- The popular F-Factor diet has come under fire, with some users claiming it’s made them sick.
- Now former employees tell Insider that its founder, Tanya Zuckerbrot, policed their meals and told sexual jokes in the office that made them uncomfortable.
- One ex-employee said she was “fat shamed” for bringing whole-wheat pasta and homemade turkey meatballs to work for lunch.
- Zuckerbrot has denied the allegations, saying they’re part of a smear campaign against her and F-Factor.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
It was Sarah’s first day of work at F-Factor, and she packed a homemade lunch of whole-wheat pasta and turkey meatballs.
“I thought I was being really responsible,” Sarah, a dietitian, told Insider.
But within minutes of commencing her meal, Sarah said, the fiber-centric diet founder, Tanya Zuckerbrot, “fat-shamed” her.
“Tanya said, ‘I can’t believe you’re eating pasta. We never do that. How could you bring that in?'” said Sarah, who asked not to use her real name (which is known to Insider) because she feared retaliation from Zuckerbrot. “I was horrified.”
A former employee who worked at the New York company for four years said she witnessed the confrontation and corroborated Sarah’s account.
“Tanya berated her,” the former employee said. “It was awful. I just remember her face. She just turned white.”
For years, F-Factor — which promises customers that they can “eat carbs, dine out, drink alcohol, work out less” and stay slim on Zuckerbrot’s fiber-heavy regime — has been the in-the-know diet for well-heeled Upper East Siders and celebrities, including Megyn Kelly, Olivia Culpo, and Katie Couric.
Zuckerbrot charges some clients up to $15,000 for a startup package and serves up diet tips and scenes from her jet-setting lifestyle to her 119,000 Instagram followers. She seemed to have it all: books, a line of powders and fiber bars, a $22 million Park Avenue apartment, and a handsome second husband, the corporate real-estate investor Anthony Westreich.
But her empire came under threat this summer when the Instagram influencer Emily Gellis launched an internet crusade against F-Factor, saying that adherents suffered dangerous side effects. Gellis’ efforts culminated last month in a splashy New York Times story about the drama, which quoted former F-Factor devotees complaining of hair loss, gastrointestinal issues, and eating disorders they believe were caused by the diet.
Now former F-Factor employees are coming forward to Insider with allegations about the company’s work environment, including claims that employees’ eating habits were policed by Zuckerbrot in a manner that was diametrically opposed to the carefree image F-Factor projects to its users. Some employees also said Zuckerbrot engaged in office behavior they found inappropriate and told sexually explicit jokes that made them uncomfortable.
“Every day it was tears, crying, crying, crying,” a former high-level employee who recently worked at F-Factor said. “There was an extreme level of toxicity in the office. If it were a television show, you would be like, ‘This is so unrealistic.’ And yet it’s like that every single day.”