Saturday, May 21, 2005

Low-Carb 'Craze' Is All In The Media's Head

The media's blatant attempt to persuade the American people that low-carb is dead continues today with this story from the Cincinnati Post that once again proclaims the "low-carb craze" is finally finished.

"What craze? It's over," said the VP of a local pizza chain.

You know, I never really liked that phrase -- "low-carb craze." It brings up derogatory connotations in my mind when I hear it. But the more I've thought about it, the more I like it because it perfectly describes the atmosphere the media has created about livin' la vida low-carb. These same journalists who now blast anything and everything low-carb were the same ones who heralded what a revolutionary concept doing the low-carb lifestyle was when it first became popular a few years back.

The "craze" that I see is how the media has done a complete 180-degree turn in such a short amount of time. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who will believe anything and everything they read in the media as the gospel truth and will buy into all the misinformation and outright lies being told about doing low-carb just because it is being reported. That is truly sad. People like me and you who know low-carb works and don't think of it as a fad in any way, shape or form can testify to the lifechanging impact this way of eating (and way of life!) has had on us. I know I'll never be the same again!

The pizza chain in the story created a "lower-carb pizza crust" last year when consumer demand made it impossible for them to ignore their customers who were watching their carb intake. But executives with the company say sales have dipped recently and they are "not sure how much longer we'll have it."

Could it be the "lower" (note it isn't described as "low") carb pizza may not be low enough for people doing a low-carb lifestyle? That's what gets me about the reaction I hear from companies about how low-carb must be a failure because these products stop selling. They believe if they offer a product on their menu that declares it is "low-carb," whether it is actually low or not, then they are satisfying that segment of their customer base. WRONG-O!

Savvy low-carbers quickly realize when they are having the wool pulled over their eyes and being given too many carbs for them to either lose or maintain their weight. Companies couldn't care less about your new eating lifestyle, they just want you to continue buying their foods. If they can fool you long enough into believing that what they serve you is indeed low-carb, then they'll do whatever they can to make that happen. Creative marketing strategies have allowed restaurants and food companies to get away with making the public believe they are catering to the low-carb market. But the reality is, with only a few exceptions, many of them wouldn't know what low-carb was if it was staring them in the face.

The article also points to the successful first quarter earnings of the famous banana company, Chiquita, located in Cincinnati, as greater evidence that low-carb is on the way out.

With a first quarter net income of $87 million, Chiquita posted their best quarterly earnings in the past ten years. President and CEO of Chiquita Bob Kistinger couldn't wait to thumb his nose at the popularity of low-carb, which has undoubtedly cut into his company's bottom line in recent years.

"I think we're seeing less emphasis towards the low-carb diet that I think impaired demand in the past," he said.

In your dreams! While I love a banana as much as the next person, it is loaded with excessive sugar that will ruin any low-carb weight loss or weight maintenance plan if eaten too often. While losing weight, you really need to stay away from this fruit and only add it back in extreme moderations when you reach your goal. I wouldn't recommend eating more than one every few weeks and only after you have met your goal weight. They're delicious to savor as a treat, but making them a regular part of your diet will not be good for you. At a whopping 29 carbs per banana, this is a real no-no for people livin' la vida low-carb. In fact, I haven't had a banana in nearly two years. Sorry Chiquita!

The marketing director of a hot-dog restaurant in Cincinnati said their low-carb menu has not attracted a slew of customers, but it has maintained steady sales from those customers who desire a bunless hot dog, chili and cheese with a side salad entree.

"They've been small, but steadily small," she said. "We plan to keep them on the menu, but they're not a significant source of revenue."

You know, while restaurants have been adding so-called low-carb entrees to their menu, I rarely order off of them because I have found them to be too limited. I can make virtually any restaurant's menu into my own low-carb menu with a few select substitutions here and there. If restaurants would simply allow this kind of flexibility for low-carbers, then a "low-carb" menu would be unnecessary. It's all about catering to the needs of a large customer base and not about trying to create a whole new menu for them.

A food trend analyst said bread companies also suffered because of low-carb, but believes they will see a rebound this year as the "fad" begins to lose steam, although he admitted there will still be a lot of interest in low-carb foods.

"It's starting to fade, companies that were impacted are starting to bounce back," he said.

With the number of people currently doing some form of low-carb lifestyle at 15 percent, the highest percentage it has ever been, statistics prove this analyst and his friends in the media who keep spelling the end of low-carb are just plain wrong. Tens of millions of people are finding low-carb to be the best and only way they will lose weight, get healthy and stay healthy for the rest of their lives. Even still, the media and marketing strategists will say whatever they have to just to make people believe livin' la vida low-carb is history.

"Americans did what they always do, they tried it," said the VP of a marketing firm. "After a while, people realized they couldn't give up bread forever - steak between steak doesn't work. The diet forced you to cut out things you like."

Uh, no it doesn't. What it makes you "cut out" is food that is unhealthy for you. The over-consumption of sugar and white flour has been directly responsible for the explosion in obesity rates in the United States like never before in the history of our country. Mocking and distorting low-carb as a viable option for people trying to overcome this problem is not going to solve it either. People who do a structured low-carb program see a lot better results than those who try to do it on their own or who choose the failed low-fat/low-calorie diets. The smugness of people like this marketing VP makes me want to slap these people silly! With a big ole steak, of course!

Citing old statistics, the story declared the number of people who were on a low-carb plan at the beginning of the year was at 3.9 percent, after being as high as 9.1 percent in January 2004 and as low as 2.4 percent in December 2004. But apparently the reporter who wrote this story hasn't heard about the latest Opinion Dynamics Corporation survey that revealed the number of people on some form of a low-carbohydrate diet is at the highest rate ever — 15 percent for the first few months of 2005! With more people than ever trying and succeeding at low-carb, the notion that it is on the way out is merely wishful thinking by the media!

One marketing analyst at the end of the story actually agrees with me that low-carb is not dying out, as evidenced by the low-carb products still being highlighted by the major food companies.

"The fanfare is waning but it's going to remain - low fat and low carb are keepers," he said.

I contend that it is the media's fascination with "low-carb" that is tapering off. They like something new, even if something that came before it has already been found to be effective. It's not about how well something works, but rather about showing off the latest and greatest thing. That's what the media is currently doing with "low-sugar" and "glycemic index" foods. These are being trumpeted as the next big thing for weight loss. But look for the media to begin trashing them within the next year just as they've been dumping on low-carb. It's an endless cycle.

This quote from the article perfectly describes the dilemma the food companies find themselves in: "Low carb isn't dead but there's a question of the real demand. Nobody knows exactly what's going on and nobody wants to be wrong."

How about making products we actually WANT rather than this garbage we wouldn't feed to our dogs?! Clueless doesn't even begin to describe how incredibly inept these people are when it comes to providing low-carb products. Food companies would be wise to let real people who are on a low-carb lifestyle to try their products before they hit the supermarket shelves to see if they will fit into a low-carb eating plan. If this would have been done sooner, then about 90 percent of what is out there today would not exist.

While there may be a move away from describing foods as low-carb, the article concludes, they will still be available to purchase for people who choose this lifestyle.

That is why you need to become extremely good at reading food labels and deciding for yourself whether something is low-carb or not. NEVER rely on a food company to tell you if something is low-carb. Do your own investigation before making any food purchase. That way you can avoid the disappointment when your weight loss stalls.

While the first three-fourths of this story presented the doom and gloom report that low-carb is a goner, the remainder of the story explained why low-carb is here to stay. I think this "craze" has gone to the media's head and made them schizophrenic!


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5/21/2005 2:54 PM  

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