Posted on 03/6/2009
To write this blog, I have had to deal with a little bit of fear. Kelly helped with his encouragement. (Funny, the word “encouragement” basically means to help someone have courage.) Mostly, though, like everything of this type, the real answer comes from a search of the heart and a determination to “do the right thing.”
Yes, I am a healthy eating advocate, and the founder of Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. The latter is a result of the former. But I am also a 77-year-old mother of five and grandmother of fourteen. I didn’t go into business until I was 53 and, even then, I was only doing what I thought I had to do in order to help people eat right and be healthier.
So why did I have to search my soul and overcome my fear? Well, as you may know, I wrote in last week’s blog that—in my opinion—NutriSystem is the meal replacement plan I least respect. I gave my reasons—as opinions—about their meals and their advertising.
A few days later I received a very threatening letter from NutriSystem, indicating that unless I met their demands—basically retracting my opinions—they could take legal action against me and my company. And they might anyway. The letter came from a powerful Washington, D.C. law firm.
Of course, that’s disturbing. What grandmother of fourteen wouldn’t feel her stomach drop to her ankles upon reading such a letter? NutriSystem is a massive company that spends approximately $200 million a year on advertising. They have plenty of money to buy expensive lawyers and throw them against me and my company.
At first, I didn’t know what to think or do. But after some quiet moments of reflection and the advice of my husband and my friends, I made my decision.
As mentioned, I describe myself as a healthy eating advocate. I built a company on that self-description. How can I back down from my advocacy in the face of a threat?
If you think this is about getting more customers for Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating, well, let me say that we already receive a steady stream of people after they leave NutriSystem. You can read some of their comments in our scroll and comments archives (look to your right). We'll receive some additional customers, but that's only a part of the story.
For “the rest of the story” (rest in peace, Paul Harvey), here’s a glimpse into the heart of a grandmother who will not be bullied by NutriSystem or anyone else.
We are in the midst of a national unhealthy eating crisis and each citizen has a responsibility to “do the right thing.” So here’s a short reprise of my exercise of free speech, liberty, and responsibility.
I believe NutriSystem’s meals contain ingredients that are probably unhealthy, such as additives and hydrogenated oil. NS may be able to legally get by with this, but I don’t think that what they do is fair and right.
I don't like NutriSystem’s advertising because they do not make it abundantly clear what ingredients is included and what is not. NS may be able to satisfy the letter of the law by their disclaimers, and that may make it legal, but I don’t think that what they do is fair and right.
In a larger sense, NutriSystem’s effort to frighten me into silence is a symbol of something terribly wrong in our culture. Perhaps it comes from a dark side of human nature. In that case, it’s my responsibility to resist intimidation and tell the truth. NutriSystem may have the lawyers, but I don’t think that what they do is fair and right.
I have no idea why NutriSystem would want to launch a law suit which would focus on their advertising and meal shortcomings. All I know is that they are attacking me for telling the truth and, if they choose, they have millions of dollars to spend.
What will happen next? I don’t know, but if I am a healthy eating advocate, and I am, I can’t let them push me around, can I? Too much is at stake.
I need your good thoughts.
She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.