016: You Got Peanut Butter in My Food Addiction

by John Bukenas on March 25, 2013

The actual empty jar

The actual empty jar

In this episode I begin to talk a long hard look at my food addiction.  Food addiction is as real as any other addiction.  I’ve used my addiction to relieve my emotions.  So I have never really felt my emotions.  I would use food to make me feel better.  Now that I am aware of this you would think a rational person would be able to control my addiction.

So the key to controlling my food addiction is to learn how to deal with my emotions.  Trust me that is not easy.

CVS Charges Employee’s Fat Tax

CVS policy that requires workers who use company health insurance to report their weight, and body fat and glucose levels to the insurer — or pay a $600-a-year penalty.

Rhode Island-based CVS Caremark, which has 200,000 employees, told all workers who use the company insurance plan to have a doctor determine their weight, height, body fat, blood pressure and glucose and fasting lipid levels by May 1, 2013.

The company has dubbed the request “a health screening and wellness review so that colleagues know their key health metrics in order to take action to improve their numbers, if necessary.”

CVS says it will pay for the weight, body fat and blood screenings. But in exchange, workers must sign a form saying the screening is voluntary, and that the insurer can give test results to WebMD Health Services Group. The firm provides health management programs and benefit support to CVS.

If workers don’t sign up, their medical coverage will jump by $50 a month.  Peel said, “The $600 noncompliance penalty shows the program isn’t voluntary.”

Well I asked CVS for an interview and I received an email response:CVS-logo1

“We want to help our employees to be as healthy as they can be, which is why we decided to implement this plan. In fact, we have been working for a number of years on ways they can improve their health through preventive measures.

Health care programs that incent employees to be healthier are not new. Many companies around the country already have plans similar to the one we are implementing. In fact, 79 percent of large employers* have health assessments incorporated into their programs.

To encourage a higher level of participation in our wellness review, we reviewed best practices and determined that an additional cost for those who do not complete the review was the most effective way to incent our colleagues to improve their health care and manage health costs.  CVS Caremark is committed to providing medical coverage and health care programs for our colleagues and privacy is rigorously protected, consistent with HIPAA regulations.

All personal health data from these screenings are collected and reviewed by a third party administrator that supports the CVS Caremark Wellness Program and this data is not shared with CVS Caremark – rather it is designed to help employees make the best decisions about their own health care.”

I call shenanigans.  


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I had a bit of a backlog of podcasts, so I just got around to listening to 016. Very moving for me. I appreciate all you shared. Thank you John.

Brad H
Brad H

Hi John
I really enjoy your candid talk and open honesty.  You say a lot and inspire thought.
I hope you don't give up and keep going.  Peanut Butter is something I had to give up also as I could eat and eat the whole jar.
Good health and peace of mind is worth a lot more than PB on a spoon!
Keep it up!  You are making great progress...and it is encouraging!
Sorry,  I disagree with your rant about  CVS.....many companies are doing this now because health care costs are booming out of control!


Hi John.  I worked for a company a few years back that was doing exactly what CVS is doing.  I had to do the screening every year for about 5 years (before I left the company).  If I opted out then it would cost me additional money on my insurance.  The company used the data in an attempt to lower health care costs by having healthier employees.  I'm not sure if it worked since our costs went up every year.  They did not single out any group for additional premiums.  I would expect that more and more companies will begin to implement this testing.  Keep up the good work with your life changes.  I have enjoyed listening to your pod casts each week.




PS- I always, always lapse when a relative passes. Sorry about your Uncle. RIP. Is there a connection? Tough stuff.


Hi John. Great podcast. I hope you'll consider continuing with your program. I think that looking back at what you could do next time ( yeah, there will be a next time) and finding new action steps- that's key.  Stick with it and you'll learn new stuff. It is hard, really hard. So worth it. You are worth it.


I had to give up all nut butters for weight loss and weight maintenance.  One spoonful and blamo. I stopped blaming myself and just said- okay. That's part of the chronic disease. I choose health.


Okay- I have a totally different take on the CVS thing. My company (not CVS) has a blood draw, since 2009. I could see on a graph how I was headed to toward pre-diabetes. I was never diagnosed, but I know that it did motivate me to take action. I started Medifast in 2011, hit goal weight in 2012, switched to Paleo/Primal and have maintained since then. It's taken me 40 years ( I'm 47) to figure out how to stop (or  go into remission from ) eating emotionally. I'm certain that by seeing my glucose, HA1c, and other blood markers- that I saved myself from life long chronic disease.


My big point here- those blood markers were silent. Had I not seen them all graphed up and headed the wrong way. The company was not trying to "off me" but provided some information that I could act upon. Myself. First. 


As a single parent, I want  my $30 a month discount, but I also want to be healthy for my self and my kid. The way I see it- I could spend my money on higher health premiums and doctors co-pays or I could save that money and take some fun trips with my daughter. There is no magic fairy who will come down and send money or fix my health. I had to do that myself.  With my own tools, my own way. Cause none of the other ways worked. Thank goodness I saw the writing on the wall and owned the process.


Okay, end of rant and power on the laptop. I'll be blogging about my blood work graphs, soon.   Keep hanging in there. You are worth it. We all are.

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