Monday, May 22, 2006

Can A Stealth Low-Carb Tactic Succeed?

There's an ongoing debate that hasn't seemed to die down in the least bit over the past few months about what we should call "low-carb" now that it has allegedly fallen out of favor with the vast majority of people no thanks to the negative propaganda coming from the media and from people like this who would like nothing more than to see every iota of news and information about livin' la vida low-carb eradicated from the planet forever.

I even blogged about the manifestation of this happening in recent posts about low-carb authors Jonny Bowden and Dana Carpender. Both of them have assured me in personal conversations that they have not abandoned or "sold out" in their change to a less offensive term than "low-carb" in the public eye.

In fact, Carpender wanted to set the record straight once and for all about why she changed the name of her syndicated newspaper column from "Low Carb For Life" to "Cook Well, Eat Well." She thinks some people might have gotten the wrong impression about why she did it.

Here's what she wrote to me:

Writing is my job. But the [newspaper] column is a very small part of my income; I could make more money spending the time going back to massage therapy, my previous occupation. Truly, it would make more economic sense to drop [the column] entirely.

But that column is my bully pulpit -- IF (and only if) the papers carry it, and the readers read it. If changing the name, and a slight adjustment in focus is what it takes to let me keep giving useful nutritional information to the general public, and maybe even expand that audience a little, I'm not too proud to do it.

If just one person whose eyes glazed over at the term "low carb" now sees me use the term "glycemic load" instead, and "gets" it, then it's worth it to me.

Well stated, Dana! Just as I said in my review of your "Every Calorie Counts Cookbook," I think it is interesting that we have people like you who are STILL able to share the principles of low-carb even if you aren't explicitly calling it "low-carb" anymore. That's kinda why books like "The Glycemic Load Diet" are popping up as alternatives to "low-carb," even though it IS a low-carb book!

However, I've said it before and I'll say it again -- if we run away from the "low-carb" label and neglect to clearly define what we mean by that term, then how much more muddled will our message get in the hands of the same media and anti-low-carb people who have been tearing down this wonderful nutritional approach we love and appreciate for what it has done in our lives to change us forever.

Interestingly, this very subject came up at the Active Low-Carber Forum in the past few days thanks to one of my blog's most faithful readers, Low-Carb Dave.

Check out his "A Call to Arms: Low Carbers Unite!" post in that forum:

I was thinking about the media forces that are against Low Carb. All the propaganda for Low Fat out there. It seems if you tell the average Joe or Jill - 'I'm on Low Carb', they turn their brains off and immediately spout all this junk the media has fed them.

I thought, why don't we fight back? Fighting back with our own words of propaganda. But propaganda that gets the average non-lowcarber to think and want to investigate further for themselves!

Really we are only talking about labels here. This is not about denying truth, this is just about presenting truth with a bunch of different labels.

What if someone says - Wow you have lost a lot of weight, what are you doing ?

And you answer - Oh I'm on the Low GL diet.
And they are like Oh is that like Low GI ??
And we say, - kinda similar but Low GL looks at the total amount of carbohydrates in the diet.
And people are like - oh I see, sounds good, I want to learn more.

We can call it many different think like: The Anti-Cancer Diet, The Heart Healthy Diet, The Blood Sugar Control diet.

If we use a whole bunch of different labels all the time, I think people will want to learn more and be intrigued.

Then we start converting them, slowly one by one, like a virus the starts all around the world.

Soon everyone is starting to watch their carbohydrate levels. The first ones that will respond are the food industry, and then the academics, and lastly the government - LOL

I know we are already doing this, and have been doing it for years! Hey that's why I'm a low Carber, you other Low Carbers!

There is a nutritional war on, and we need to step up our defense. Instead of coming head-on at them like an axe with words (emotionally tagged) like Atkins & Low Carb, we instead envelope them with generic science words, that they can't dismiss!!

Who is with me?

Would a stealth low-carb tactic like Dave is proposing succeed? It would certainly make people think twice about dismissing what we have to say about "low-carb" since so many of them already have a preconceived notion of what that means in their own minds. Saying "I cut out sugar, white flour, and processed foods" or "I watch the kind of carbs I put in my mouth" seems to be the way this strategy of talking with others about our dietary plan would work. Sounds confusing to me!

But count me against this move away from "low-carb" because I haven't made that leap just yet. Call me stubborn or hard-headed, but I lost 180 freakin' pounds on low-carb! Why should I capitulate to the naysayers and call it something else? NO! I did it on LOW-CARB! Not low GI, not low GL, not cutting down on my sugar (although I have undoubtedly implemented all three of these into my diet!). It was low-carb. Period. End of story.

If somebody takes offense to that term, then that gives me the perfect opportunity to help educate them about what I mean by that. A healthy discussion about low-carb is EXACTLY what is needed to change people's perceptions about what it is. But if we stop calling what we do "low-carb," those opportunities will cease to exist and we've thrown the towel in on the subject forever.

THAT'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN ON MY WATCH! While others continue to run away from low-carb, Jimmy Moore is gonna keep on running TOWARDS it and shouting it boldly and proudly as the miracle nutritional approach that changed my life for the better. Why am I STILL livin' la vida low-carb? Because it has worked, it still works and it will always work for me.

One very famous person who regularly discusses issues of health and diet in various media formats recently told me that low-carb is what worked to help this person lose weight and continues to keep the weight off. When I asked why this person has not made this public knowledge, the person said because of the negative connotation associated with "low-carb."

How sad is THAT when someone with a platform for telling others about nutrition and healthy living can't even share what worked?! Yikes! That gives me all the more reason to say it loud and say it proud: I'M LIVIN' LA VIDA LOW-CARB, baby! Take it or leave it!

5-23-06 UPDATE: Dana Carpender shares more comments about this subject in her Lowcarbezine! today.


Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

I think it's important that we get the low carb message out there!

You are one of our strongest low carb resources Jimmy!

I was thinking we should come at it, al all angles!

5/23/2006 4:21 AM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

Unfortunately there *are* negative connotations to the label "low carb", and a plethora of misinformation out there about Atkins and other low carb diets, primarily that low carb means no carbs, yada, yada, yada.

It doesn't matter that the negative connotations came from the media not bothering to find out what the diets were all about (at least not past the induction phase of each one), or jumping to conclusions that "all those low carb/Atkins people ever eat is meat, cheese, eggs and bacon, with a side order of meat, cheese, eggs and bacon, served on a bed of meat, cheese eggs and bacon".

It doesn't even matter that Atkins didn't die of obesity related heart disease, but from a head injury.

But this is the message that has been promoted to the world by the media, and people tend to believe whatever the media tells them!

... It doesn't even matter whether it's the truth or not, especially when they come back and contradict themselves on these stories later, and have various experts to debate the matter, etc. People tend to just end up not knowing which story to believe.

[Just as an example of how much power a wrong definition promoted by the media exerts, we have an entire generation of teenagers and young adults who are thoroughly convinced that oral sex "isn't really sex", because of an oft repeated perjurous statement by a former president!]

The point is that the world's perception of what low carb means, faulty though it may be, is still the world's perception of it. The only way we're going to change their perception of low carb is to make them realize that they've been given the wrong definition, even if it means changing the label to something more "acceptable".

I really don't like the whole thing of needing to remain politically correct in describing everything these days, but when you use a different label, people tend to look at things differently. People in wheelchairs are no longer crippled or handicapped, but "physically challenged". The person who is chronically unemployed is "between jobs", or "looking for the right position". I"m sure you can think of plently of other instances where simply using a new term radically changed people's perception of the same old thing.

As I think I've pointed out before, back when I was first diagnosed with hypoglycemia about 35 years ago, I was put on a "high protein diet" - different label, but pretty much the same diet. I don't care what it's called, whether it's low carb, Atkins, high protein, nutrient dense, cave man, low GI, low GL or whatever the next label for low carb might happen to be. It all works pretty much the same, keeps me from producing far too much insulin, and helps me lose weight, while giving me more energy. I don't care what it's called, as long as it helps me feel better than I did for so many years, when I was eating a starchy, sugary diet.

For once, we could use the "system" to promote something important like the low carb concept, even if we need to use a different label to identify it. With all due respect Jimmy, what's more important? Retaining the term low carb as the only way you'll accept to describe your astounding success story, or the concept behind it that could help millions of people finally put their weight problems behind them, once and for all? I'm not suggesting that you abandon the term low carb to describe what you did, but I can't see any harm in pointing out that the same principles are used in other diet labels, the name of it just happened to be "low carb" when you lost all your weight.

5/23/2006 9:25 AM  
Blogger WhooWhoo said...

Even worse than the term "low-carb" is "high fat" for most people to accept. Maybe the term Mediterranean diet is helping to let people know it's okay to eat fatty fish, olive oil and nuts.

Dr. Atkins got tired of everyone confusing ketosis with ketoacidosis and started using the term lipolysis instead.

I personally don't shy away from saying low carb or Atkins, but I approve of whatever sneaky marketing labels it takes to convince more people to lower their carbs, eat fat and adequate protein.

5/23/2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

Its hard for me to stick to low carb. In 12 days I have failed three times. I still managed to lose 4 pounds. Can I continue failing every few days and still lose weight? It is SOOOOOOOOOO hard to stay low carb. Please give me a pep talk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I need it desperately.

5/23/2006 2:33 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Jane,

Forgive me for laughing, but did you say you have "failed" three times on your low-carb plan in the past 12 days? LOL! That's hilarious! I'm not laughing at you, but at the notion that messing up causes you to fail at low-carb.

I have a question for you about your weight loss, though: How committed are you to doing this seriously, 100%, no questions asked, without a doubt it's gonna happen this time? If you can't say fully, then you are not ready to begin livin' la vida low-carb.

When you can come to the point that you are fed up with your weight to the point that you will make NO excuses for not getting it done, then and only then will you be in the right mindset to make it happen for yourself.

Then, you should read your favorite low-carb plan, implement it to the letter, and NEVER EVER EVER stop doing it for the rest of your life. That's what you need to do to succeed.

Stop worrying about how much you've failed and start focusing on the success you can and will experience when you start livin' la vida low-carb in earnest.

Blessings to you and feel free to contact me anytime you need help.

5/23/2006 3:15 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...


Get Jonny Bowden's book "Living the Low Carb Life." It will explain what bad carbs do to your body, and profiles 17 low-carb plans. Perhaps South Beach may be more to your liking, or something else?

5/23/2006 9:59 PM  

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