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"You can never plan the future by the past."
— Edmund Burke
We're proud to feature "The Low Carb Good Life" by regular columnist Brenda Crump, who's also
one of our smart and resourceful moderators at Talking Low Carb (our Low Carb Luxury Discussion Forums.) Brenda has found the keys to making low carb a true lifestyle, with proper
nutrition at the heart of it all!
There is no denying that much has changed in the low-carb world over the last several years.
It wasn't so long ago that asking for "no bread, no potato" at a restaurant would earn you the
same reaction as asking for a plate of raw liver. Now, many restaurants not only permit
substitutions for the high carb menu items — they're catering to low-carbers by creating
special "Low-Carb" sections on their menus!
Many things that low-carbers today take for granted, like Splenda sweetened sodas and treats, were
nonexistent just a few short years ago.
The are so many of us living the low-carb life now that we are actually influencing the demand
for certain food items such as beef and pork rinds. Conversely, there is a decreased demand for
wheat products and for things like frozen French fries, that is being directly attributed to
low-carb consumers. We have become a force to be reckoned with!
The low-carb diet isn't new, of course. It existed even long before Dr. Atkins published his first
book about the diet in 1972. But the developments and information examined in this article will all
be very recent.
How has the media coverage of low-carbing changed over the last several years? What significant developments have occurred? What future developments will influence the way we make our food
choices? Let's start with a look back...
Lora Ruffner debuts Low Carb Luxury in June, 1999. It offers a mere nine areas at the time — recipes, tips, a personal story, news and shopping being chief among them. Over time, it would grow to
feature over 22 million hits each month, and publish a bi-monthly magazine.
The low fat approach to weight loss is still the method most favored in the media. Dr.
Atkins releases a new edition of Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution and it is an immediate
bestseller. Sales of The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet by Dr. Richard F. Heller and Dr. Rachael
F. Heller are also brisk. The Protein Power Lifeplan book by Michael R. Eades and Mary Dan
Eades is also a NY Times bestseller.
As the popularity of low-carb dieting increases, so does virulent opposition from health
organizations such as the American Dietetic Association.
In August, sucralose is approved by the FDA for general sweetener purposes.
In October, Dr. Atkins appears on short segments of the network nightly newscasts. He was also
featured, quite unfavorably, on Dateline NBC and in a somewhat better light on ABC's 20/20.
As the American Dietetic Association prepares for their annual meeting, an AP article is released
declaring low-carb "a nightmare of a diet."
In November, DaVinci Gourmet makes the switch from aspartame to sucralose as the sweetener for
its sugar free syrups.
In December, low-carb diets are featured on ABC's 20/20. The program discusses how decades of
following a low fat, high carb diet has actually led to an increase in heart attacks for Americans.
Low-carb is portrayed in a balanced and fair way.
In January, Dr. Atkins is named one of People Magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of '99."
In March, Diet Rite begins using sucralose to sweeten its cola and fruit flavored soft
drinks. This is very good news for low-carbers who are searching for a non-aspartame sweetened
sugar free beverage.
In October, Dr. Atkins appears on the Today show and is verbally attacked by Katie Couric,
who refers to our diet as the "high protein — a.k.a.: meat, cheese and butter" diet. The
segment portrays low- carb dieters as eating "no carbohydrates", which of course is untrue.
We eat lots of fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds and low glycemic fruits.
In November, HealthSCOUT reporter Nancy A. Melville writes that meat demand has increased 4%
since 1998, ending a downward slide that lasted two decades. The reason given for the increased
demand? The popularity of high-protein, low-carb diets like Atkins.
In June, low-carbing is once again featured on two mainstream news programs. NBC Nightly News
bases their report on research from Harvard University. As reported by NBC, the research shows
that a low-carb, high-protein diet can help people shed pounds. The glycemic index is discussed
as the "hottest topic in nutrition". Doctors confirm what we've known all along, that eating
high glycemic foods causes our blood sugar to shoot up. And then our pancreas pumps out insulin
to bring the blood sugar back down. The blood sugar may come down so fast that levels actually
go below normal, and that makes us hungry again. Carb cravings!
Singer Luther Vandross is spotlighted on the ABC News 20/20 Downtown report. He was able to lose
weight and improve his health by following a low-carb program. Vandross shed 120 pounds following
a healthy low-carb diet that included chicken, fish, vegetables and fruit.
In December, Anheuser-Busch begins test marketing Michelob Ultra, a low-carb beer, in three
cities: Denver, CO, Ft. Myers, FL and Tuscson, AZ.
Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution remains on the bestseller list for 285 weeks.
In April of this year, we learned yet another reason why a low-carb diet is a healthy
one when information comes to light showing that heating carbohydrate rich foods causes them to
contain dangerously high levels of a carcinogen known as acrylamide.
In July, the New York Times prints an article written by Gary Taubes entitled, "What if
it's all been a Big Fat Lie?". Taubes reports that a diet low in carbohydrates is a safe and
effective method of weight loss and that it may, in fact, be healthier for the heart than
a low-fat diet.
This article, along with research results given at medical conferences from Mt. Sanai Medical
Center, University of Connecticut and the University of Washington, begins a trickle of favorable
media reports that soon turns into a steady stream of more balanced coverage.
Also in July, Dateline NBC's Josh Mankiewicz does a story about how he successfully shed 47
pounds by following a low-carb diet. He not only lost the weight, it did it "without
suffering". His story prompted many low fat advocates to write and revile him for his
"irresponsible" and "biased" reporting. Of course, Mr. Mankiewicz also received the support
and adoration of low carbers everywhere.
Dr. Atkins is chosen as one of the "People Who Mattered in 2002" in Time Magazine.
In mid-April, we lost our beloved Dr. Atkins as the result of a tragic accident. He touched
the lives of thousands upon thousands of people. His work will continue to do so.
On May 9th, a memorial service is held in New York City and is attended by hundreds of people
who wished to remember Robert C. Atkins and honor his life.
There are currently an estimated 20 to 30 million people in the United States who are on a
low-carb diet. This figure has certainly been noticed by marketers.
Large companies are finding ways to tap into the low-carb market. A. J. Heinz is planning to add
low-carb options to their line of Smart Ones frozen entrees.
The restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday will be test marketing a selection of low-carb entrees
in their restaurants, with plans to take these choices nationwide in the future.
There is even a low-carb frozen French fry on the horizon!
So we've come a long way in a few short years. More and more research is being done and the
results are revealing the benefits of low-carbing that we've known all along. As the number
of low-carb dieters grows, and the amount of favorable information increases — so will the
number of restaurant and food options available to us.
Who knows? Some day soon, non-low carbers may have to make a special request to get bread and
pasta at a restaurant as salads and vegetables become the "normal" side dish. Or maybe people
will turn their noses up at a plate of sugar-laden donuts the way they used to look at a plate
of bacon and eggs.
In time, anything can happen.
Copyright © September 2003 Brenda Crump and Low Carb Luxury
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The Low Carb Chef's "Aunt" Paula has worked hard to perfect the taste and texture of her Gourmet
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