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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Weekend Movie Guide

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Frances McDormand stars in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Lady Bird - 4 Stars. Greta Gerwig directs a spot-on mother/daughter battle, during a young woman's high school senior year. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf deliver award-worthy performances.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - 4 stars. Caustic, often shock comedy, starring Frances McDormand as a woman at war with the town police over the unsolved murder of her daughter.

Mudbound - 3½ Stars. Epic drama of poor, white farmers and poor, black sharecroppers in the post-WWII South.

Blade Runner 2049 - 3 Stars. Sequel to the classic runs long, but packs in the special effects around a thick & juicy plot.

It - 3 Stars. Stephen King thriller delivers.

American Made - 3 Stars. Tom Cruise is winning, in the memoir of a bored pilot who goes to work for the CIA.

LBJ - 3 Stars. Woody Harrelson creates a sympathetic portrait of the formidable politician, assuming power after the Kennedy assassination, and passing the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. Rob Reiner directs.

Murder on the Orient Express - 2½ Stars. Hammy but loving remake of the 1974 Agatha Christie classic.

Last Flag Flying - 2½ Stars. Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carell as Vietnam vets, who help Carell bury his son killed on duty in Iraq. 

Justice League - 2 Stars. Charismatic Gal Gadot returns as Wonder Woman, and joins Batman and several others in another of the usual formula plots to save the world.

Thor: Ragnarok - 2 Stars. The latest chapter in Marvel's Thor franchise mixes comedy and action in an overlong, sometimes confusing package.

A Bad Moms Christmas - 2 Stars. Mila Kunis and friends vow to prevent holiday hassle. Follows the formula set by 'The Hangover" and "Bridesmaids."

Loving Vincent - 2 Stars. Beautifully animates Van Gogh's masterpieces, but uses them to tell a hokey story.

Victoria & Abdul - 2 Stars. Judi Dench (as Queen Victoria) grows fond of an Indian commoner, shocking her royal household. Lightweight stuff.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Review - 4 Stars

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" pushes the limits of comedy. It deserves billing as an award contender, even though I imagine some in the audience will take offense and leave the theater.  Frances McDormand rents the billboards to embarrass the local sheriff, played by Woody Harrelson. Several months earlier, her daughter was raped and beaten & burned alive; and no arrest has been made. Harrelson dials back his personality to create a most likable character, a family man doing the best he can and dealing with an even bigger personal issue. His deputy (Sam Rockwell) struts around in uniform, a little too proud of himself, while displaying an alarming lack of intelligence. "Three Billboards" flings casual racism, violence, meanness, and the reaction of a town full of hurting humans at us just for laughs. It's Mayberry on acid and that's funny... or alarming. "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," 4 stars, Rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Comedy about a town full of hurting people. Is it entertaining? Shockingly funny. Is it worth the price of admission? An award contender and well worth it, if you're up to the challenge.

Mudbound Review - 3½ Stars

"Mudbound" tells an epic story in a manner that feels like the kind of movie they don't make anymore. Set in the American South, before and after World War II, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, and Garrett Hedlund play poor, white Mississippi farmers, whose lives intertwine with poor. black sharecroppers, played by Mary J. Blige, Jason Mitchell, and Rob Morgan. "Mudbound" rises above the usual Southern Gothic, subtly hinting at the dependency between the two families, despite the racism of the era. It captures the hard work and frustration of farming, and the tired resignation of blacks in the days before civil rights. The friendship between a returning white veteran and black veteran sparks a crisis, while offering a glimpse of the future. Fans of "Better Call Saul" and "Breaking Bad" will note Jonathan Banks as a hostile patriarch. Mary J. Blige has earned awards buzz as the sharecropper family matriarch. "Mudbound" tells its story with assurance and a steady hand. "Mudbound" 3½ stars. Does it deliver what it promises? Epic story of the 1940s South. It is entertaining? Good storytelling. Is it worth the price of admission? One of the year's award contenders.

Justice League Review - 2 Stars

DC Comics puts its biggest names into one gigantic movie in an effort to build on the success of the well-received "Wonder Woman." Gal Gadot remains incredibly charismatic in "Justice League." It's hard to take your eyes off her. Unfortunately, she has to share the stage with Ben Affleck as Batman, Ezra Miller as the Flash, Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Ray Fisher as Cyborg, not to mention a dash of Henry Cavill as Superman. All these characters make for a complicated and often hard-to-follow story. "Justice League" sticks to the usual, somewhat tired formula. The characters must save the world from a really bad guy... in this story, named "Steppenwolf," who's accompanied by swarms of bat-like insects who thrive on fear. There's not much beyond the usual mix of heroes, villains, special effects and loud noises for two hours or more. "Justice League" will replace "Thor: Ragnarok" in many theaters, and some will find them hard to distinguish. 2 stars, rated PG-13. Does it deliver what it promises? The usual. Is it entertaining? For fans. It is worth the price of admission? For fans, but not really for adults.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express Review - 2½ Stars

Kenneth Branagh remakes the beloved 1974 film of Agatha Christie's classic mystery with love and more than a few hammy touches. Branagh plasters a widescreen mustache across his face, a humorous clue to the character Hercule Poirot, the world famous Belgian detective with the amazing ability to determine "Who done it?" On board the luxury Orient Express, he's called into service when the shady character played by Johnny Depp dies of multiple stab wounds in his compartment bed. The suspects comprise an all star cast: Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer among them. Most adult viewers will already know who done it, and newcomers can likely figure it out. The actors, their clothing, and especially the luxury train look beautiful. Branagh fills his remake with old school touches: suspects gathering in the dining car, an avalanche stopping the train in its tracks, a flashback to another murder and the hint of revenge. "Murder on the Orient Express" takes its time, just as you might expect of a project that favors style over substance. "Murder on the Orient Express," rated PG-13, 2½ Stars. Does it deliver what it promises? Old school murder mystery. Is it entertaining? Looks great, and showcases an all-star cast. Is it worth the price of admission? Not a must-see, but good enough.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lady Bird Review - 4 Stars

Greta Gerwig makes her directing debut in this powerful, funny, coming-of-age mother/daughter struggle. Gerwig casts Saoirse Ronan as a 17-year-old high school senior, and Laurie Metcalf as her mother. Lady Bird, a self-imposed nickname the character insists the family call her, longs for a bigger life in a larger setting than her home town of Sacramento. Her mother comes from a place of realistic expectations. Metcalf must deal with her husband's job loss, holding the family anxiety, and trying to make ends meet. The idea of a bigger life makes her snort. The crisis arrives when Lady Bird insists on applying to an East Coast college, and with the support of her father (Tracy Letts) gets accepted. "Lady Bird" concludes with two scenes, solo turns for both women, that speak volumes. "Lady Bird," 4 stars, rated "R." Does it deliver what it promises? Powerful, truthful coming-of-age story. Is it entertaining? Fascinating. Is it worth the price of admission? A must-see award contender.
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Meet The Team

Ira’s colleagues and friends Douglas Hirsch, Lance Laifer, and Daniel Nir, along with Ira’s mother Judith Sohn and brother Evan, created The Sohn Conference Foundation. For more than 20 years, the Board of Directors has led the strategic vision of the Foundation and expanded the investment ideas conferences to six financial markets across the globe. A team of staff members, along with the Board of Directors works together to support the Foundation’s mission of fighting pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases.

Nutrisystem Nutritoots – One Man’s Painful Experience

Crisis management pro Jonathan Bernstein takes a low blow from Nutrisystem foods, fights back

I made a grand pronouncement on Facebook, earlier this month, that I was starting the Nutrisystem program with the goal of shedding 20 pounds.  My original order had been placed by phone, and for the first couple of days I followed plan direction to the letter and found the food remarkably adequate in taste, which was OK with me, I didn’t expect more.  It’s when customer experience falls below expectations set by the company that problems start.  And oy, did they start!  It’s funny in hindsight…no, maybe that’s not a good word to use right here…anyhow, read the following thread of email which ensued between me and personnel at Nutrisystem.

[May 17 email from Me to Nutrisystem Dietary Services]

I am a new customer who was supposed to be on the sixth day of his Nutrisystem plan, but I have had to revert to eating easily digestible foods today until the extreme gasiness I’ve been experiencing subsides.

I did some online research and discovered, to my dismay, that this condition is so common for Nutrisystem customers that it’s even been given a name – Nutritoots.  But having my sleep and daytime activities interrupted by gasiness hasn’t been as funny as that name.  And the same research revealed the primary culprit to be the Maltitol and related sugar alcohols you use in your snacks and some other products – and I already know that I can tolerate only a very small amount of Maltitol.  Why the HECK don’t you use a non-gas-producing sweetener like Splenda or Sevia?

I can tell you that, in my case, roughage is not the issue – I am very used to large quantities of roughage.

What distresses me most is that, despite how common this condition is, I wasn’t informed of this possibility when I first enrolled and placed my first food order – both on the phone with one of your sales reps.  I could have avoided the great discomfort altogether.

As I am a widely published author, I wa already planning to write about my Nutrisystem experience – it makes it a tax deduction amongst other benefits.  This is NOT a good start to the story.

Please review the foods you will find listed in my first order and advise.  The email address you have on record is (redacted), and the phone number is (redacted).

[Email from Dietary Services]

Hello Jonathan,

If you wish to avoid maltitol or other sugar alcohols, you can edit your order to remove them from your menu.

If you wish to exchange foods or need help editing you order please call our customer service at 1-800-585-5483


Dietary Services

[May 18, my email reply]

Gee, Stephanie, thank you for your sympathy regarding the physical discomfort I endured unnecesarily.

How about kicking this one upstairs to the head of customer service?

[May 18 – Receiving no further assistance from Ms. Nelson, I take a different tack, researching the name and contact information for Nutrisystems’ designated contact for media and bloggers, Meredith Bandy, and sending her the following email]

Meredith, I’m bypassing customer service because (a) you have a PR problem centered in customer service and (b) I figured you’d “get it” better, clearly, than Stephanie Johnson did.

I’m a fairly well known crisis management consultant who is extremely active online – two blogs, a full slate of social media accounts, lots of activity there.  Klout score = 63.  And I’m also a brand-new Nutrisystem customer who was not warned of a very common and unpleasant side-effect of a number of Nutrisystem meals.

Please read the email below, in reverse chronological order, of course.  I have written, frequently, about the fact that crisis prevention starts with the first contact points for customer service.   If those individuals are trained to express compassion for someone’s difficulties, and empowered to implement a quick solution, then you end up with positive PR.  If they do what Ms. Johnson did, you get an irate customer.

I would like a “for the record” comment from Nutrisystem about how and why I ended up on the short end of this arrangement, and what the company can do to make amends.

Best regards,


Jonathan Bernstein
President, Bernstein Crisis Management
Author, Keeping the Wolves at Bay & Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management
(866) 772-5552
Skype: crisis.manager

[May 20, received this reply from Meredith Bandy]

Thank you Jonathan for reaching out to me and I am sorry for the situation you are in.

Please know that I am in the process of looking into this further with the heads of our contact center and will be sure to reach back out to you as soon as we can with an update and resolution.

We value you as part of our Nutrisystem family and appreciate your patience and understanding.

Thank you again.

All the best,

Meredith Bandy
Public Relations Manager
Nutrisystem, Inc.

[I sent a polite thank you and, later that day, heard back from the head of dietary services]

Dear Jonathan,

I am sorry to read about your unpleasant experience with flatulence after consuming some of the Nutrisystem foods, as well as the lack of customer service in response to your email.  The email response came across as uncaring, but please know that Nutrisystem does care about its customers and strives to make their weight loss experience a pleasant one.

While our foods are generally agreeable with most customers, once we are aware of a known sensitivity to an ingredient including sugar alcohols, we certainly make every effort to provide additional information on menu options that should be limited or avoided to assist in editing the order.  More specifically, we want to make sure that you get the foods that agree with you.  I’ll be happy to work with you to customize your next shipment based on your likes and dislikes as well as any intolerances.  You may want to try a few more of the foods before editing your next shipment, but when you are ready, just like me know.

As for the items that you received that contain sugar alcohols, please let me know what you would like to replace them.  I will have these items shipped out right away.  We will also add a $25 coupon applicable to your next shipment for your inconvenience.

We appreciate your business and thank you for selecting Nutrisystem as your partner in achieving your weight loss goal.  Please let me know if I can assist you in any way.


Mary Gregg, R.D.
Nutrition and Dietary Services Department

[Well, at least she agreed that their email response was “uncaring.”  But, since they STILL hadn’t explained why customers aren’t informed, before their first order, that there are KNOWN and COMMON side effects from eating Nutrisystem meals, nor why I’d never even been asked if I had food allergies, I informed Mary Gregg that I wanted to cancel my plan.  In her apologetic reply, assuring me I could return the product at no cost to me, she made a statement which reflects the company’s apparent belief that a customer’s well-being with regard to consuming Nutrisystem meals is, apparently, entirely up to the customer!]

Gregg wrote:

We depend on our customers to make us aware of any allergies or intolerances that they have, and once we are aware of a known sensitivity, including sugar alcohols, we certainly make every effort to provide additional information on menu options that should be limited or avoided to assist in editing the order.

[A final author’s note: The good news is that I’ve been able to continue dieting on my own, now down six pounds.  And at least I got a good blog post/case history out of this experience.  And when I took the large quantity of Nutrisystems meals to my local private postal service, the clerk there said, “Oh, we see this stuff getting shipped back very regularly!”]

[OK, I lied, that wasn’t my final note.  I *fully* expect readers to have kinds of smart-assed…ummm….humorous comments on this.  They are welcomed!!]

Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management (McGraw-Hill).


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Comments 39

  1. Nora

    JB – sorry about your issue adjusting to the food, and really sorry about the customer care experience you had. There is clearly a break down in the process. Sadly, as maddening as this is, it seems to happen more and more to us as consumers. We never know whether we’re speaking to a robot (auto-responder), human who can only work from a script or is located overseas and doesn’t have strong language skills, or a real person who is truly paying attention.

    1. Post
      Jonathan Bernstein

      I agree, Nora. Smart companies realize that every customer service person is a PR rep for the entire company, and train them accordingly.

  2. Valerie

    Jonathan — sorry about your problems, but what a great story for my Risk Comm classes! I use some of your other publications and website as examples. already. This kind of thing humanizes the author. Don’t you think? :-)

    1. Post
      Jonathan Bernstein

      Absolutely, Valeri! And I use my sense of humor to pre-screen potential clients too – those without a funny bone probably wouldn’t want to hire me! Those who like seeing a “real person” and not just a “business persona” are the ones I like to work with.

  3. Jeff Yablon


    While you’re right that they weren’t exactly sympathetic, they did at least try to help you.

    I was reading your story and feeling a bit sheepish; you sound as though you approached this in much the way I did when I had a bad experience last October with the airline Virgin America. And I was a little uncomfortable as I read; it seems that when I’m reading someone else doing the kind of thing I did it comes off to me the way I came off to many people (see

    Looking forward to seeing if they make you feel any better about all this …

    1. Post
      Jonathan Bernstein

      Jeff, thanks for your comment. I think they had no choice other than to help me, but (a) their help was uncompassionate and inadequate and (b) would have been completely unnecessary if they had simply disclosed, up front, a known issue with their products. It was a preventable crisis.

  4. nilda rose

    I was on the original nutrisystem many years ago and although the foods were kind of limited, they did not contain any maltitol, sorbitol, or any other sugar alcohol. My sister and I along with 2 friends and my husband all joined together, and we all did remarkably well. I went from a size 11-12 to a size 2 ! We all stayed on the “maintenance” program for another year and a half and then went on our own. We maintained our weight for several years and then started getting a bit careless and started to put back most of the weight again. My husband and I rejoined and both immediately began to get bouts of diarrhea, bloat, flatulence, stomach cramps, among other discomforting symptoms. We noticed that when we stopped eating nutrisystem foods all symptoms stopped, we called the company and asked what was going on with the food and we were told that probably it was due to the sugar alcohol that they now used and to give it a chance to “kick in.” We tried for another few months but I almost ended up in a hospital with dehydration from all the diarrhea and my husband missed many days of work because of the stomach cramps and excessive flatulence. When we were told to make other choices that did not contain sugar alcohols, we simply canceled membership because there wasn’t much we could order. This company must stop telling people that these symptoms are rare and only happen to few people because this is false! A blatant lie!!! It happened to both of us and many of our acquaintences. How about getting rid of those toxic ingredients and using plain sugar in lower quantities as I am now doing. Splenda and all those sugar substitutes are all toxic. In addition, my husband and my sister started suffering from high blood pressure after eating the gazillion amounts of sodium in that food. NS must allow people to lose weight in a more healthy manner! People should not have to sacrifice their health (at a time when they are very vulnerable) in order to lose weight! Also, they should be forwarned about the sugar alcohols so they have a better idea of what they are getting into from the onset!!!!

    1. Bill

      I too, have used Nutrisystem in the past with much success. I started back after a few years of not being on the program and gas and diarrhea started immediately. I called and they said give it a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks and the problem was to the point of regular food would not stay in me. I am now under a doctors care to try to get my system back to normal. They should have warnings on their food!

  5. angie

    I went on Nutrisystem to lose 10 pounds. I lost much more. 3 weeks ago I finished the first 7 days of this program. I began experiencing abdominal discomfort which transformed into a full blown crippling abdominal attack on day 7. I woke to extreme abdominal cramping, gas, sweating, bloating etc. After 4 days I was in the Dr. s office. I was diagnosed with severe diverticulitis, or so we thought. I was put on 2 very intense antibiotics for 12 days. Not knowing it was related to Nutrisystem, I continued to eat their foods while closely monitoring what I was eating. I had to force myself to eat due to extreme nausea. 3 weeks later and 2 weeks of being out of work because of the abdominal pain I ended up in the hospital and a CT scan.

    The CT scan show NO DIVERTICULITIS, which left my Dr. puzzled. While it was good news, it did show irritation in my appendix. After going carefully thru all that I was eating the light went on! I had never had any abdominal issues and the only difference in my diet was Nutrisystem!

    I called the company and they seemed to be quite aware of this issue. They did offer to let me send back the new box of food, and any food unopened for full refund. THey also said that they would put those foods on a 72 hour recall? The person on the phone stated some folks have a hard time with the sugar alcohols. Issues is putting it mildly. I missed 2 weeks of work, 4 dr. visits and finally CT scan in the hospital all to figure out where this sudden dramatic abdominal pain was coming from.

    Final conclusion of my doctors and myself: Nutrisystem. It was the only difference in my diet that could explain this massive bloating, gas, pain, nausea and cramping. It has been 2 days since I packed it all up and called it quits with Nutrisystem. I no longer have cramping but still much nausea which could be due to the heavy antibiotics i had to go on. It was no worth it…..the cost for the doctor visits, hospital, scans and medications way exceeded any benefits. I decided my health is the most important thing and nutrisystem clearly put that in harms way. In all, I did find it easy to do, the foods were not that bad. It is still crazy to me that they can send full chicken breast with beans etc. in a package that requires NO freezing! There must be some insane preservatives in their food.

    Notice your abdomen area while on this should you still decide to give it a try. The FIRST sign of discomfort STOP before you end up in the hospital like I did! Now I just shop correctly, eat the right portions and hit the gym to maintain my weight!

    The result show

    1. Lisa

      I started Nutrisystem and immediately started feeling stomach discomfort such as gas, bloating, constipation. It’s been 3 weeks and it seems to be getting worse. I called and spoke to a counselor and told me it could be from the Sugar Alcohol and avoid certain foods. I’m not willing to proceed and end up in the hospital with worse symptoms. I’ve lost a few lbs already and should be able to do this on my own without their food.

  6. Tiffany Williams

    Mr. Bernstein, thank you so much for using your fame to expose Nutrisystem. I’m in bed as I’m typing this response in great discomfort from using Nutrisystem. I googled side effects of Nutrisystem and found you. I noticed after two days of eating from its Fast Five box I purchased from Wal Mart some discomfort. I attributed the extreme bloat to juice. So I cut it out. Well today after eating only Nutrisystem food I searched on line for its side effects. I’m miserable but at least I know the culprit of my pain. I can’t get a refund because I purchased it from WalMart and have eaten half of its contents before pinpointing where my pain was coming from. Again thank you so much!!!

    1. Post
      Jonathan Bernstein

      Tiffany, thanks for your comment and I’m sorry that, like me, you had to learn the hard way!


  7. Jessica

    My cousin was on Nutrisystem and developed stomach cancer over a period of three months. She didn’t even need to lose much weight. This stuff isn’t food. Unfortunately we didn’t notice soon enough, and she was uncurable.

    People need to know the truth

    1. Jayme

      My husband was on Nutrisystem for one year. He now has stage 4 stomach cancer that we are battling. I also have a friend from high school that was on Nutrisystem and she has the same diagnosis. I would be interested in talking to anyone with this diagnosis.
      Thank You

  8. Cindy

    Hi Jonathan. I had a similar experience with NutriSystem but it took me much longer to figure it out. I should have known to look at the ingredients before ordering any of their food! I had a big problem with sugar-free cookies several years ago. What an absolutely miserable experience! Needless to say, I quit NS completely and will not try it again until and unless they remove sugar alcohols from their foods.

    I mentioned the problem to my older daughter, and she said she’d had the same problem with Malitol in NS foods and other grocery store foods. Then my younger daughter joined the conversation affirming she, too, had a problem with Malitol. All three of us started reading labels of all our food purchases and are doing everything we can to avoid all sugar alcohols. It’s tough for two of us since we’re diabetic – one is Type 1 and the other Type 2. My younger daughter just wants to avoid eating much sugar.

    Thanks for your blog. Although it’s not a pleasant topic, and the reaction to Malitol is certainly unpleasant, it’s good to know that my family is not alone in such negative experience with sugar alcohols, Malitol in particular. I’ve been trying to find statistics about the commonality of sensitivity to Malitol and other sugar alcohols. Do you happen to know of any websites to try?

    Thank you.

    1. Jonathan Bernstein

      Cindy, sorry your daughters had similar experience. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any websites that would be useful to you.

      Best regards,


  9. Faolain

    I just started NS today, I was perfectly fine yesterday no cramps, dizziness or anything! Today however is a completely different story, I get sick really easily and am very sensitive when it comes to my body so I know when something is up and today something was definitely wrong. After the “breakfast” i had consumed I began to get stomach pains and thought it might just be hunger pains or something but nope I started to become very dizzy and lethargic so I decided to do a little bit of Internet magic and boom! Stomach pains, gas, nausea ect. I’m canceling my program tomorrow, and just eating healthy and in smaller portions. I’m usually the type of person who goes all day without eating which is where my problem lies. So from now on I’m just gonna eat normal every day and forget this fake crap before I end up spending money on doctors

  10. Bill

    After week of Diarrhea, I “googled Diarrhea Nutri System. Wow was I surprised what came up. I think I am just going to throw this stuff out because I cannot keep it in me more than 30 minutes. It is a crime that they do not put warnings on their products.

  11. Vivian

    Thank you Jonathan..
    I have about 10lbs to loose and tried the 5 day product a month ago. I thought maybe I’m having more veggies/fruit causing the gas and bloating (though I do always eat lots of veggies and salad?)
    So I started another course 3 days ago. I am experiencing the same troublesome symptoms but much worse this time. Extreme gas, bloating. Plus dizziness, trouble concentrating. I’m on day 3 and quitting today. I will research Maltitol and sugar alcohols; never used sugar alcohols before.
    Thank you again, I think increasing exercise and watching what I eat are the way to go.

  12. Susan Llewellyn

    Thank you, Jonathan!! I searched the web on NS and food-borne illness and found your blog. Tonight, I had a severe attack of diarrhea after eating NS Chicken Alfredo. I almost called an ambulance! At least now I know what’s going on.
    Su Llewellyn

  13. Pattie

    I’m using NS and started a week ago. The food tastes like cardboard. Today by lunchtime my stomach was cramping horribly, I was nauseous, and the gas was extreme. Slight case of diarrhea. Over the weekend I bought other items to offset the NS with, such as applesauce, chicken salad, prepackaged jello, etc., and will be doing a combination of NS and other foods. Hopefully this will keep the symptoms down. But, if they don’t go away immediately, I know now to discontinue NS completely. The food is just not tolerable at all to me, the most horrible tasting food I’ve ever eaten. The only thing edible is the Chocolate Muffin and the Bagel, so far. The only good thing about it is my clothes are already a lot looser.

  14. Brigette

    Hi Jonathan! I know that I have issues with sugar alcohols and avoid them when I can. I used Nutrisystem sucessfully about 8 years to lose 10 pounds and decided to try it again recently. They must have changed their food formulations since because I had GI symptoms within three days of starting the program. I scanned the labels, wondering how I could have missed “sugar alcohols” in the nutrition information only to realize that the offending malitol and glycerine are not listed as such. It just says “sugars”. I had to read the entire list of ingredients to see that I was indeed eating sugar alcohols. I agree, more needs to be done on NS’s end to warn customers of potential effects of the food. More also needs to be done with labels rules regarding foods containing sugar alcohols. Thanks for your article and sharing your experience.

  15. Marcus

    Thanks for helping me weed this out! I know from years of dieting that I cannot tolerate sugar alcohols. Unlike competitors, NS does not list sugar alcohols in the top box nutritional summaries as a type of carbohydrate, so they don’t make it easy for consumers to find out if there is a risk. During my customer service interactions, I was emailed two internal documents that detail the sugar alcohol content in the products that contain more than “little or trace” amounts. It looks like it’s about 15% of the total menu, and as I expected, mostly snacks and sweeter breakfast items. (It was a muffin that made me violently ill my first day.) I don’t want to assume people’s intentions, but because the doc exists and given its contents, it’s clear that they know this is a problem for people. Honestly, just better product labeling would have allowed me to make a more informed decision. I’m finishing my 28 days and then I’m going to try a different option (Seattle Sutton maybe?) to compare. Thanks again!

  16. Heather

    I completed my first day of nutrisystem today and am suffering from gas and stomach cramps. Although I do not have diarrhea I am sure today has cleaned my system out. How embarrassing! I have spent a good amount of time in the bathroom. I plan to call and try to return the unused portion. Thank you for your post and the informative information. What a awful side effect. I will try to restrict calories on my own.

  17. Anna

    I am on day 5 Turbo takeoff and today is day #3 that I have a headache, dizziness and trouble concentrating…. Probably I will stop tomorrow…

  18. Anna

    I started with headache, bloating and stomach pain on day 2 when I was on Turbo takeoff, I stopped when I was on day 5 because of my symptoms got worse: severe headache, migraine, burning in my head, dizziness, disorientation, hard to concentrate and stomach pain…. It’s crazy. Now second day that I am not eating Nutrisystem but my stomach is very painful and still I have migraine. What kind of poison they add to food???

  19. Cathy

    NurtisystI had exactly the same as you did. Finally had to stop I got on weight watchers and buy their meals. They don’t effect me adversely .

  20. Dallas

    I could eat a truck tire covered in tabasco with a side of beans and not have even a hint of stomach trouble. Cajun, Mexican, broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, no problem. A cast iron stomach. Started NS yesterday…. all I can say is OMG!!! I’m going out to get a Big Mac as an antidote.

  21. Rhonda Atwood

    Sir, I am so grateful for your article! For three weeks, I have been experiencing severe stomach pain, agonizing gas pain, and alternating constipation and diarrhea. I have also been on NutriSystem for three weeks. But I very foolishly did not make the connection until today. I was planning to go to the doctor, because I have always had a “cast iron” stomach and never experienced anything like this before. I will attempt to get some money back for the unused foods. This has been a very expensive lesson to learn. I’m switching to Weight Watchers. Again, thanks for sharing your experience.

  22. DLL

    I started NS about 4 weeks ago. I have been so sick and I live in the bathroom!!! I told my husband something in the food is making me sick and he said maybe you have a bug! I decided to look up other issues people have posted and wow shocking. I am calling tomorrow to cancel my NS.
    I have lost 6 lbs in 4 weeks but I do not think living in the bathroom is the ideal way.

    Issues are as followed:
    Bloated stomach
    Severe gas

    Not worth it for me to continue.
    Thanks to everyone that posted their experience.

  23. Eric Hampton

    Boy, now I have images of Marie Osmond farting.

  24. Marianne Stringer-Hill

    Dear Mr Bernstein,
    Thank you for saving me a lot of pain, discomfort, and aggravation.

    I decided at the beginning of the year to start Nutrisystem around the beginning of May, in time for summer. For some reason I decided to Google info on Nutrisystem and Diarrhea, as this is something I have been frightening for many years.

    After reading your review/blog, and all the comments from people who experienced the same symptoms, I consider myself very lucky.

    Thank you…and everyone else, for taking the time to share your story.
    I hope Nutrisystem will figure out a way to modify their ingredients and make this product safe for all…


  25. Jayme

    My husband did Nutrisytem for a year. He now has Stage 4 stomach cancer. I also have a friend who did the program for one year and she has the same diagnosis. They are both getting chemotherapy.
    I would love to hear from anyone else that has been diagnosed with Stomach cancer from this stuff.

  26. Jody

    I have been on the plan for 2 1/2 months, and not only am I having stomach issues but also having muscle cramping and pain that I never had before starting the program. I researched it a bit, and the brown sugar oatmeal that I was eating contains an ingredient called lo han. (Not Lindsay :)
    In researching it further, it is actually monk fruit, which they give to people who are constipated to get things “moving”. When I reached out to customer service, I did not get much sympathy or assistance. I ended up having to throw rest of them out. My son and I regularly donate to food banks, etc., but I would not do that to anyone. I have also started experiencing muscle aches and pains that I never had before starting the program. I feel nauseated and lethargic all the time. And doing a little further research, many of their foods contain lactic acid. I read that a buildup of lactic acid in the body can exacerbate fibromyalgia, as well as provoke panic attacks. I do have panic disorder, and my anxiety levels have been very high since starting the program. I am also getting quite sick of all of the tomato-based foods. I am a vegetarian, and granted I would have a wider variety of foods were I not a vegetarian, but I was eating a lot “cleaner” before starting the program. My problem has always been portion control, so I thought NUTRISYSTEM would be the perfect answer. I did pretty well for the first month, but now I am having a difficult time overcoming the side effects of all of the fillers and artificial ingredients. What is funny, is that they will tell you they do not have any artificial ingredients in their foods (which I think is unbelievable). They also told me that they would help me choose foods lower in sodium, but many of the foods are extremely high in sodium. This month, I switched to the “a la cart” program. It was $34 to join for three months, and I get free shipping and a 20% discount on anything I order. They failed to tell me that you have to have a $50 minimum order. They seem to “forget” to disclose a lot of information until after the fact. I ordered my breakfasts, lunches, and a few snacks for the next month, and will make my own healthy dinners. I will see how it goes – I am choosing the foods with no lactic acid, and definitely no lo han!

  27. Pat

    I tried Nutrisystem for two months in October and November 2016 I had diarrhea and stomach problems the entire time. Went to the doctor in January still having problem. I had and still have diverticulitis, looks like surgery is ahead for me. Has this happen to any else?

  28. Dawn

    Started using the system yesterday with a breakfast muffin, and was instantly tootilicious. Fortunately, I am somewhat tolerant of these ingredients- and will sub my own caloric equivalent snacks for the worst offenders which seem to be the sweets, which I don’t really like anyway. It is a shame, because there are tons of these alcohol sweetened items in each shipment, and if you are susceptible to the ingredients, you can get sick easily.

  29. Jan

    I have begun to feel not only “fart- ish” but having significant nausea. Have you had any tweets regarding this?

  30. Sandra

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