Remembering Kevin Moore

Seriously Sam’s Club, Are You Trying To Make People With Diabetes Get Worse?

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?

  • Ashley

    We are Sam’s Club customers ourselves and we started getting these free Healthy Living Magazines in the mail many months back. I took a look at one, really read it, and tossed it straight in the trash. Every one we’ve received since have made it straight into the recycling bin. It’s all another way to get you through their doors to buy all the junk their referring to as ‘healthy’ in all of their articles. I’m sure if I wasn’t up to date with awesome blogs and podcasts like yours then I would have been suckered in by at least one of their claims. But I saw right through their plot right away, thanks to people like you on the front lines, helping us mere mortals see through the ‘carbage’.
    Thank you for shining some light on these shenanigans.
    God bless.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Good for you Ashley! Makes you wanna stand out in front of the store and warn people. :/

  • b-nasty

    Brett Michaels was from the band Paris, which was later renamed to the well-known ‘Poison’. A fitting title for the diabetic food they’re pushing.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Yes, got it fixed. And VERY apropos.

      • hitssquad

        So when are you going to get Bret on the show?

        • LLVLCBlog

          Like that’ll happen. LOL!

  • ThatWriterChick

    My favorite is the little grocery store checkout counter magazine, “Reverse Diabetes.” It’s hilarious (and sad) to flip through. There invariably is a picture of a chocolate layer cake or cookies on the front cover, and guess what? The recipes don’t exactly call for nut flour and pourable Splenda.

    • LLVLCBlog


  • Well, that’s horrible. I am only encouraged by the fact that when I read the menu out loud to my kids just now they could both identify the problematic foods. No soy or grains in our house! Hopefully we can educate our kids well enough that they are able to avoid developing diabetes in the first place. In the meantime I think it’s a great idea to contact companies like SAMs and let them know the concerns.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Horray for good parents like you, Lea! 🙂

    • no soy or grains in my house either. and don’t even consider sugar or hfcs. no!

  • I just had flashbacks of my Weight Watcher days and the menu plans they used to give me at the meetings. They’d freak out if they saw what I ate these days! Health’s never been better though!! 🙂

    • LLVLCBlog

      My 85% fat diet right now would freak out most RDs and nutrition nannies.

  • Anna

    At least they didn’t say “scrambled egg WHITE”! I’m always waiting for that one 🙂

    • LLVLCBlog

      True! I guess they allow a little “poison” into these diabetics. LOL!

  • Nicki M.

    Wow! Besides all the carbage in this menu plan, the portion sizes are teeny-tiny for some of those meals. Friday’s breakfast menu really took me aback- roughly a 1-cup fruit smoothie and 1/4 of a bagel… really? Who eats 1/4 of a bagel at a time?

    • LLVLCBlog

      A fourth of a person maybe?

  • Lynn

    the “OMG are you freaking kidding me”….is exactly my sentiments. Sheesh…most low fat stuff has sugar, gelatin, and angel food cake? Who eats only 2 OZ??? Where is the minimum of protein here? Wednesday was an egg, 6 oz lowfat yogurt,1 oz lowfat cheese…That would not be enough protein for a baby. 2 oz of pork tenderloin? A person would binge after a week of this.

    • LLVLCBlog

      They’re obviously trying to starve these poor diabetics to death!

  • Janknitz

    Personally, I don’t blame Sam’s Club. As a corporate entity, they did not determine what the “diabetic friendly” meal planner should contain themselves. Instead, I’m 99.99% positive that they hired an experienced registered dietician (or possibly a diabetes educator) to come up with this CW debacle, and–like the majority of diabetic and prediabetic people in this country–the powers to be at Sam’s Club corporate offices have no clue there’s anything wrong with this meal plan. They are businessmen and marketers, not doctors.
    The scariest part to me is that the professional who came up with this plan for Sam’s Club continues to advise diabetics that this is the way to eat. And now that person has a wide, national platform to spread this drivel. And that most people who read the newsletter think this is how they SHOULD eat.

    • LLVLCBlog

      And that’s the problem. Corporations need to be innovative and pay attention to what works.

      • Sam Huff

        They do pay attention to what works. They measure by profits.

  • Mary

    I am a member of the other big box club store and I only buy a few specialty food items there anymore. I have been happy that they have started carrying alot of gluten free products since I’m gluten and dairy sensitive. They carry a good smoked brisket that is gluten free but I think Sams carries it also. I also buy nuts there. I don’t buy enough food items or other items to continue the membership truthfully since I’ve changed to following a Paleo diet this year.
    Sams and Walmart and all the other stores would be hurting if they gave the right information about food out to people, they wouldn’t be selling all those huge boxes of cereal and processed frozen foods. My store carries these really yummy macadamia/caramel chocolate nut clusters in a huge container. It took me awhile but I don’t buy them anymore since I don’t eat sugar. I just look at them as pretty poison now.

  • Mark.

    My nearest Sam’s Club at least has Kerrygold butter, some pretty good house brand omega-3 supplements (1400 mg with 1000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids supposedly), golden flax meal, nicely fatty ribeye steaks (surely grain-fed, sadly), eggs, cream, various kinds of cheese that might actually be made from milk from grass-fed cattle in Europe — and, yes, a lot of reduced-fat increased-sugar junk touted as “healthy.” Much easier to eat badly with food from there than well, but it’s not a total wasteland.

    • LLVLCBlog

      I don’t disagree they have some good stuff…I get my avocados there and love it! But bad advice to diabetics is unacceptable.

  • Mandy Teoh

    Sigh… thos

  • Linda G.

    Neither Sam’s Club, nor any other profit driven company, “cares” about its customers. C’mon we’re talkin Walmart here. It’s 1. profit, 2. profit, and 3. profit. They are unfortunately preying on their (increasingly) diabetic customers to buy products from them, misleading them into thinking the Sam’s Club products are good. If anything, I give some (very tenuous) credit to Wegman’s for trying to promote healthy foods, although they’ve only come along so far as the gluten-free message, and not to low carb, and certainly not to high fat.

    • LLVLCBlog

      I suppose as a consumer I expect more. And they could easily make a profit while still promoting good nutrition for diabetes. Their core business model of pushing carbs carbs carbs would have to change though.

  • LLVLCBlog

    They want to come after bloggers for giving truth to people about diabetes but they let this kind of stuff get a free pass. What’s wrong with this picture?!

  • Andre Heinemann

    Thanks for sharing. It is sad to see how much ridiculous nutritional advice is buzzing around in the world. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t have such dire health consequences. While all the resources to live a healthier life are available, such as your site, too few people care; the majority of the ones that do probably don’t need to, but the ones that don’t should.

    As long as there is more money to be made with maintaining the sad state of health the world’s population is currently in, there will be little change. Keep up the great work educating people!

    • LLVLCBlog

      One by one, we are making a difference.

  • Ginger

    This would work for a diabetic (I am one) because it is so very low calorie. You’d be starving all the time but it would lower your blood sugar.

    • Sam Huff

      But you’d go off the diet with a big binge, 5 dollars to donuts.

  • Michael

    And yet this “diabetic disaster” of a menu is exactly what these idiot dieticians still push as healthy. Thank you Jimmy. It’s people like you who keep telling the truth on what is real nutrition.

  • eric

    Jimmy, I just listened to your old podcast with Dr. Richard Bernstein, and when he mentioned he’d love to work with someone famous about their diabetes and spreading the word, I remembered this post. You probably dont have Brett Michaels’ contact info but you might at least shoot Dr. Bernstein an email with him as a potential candidate.

    • LLVLCBlog

      Oh, I’m sure Dr. B. is pursuing him. 😉