I’m back from Minneapolis, where I was the pre-dinner speaker for a group of registered dietitians who work for Lifetime Fitness, a large national health and fitness organization. I was delighted to be there … not so much because they had me give my Science For Smart People speech, but because this was a group of mostly young dietitians who have seen the light.
That’s due largely to the efforts of Tom Nikkola, the Director of Nutrition and Weight Management for Lifetime Fitness. Tom is a very fit and healthy-looking guy who understands that it’s refined carbohydrates, not fats, that are making people fat and sick. His wife, Vanessa Romero, shared her story during a brief talk on the low-carb cruise. Like so many other people, she suffered health problems on a grain-based, low-fat diet and had to battle back from them. Tom is determined that the dietitians who work for Lifetime will be giving out advice that actually works, so he brought them to Minneapolis for a few days to explain the science.
I’ve said many times that I believe we will eventually move away from the failed dietary paradigm promoted by the USDA and other government “experts,” but the change will come from the ground up. It will happen because people like Tom Nikkola insist the dietitians in his organization look at the actual science instead of parroting what they were taught in school. I talked to a few of the dietitians before and after dinner and was encouraged by what they had to say. More than one said that something about the low-fat, healthywholegrains dietary advice never felt quite right, especially when it was being espoused by instructors who were clearly not healthy.
So that’s the good news. I’m seeing the Wisdom of Crowds in action. These dietitians will be giving advice to hundreds if not thousands of clients over the years, and perhaps the clients will pass on the same advice to family and friends.
The bad news is that when I looked at the breakfast menu in the hotel, there was a section called Joy Bauer’s Healthy Options. The “healthy” options were (of course) an egg-white omelet with steamed vegetables, oatmeal, a fruit and juice combo with low-fat yogurt, whole-grain pancakes, whole-wheat toast, and some kind of turkey sausage concoction. In other words, “healthy” means low fat and/or whole grains.
So I ordered an omelet with sausage, cheese and onions – you know, from the “not healthy” part of the menu. Then I got a plane for Nashville and was one of the few passengers in my section who said no thanks to the offer of crackers, peanuts or pretzels. I wasn’t hungry.
Change is coming. I’ll know it’s arrived when the Joy Bauer’s Healthy Options section of a hotel breakfast menu is long gone.