Sarah Berman: ‘I Followed the NXIVM “Sex Cult” Diet for a Week

Miss Mack lost considerable "excess" weight on her 500 calorie diet.

Sarah Berman is a senior editor at VICE Canada and is working on a book about the NXIVM sex trafficking trial with Penguin Canada.  Sarah took investigative journalism a step further and went on the Raniere-DOS 800 calorie diet for a week.

She has some great insights.  Read the full story by Sarah in Vice

Here are some excerpts —

” I would be eating 800 calories or less for the next seven days. … I wanted to try restricting my diet like Allison Mack and the other members of NXIVM’s secret women-branding sorority….

“Sarah Edmondson…  described the extremely restrictive diets women in NXIVM’s inner circle adhered to as an apparent way to build character and discipline. …  The women were required to dutifully record everything they ate, and cheating beyond 800 calories per day was punishable….

“Followers ate a lot of green vegetables and no meat… But the math of staying under 800 per day also meant cutting out most carbs, fats, and dairy, and taking in a lot less protein than recommended….

“…Ali Eberhardt, a registered dietitian working with government eating disorder programs … told me that 800 calories a day was low enough that basic survival mechanisms would start to kick in. ‘When someone restricts their carbohydrate intake, that essentially is restricting their glucose, and glucose is the only fuel for our brain,’ she said. It would be several hours before my own mental fog officially kicked in….

“A former roommate of Allison Mack had told me squash was one of Mack’s favourite ways to feel full—a low-calorie vegetable dressed up as pasta….

“I tried blending cucumbers and spinach ….  I made salads with tomatoes and artichokes, or soups with tomatoes and cucumbers, or I sauteed the artichokes with mushrooms and zucchini. For a dinner I would braise cabbage with carrots, green beans and cauliflower. I baked and seasoned all the varieties of squash because they really were filling, and I straight-up ate sauerkraut out of the jar after reading how few calories were in it. I also counted up to ten nuts as a daily snack.

“I tried to keep breakfasts between 80 and 120 calories, lunches between 100 and 250, and dinners under 300…..

“By the second day I could see it was affecting my mood—I snapped at a colleague …  and complained about a 6 AM text that woke me up. But on the inside, I can admit to feeling this virtuous, almost enlightened sensation. Maybe I was just interpreting the brain fog as a moment of zen….

“As my (increasingly annoying) diet kicked into day four, my thoughts were spinning in all directions. One moment I was thinking about the culty camaraderie that came with enduring the same challenge, and the next I was worrying … that long term my hair could fall out, my periods could stop, and my organs could be permanently damaged. I didn’t feel as physically hungry as I thought I should….

“I didn’t perceive the same ‘brain fog’ I had on day one. It was probably there, I thought, but I couldn’t recall the sensation of a clearly-thinking brain to compare….

“By the fifth day I had developed some rationing habits. If I was happy with the taste of something I made, I would be sure to save half or more for a future meal. I liked knowing that I had incremental options ahead of me. I was tired of eating cucumbers and carrots…..

“I knew that the secret sorority inside NXIVM didn’t think they were in a ‘place of survival’—quite the opposite, they thought they were fulfilling their dreams. … I decided to bust out some old jeans that were a size too small on me. They slid on without hassle…. I checked out my butt in the mirror as a sugar rush of endorphins surged through my brain—or was that just lightheadedness from standing? I couldn’t be sure….

“By this time my limbs had started to feel heavier than usual. I took my time riding my bike, and waited an extra beat before adding to a conversation….

“While it was only seven days, eating like this gave me a taste of the NXIVM identity. Meals undeniably shape our society, and who we eat with naturally becomes our community and support system. When you choose a diet so far outside the norm that you don’t want your own family to look too closely, that’s a wedge that only grows with time and discomfort. It’s easier for someone who believes they’re on a moral high ground to ignore warnings and surround themselves with the people who agree with them….

“I found it very difficult to concentrate on anything for more than an hour without my brain circling back to food. But I think it was the meaning and belief they put behind it that ultimately isolated them from the world. Because no amount of nutritional information can argue with moral righteousness.”

Read the whole story here


This is an eye opening story. One has to wonder – did Vanguard deliberately place these women on low calorie diets to keep them confused and easily manipulated?

It may be that “fat disturbed” his spiritual energies, as he claimed to some – and that he seems to prefer very skinny women to satisfy his sexual appetites  – but his main job in life was to keep his harem managed and enslaved.

Is it possible he cared nothing for these women? That he knew this diet was ruinous for their health – but cared nothing about them?  That he only wanted them under his control – and a low protein, low fat, low calorie diet that is conducive to brain fog – and premature aging – was the best way to do that? The best way for him to do the thinking for them. And the whole time make them think they were morally superior by following this restrictive, character building diet.

He would use them when they were young – steal their youth – and then, when they became haggard and old before their time, he would discard them sexually and insist they recruit younger women. Because they had nothing else in life, they stayed with him and served him. Or died young.

The women are not blameless for the array of crimes they committed for him – but in light of what he did to them – and this insane diet – they may be judged slightly less guilty than him for the same crimes.

It is ironic that only Raniere is in jail, and the women are free on bail or home detention.

Cruel Clare Bronfman, who for years lived on this unhealthy and brain-clouding diet, might be partially judged by this fact. She is dangerous and deadly – because of her wealth and willingness to destroy at his command. But if she had eaten well – she might have avoided the stupid financial and computer crimes she is now charged with.

It is striking to consider – Keith Alan Raniere destroyed many people’s lives and those closest to him, who aided and abetted him, were food-deprived while they did his bidding – while the Vanguard ate whatever he liked – because he was beyond the need, he said, for such character building restrictive dieting.

This tells us all we need to know about him.

Stinking criminal that he is.

Keith “Mr. Softy” Raniere.


About the author

Frank Parlato


Click here to post a comment

Please leave a comment: Your opinion is important to us! (Email & username are optional)

  • This post is dead-on. Many, many nutritional studies prove such strict, low-cal vegan diets boggle the brain. Of course, Genius Raniere and resident hypnotist Nurse Nancy Salzman knew the diet would have the desired, befuddling effect on the slaves.

  • Unfortunately, the word misogynist has been thrown around on a lot lately in completely not applicable circumstances.

    Keith Raniere is an example of pure misogyny. He hates women. He has zero respect for women. He can pretend whatever to their face, but any woman who no longer serves his purposes is to be destroyed. He abuses them and objectifies them at every opportunity. I defy anyone to show an example of one woman in his life he has ever had a healthy relationship with.

    He is still acting out his revenge on the pretty girl from elementary school and his mother.

    I am sure he would like to think he is a lot more complicated and layered than that, and I don’t believe for one second that he is.

    I think this is exactly what I sensed that caused my only interact with him to result in me finding him utterly repulsive.

    • Yea isn’t it amazing how many so called feminists he attracted….and he didn’t have to put a gun to their heads either.

    • I think you are 100% correct. It really IS that simple and obvious. Unfortunately many women apparently lacked your internal radar and allowed themselves to believe Keith had feelings for them. He has feelings for no one – he is entirely self directed and self serving. Because his overwhelming drive to satisfy his desires bled over into malicious harm to others, he needs to stay locked up until death. People like this cannot change or be changed.

  • This is Vanfraud’s warped version fasting. People from religious communities have fasted as a way of spiritual purification for centuries, to inculcate within themselves a state of gratitude for what they have, and to feel empathy for the less fortunate who don’t have as much. Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all practice it in one form or another. Vanfraud just uses it as a means of control, and unlike the leaders of these various communities, he never practiced it himself. He controls the policy but he never submits to it. “By their fruits you shall know them.”

    Even intermittent fasting typically requires you to only fast for sixteen hours, half or a little less of that time taken up by sleep so the hunger is unconscious, but it allows you to eat for the other eight hours and consume a regular intake of calories.

    Ironically, people do not need to fast for long periods of time or constrain themselves to such a ludicrously restricted calorie intake to lose weight and/or stay fit. They need to eat healthy and moderately, and take in less calories than they burn off in order to do so. Vanfraud’s method of fasting that he imposes on his slaves is a form of dieting which makes it an abject failure. The “smartest” man in the world!

  • A great post Frank. Again and this woman was on the high calorie version of Keith’s diet. From previous comments, my understanding was these women were forced to do the diet to be with Keith, it wasn’t a weight loss choice they made on their own. I also felt that over the years Clare looked pretty filled out, only in recent years did she start to look older, thinner and creepier. Maybe Keith promised her more attention if she lost weight.

  • Frank, one of the best posts ever. Spot on. I think KR is well aware of age-old mind control techniques, which include food deprivation. He also does and did not care about the women’s physical safety or well being. Monster.

    • Did you watch that, it’s actually controversial and not accepted as standard medical practice, nor does it have any bearing on systematically starving women.

      • No one said it had any bearing on starving people. Did you even read it? Usually your posts are spot on so I am going to give you a pass on this one. Science is finding out the value of fasting. Problem is it takes much self discipline which most don’t have now a days

      • When it comes to diet, the medical community is years behind the science.

        My doctor gives me decades old advice on how I should be eating. She finally came around after I lost 40 lbs and kept it off for 2+ years and had dramatic improvements in my blood work.

        The only behavior modification that has EVER been proven to extend life is caloric restriction.

        Certain types of fasting is great for health, but there is no money to be made in it, so it’s not really promoted and often called controversial.

        • Exactly. No money to be made in fasting. Cheap and effective, but requires much self discipline. Also helps with many medical issues.

  • The NXIVM routine also involved significant jogging plus a type of exercise called the Plank.

    No doubt the caloric restrictions combined with the high leevel of exercise led to not only camaraderie among the NXIVM DOS women but also a feeling of superiority and separateness over other less, weaker mortals unable to withstand such diets and exercise regimens.

    The Plank.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato,_Jr.

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083