Wednesday, April 09, 2008

seriously, bluecross?


Those of you who live in the United States might recognize this. Those of you who don't might get a good laugh out of it. My health insurance offers a health rewards program- an incentive to make healthy changes in your life in exchange for
cash and prizes better health and a longer life. Or that's the idea, anyway. I feel that I eat pretty well and am in pretty good shape, but I don't want this to stop me from all the cash and prizes health benefits that this program has to offer, so I have signed up. The exercise portion was fairly straightforward- I tell them how active I am and they give me tips for exercises to do every day. So far so good.

Then, I got to the nutrition section. Here, they ask you to enter your weight, and then tell them whether you would like to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your weight. They then design an optimal menu for you, which they also promise will be "heart healthy." Well imagine my horror upon being presented with this suggested daily menu: (click on the photos to enlarge)



For breakfast, they want me to consume calcium fortified orange juice, fat-free fruit yogurt (ack! the yuck factor of dairy aside, don't they care about the sugar or chemical sugar substitute in those things?), some lowfat milk (more dairy?!), an egg-white omelette with cheddar cheese and imitation bacon bits (come on, now!) along with an english muffin. (Oh, phew! They recommend a wheat english muffin! no word on if that means whole wheat or not) Knowing what I know about eggs and dairy, not to mention what I know about packaged foods, that breakfast sounds like a nightmare.



But that is nothing compared to dinner! Keep in mind, these suggestions are supposed to be healthy and contribute to weight loss, and this is a health insurance company making the recommendations! You would think they would have a vested interest in me not dropping dead (or worse, developing chronic illnesses necessitating prolonged health care, medicine, hospitalization, etc.). Here we go: they want me to eat frozen boysenberries (unsweetened- woo!) with powdered sugar (d'oh!), some yellow wax beans (a wonderful vegetable, but not a nutritional powerhouse), some more lowfat milk (ew! I mean, seriously?), and some pasta and meatless (phew) tomato sauce with cheesy meatballs. (d'oh, d'oh, d'oh)

As if this meal weren't enough to wear you out, you get a snack! A parfait made from fat-free frozen yogurt, frozen strawberries, peanut M&Ms, and, oh! two tablespoons of Kashi Go Lean cereal. I don't care if you're vegan or not, consuming that much dairy in one day is not good for you. If I ate their suggested menu, I'd be sluggish, over-sugared and under-nourished. And frankly, a little grossed out.



What about my breakfast? How could I enter things like this rice pudding made with organic brown rice, unsweetened hemp milk, cinnamon, cardamom, raisins, walnuts, and a dash of agave nectar?



Or this hearty brunch of marinated grilled tofu, roasted spicy potatoes, swiss chard, tomatoes, and rye bread?

It turns out you can customize your menu, but your only options even there are preselected brand-name packaged items. For example, I tried picking "smoothie" but the only smoothies they would recognize were Dannon Light 'n Fit-brand "smoothies." (light on the smoothie, heavy on the sugar and crap). Why, if I were the suspicious type, I would think that my insurance company has product placement agreements with major food brands to pimp their products as healthy...? No...

Well, the promise of being rewarded for health is enticing, but I can't even lie and say I'm eating that stuff! I better re-double my exercise program - and go munch on a carrot stick while I'm at it.


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34 comments:

Jan Scholl said...

when I was in the hospital for an extended stay 10 years ago, the nutritionist was an idiot. I told her over and over I don't eat animals so she send me chicken broth. then came fish. and she went to school to learn this? I finally had my daughter bring me my meals. at least the guys at the local lebanese place knew me and what I ate. my doctor thinks I am a freak when I told him my diet. Well 30 plus years on-I am still here, right?

Unilove said...

The program managers are coming from a meat/dairy-centric position. It is ignorance, plain and simple. Nutritionists needs to educate them!

Not allowing you the ability to enter free-form menu items is crazy, but they want you to enter pre-selected items b/c the nutritional values are already entered into a database. Otherwise, they would have to calculate the nutritional content of your actual items by hand - they want to reduce labor costs.

springsandwells said...

It's amazing how very few vegetables are in your recommended diet! Is it even meeting the famous "5-a-day" standard (5 fruits and veggies a day)? Your meals look so much healthier and tastier.

When I first started being vegan though, I still ate a lot of candy and Earth Balance and stuff... I was only interested in the ethical questions, not health at all. But over the years, by buying all these great cookbooks, and blogging, and shopping at the Farmer's Market... I've become so much healthier. But still my aunt's boyfriend thinks my diet is far too unhealthy - he eats no oil, no sugars (not even unrefined sugars), no processed foods... He would be super horrified by those diet suggestions!

:)

magpie said...

That's completely terrible. What's worse is that many people will trust this company to know what they're talking about and take this awful advice! This country is so obsessed with weight and health, but then the people that are supposed to be leading us towards a healthy lifestyle go and mess it all up! I just want to yell at them: START EATING REAL FOOD AND MAYBE YOU'LL FEEL BETTER! Sorry this was a rant. But this is absolutely ridiculous. Ugh. So disgusting.

Pamela & Sarah said...

I think they make more money if you are sick...it's a conspiracy!

Man, I can't believe I used to eat stuff like that.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

I'll take the Bazu meal plan, please!

Okra Mary said...

Ha!

I'm interested in your super healthy breakfast...I was thinking of making some brown rice tonight. I usually freeze some, but maybe I'll save some for rice pudding. yum

VeggieGirl said...

Ahhh, crazy recommendations - just keep eating your fruits, vegetables, and OTHER vegan-friendly eats, Bazu!! :0)

Your breakfast looks heavenly!!

Hannah said...

That menu suggestion is seriously disturbing- I can't even imagine the sort of person who would follow it, enjoy it, and think it's healthy! Bleh!

And by the way, that breakfast looks killer. Guess I should fix something for myself before I drool into my keyboard.

Calimaryn said...

I think its just symptomatic of the world today and how it is run by the large dairy driven food industry. Looking at the menu I see nothing fresh or unprocessed. Everything is processed or frozen or ew!

I think your menu looks a LOT better than theirs. That brunch looks amazing.

Jodie said...

Ah, see, but you have it wrong. They don't have a vested interest in you not dropping dead- if you drop dead, they don't have to pay for your healthcare anymore. They just want to kill you quickly and efficiently so there's nothing to be done that might cost them money!

Urban Vegan said...

Gotta' keep funding those cash crops.

The American ideal of nutrition is downright appalling.

potato said...

Cheesy meatballs? They recommend cheesy meatballs? For crying out loud.

pleasantly plump vegan said...

scary, sad, hilarious, horrifying.

Vegan_Noodle said...

Although this isn't surprising, it is quite sad. So many people think dairy is healthy thanks to all the false ad campaigns. At work we get a monthly "health: newsletter that always has stuff about diet and recipes, etc. They almost always have some dairy or meat. Just sickening.

Rural Vegan said...

Oh my. If I ate that suggested menu I'd be the size of a barn and back on cholesterol meds! Sign me up for the Bazu-Common-Sense-Diet instead, please!

Lisa said...

Wow. Beans and baby carrots. Nice vegetable selection there *rolls eyes* Milk, yogurt, cheese at every single meal? Between the enormous amounts of sugar and sodium, and the sheer amount of food in this "healthy" mealplan, I guess they want you to see the doctor on a regular basis? This is why we're so stinking fat and unhealthy as a nation!
Apparently we're not supposed to be veg*ns either.
Sorry. Ugh. Idiots.

Doodleyboo said...

Gah! And people say vegan food is gross (we sooo know better, eh?). I've seen that kind of thing through other places I've worked at. I just shake my head. I wouldn't be surprised to hear Blue Cross has some comfy arrangements with big label companies. Look at the Health Check program -- it's appears to be based more on how much companies can pay to have the Heart & Stroke Foundation's Health Check logo on their products than whether the products are really healthy. Anyway, it's too bad Blue Cross doesn't recognize the benefits of a plan-based diet. Then again, perhaps that might ultimately lead to less profits for them with people being too healthy :o)

Melody Polakow said...

That is disgusting... all of it.. and the fact they only are allowing you 1400 calories is not good either in my opinion.

I'd say there something stinks with blue cross.

It is so pathetic how many people have gone to years of schooling in nutrition and come up with crap like this as a healthy diet.

aTxVegn said...

I'm on that health plan and I'm glad I didn't waste my time reading about this program when our office manager sent it around. I can't for the study to be done that refutes dairy as health food and effective weight loss. I much prefer your meal plan!

Theresa said...

It's not life insurance... the longer you're alive, the more they have to pay for regular check ups and whatnot. So they recommend the most ridiculous diet, not even remotely healthy, so you kick it sooner rather than later. Evil geniuses.

John Plummer said...

Gag!

Your food looks SO much better.

Carla said...

Bazu - sorry to hear about your bother, but on an unrelated note, I am tagging you to do the "5 things you didn't know about me" blog challenge.
Carla

Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

Dang! Maybe you should go work for Blue Cross/Shield! I didn't know about this program, but at least it's an interesting concept...

Bridget said...

Ewwwwwwwwwww....cheesy meatballs? And who tells you to eat M&M's as part of a healthy diet? Who wrote this program? Oh wait. I know. Kraft. Procter and Gamble. Hershey's.

Anonymous said...

Dangit...you just made me go put some brown rice to cook to make rice pudding! Your food looks much yummier. My sister is on the same plan, and she actually gained 5 pounds...and found out she was allergic to dairy. All the dairy she was eating must have sent it into overdrive, because she wasn't a big dairy person to start. Good going insurance idiots...she had to go to the doctor more...

pavotrouge said...

this reminds me of the food suggestions they have on sparkpeople... only worse T_T

laura jesser said...

What people think is healthy is so ridiculous... I don't know whether I should laugh or vomit.

Schufafrei said...

Every people want to lead a healthy and a longer life.Thank you for your tips.

runswithdog said...

Ha, ha! We have the same insurance. That website is designed awfully and is very user unfriendly! I just log in twice a week, don't read anything, click a few buttons and at the end of the year, will be very happy with my $1000. I think they count on people not to be able to navigate the site. They advertise the $$ back and then don't have to pay any of it.

Chris said...

Yes but don't you know that hemp milk will make you high? And that tofu is just plain weird? But everybody loves cheesy meatballs!!

Seriously, at least their menu is good for a few laughs...

Rachael said...

ugh...that looks very similar to the sparkpeople.com recommended meal plans...which I ignore. You can set sparkpeople to give you vegetarian options (cheese, cheese and more cheese) but not vegan or even dairy-free, despite a huge number of members asking for it. ah well, we know that how we are eating is far better than most so-called "healthy" suggestions. That oatmeal sounds fabulous, btw.

dreamy said...

hahaha... seriously, I don't think u need to do the program at all!

dreamy said...

hahaha... seriously, I don't think u need to do the program at all!