An Arbonne Coach Sent Me an Email Defending the Program. Here’s My Response.
If you’ve been following my work for even a short time, you probably know how I feel about nutrition MLMs. And Arbonne is one of my frequent targets, because…well, it’s so easy!
I’m no stranger to criticism, but when I get an email like the one I got recently from an Arbonne rep, I feel as though I have to share it with you. Because not only are there a lot of messed up claims in it, the message itself is a stark reminder to us of the level of brainwashing that goes on in these MLM companies.
It’s all so wrong, but in their mind, it’s still RIGHT. And that’s a function of a few things:
First, the company they work for. These companies invent the claims that salespeople and ‘coaches’ use to sell the product. They’re taught to them as though they’re fact, when they often aren’t.
MLM nutrition companies for the most part, also provide very little oversight to their reps. All you have to do is hop onto Pinterest to see the absolute nonsense that’s used to sell MLM product.
Which brings me to my second point: the echo chamber these salespeople exist in. MLMs are like their own alternate universes. Often led by people who have no idea about basic physiology, and underscored by the pressure to make sales targets, salespeople bolster each others’ bad ideas and misinformation to the point where they all believe it to be true.
Because the more you say something, and the more you hear it from like-minded people, the more you’ll believe it.
Below you’ll see the entire email that was sent to me by the Arbonne rep I mentioned above.
This person read my post on Arbonne’s 30 Days to Healthy Living program, and decided to write a very organized (points numbered!) retort to it.
My comments are in bold.
1. We encourage eating the right amount of calories, and it is very easy to hit 1800-2000 calories on this program.
What is the ‘right amount of calories?’ How is that determined for each individual person?
How do you encourage eating that number of calories, when you also encourage replacing meals with low-calorie shakes for weight loss?
In my post, I said that the diet added up to around 1000 calories a day. I stand by that.
2. While we do have 2 shakes a day and one healthy meal, we also eat 2 snacks a day so you are eating more than just the one meal. For my snacks I have baked muffins or made waffled with my protein or a salad or any other smaller portioned healthy meal can be considered a snack base don the portion size. you ARE eating solid food 3x per day sometimes more based on your goals.
One solid-food meal, 2 shakes, and 2 snacks does equal ‘solid food 3x per day,’ but it’s still A DIET. And it’s still LOW CALORIE.
Making what still amounts to low-cal waffles and muffins with Arbonne protein powder doesn’t sound good, it sounds controlled. Like a diet.
3. As I have been coaching this program, everyone has said they feel full and satiated all the time because we don’t just have the shakes but we fill them full of nutritious foods like your healthy fats and add greens and fruits, so they are filling and the two shakes alone usually account for at least 500-700 calories (to help prove point 1)
This is a prime example of why unqualified people shouldn’t coach others on nutrition. 500-700 calories a day for two meals is tiny, and she’s likely telling people that it’s adequate, and that they should feel full and ‘satisfied’ with that amount. That scares me.
I doubt that ‘everyone’ says they feel ‘full and satisfied,’ because fullness and satisfaction are two very different things. You can feel full from ramming a ton of lettuce into your gut, but trust me, it’s not very satisfying.
4. I have never heard that we limit when people can eat anything, I do wonders on this program and because of my schedule I typically have my 2nd snack later at night around 9 just because thats when my body gets hungry and we encourage intuitive eating. We want to teach you to listen to your body, not to starve it.
Comparing Arbonne to Intuitive Eating is like…I can’t even find a comparison for this obtuse statement. She talks about calories in her first point, then IE in this point.
Which is it, then, because it can’t be both.
Again, this is what people are being told – ‘eat intuitively, but stay under your calorie level..and eliminate X foods because we say so!’
This is the opposite of ‘intuitive’ on every level.
5. you dont have to drink 2 shakes a day, you can also bake and cook with your protein nd if you choose to get your shakes in that way, then you can. you can eat solid food for every single meal/shake if that is what you prefer.
So you must use Arbonne protein powder. How about teaching people to make food decisions that don’t involve Arbonne products? This program is considered to be a ‘jump start’ to healthy eating for life, but is designed to foster a dependence on Arbonne.
If someone goes on vacation and doesn’t bring their Arbonne protein powder and supplements, is that considered to be ‘off plan’? Because, DIET.
6. I truly dont believe it is a diet, I eat when Im hungry, I get the nutrients I need, I dont feel restricted at all. The point of the program is that afterwards you are set into healthy habits so you can live a 80/20 lifestyle so you dont actually miss anything. This is just the jumpstart of habit building.
I couldn’t get a better example of how this person thinks.
What she has described in the past 5 paragraphs is most definitely a diet.
Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy doesn’t teach healthy habits AT ALL. It teaches people to be hungry in the name of weight loss. It teaches dependence on Arbonne products. And, as she indicates in the coming points, it also teaches complete and utter garbage science.
7. Most people DO have food sensitivities that they are unaware of. and people will continue to be unaware until you try something like this. and we do advise incorporating these foods back into your diet one at a time slowly to see how your body reacts to it so we can learn which foods are b benefitting us and which ones are causing discomfort.
This is untrue, and it’s a claim I see a lot by people who can’t support it. Most people probably DO NOT have ‘hidden’ food sensitivities, although there is no solid number to back myself up.
All I have is 20+ years as an RD, and a keen sense for when someone is using fake stats to sell something and justify their rhetoric.
Also: this isn’t a proper elimination diet, even though it’s sold as one.
8. We eliminate foods that are acidic and inflammatory, not just high chances of allergens. Fish has shown more beneficial effects than acidic or allergenic & we do recommend people eliminate peanuts because they tend to be highly inflammatory.
Peanuts are not highly inflammatory. This is completely false.
People have peanut allergies, just like people have allergies to dust, pets, shrimp, and latex. But that doesn’t mean everyone is affected by these.
Acidic foods aren’t bad for the body. In fact, we can’t change our body’s pH with food at all. So not only are people eating a low-calorie diet with Arbonne, they’re also eliminating completely healthy foods unnecessarily.
Arbonne 30 Days to Health eliminates the following:
Sugar and artificial sweeteners
But Arbonne isn’t a diet, right?
9. The detox tea and gentle cleanse are not fat burners or metabolism boosters or anything like that. All these do is support liver and kidney function to help your body naturally eliminate toxins, especially since your body will most likely be getting rid of a lot of toxins once you try this so it just helps rid your body of that, thats all.
I also dont like your typical “Detox teas” that claim to drop fat but, this is not that.
Just because Arbonne doesn’t claim that the detox tea burns fat, doesn’t mean that it’s okay for them to be selling it. I’ll bet this person couldn’t even name one toxin that this tea supposedly eliminates.
Detox tea – or any other tea, for that matter – doesn’t ‘support liver and kidney function.’ This is misinformation that she has been fed, and is probably feeding to other people.
I hope this post have given you some insight into how some MLM nutrition coaches think, and the type of misinformation that’s being sold to unsuspecting people. When you’re approached by a ‘coach,’ please remember this post.