Debbie Judd is a nurse for Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades —
authors of Protein Power. Debbie
writes for Body Trends, as well as with the Eades answering literally hundreds of emails, phone
calls and letters regarding the Protein Power plan.
"Those who look only to the past or present
are certain to miss the future."
— John F. Kennedy
The Low-Fat Craze
Debbie Judd, RN
In 1988, when the Surgeons General handed down their nutrition guidelines, it
asked Americans to drastically reduce the amount of fat in their diet, and to
increase fiber. After all, fat was pegged as the "bad guy" who was at the root
of America's high incidence of cardio-vascular disease. Out of this cry for
help, the public responded, and so did a low- fat industry. A plethora of low-fat
diets emerged overnight. Entrées stripped of their fat were being found on menus
ubiquitously. New creations were blossoming. Low-fat cakes, breads, cookies,
muffins, candy, desserts, entrees, casseroles — everywhere! The U.S. consumption
of wheat flour was at a high of 147 pounds per person by 1997. The fad became
a trend, and twenty years later, the "Gross National Girth" of America is pushing
68%. America has become an epidemically obese population, and something needed
to be done.
The Dr. Atkins Revolution
In the backdrop, Dr. Atkins published his first low carbohydrate book in 1972. Not
gaining popularity due mainly to the barometer being focused on low-fat, his
approach was ridiculed as a pseudo-scientific fad. After all, how could a high-fat
diet be healthy for you? The Surgeon General believed it wasn't. Americans had been
called upon to do their part to support a low-fat lifestyle, and they were responding.
Scientists were busily studying the metabolic pathways of nutrition. Why is a nation
that has been eating low-fat so… fat? Studies began looking at the macronutrient
composition of meals. Low-fat meals usually meant high carb. The $11.4 billion-a-year
bread industry had taken over, and now consumers were stressing their metabolic systems
with an overload of sugar. The research supported the link between high carbohydrate
diets and obesity. Terms such as syndrome X, metabolic disorder, hyperinsulinemia,
and metabolic resistance were the buzz words in the medical and public communities.
The Low Carb Craze
Atkins has now swept the country. Nutrition gurus and researchers are saying, "Maybe he
was right after all." Millions of low carb dieters have quickly shed pounds after
failing to do so by other means. Researchers and medical experts are now recommending
"cut those carbs" and America is responding. Sound familiar?
Hang on, because the low carb rage is here to stay and the industry is responding. Low
fat products — move aside. Food scientists are figuring out how to strip the carbs out
of almost everything we eat. Last year, big-time companies such as Atkins Nutritionals,
CarbSense and Keto Foods were introducing low carb packaged food at a rate of almost two
products a day. Estimates show that revenue connected to the low carb industry could
reach the $20 billion dollar mark.
My hat's off to those business entrepreneurs for rallying, stepping up to the plate, and
winning blue ribbons for their creative efforts. Low carb breads, muffins, pizza crust
mixes, biscotti, cookies, ice cream, desserts, pasta, ketatoes, chips, decadent
chocolates, condiments, powder mixes… wow!
Where will it stop? ...or will it?
Ten years ago, it was a challenge to follow Atkins' low carb plan, because the choices were
limited-meat and fibrous, crispy vegetables. No complaints from low carb followers
anymore! The choices are abundant, and now at our fingertips. Fast food, family and
fine dining restaurants are all featuring low carb choices; low carb malls and specialty
stores are populating almost every city; many low carb products and snacks are even available
at 7-eleven convenience stores!
A Nation that Loves to Eat
Let's face it, people like to eat. It tastes good, it's a social focus, it relieves stress,
it's cause for a celebration, it's the reason holidays were created — so we could eat. And
forget about the intrinsic messages our bodies send us, like telling us when we're full.
Just ignore them. After all, you can afford to eat more-you can eat all the low carb
food you want, right?
With the soon-to-be abundant amounts of low carb products available to us, what do you think
is going to happen? How many helpings of low carb pasta can you afford around your waist?
Just because they are low carb (or low fat) doesn't mean there are no calories in those foods.
We're back to those heaping plates of spaghetti — just with low carb pasta this time.
Keep it in Perspective
These products should be used as a convenience to augment our busy lives and low carb lifestyle.
Instead, my concern is that they are going to be a replacement for healthy meals. What about
grandma's baked chicken dinner with green beans, mixed greens salad and scalloped potatoes?
What about learning how to portion-control those foods with excess sugar, starch or even fat?
What about getting together for family dinners? What about discussing the nutritional value of
different foods with our children? As we are going now, I fear the only thing our children are
going to learn is where to buy a bag of low carb chips.
In my low carb nutrition practice, I have seen it already. As the intake of low carb products and
snacks goes up, the sooner the weight loss plateaus. People are eating sometimes more than triple
the portion allowed, just because it's low carb and "that's the diet I'm following."
The message: Take heed, all of you low carb followers. I'm not by any means saying don't use
the products… but don't get trapped into the mindset that low carb means "throw all caution to
the wind." Don't forget the basics of good sound nutrition, read your labels, learn how to
control your intake amounts, savor each bite, and eat for the right reason — optimal health.
Copyright © February 2004 Debbie Judd, RN and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury