Tanya Zuckerbrot is a New York City-based registered dietician with a masters in Nutrition and Food Studies. She is the creator of the F-Factor Diet and the author of two fiber-centric weight loss books. She is a wife and mother. And most recently, she is Instagram’s latest cancel culture victim. The reason for Tanya’s cancellation is not a tone deaf post nor failing to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Tanya’s alleged crime lies in her work with F-Factor. As of the past few weeks, it has come to the attention of many of her followers that the diet they have touted as miraculous may not be as healthy as they were led to believe.
The basis of F-Factor and the magic “F” word? Fiber. Tanya found success after recommending a fiber-rich diet to promote weight loss and curb hunger. Mantras like “Smart girls eat fiber,” and “Fiber and fuel at every meal make losing weight no big deal,” guide followers to make healthy yet maintainable food choices. The F-Factor Diet is unique in that it allows eating out, alcohol, and, to use Tanya’s words, “mindful indulgences” like three bites of dessert or pasta. The F-Factor brand eventually expanded by ways of protein bars and protein powders, which Tanya frequently shows on her very active Instagram account. She also shares recipes, success stories, and peeks into her lavish Manhattan day-to-day.
The controversy surrounding Tanya and F-Factor began when professed former followers started to share stories of health problems that resulted from F-Factor. They told tales of rashes, gastric issues, disordered eating, and allegedly dangerous levels of lead in the powders and bars. And while this all seems to be coming to a head for Tanya right now, avid followers may have had suspicions for a while longer. Many of Tanya’s contemporaries in the social media/nutrition world seem to have pulled away from her over the past year. Nicole of @lashesandlemons, Neda of @healthywithnedi, Laurie of @livelight_, and many others all used to share their support of F-Factor and Tanya, but quietly seemed to pivot away from the brand long before this campaign began. A lot of them have used their Instagram accounts to politely acknowledge the scandal in an apologetic yet distancing way.
After poking around in my own sphere, in which F-Factor and Tanya are quite well-known, I discovered some more disturbing information: stories of summer interns whose bodies quickly transformed in a concerningly dramatic way and who still struggle with their eating habits, people in Tanya’s social circle who claim she knows she’s a fraud and is capitalizing on a lie.
I don’t claim to have any authority on Tanya’s business, and I acknowledge that she has enough education and experience to qualify her as an expert in the field of nutrition and dieting. I casually dabbled in the F-Factor world, putting the powder in my smoothies and occasionally checking in on Tanya’s Instagram stories out of interest in her latest vacation. I sincerely hope that all of this backlash is the result of a jealousy-fueled witch hunt and that all the many followers of F-Factor are not at risk of associated health problems. I also want to make it clear that even if every allegation is true, that in no way justifies any sort of cyberbullying or targeting of her family. Tanya recently employed Bill Clinton-adjacent lawyer Lanny Davis to deal with the harassment she has been facing.
With any lifestyle-altering diet there are risks of side effects, and every person is different and has different bodily reactions. I am hopeful that the truth will come out and that if Tanya is found responsible for any wrongdoing, she owns up to it and makes things right with those affected.
Feature Image Credit: American Friends Israel Philharmonic Orchestra