I’ve never been a fan of shopping for anything (Christine on the other hand…). Clothes, shoes, food, stuff for the house–nothing really! But, it’s one of those necessary evils that we all have to do and you do it to get what you need to take care of your family. It’s as much a part of life as brushing your teeth, filling up your car with gasoline and feeding the cat. About five years ago, we decided to get a membership to one of the those big box warehouse stores to purchase office supplies, household items and some food in bulk. The concept of getting more of the items that you buy all the time and catching a price break in the process appealed to the penny-pinching economic side of me. From note pads and printer ink to laundry detergent and trash bags, the concept just made sense to me. Plus, it meant I didn’t have to shop quite as often. BONUS!
After looking at our options at the time, Sam’s Club was the only one convenient to our house (about a mile away vs. driving 25 miles to the next closest comparable store). So we joined and have been regular customers there ever since. Because I own my own business (the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog and podcasts under Less of Moore, More or Less, LLC), I have a business account with Sam’s Club which allows me to shop earlier than regular customers and other neat perks. Overall, I’ve been pleased with my membership over the past few years and haven’t really had anything negative to say about them (other than all the crappy carbage foods they sell–but that’s a story for another day). I recognize most of the employees there by first name and they acknowledge me with a friendly smile and a helping hand any time I need some assistance.
However, I get this magazine in my mailbox from them about once a quarter called Healthy Living Made Simple that includes lots of health tips, inspirational stories of famous people dealing with diseases (like the latest cover story shown to the right featuring Bret Michaels from the rock group Poison dealing with diabetes), and of course lots of suggested “healthy” products you can purchase at Sam’s Club. I’m all for the capitalistic idea by Sam’s Club of providing a valuable service to their customers and even offering up products that could possibly enhance their healthy lifestyle through what is ostensibly an extended marketing piece. The promotion of health right now is red hot and something we’re going to be seeing more and more as even grocery stores are now hiring dietitians to provide in-store nutritional teaching for consumers.
Unfortunately, this growing business trend to cater to consumers by way of diet and health is somewhat disheartening and disturbing to me in light of what we know about the message many conventionally-trained RD’s are being taught: namely that high-carb, low-fat diets with more healthy whole grains and the like are healthier and far superior to real, whole foods-based high-fat, low-carb diets with animal foods, butter, coconut oil, and the like (although there are some AMAZING registered dietitians out there who embrace and promote to their clients the RIGHT message on nutrition, including Franziska Spritzler, Cassie Bjork, Jenny Westerkamp, Aglaee Jacob, Sarah Louise Ware, Valerie Berkowitz, Amy Kubal, just to name a few).
Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, it seems fat in the diet is still being vilified as the greatest nutritional evil of our day (and will continue to be that way for a good while longer as evidenced by the results of this 2012 Gallup poll of what Americans think about low-fat diets compared with low-carb ones). This, of course, makes it much easier for big national chain companies like Sam’s Club to connect directly with their customer base meeting them at their level of nutritional education and comprehension when they take this kind of message to the print format. By confirming what people already believe is true (whether it actually is or not), people tend to put their trust in the source of that information even more. This confirmation bias is why the low-fat diet is still so strong a concept in 2012 despite overwhelming evidence that shows it has been a dismal failure.
So I was flipping through the current September/October 2012 issue and saw on the front cover that there was a story about “Connecting The Dots” with Type 2 diabetes. While I wasn’t holding out much hope that the resulting column I would see inside would necessarily be gung ho about high-fat, low-carb living, I did at least expect an acknowledgment of carbohydrate-restriction as a part of the equation in some way, shape, form or fashion. After all, we all have varying levels of carbohydrate tolerance and diabetics are generally on the lower end of that scale because of the decreased ability or lack of insulin production from their pancreas. Testing your blood sugar levels with a glucometer (available commercially over-the-counter at any pharmacy or Wal-Mart in America) at fasting and at 30-minute intervals for at least a couple of hours following a meal will show you what impact that food is having on your health. Meals that include a greater percentage of carbohydrates in them tend to raise blood sugar levels the most. And the higher your blood glucose spikes (and subsequently how low it goes into hypoglycemia below baseline in the hours afterwards), the more careful you need to be with the amount of carbohydrate you consume in a day. Keeping blood sugar levels normalied is the primary goal of low-carb diets for people with diabetes.
Turning to page 38 of this magazine, I saw the caption “Your easy diabetic-friendly meal planner” which quickly caught my eye. Awesome, here’s where they will share with diabetics what a good blood sugar-controlling nutritional plan looks like in the real world complete with suggested meal plans for your entire week. What an opportunity Sam’s Club had to provide quality education to their customer base who are statistically-speaking likely to be impacted personally by diabetes through a friend, family member or even themselves. What exactly did these meal plans look like? Brace yourself because it ain’t pretty:
OMG! Are you freakin’ kidding me?! These are the kind of foods they consider HEALTHY and “diabetic-friendly” to consume: English muffins, soy milk, bread, tortilla chips, potatoes, granola, low-fat yogurt, whole-wheat pita, animal crackers, whole-grain pasta, fat-free ice cream, multi-grain toast, wheat crackers, tortilla, oatmeal, skim milk, whole wheat roll, medium banana, light popcorn, brown rice, angel food cake, tofu, whole-what bagel, sweet potato fries, pretzels, corn and fat-free, sugar-free pudding?! Looking at that list, is it any wonder why diabetes continues to run rampant. Can you imagine what the blood sugar levels of most diabetics would do if they tested themselves after consuming any of those foods above? Eating foods like those would NECESSITATE the use of insulin and medications to prevent wild fluctuations in blood glucose levels. SHEEZ!
The best foods on that list include cheese, berries, salmon, green beans, pork tenderloin, mixed greens salad, scrambled egg, spinach, chicken, shrimp, snow peas, tilapia, flank steak and asparagus. Did you notice there’s not much fat in these meals at all either? If a diabetic is going to get healthy blood sugar levels, replacing all that carbage that I listed in the previous paragraph with quality fats like butter, cream, full-fat meats and cheeses, coconut oil, lard and more is ESSENTIAL. In the absence of large amounts of carbohydrate, the body needs a replacement fuel source which is where fat comes into play. Using fat for fuel is the basis for my current nutritional ketosis n=1 experiment (next update for Day 91-120 coming up next week).
If I was a diabetic customer of Sam’s Club, then I would be very concerned about them making meal recommendations that would make my disease become even worse. Last year I interviewed naturopathic physician Dr. Andrew Myers in Episode 510 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” whose columns are featured in the Healthy Living Made Simple bi-monthly magazine. When he shared with me why Sam’s decided to use a naturopath instead of a conventionally-trained medical doctor, I was encouraged that maybe they were on the cutting-edge concerning health opting for nutritional answers to chronic diseases and not pharmaceutical ones. Obviously I was dead wrong and the real losers in this are the customers who don’t even realize they’re being lied to.
If you are as concerned about these disturbing dietary recommendations for diabetics as I am, then I encourage you to e-mail Sam’s Club corporate headquarters or call them toll-free at 888-746-7726. Be polite and explain that you are disappointed in the nutritional guidelines they are suggesting for people with diabetes to follow. Perhaps if enough people contact them, they’ll look more closely at the kind of information they are distributing to their customers from now on. What do you think about a business like Sam’s Club getting into the conversation about nutrition and health? Are all those grocery stores getting dietitians to serve as customer “educators” going to start releasing their own magazines replete with articles telling diabetics to eat these low-fat, high-carb foods that will send their blood sugar levels skyrocketing too? When will the madness stop?