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.

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42 Responses to “Change Is Coming”
  1. I wonder what kind of pressure dietitians get from their national societies and certifying bodies to toe the healthywholegrains and low-fat line.

    -Steve

    I’m not sure, but I’ve had some comment on the blog that they had to parrot advice they didn’t believe in order to get through their classes.

    I’ve got my diabetic father-in-law reading your book right now. I hope he follows the advice.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Joy Bauer’s Healthy Options breakfast sounds just dreadful.

  3. Beowulf says:

    I used to work for Lifetime Fitness back in 2006. I quit because of issues with management and how they ran their personal training, but I have always been impressed with their magazine, and I continue to read it. It’s actually where I first came across an article about the Primal Blueprint and decided to give that diet a shot. I keep seeing paleo-friendly articles crop up, and I’m very happy to hear that the dietitians are getting on-board. I may not want to work for that company, but they are a major force in the fitness industry in my area, and the fact that they’re becoming paleo and low{er]-carb friendly is a good sign.

    Indeed. It’s more of that bottom-up change we need.

  4. Ash Simmonds says:

    Most of that “healthy” stuff doesn’t even count as food. My basic rule is that if you wouldn’t eat it by itself, it isn’t food.

  5. LeonRover says:

    Be restrained in expectations.

    Chaucer he say:

    “Sumer is ycomen in,
    Loude sing cuckou!
    Groweth seed and bloweth meed,
    And springth the wode now.
    Sing cuckou!”

    While Ezra Pound, he say:

    “Winter is icumen in,
    Lhude sing Goddamm,
    Raineth drop and staineth slop,
    And how the wind doth ramm!
    Sing: Goddamm.”

    And Eliot, he say:

    “What is the late November doing
    With the disturbance of the spring”

  6. mezzo says:

    The “healthy” options were (of course) an egg-white omelet with steamed vegetables,

    YUK – I can hardly image a combination with less taste

    oatmeal, a fruit and juice combo with low-fat yogurt
    EDIBLE MAYBE BUT CERTAINLY NOT SATISFYING

    whole-grain pancakes, whole-wheat toast, and some kind of turkey sausage concoction NO COMMENT ON THAT. I have gone off anything processed that has the name “turkey” on it. Turkey to me is a bird to be roasted in the oven or a country where to spend a nice holiday and where the food is good!!

    I agree. Turkey should be served as turkey. Since we spot quite a few of them on our land, I may go for a totally paleo wild turkey meal one of these days.

  7. Jeanne says:

    This is heartening news. Thanks for telling us.

  8. Michael Wachowicz says:

    Joy Bauer dispenses her nonsense on the Today Show every week. Between her, Dr. Oz, and whatever diet book is being pimped, it’s a steady diet of low fat and whole grains will make you healthy, wealthy, and wise.

    Sure, we’ve got a lot of nonsense out there to overcome, but I believe we will.

  9. Eric says:

    That’s so inspiring that the HFLC message is being advocated for so strongly in such a large, “mainstream” fitness organization. I didn’t think we’d see that for some time. Since I discovered the HFLC truth (beginning of this year) I have not met one single person that doesn’t think what I do is kind of odd. Having an organization like lifetime fitness promote this message is a HUGE step in the right direction. I wonder what their strategy is for convincing people this is true? I’m assuming they don’t just come RIGHT out and say…..”yeah, that whole “government thing”…..they’re just 100% wrong. They’re lying to you.” :-)
    I’m assuming it’s a little more subtle than that!

    Take Care,
    Eric

    I’m guessing they’re presenting the evidence, since Tom Nikkola presented it to the dietitians.

  10. Howard says:

    Good to see you back here!

    The “not hungry” part is really important. IMNSHO, it’s the most important part of Low-Carb. I can pass by the free donuts in the breakroom without any anxiety, because I’m not hungry. Back when I was on a low-fat (*cough* *quack* John “Eating Fat Makes You Fat!” McDougall *cough*) diet, I would have inhaled a couple without thinking.

    Being hungry all the damned time just didn’t work for me. Or for anybody else I’ve ever met.

    BTW, I’ve dumped another 3 lbs since the cruise!

    Way to go, Howard! I ate like a king on the cruise and came home at exactly the same weight, which I consider a victory.

  11. Jimmy Moore says:

    Welcome back, Tom! So happy to hear your report from Lifetime Fitness and I do sense change is in the air. It will be the collective voice we all bring to this conversation that will make that happen sooner than later. Keep fighting the good fight my friend!

    BTW, I finally got the audio off of my iPhone from the 2012 Low-Carb Cruise Roast and am sending it to you today. I know all of your FAT HEADIES will be clamoring to see this!

    Thank you, Jimmy. It wouldn’t be worth posting with the lousy audio from my camera, but the combination may work.

  12. Wiz says:

    Between this, and Crossfit gyms generally promoting The Zone/Paleo, it may only be a matter of time.

    I think we’re getting there. The USDA will always be the USDA — essentially a government arm of the grain industry — but we can convince people to ignore them.

  13. Liz says:

    I agree about those “healthy” breakfasts. I was desperate for a quick breakfast one day and had to hit up a Starbucks. They had egg-whites with turkey sausage panini. And I asked, “Can’t I just get real eggs and sausage?” and she laughed and said, “That’s cute, no, we just have these–they’re healthier!” I’d like to see her compliment me on a lowfat, 42 grams of sugar-laden drink! I just can’t believe how misinformed everyone still is.

    Tom, how do you deal with the frustration? I visited home recently, and my family knows I’m trying to keep things low carb, and yet pizza is ordered. I have no car, can’t order anything different lest I be seen as judging them. All of them are overweight/obese, on tons of meds, etc. And when they DO ask me why I’m thinner, I tell them, only to have them resist, get angry, etc. It’s enough to drive me nuts!

    You can lead a horse to water ….

    I’ll tell family and friends what I know about nutrition and health once — only once, unless they start asking questions.

  14. Jackie says:

    http://saymberblondi.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/are-scientist-and-the-food-police-focusing-their-attention-on-the-right-villians-in-our-diets-is-there-a-corporate-motive-for-it/

    This is blog I recently wrote about this topic. Ever since I saw the Fathead movie I was enlightened and have tried to spread the good news at any opportunity and people are gradually “getting it.” If low fat, high grain is so good for us why are so many people in our country fat and sick?! Our kids are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes?! Anyhew. Enjoyed this and thank you!!!

    Well done!

  15. AndreaLynnette says:

    I’m looking forward to the Tom Naughton’s Healthy Options. Well-marbled steak with a side of buttered broccoli. How about Mark Sisson’s Big-Ass Salad or Richard Nikoley’s Carnitas-Stuffed Sweet Potato?

    Dang, now I’m hungry.

    I’m up for those.

  16. Galina L. says:

    @Liz,
    I usually bring some food with me when I visit people. I manage several conditions with LC diet, one of which (migraine) sounds particularly non-judgmental, asthma is fine too. I am sure, if you eat LC you lost besides some fat also a couple of unpleasant health conditions, or at least the ability to experience a flatulence.(great feature for any guest, btw) My explanation, that on a balanced diet I have a much higher possibility of a migraine never offends anyone. My 19 yo son is naturally lean, but as everybody else in our family, allergies are his issues. When asked by idiots on a campus why he eats stakes everyday while it ruins our planet, he usually responses that he has no choise , his diet helps him to manage an eczema.

  17. I thought you might enjoy this link to an article about German scientists killing weeds with lasers:

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/117408-Germany-Creates-Herbicidal-Death-Ray

    Space-age herbicide-free farming!

    That’s a little scary for some reason.

  18. Waldo says:

    This is good news. I live in MN and I’m encouraged to see HFLC alive here and gathering momentum. I’m a bit dizzy as I’ve been shaking my head at these “healthy” egg white and turkey sausage offerings at places like Starbucks, etc. It’s pushed at Subway too!

    Good to see Jimmy post too. I’m suffering withdrawal from his podcast. He deserves a break.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed that the roast will turn out. Good work as always!

    I’m downloading an audio file from Jimmy right now. I hope I can sync them up.

  19. Marilyn says:

    While those folks were choking down their Joy Bauer’s Healthy Options breakfasts, I was enjoying my two duck eggs fried in well-seasoned goose fat. Now THAT’S a healthful breakfast.

    And much better tasting, too.

  20. Kevin says:

    For Liz- When the family orders pizza like that you have to get to it first and eat twice as much as you normally would….only just the toppings. When there is not enough for the rest, they will realize the error of their ways. This strategy was developed growing up the youngest of four boys. Survival of the fittest!!

    Tom, great to hear you got to address lifetime fitness. It was their 90 day weight loss challenge that was the catalyst to my 61 pound weight loss. Tom Nikkola “gets it” for sure. At the end of the day I feel its still “follow the money”. The companies that get ahead of the curve stand to profit the most when the paradigm shifts.
    Glad for the progress in any event!

    The Wisdom of Crowds meets Adam Smith. What’s not to like?

  21. Peggy Cihocki says:

    Yay! Awesome news like this always makes my day!

  22. Peter says:

    Change is constant. For those of us doing LCHF we often use the standard lipid panel (LP) to monitor our cholesterol status. Dr. Attia’s blog http://waroninsulin.com/ has opened my eyes on LP’s shortfalls. TG/HDL ratio may infer LDL pattern, but does not correlate on the numbers of LDL particles. Excessive LDL-P particles, even of the ‘fluffy’ pattern A, are atherogenic.
    NMR LipoProfile should replace standard LP, as it provides marker count. Your take?

    I agree that the standard lipid panel has quite a few drawbacks. My guess is that since an NMR LipoProfile is more involved and more expensive, we won’t see it commonly used anytime soon.

  23. Marilyn says:

    @LeonRover: More on Sumer is Icumen in:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumer_Is_Icumen_In

    Plus, there are all sorts of YouTube versions — serious, and definitely not.

  24. Frank says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zT_1dCbbR4I

    The title could be better, but the video is great. Have you seen this?

    Yup, I’ve seen it.

  25. Scott says:

    I had to check out Joy Bauer’s website one of the links was guilt free comfort food recipes, well to no surprise at all the first image I saw upon clicking it was a bowl of mac n’ cheese.

    Yeesh … guilt-free, but full of mutant wheat.

  26. Jesrad says:

    “The Wisdom of Crowds meets Adam Smith. What’s not to like?”

    According to Friedrich Hayek, the wisdom of crowds IS the hidden hand of the market: a distributed information-exchanging emergent process, called Catallaxy :)

    Great news about Lifetime Fitness, I can’t wait until the trend picks up here across the ocean. We usually have a 4-10 year lag on such things compared to the USA.

    In the digital age, perhaps that lag time will shrink.

  27. Elenor says:

    “I’m downloading an audio file from Jimmy right now. I hope I can sync them up”

    We don’t really care if it’s exactly synched… We just wanna SEE! (well, HEAR!) you roasting folks! Lots of YouTube vids are not quite synched, and we manage…. Come on Tom, we’re DESPERATE out here!! We need a Naughton-fix!!

    Yes, I HAVE watched Science for Smart People about 8 times, and Fat Head 32 times. (!) Like any addict, I’m craving more More MORE! (What? You won’t give up your entire personal life just to feed your fans? {sigh} Okay, I’ll go make some bacon…)

    (I’m really delighted you got ‘brought in’ to educate some educators — what a coup! You should ask Lifetime Fitness to sell Fat Head and Science…. for you in their gyms!)

    Lifetime did, in fact, purchase multiple copies of Fat Head. (But I doubt anyone will watch it 32 times.)

  28. Justin B says:

    @Waldo, Here’s how to eat healthily at Subway:
    1) Look at the nutrition sheet taped to the glass
    2) Pick a combination of things in the “unhealthy” category
    3) Get those things on a salad
    3) Enjoy.

  29. Marilyn says:

    @Frank. I like the lines, “But if you eat fat, you will get fat,” to which the other guy replies, “If you eat green food, will you get green?”

  30. Tom Nikkola says:

    Thanks for the recognition Tom! I’m so glad you could speak at our RD Summit. I’m sorry to hear about the breakfast options at the hotel. I had our breakfasts catered each day for our Summit and breakfast was eggs, cheese, salsa, guacamole, bacon (lots of it), grilled vegetables, fruit, coffee and heavy cream or half and half. Next time I’ll be sure to have you join us for breakfast too (All meals served for the three days were low-carb).

    Your speech is spot on and a great way to introduce the general public to the misinformation they’re consistently exposed to. As you know, we showed Fat Head to our members nationwide earlier this year and that was a huge hit as well. Thanks so much for what you do!

    Thanks for what you do too, Tom. Your clients will thank you too.

  31. Samantha says:

    Hi Tom!

    Thank you so much for spending your time with the Lifetime RD’s! The medical nutrition therapy, food service, and management skills that we mastered in school, internships, and careers is one thing…but achieving optimal health is another. It’s shocking to see the amount of misinformation out there, the deception of food marketing, and the lies that many Americans have been fed about health and nutrition. It’s all so backwards! At Lifetime, I know that our group of registered dietitians has a unique passion and drive for cutting through the haziness that can seem to result from forced “research” results by getting to the nitty-gritty science of clinical trials, performed correctly and without bias. The combination of accurate research and passion for nutrition–such as yours and ours–is a recipe for changed lives.

    I’m not sure I’d be able to present that with as much humor and creativity that you did….but we had a GREAT time with you! Thanks for the laughs, and cheers to all of us changing the health of America together– one real, cage-free egg and pat of butter at a time. :)

    Hope to see you again soon!

    It was inspiring to meet the people in your group. One group of educated dietitians can do a lot of good in the world.

  32. Jon says:

    Since you were just recently in Minnesota, I thought I’d share a news article that came out today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. On the front page it had a picture of a woman from Rochester who is the oldest person living in the state–111 years old. She still bakes, cleans, and just this year has finally agreed to have someone in the home help her with odds and ends.

    They of course asked what her magic secret was. Her answer? “Well, nothing really to be honest. I suppose it might be all those lard sandwiches I used to eat, and the Lord takes care of the rest.” She also went on to say that she loves eating bacon and eggs.

    After reading the article, one of the receptionists in the hospital was quite shocked. After asking me about it, I stated that I wasn’t all that surprised, given that eating lard over pasta gives you a better cholesterol profile and good prevention against heart disease. Her response….”Well, but everyone’s bodies are different. You can’t say that….” So way to go ol’ lady!

    As Jonathan Bailor likes to say, biology isn’t a matter of opinion.

  33. Marilyn says:

    @Scott. Well, at least there’s no danger of my being converted over at Joy Bauer’s website. I went check her website, as you did. After waiting a very long time for it to load on my dial-up, I walked away and did something else. I returned 20 minutes later, and it was still loading! So I ditched it.

  34. Melanie says:

    Thanks for coming to MN Tom… it was a pleasure to meet you. I loved your presentation and have been showing your DVD “Fat Head” to my weight loss classes. They are always so suprised by how misled we have been. I have been a dietitian for about 17 years and basically everything I was taught in school was a bunch of bologna. Thank goodness for leaders like Tom Nikkola and yourself for being instrumental in helping us see the light.

    In good health (with a side of cage free eggs!)

    If you’ve been a dietitian for 17 years and are willing to change your mind, there’s hope for the world.

    Good to meet you too.

  35. It was a pleasure getting to visit and share a meal with you on our home turf! :) Next time you are in town we’ll will take you to Key’s Cafe for the best omelet around! Thanks for all you do…..

    It’s a deal.

  36. Kathy Thames, MS, RD says:

    Tom
    Your talk to our group was inspiring and humorous of course. “Inconvenient” truths are hard to swallow, much easier to NOT believe. Really, we have to laugh at ourselves, what did “we” (our profession) tell people all these years? As a veteran RD who feels like she has been ringing a ‘silent bell,’ I just joined Life Time’s staff. I am encouraged to be surrounded by colleagues with the RIGHT message! We can make a difference and be proud to deliver a message that will change the obesity epidemic and its consequences.
    Keep up the good work! Your message is contagious!

    Being willing to change your minds is a sign that you’re more interested in helping people than staying in a comfort zone. Hats off to you all.

  37. James Gegner says:

    Tom,

    Great post as always. It’s really refreshing to see that there are some dietitians who actually look at the science instead of perpetuating the low-fat myth.

    Speaking of Joy Bauer, I just checked out her website (joybauer.com), and while some of the information is good (for example, she tells diabetics to avoid high-sugar foods such as candy and soda, and also starchy foods such as white potatoes and even foods made from refined carbohydrates such as white bread), I found something that may make you want to bang your head on your desk.

    She tells diabetics, for example, not to drink whole milk because, get this: “Studies have shown that saturated fats can worsen insulin resistance.” (actual quote from her website)

    It just goes to show how misinformed she is when it comes to the important roles that saturated fat plays in human nutrition.

    I’ve only seen rodent studies in which saturated fats worsen insulin resistance. Since rodent don’t eat cows and pigs, I don’t care what those studies show. Doesn’t seem to be the case with humans:

    http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2010/08/25/ajcn.2009.29096.abstract

  38. A little while back, I belonged to my community’s gym (not a national chain). I brought in “The New Atkins For a New You” (2010) and showed one of the trainers that I was one of the success stories in the book. She was very excited and said they would post my story on the bulletin board along with all the other inspirational stories of other members.

    Then the director of the gym saw that I had lost the weight and put on the muscle by skipping the cardio, lifting weights and eating (GASP!) low carb and high fat food.

    They declined to advertise my success on their wall of fame, citing that they did not want to promote a certain “diet”. Yet, all the other people displayed openly promoted their treadmill-till-you-drop, low fat and high grain lifestyles. I went from success story to crackpot at that gym overnight.

    It’s hard to get people to give up that mindset.

  39. Brooke says:

    My husband and I were both shocked to hear Dr. Oz, during his interview with Pierc Morgan (couple weeks ago) on CNN, say that one should NOT drink skim milk..why? “Because they replace the fat with sugar!” His advice was to drink whole milk. There’s more…
    Dr Oz, in his segment last week on The View, stated that eating fat, does not make you fat and that MEAT is NOT the problem…it’s the sugar and refined carbs. Yep! My husband and I just looked at each other in SHOCK!
    Maybe, just maybe, CHANGE IS COMING!

    That’s a good sign, but he still appears to be pushing grains in his magazine articles. Maybe it will take awhile.

  40. Ashley says:

    Tom–
    Thank you so much for coming to speak to all of us this past week! It is ALWAYS good news to hear the public get amped about living and eating well! I look forward to seeing what kind of movement you and us here at Life Time Fitness keep driving!

    I look forward to that as well.

  41. Rachel says:

    Thanks for coming to speak to us in Minnesota!! I love Fat Head and recommend it for all my clients to watch. You are the best!!

    It was a pleasure to meet your group.

  42. zack says:

    The recent NPR blog article on the Paleo diet (while incomplete and ended poorly) was at least a step towards mainstream. I sense a change coming. When I started 5 years ago, info was hard to come by. Now it’s everywhere!

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