Monday, August 3, 2009

The New Program (Pound Four)

As I said, we each ordered a Medifast sampler pack, (which we did using a couple of MediFast coupons we found online, that basically gave us $100 off the total order, which would have been $600 otherwise). If I'd taken the time to see what was included in the sampler pack to begin with I might have skipped the sampler and just ordered individual boxes of meals, but I was dumb and didn't even look at it. The majority of items present in the sampler are in shake or meal bar form. But there are other forms included as well. Below are my general feelings on each category, in case any of you folks are interested in trying them out. (And in case any MediFast online feedback lurker agents are also reading. I say this because after I hinted at two slightly negative words about Suddenlink, a few weeks back, I was immediately contacted by their customer service folks to see if they could assist. Impressive.)

THE MEAL BARS-- these are of the same puffed-soy consistency as many other power and/or meal-bars on the market, only a bit smaller than most. I was used to eating these kind of bars on Atkins, so the transition was no biggie. I'm happy to say they're all pretty tasty. The peanut butter flavor is especially good, as is the cinnamon roll and oatmeal raisin varieties. I'd order all three of those again. Strawberry crunch and lemon meringue are not quite as good, but far from bad and perfectly easy to eat--though I'd probably not order them again just cause I like the first three better. One flavor I had not tried until this morning is the chocolate mint. Chocolate mint is a flavor I don't generally like in real-food and, once upon a time, hated so much that the mere smell of a Junior Mint made me sick. I suspected I would hate them in soy bar form, but I was wrong. Just finished off my mid-morning meal bar in chocolate mint flavor and found it delightful and refreshing, particularly paired with coffee. Would never have guessed it. Overall I really dig the bars and find them to be tasty and filling.

THE SHAKES-- The variety pack came with two French Vanilla and two Dutch Chocolate shake boxes, and one box each of Strawberry, Orange Cream, Banana Cream and Cappuccino. For me, the best of these are the Dutch Chocolate and Cappuccino (which is actually designed to be a hot-drink, though it's perfectly fine cold), which both taste great and make shakes that I can sit and savor over the course of ten minutes or so. I would order both of these again. They're also both great mixed in coffee. Next down the line in taste quality are the Orange Creme and Banana, which are decent enough, but not as much as the previous two. I expected to hate the banana, which I suspected would taste like Banana Runts, but it was actually not bad at all. Don't know that I'd reorder either, but again this is personal taste. The vanilla and strawberry varieties, however, are pretty much of the devil. The strawberry is an especially hateful mix. I liken it to how I imagine it would be to lick Frankenberry's ass crack. It's packed with the same flavor mixture as most strawberry-flavored whey protein mixes I've encountered, which is reminiscent of the Frankenberry cereal, but, by design, without the sugar to back it up. I can only consume this by chugging it while holding my nose and then I immediately have to brush my teeth and gargle with mouthwash. Horrid. Vanilla is only debatably better. It has the standard vanilla flavor of most vanilla whey protein powders, which I can tolerate better than strawberry, but there's something else in there that just doesn't work for me. I have found, however, that it is not a bad base shake in which to add flavors, such as lemon extract, making it taste like a lemon smoothy--which I find to be acceptable though far from "yummy." It's also tolerable when mixed into coffee and is especially inoffensive mixed into chamomile tea. Mostly, though, I just mix it up straight and chug it to get it over with, though even method is problematic. My original theory was to mix the minimum of water into the mix powder so that I wasn't spending a lot of time drinking it. What I got, however, was a concentrated mixture of everything I hated. Experimentation has proven that adding more water than the mix calls for is the better option and is far more palatable. Bottom line, I can't envision ordering more vanilla or strawberry ever again.

THE EGGS--While they're definitely powdered eggs, they're actually better than most other powdered eggs I've encountered in the wild. They're not exactly yummy by themselves, but they serve as a good vehicle for seasoning and are not bad with a little salsa on top. I'd order them again.

THE SOUPS-- We got the chicken noodle and chicken and rice powdered soups, both of which are quite good. Chicken noodle is the best, especially if prepared in low-sodium broth. The chicken and rice flavor is not quite as good, and has kind of a sweet aftertaste to it that I don't care for, but it's certainly not in tolerable. You can also add your own celery, which is counted among the handful of "snack" foods you're allowed to choose from during any given day. (The others are 1/2 cup sugar-free Jello, a sugar-free popsicle, 2 dill pickle spears, or a spoon of dirt. I'm kidding about that last one, but that's what it feels like sometimes. MediFast also offers a number of snack crackers, but none of them came in our sampler box.)

THE OATMEALS-- I initially thought I'd have good things to report about the oatmeals, but I'm afraid I just can't do it. We received a box of maple & brown sugar and a box of apple cinnamon, with a freebie packet of blueberry thrown in. Don't get me wrong, the first bite you take of the oatmeal--whichever flavor, really--is just heavenly and you say to yourself, "Oh, that's really really good stuff. I could eat that for breakfast every day! I'm gonna be just fine on this diet after all." Each subsequent bite, however, offers diminishing returns that can be violent in the suddenness of their appearance, depending on the flavor. Even with that first delicious bite, there's a bitter aftertaste that you may not even notice unless you're looking for it. Then, with each subsequent bite, that aftertaste gets stronger until the final bites are nothing but aftertaste. It's like the flavoring has a half life of about a minute. This is especially true for the apple cinnamon flavor, but to a slightly lesser degree in the maple & brown sugar. (Blueberry flavor, for me, wasn't enjoyable on any level from the start, but I might not have added enough water to it.) In fact, while writing this, I just went and ate a maple & brown sugar (different day from the mid-morning meal of the chocolate mint bar mentioned above) to see if I could quantify what made it awful. It certainly wasn't quite as awful as the apple cinnamon that I ate the other morning, but still far from great by the end of the bowl. Don't think I'll order any more breakfast cereals.

THE PUDDINGS--the sampler came with a box of chocolate puddings and freebie packets of both vanilla and banana. Again, chocolate is best, though kind of slimy in consistency. Vanilla is like a concentrated form of the vanilla shake and not at all to my liking. Banana, which is my favorite flavor of pudding in real life, was not as good as the banana shake. I might order more chocolate pudding, but frankly I'd rather eat Jello.

Now, because we are not fans of a goodly portion of the above meal choices, a week or so back we made an emergency backup order of some of the other non-sampler-pack meals MediFast has to offer. Our goal was to help offset the ones we hate and hopefully find ones we like better that we can order more of down the line. I'm happy to say the experiment was a success.


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