multi-million dollar dieting institution. I’m going to bet you my favorite pair of skinny jeans that Jenny Craig probably didn’t mention to any of their past spokespeople the 1994 class action suit where 360,000 former Jenny Craig clients alleged Jenny Craig’s diet caused their gallbladder disease. Jenny Craig paid $10 million and gave away $36 million in merchandise.
When I joined Jenny Craig in September of 2011, I was unaware of the alleged gallbladder problems. I was just excited to lose 20 pounds and get into a size six again.
I lost weight at a slow but steady pace. Then, about nine months into the diet, I started to feel sick with stomach pains. My nails developed vertical, black lines on them and were yellowing. I was also cramping, had no appetite.
I met with my internist, my OBGYN and because I live in LA, my acupuncturist. No one could figure out the source of my physical problems.
About two months later, while at work I began to get these shooting pains in my stomach. I doubled over, dropped the file I was working on then called my husband so he could come get me and take me to the doctor. By the time we got to my internist, the pain had passed.
Two hours later, while resting at home, the pain was back with a vengeance. This time it was underneath my shoulder blade and radiating through my back. Then I began to projectile vomit.
At the ER, they did an ultrasound of my stomach and found that I had gallstones in my gallbladder. I’m not talking one or two…there were over a thousand. The stones had traveled and were cutting off the ducts to my liver (now I know why I was turning yellow), my pancreas (I had pancreatitis) and my small intestine (why I couldn’t eat).
I had emergency surgery to take out my gallbladder and remove the blockages so that my liver, pancreas and small intestine could function again.
Just two months prior to joining the diet I had fibroid surgery. To prepare for the surgery I had a full work up including an MRI. I couldn’t have been a healthier specimen (besides the fibroids).
When I went back to work a friend of mine called me over to her desk. “Weren’t you on Jenny Craig?” She asked me while pointing to an LA Times article from 1994. The article was about the above-mentioned class action lawsuit where 360,000 former Jenny Craig clients alleged Jenny Craig’s diet caused their gallbladder disease. My mouth dropped to the floor. Here is the article:
Surely, a company like Jenny Craig (which was acquired by Nestle in 2006) changed their diet so they wouldn’t be hit with more lawsuits from clients alleging gallbladder disease?
“In agreeing to settle the case, Jenny Craig did not admit any wrongdoing. The company on Friday acknowledged the final settlement, which had been announced in April, but a spokesman said there would be no other comment.” John O’Dell and Chris Woodyard, LA Times, July 16th 1994.
The thought of just sitting back and doing nothing didn’t sit well with me so I decided to take action. I was introduced to a high profile attorney and my case was filed. Little did I know that I would be on TMZ and my personal life would go viral.
It became more about what kind of settlement I might get rather than the reason why I took action. I was also barred from writing or talking about it because of litigation. Which is why I decided to dismiss the case. I feel that I can be a more effective agent for change now that I can freely speak out.
I believe one small voice can make a difference. And I’m not alone another small voice has just recently spoken up, my new friend, Iris Higgins, a former Jenny Craig counselor.
The billion dollar dieting industry plays on our fear of not being good enough, that only being thin can fix us. The answer isn’t to alter our outsides to make us happier people. Your beauty lies in you and not in the hands of empty promises served up by large corporations.
If you have had any health issues on Jenny Craig or other diets please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and please visit my blog selfworthdiet.com