I saw a debate on Facebook recently in which a woman warning about the horrors of arterycloggingsaturatedfat! replied to someone disputing her advice with You do realize you’re arguing with a registered dietitian, don’t you?

A registered dietitian?!  Oh, goodness.  The infallible have spoken.

An appeal to authority is a weak argument, especially when the authority you’re appealing to is yourself. And of course, whenever I read I’m a registered dietitian, I can’t help but interpret it as I earned a degree by parroting what I was taught in a curriculum designed and funded by the makers of industrial foods.

There are some good dietitians out there. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of nincompoops with the awe-inspiring title of registered dietitian. I was reminded of that today when a reader sent a link to an article titled A Month Without Sugar—One Dietician’s Day-by-Day Tell-All. Let’s look at some quotes.

As a dietitian, I’ve heard of every crazy diet. No dairy, no carbs, no sugar, no tomatoes, no gluten, no fat—you name it, I’ve heard of it (and have probably rolled my eyes at it).

No dairy is a crazy diet? No sugar is a crazy diet? No gluten is a crazy diet? Amazing … humans somehow managed to thrive for 99% of their time on earth living on nothing but crazy diets. And now that the craziness ended, we sure are healthier, aren’t we?

The problem with these restrictive diets is they aren’t sustainable and often cause you to crave whatever you gave up. But no matter how many times I tell my clients this, I’m met with resistance.

So the dietitian is against restrictive diets. Just keep that in mind for later.

So I decided to try it for myself, and I stopped (correction: I tried to stop) eating all added sugar for 30 days. Spoiler alert—it sucked!

Aw, shucks, I was hoping you’d keep me in suspense. Oh, well.

First, added sugar refers to sugar that is added to a food, not sugar naturally found in fruits, vegetables, grains, or dairy. Cutting out all those food groups would just be cray cray. Regardless of my lack of desire for sugar, I still add a bit of brown sugar to my oatmeal, enjoy a pre-workout granola bar, and top my spoonful of peanut butter with mini chocolate chips. But that’s the extent of my sugar habit, so I figured I would be fine. Reality hurts.

The registered dietitian regularly adds brown sugar to her oatmeal, eats granola bars with sugar before working out, and adds chocolate chips to her peanut butter. But she lacks the desire for sugar.

Day 1

While eating whole-wheat crackers with my super-healthy salad (feeling great about my food choices), I check out the crackers’ ingredients label. WTF? Cane sugar! Day 1=fail.

Oh, no! Those otherwise healthy wheat crackers contain sugar! If only she’d checked the label before buying, she could have bought wheat crackers without sugar and been super-healthy.

Day 2

My oatmeal definitely tastes a little bland without a scoop of brown sugar, so I head to the store and pick up some naturally sweet foods, such as dates, bananas, red grapes, and papaya. Problem solved.

The dietitian lacks a desire for sugar, but couldn’t get through her oatmeal until she added dates and bananas.  Problem solved.

Or so I thought… until lunchtime, when I add Sriracha to my rainbow grain bowl. Surprise—Sriracha has sugar. I guess I need to read EVERY single food label.

Dang! Two days in, and she still hasn’t managed to avoid added sugar.

Day 5

I’m getting the hang of this no-sugar thing, but I have a dilemma. Today I’m running the Brooklyn Half. Since this is my 10th half-marathon, I have a pretty standard fueling routine that consists of water for the first six to seven miles, followed by a sports drink for the second half of the race and a CLIF Shot Blok around mile eight or nine.

I’d never heard of CLIF Shot Blok, so I had to look it up. Here are the ingredients: Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Maltodextrin, Pectin, Citric Acid, Watermelon Extract with Other Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate, Colored with Organic Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.

So to get through a half-marathon, the registered dietitian normally needs a sports drink (if it’s a 16-oz. Gatorade, that’s 21 grams of sugar) plus an energy bar with another 24 grams of carbohydrate, 12 of them in the form of sugar.

In other words, my usual fueling plan is loaded with sugar because sugar (a.k.a. glucose) powers muscles during endurance activity.

Actually, sugar is not a.k.a. glucose. Sugar is half glucose and half fructose. And we don’t need either for endurance activities.  I’ve somehow managed to spend five hours pushing a mower up and down the hill in our back pasture several times without consuming sugar (a.k.a. glucose) beforehand.

Luckily, another dietitian (and marathoner) told me to try dates, stuffed with peanut butter and sprinkled with sea salt, for the right mix of sugar and sodium.

Thank goodness another registered dietitian was able to suggest an alternate source of sugar to replace the sugar from a sports drink. Disaster averted.

The only problem was I got an annoying cramp around mile seven that wouldn’t go away, so I gave in and reached for a sports drink.

So that would be yet another day in the “sugar free” month when the dietitian failed to go without added sugar.

Day 7

All in all, I feel like the first week was much harder than I anticipated. #fail. Between the added sugar in my crackers and Sriracha and my sports drink during the half-marathon, I’m beginning to understand how incredibly difficult it is to omit an entire ingredient from your diet.

Yeah, you wouldn’t want to omit an entire ingredient from your diet. That would be just plain crazy – especially if it’s added sugar, which of course humans have been eating forever.

Day 15

Halfway there, and it’s finally starting to feel easier. I’ve become accustomed to sweetening my morning oatmeal with bananas and eating pre-workout snacks with natural sugar (dates and peanut butter, anyone?). I can definitely do this for two more weeks.

Wow, I’m impressed with your ferocious discipline. You can actually avoid added sugar (most days, anyway) if you eat enough bananas and dates to replace the added sugar with natural sugar.

Days 17-22

Status quo. Omitting added sugar from my diet has made my already healthy diet even healthier. I have no choice but to eat plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

Glad to know that already healthy diet full of grains and added sugars has become even healthier because you substituted natural sugar for the added sugar.

Day 23

All self-control goes out the window when I’m tired. We arrived in California last night, and I’m super jet-lagged. I need an afternoon cookie to make me feel better. And let me tell you… it worked.

Yet another day in the “sugar free” month when the registered dietitian couldn’t get by without eating added sugar. Glad to know that sugary cookie helped you get over an exhausting day of sitting in an airplane seat.

Day 26

I’ve done this long enough, and I give up! Being on vacation and trying to “diet” isn’t fun. It’s actually really terrible. So I cut this little experiment short and ordered an espresso shot in a chocolate-rimmed ice cream cone. And I’m not sad about it.

Well, dang. The registered dietitian just couldn’t continue the “month without sugar” experiment, even though she broke down and ate sugar several times. I wonder what conclusions she’ll draw from the experience.

The Big Takeaways

This confirmed my right to roll my eyes at diets that eliminate entire food groups, because it’s nearly impossible to sustain that change for the long term. I’m a dietitian, and I wasn’t able to do it for longer than a week without a slipup.

Impeccable logic. The registered dietitian is a sugar addict who couldn’t go a month without added sugar, and that confirms her right to roll her eyes at diets that eliminate entire food groups.

And now for the punchline … curious about who this woman is, I looked her up. Here are some quotes from another of her articles:

As a vegetarian, I pretty much hate barbecues. While the meat-lovers pile on burgers, hot dogs, and steak, I’m usually stuck with a plateful of potato salad.

… You can almost always count on one thing at a barbecue: burgers. And with burgers come mustard, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and pickles. Although it’s not the most creative sandwich ever, combining these ingredients on a bun will definitely equal a sandwich that will probably keep you full for a few hours.

A meatless burger will definitely probably keep you full until your next dose of sugar a few hours later.

… Take a creative dish to the barbecue, and you may pique the interest of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. How about some carrot hot dogs or cauliflower steaks with chimichurri sauce?

… When all else fails, throw your own party! … Let them know what you’re serving is all veg-head friendly. Encourage them to step out of their meat-eating comfort zone and get creative with plants.

Hmmm, let’s combine quotes from the two articles:

This confirmed my right to roll my eyes at diets that eliminate entire food groups.

As a vegetarian, I pretty much hate barbecues.

The problem with these restrictive diets is they aren’t sustainable and often cause you to crave whatever you gave up.

Let them know what you’re serving is all veg-head friendly.

So there you have it. You shouldn’t give up added sugar — even if you substitute with the sugars in dates and bananas — because it’s just crazy to eliminate an entire food group — added sugar, of course, being a food group.  But giving up meat is fine and dandy and good for you, and you should encourage your friends to try a meatless diet by throwing a vegetarian dinner party.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to survive the rigors of a cross-country flight without a cookie.  If a registered dietitian can’t handle it, neither can you.

That’s the kind of dietary wisdom we so often get from registered dietitians.

My apologies to the good dietitians out there.

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138 Responses to “A Dietitian Explains Why You Shouldn’t Give Up Sugar”
  1. This inconsistency is consistent. “How can you give up an entire food group?” The simpler version of this is the low-fat advocates. Why is it ok for them to ask us to give up fat, but not ok when we choose to give up carbs instead?

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Her bit about not giving up a “food group” like added sugar was funny enough on its own. Then when I found the piece about being a vegetarian … well, you just can’t make this stuff up.

  2. Walter Bushell says:

    “Register dietitians not guns!”?

    On the hole[sick[sic]] dietitians are deadlier than guns.

  3. Walter Bushell says:

    Funny she didn’t get to apple juice as a “substitute” for sugar. I hear frozen apple juice from China is the cheapest sweetener going. Ah, no sugar tariff since it’s juice and has the advantage of being included in the WICed food program.

  4. Absolutely love it. I’m going to be one of those “registered dietitians” (maybe), that makes people like her crap bricks. It was like reading the logs of an alcoholic or meth addict trying to give up their drug of choice. Want to know what happened when I did the challenge (I didn’t, it took me 3 years to get away from idiot status of thinking grains were a real food group and not arbitrarily added by the grain industry)? I lost 100 lbs, no longer wake up feeling like I have a hangover, no longer get hangry, and my blood panels are all astoundingly gorgeous. So, elimination diet is horrid unless it’s vegetarian? I went vegetarian, and that is what almost killed me with heart attack-like symptoms from severe nutrient deficiency. No thank you, I’ll be a fat head.

  5. Phillis Hammond says:

    Wow. This is a person with SERIOUS sugar and carb addictions. She forgets to add in the glycemic load of all the grains she’s consuming too. All in all it sounds like the majority of her diet is sugar! Myself on the other hand has been low-carb (now ketogenic) for well over a decade give or take and I don’t miss sugars or carbs at all. I say give or take as I initially followed the low carb Atkins diet way back in its infancy (or I should say MY infancy, hahaha) in the 70’s. Got confused by all the low fat garbage and went off it to my poor body’s detriment. Finally figured out that low to almost zero carbs works best with me. I feel great and have no hunger most of the time and i’m 120 pounds lighter. All health markers are excellent but I’m supposed to believe that somehow I’m destroying my health??? That gal should have just stuck with basket weaving as a major. At least that way she wouldn’t come off as dumb.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Yup, she’s clearly a sugar addict. Go figure; if she’s living on grains and fruits, her blood sugar probably crashes regularly — thus the need for a cookie after a cross-country flight.

      • Walter Bushell says:

        Last time I flew cross country, they came by every hour or two IIRC with cookies or soda. Can’t have people croaking on the plane from low blood sugar. It’s apparently that bad amongst the general population.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          In that case, I hope the pilots are eating their cookies.

          • Dianne says:

            I hope the pilots are not eating cookies or any other form of sugar. If the way eating sugar affects my driving is anything to go by, it should be as illegal for pilots to eat sugar and fly as it is for them to drink or use drugs and fly.

            • Tom Naughton says:

              Yeah, last thing I want is a pilot who’s irrationally angry because of a blood-sugar crash.

              • Bob Niland says:

                re: Yeah, last thing I want is a pilot who’s irrationally angry because of a blood-sugar crash.

                Well, they can be overtly suicidal for other reasons (including diet), but if you want to worry about your pilots, be aware that they can be on a statin or diabetes meds and still get an FAA Medical Certificate.

                I’d like to see the stats correlating statins and BG meds with reportable incidents. If I were chartering a single-pilot flight, I would definitely inquire about both diet and meds in use.

  6. Rob waterreus says:

    Chris groomed just won the tour the France for the 4th time ,and he is on a low carb diet

  7. Looks like they need to add another semester of classes to the requirements for the credential so they can be trained in the intricacies of reading an ingredient label, because apparently that isn’t currently considered a relevant skill.

    A-freaking-mazing.

    Cheers

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Not to worry; the feds have plans to make reading a label EVEN EASIER! Because that’s why we have a diabetes crisis that didn’t exist in previous generations, ya see: not enough people understand the food labels that have only been around since the 1990s.

  8. Lori Miller says:

    This reminds me of Christopher Titus’s observation that psychologists study psychology to try to solve their personal problems. This registered dietitian can’t even solve her own problems if she doesn’t read labels and she hoovers up sugar like a smoker getting her tobacco fix.

  9. js290 says:

    Dietary quacks… to paraphrase Rick James, “sugar… it’s a helluva drug…”

  10. BrianÓ says:

    Hilarious as ever Tom!

  11. Zachary says:

    I really wish that article had a comments section (seriously what’s with articles not having comments sections anymore these days) because I feel like she would get ripped apart there. I notice a big difference in the types of comments nonsense articles like this receive these days with lots of people calling out the nonsense. People are really becoming educated and that’s a good thing. We have a long way to go though for an article like this to have ever been written by a dietitian.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I think that’s exactly why articles like this don’t have a comments section.

    • Thomas E. says:

      So, here’s the problem, we all went to that site to look for comments. Now she’s got a great hit ranking for the article. And she scored a huge success, argggggg.

      I agree, the comments would have been interesting.

      As far as psychology, cognitive dissonance is alive and well in the world!

      • Thomas E. says:

        Oh, and let me add, in no way shape or form would I want Tom to stop, or even slow, in publishing these blog entries!

        I very much enjoy them.

        Thanks again Tom!

        thomas.

      • Tom Naughton says:

        Let’s just hope we didn’t increase the size of her client base.

        • James says:

          From the looks of things, she’s doing that well enough with her advice. No idea if she’s getting new clients, but they’re probably getting bigger…

  12. Jan says:

    The sad part here is that she will be even more adamant now telling her patients that cutting out added sugar is “too hard” so they will be discouraged from even trying. How many people will be harmed by her lack of cajones to truly give up added processed sugary crap???

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Amazing, isn’t it? I would think even dietitians, misinformed as many of them are, would be on board with giving up added sugar.

  13. Dianne says:

    As my late mother would have said had she read this woman’s drivel, “Borscht.” I think that was a stand-in word for another word Mom was too much of a lady ever to use. I have a pretty good idea what it was, though.

  14. Nick says:

    This is why I gave up on being a dietitian. The swirling combination of bias, hypocrisy, dogma worship and cognitive dissonance in the RD culture is staggering. Of course there are some “good ones” out there following the science, but let me tell you, that sure as hell isn’t what they’re teaching in school! Providing commentary (especially in this style) is helpful to point all this out. Thanks for posting this and keep up the good work.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      My impression, based on many media articles written by or featuring dietitians, is that critical thinking and high intelligence aren’t required to earn the degree. There are of course highly intelligent dietitians who think critically, but those are the ones who disagree with what they were taught in school.

      • chris c says:

        A great quote I can’t attribute

        “Education teaches you what questions NOT to ask. The failures become scientists.”

        I’ve read some scary stories from proto-dieticians about the dogma they are forced to regurgitate just in order to pass their exams. Questions like “list the dangers of the Atkins diet”.

  15. Firebird7478 says:

    She suffers from “See that diploma on the wall? That means I know more than you do” Syndrome. I have recently experienced that with a couple of doctors who spend 12 hours a day going from exam room to exam room treating patient to patient while I spend that time on the internet doing research that suggests otherwise.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      And if you disagree with the doctor, you’ll likely get a roll of the eyes and a comment such as, “I suppose you read that on the internet, huh?”

      • Firebird7478 says:

        I’ll put it out there…I was diagnosed at age 12 with depression and have been involved with some sort of counseling most of my life. I’ve been with a wonderful therapist for 7 years now and he gets Big Pharm’s tactics. See, my appts. are at noon. While I am in the waiting room, a delivery person from a local eatery comes in with lunch. Usually the pharm rep is there, too. IDK about other clients in the waiting room but I know what is happening.

        When my counselor opens the door to come get me, I walk by him and out of the corner of my eye, to the left, is the break room. I say, loud enough (to my counselor) for the Pharm Rep to hear, “Did you get any of the bribe for lunch?” He laughs and we enter his office. We’ve had the discussion a couple of times. He says he is not a doctor so he cannot prescribe the drugs but he knows exactly what the lunch is for and he appreciates that I have the level of intelligence to know exactly what is going on.

        It’s pretty nice to know that he recognizes how they operate.

  16. Desmond says:

    “The proof from authority is the weakest form of proof, according to Boethius.” (Summa Theologica I.1.8.2us).

    Obviously St. Thomas Aquinas was not a registered dietitian, because he had a sense of humor.

  17. Steve says:

    Dietitians should be registered, just like we register sex offenders.

  18. Linda says:

    Great post! A lot of the subject matter I’ve been trying to get across to a friend, very obese, diabetic, etc.- “read generally very unhealthy.” But, on a positive note, last week, I loaned her “Fat Head Kids.” This week she returned it saying, and I quote, “I wish I’d had this twenty years ago!” She is working on things and has lost fourteen pounds. I’m so grateful you wrote this. I have talked and talked to different people to no avail, and I loan this book and it changes their lives! So far, I’ve given it to no kids. If I find one in need of it I will. I’ve so far purchased three copies. I’m sure I’ll purchase more in the future. Thank you for all you do!!

    • Tom Naughton says:

      I’ve had several adults tell me they needed to have it all explained that simply to finally get it. Maybe it will be an underground hit among adults.

      • Scout Dawson says:

        I think sometimes an adult can have their intelligent insulted both under and overestimating what you assume they know.

        Like, I research biology for fun, but I forget sometimes that the last time (for e.g.) my sister read anything about science was probably 20 years ago, and she has zero interest in it. So to her, talk of insulin and inflammatory markers or ketosis and insulin resistance etc, it’s all greek.

  19. Emily says:

    She’s a dietician but hasn’t been reading food labels? That’s what’s throwing me. Her job revolves around food, yet she doesn’t know what’s in the food she eats.

    I used to have a raging sweet tooth. Since I’ve added saturated fat back into my diet — nowhere near ketosis, just whole milk instead of skim, etc. — I don’t crave sugar nearly as much. I’m not eating low carb, but I have so much more energy it’s ludicrous. I think if this dietician had started her days with an egg breakfast, had natural-fat salad dressing on her salads, and snacked on full-fat Greek yogurt, she’d have been able to tackle that half-marathon without a sugary sports drink.

  20. Bill says:

    Tom
    A couple of years ago I thunk you did a piece very similar to this. It was a day in the life of a ‘registered’, dietician. The narrative was identical. I guess that’s the ‘training’. I’ve always disliked the ‘training’ word, reminds me of monkeys and dogs. Modern education especially in diet and medicine seems to to be the same in that it’s got the hand of large corporations all over it. I’ve mentioned this before I think, my sister in law is a registered NHS, degree educated dietician- she’s one of the most stupid people I know, we always argue about food and she often gets angry, plays the appeal to authority card and then sulks. Seems its an international problem.

  21. Sabine says:

    Unfortunately there are many of these dietitians and their followers. And they not only destroy people’s health with their misguided advice, but the whole planet.

  22. Pierre says:

    She won’t laugh when her doctor will tell her that she has a fatty liver and type II diabetes.
    It is just a matter of time before it occurs.

  23. Nick S says:

    I’ll give her this – it is super annoying to find foods without added sugars.

    I think she missed the point of avoiding added sugars in the first place, which seems to be a common theme with these critical articles. Replacing one kind of sugar with another kind of sugar and then criticizing the diet based on that is very much jousting with a straw man.

  24. Bonnie says:

    She’s missing a great taste treat by putting sugar in her oatmeal. I did that before my diabetes diagnosis, but then switched to butter. Oh my, was it good! Then I found lchf & there went the oatmeal. It’s one of the “healthy” old foods that I kind of miss.

    My husband still eats oatmeal but puts cream & creamed coconut on his.

    Her article did one good thing for me; I now feel like a very self-disciplined person because I’ve gone way longer than she managed without sugar! And it feels good. The withdrawal didn’t, but neither did the nicotine withdrawal when I quit smoking. I wonder if she tells smokers not to bother quitting because it’s too hard.

  25. Martha says:

    The silly thing is that she didn’t give up sugar at all – just substituted one kind for another. In biological terms, she accomplished nothing, so why all the handwringing and moaning about it being so tough? Because she made no effort to understand the lack of difference in sugar sources, no effort to understand the underlying metabolic and hormonal pathways that control her fuel usage in her body, not even any real attempt at label-reading to watch for added sugars in her food choices. What kind of RD doesn’t know that there’s already sugar in commercial pasta sauce or most condiments? Has she never counseled a diabetic client before?

    I am also a Registered Dietitian (32 years), and I find this woman laughable. As a totally carb-dependent, non-fat-adapted eater, of course she would find the initial process of going low carb a bit difficult, but that’s not even what she did. As a non-fat-adapted athlete, of course she had to resort to carbs to finish her race). And as a vegetarian, promoting the removal of meat, an entire class of foods (last time I checked, sugar was NOT a food group…), her own credibility is questionable.

    Don’t paint all dietitians with the same tar and feathers. We are a product of our educations and the research that was being developed and supported by a much bigger power than just us lowly RDs. However, inquisitive, open-minded clinicians are more and more turning away from our educations and understanding the new paradigm of the hormonal theory of obesity, diabetes and inflammation, the metabolic theory of cancer and the massive corruption of the North American food supply. There are good RD’s out there, spreading the low carb message. I have found them in Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Check out my website at http://www.primal-rd.com for my take on low carb.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      That’s the sad part about it: there are good dietitians out there, but as you say, they have to turn away from their educations.

    • Another Mike says:

      Substituting fruit does help some, according to dr. Lustig.

    • Stephen T says:

      Martha, that’s good to hear, but I can’t noticing that all the well informed dietitians have to work privately. If you work in the health system, you have to give the official advice that has been making peoploe fat and ill for forty years.

      I hope a time will come when the title of ‘dietitian’ doesn’t provoke an automatic response of derision, but many of them are fighting a determined battle to uphold the current damaging stupidity.

    • The problem is that the credential is certification that the holder has passed a ciriculum and test based on utter bulls**t.

      It’s like a degree in education with a teaching certificate – the person might actually be an outstanding teacher, but only if they’ve been able to overcome their education, swallow hard and give the “correct” answers on the tests without their heads exploding from cognitive dissonance, and avoid getting “outed” by the tenured True Believers.

      So the very existence of your Dieticians for Professional Integrity is in essence a statement that the mainline (government recognized) organizations and certifying bodies are intrinsically corrupt, no?

      Cheers

  26. Gerard Oneil says:

    The last time I checked, Registered Dietitians come under the “authority” of
    The American Diabetes Association. After looking at their website, they don’t
    even hide the fact that they get most of their support from the giant Pharmacies.
    We are talking big bucks here. The big Pharmacies definately DO NOT want us
    to be healthy. It would cost them big.

    • Martha says:

      Registered Dietitians do not come under the “authority” of the Diabetes Association. I am Canadian, but in the US, the professional association for RD’s is the Association of Nutrition and Dietietics (AND) and the licensing body is the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), a national body. Reference: http://www.eatrightpro.org/resources/about-us/what-is-an-rdn-and-dtr/what-is-a-registered-dietitian-nutritionist A similar arrangement exists in Canada with a national professional association and provincial Colleges, our licensing and oversight body. Organizations that support or share information about individual health conditions have no regulatory powers. Having said that, both the professional organizations (AND,Dietitians of Canada) and the disease-based associations, all take money from sometimes questionable big business sponsors (ex: AND has historically taken support from Coke). There are groups such as Dietitians for Professional Integrity that oppose this collusion. You can find them on Facebook.

    • Emily says:

      Yep. There was a time when I believed this was conspiratorial thinking. I didn’t think Big Pharma was good, but I thought they would stop promoting drugs if they were proven to cause more problems than they solved. And I thought doctors were a protective wall between us and them.

      That was before my back got severely injured and doctors prescribed me drugs to “help.” Undoubtedly I needed some kind of strong painkillers for a couple weeks. After that, though, I should have been taken off of them. Instead, I was given more. The doctors said one of them, Tramadol, wasn’t even addictive. This has been found to be completely false, and I’ve even found multiple people online who were addicted to both Tramadol and heroin and said Tramadol was harder to kick.

      The doctors had believed the lies the drug company told them. (Apparently they don’t teach critical thinking in medical school.) This is the same company that produced Thalidomide. Tramadol was developed by a Nazi they’d hired — not someone who joined the Hitler Youth as a dumb teenager or something, but a Nazi doctor who experimented on victims in concentration camps. Tramadol addiction is now an incredibly serious problem in Africa. Probably a coincidence, but it makes me wonder.

      The drugs messed up my hormones and I packed on fat quickly for the first time in my life. I was certainly moving less, considering moving hurt, but I was also eating WAY less; the drugs wrecked what little appetite I had. My doctors shrugged when I complained about my digestive problems, short-term memory issues (in my 30s), and the raft of other serious problems caused by the drugs. So I had to resort to the internet, where I found information on Wikipedia that led on an odyssey of links. I stopped taking every one of the four drugs the doctors had prescribed me to “help” with my constant pain. My physical pain actually lessened after a very short time off the drugs; I’ll probably always be in pain, but “painkillers” were actually making it worse. The mental anguish of kicking Tramadol — which I’d taken less of than the doctors said I could — lasted longer.

      Due to prescription drugs taken as directed, I can barely remember more than three years of my 30s. I went through hell and I dragged my husband with me through quite a bit of it. Prescription painkillers are the #1 cause of accidental death in the United States. And Big Pharma keeps pushing them.

      As Macklemore says in “Drug Dealer”: “Murderers who will never face the judge.”

      • Dianne says:

        This lady mentioned something I also experienced this year, very much to my surprise. I’ve taken low doses of hydrocodone, often combined with Tylenol or aspirin, for years to control constant arthritis and muscle pain, and I decided this was not smart for a number of reasons. So I quit painkillers almost entirely. At first it was really rough, but over a period of a week or two my pain grew less and less. I still have some little aches and pains sometimes (anno Domini, I suppose), but most of the time I can ignore them and go about my life, which is a lot pleasanter without the hydrocodone, etc., messing up my system. I feel better physically and my mood has really improved, too. Now I wonder if there comes a point at which prescription and OTC painkillers actually start to cause pain.

        • Tom Naughton says:

          Our bodies down-regulate internal processes when exogenous drugs or hormones are doing the job for us. So my guess is once you got off the drugs, your body up-regulated its own ability to handle pain.

        • Emily says:

          I occasionally take Tylenol still, and it still does its job for me. So does ibuprofen. Opiates like hydrocodone, on the other hand, are known to cause opiate-induced hyperalgesia. This has not been studied nearly enough, of course, because there’s no money in it. One of the few studies I found called it “inexplicable.” Whatever the scientific reason behind it, opiates/opioids are known to do this to very many people (all, if the people I’ve talked to are anything to go by), though of course most doctors don’t seem to know about it.

          • Dianne says:

            After I had an endoscopy my gastroenterologist told me no more NSAIDs. Tylenol doesn’t work that well for me, especially if I take it every day (probably for the reason Tom described), and anyway, I’d just rather not put any more unnatural chemicals into my body than I have to. However, when I get a migraine (which seldom happens if I avoid wheat and sugar), all bets are off! But I do find it kind of amazing that none of my doctors ever told me that taking drugs could make pain worse. No wonder people keep thinking the drug they’re on has “stopped working” and asking for stronger prescriptions!

            • Tom Naughton says:

              You definitely want to be careful with the Tylenol (I assume you are.) A friend of Chareva’s parents self-medicated with Tylenol for chronic pain, overdid it, and died of liver failure as a result.

              • Dianne says:

                Many years ago a beloved neighbor died the same way, only her doctor prescribed the dosage. He told her it was really high but that this dose was what she needed for her severe back pain, and she thought it was worth the risk if it would help. She lived long enough to change her mind.

                Even when taking both Tylenol and hydrocodone, which contains acetaminophen (Tylenol), I have always been very careful to add them together and keep track of the daily amounts. But now I’m very happy to be weaned from taking it daily. After all, I saw how long my sister had to wait to get a liver transplant after developing an autoimmune disease!

  27. JIllOz says:

    A major red flag of any practitioner is when he/she says first off that he/she is “accredited” “registered” etc.
    Some of the worst practitioners talk about their credentials and how they “empower” patients blah blah. They are soft-soap incompetents. NB – they might do the odd good job but it’s rare.

    The good ones just get on with it, explain what you need and get into the science when asked questions. And if they don’t know they tell you and suggest possibilities.

  28. JIllOz says:

    Re the article – LOL Tom! Nice work!

  29. mabelle says:

    on the 3rd august i went to see a cardiologist about my heart health hoping i can get a calcium scoring test done so i know if i have some form of atherosclerosis (from all the 37 years of damage possibly done before i changed my lifestyle to zero carbs for 1.5 years now). He advised against calcium scoring as there is a risk of contracting breast cancer for women going through CT scans. That did scare me off the test completely on the spot. I thought since im on the right track in the food that i eat it shouldnt matter if i know where my heart health stands if the test carries such risk, since whatever results will not gonna make me change what i am doing currently.

    So I showed him my blood test hoping he sheds light that all the readings points to a healthy heart, with HDL at 37mg/dl, LDl at 139mg/dl and triglyceride at 57mg/dl and he exclaimed that my LDL was high. I asked if it could be that my type b LDL (the smaller denser ones) is only a small part of the whole LDL count, and he said they are all the same and they eventually is bad for my heart. I ended the consultation right there and then and didnt plan to come back for the followup appointment they set for me.

    All that coming from a cardiologist.

  30. Archie says:

    Hello Tom…
    Thank you for this highly-amusing and methodical dismantling of Natalie Rizzo’s dreadful article.
    The lady has a blog at https://nutritionalanatalie.com
    and her Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/natalie.rizzo.96/
    Both might be useful places to leave feedback on her wonderful article, since “Greatist” seems not to provide such a facility…
    (Incite people to troll? Me? NEVER!)

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Nah, I don’t want to troll the lady online. Making fun of her stupid advice on the blog is enough.

    • Firebird7478 says:

      She did tweet it…and is paying the price!

    • Emily says:

      I read some of her blog, and was surprised to find that she does eat eggs. Usually lacto-ovo vegetarians are smarter about nutrition (and everything else) than vegans. But if her recipes are anything to go by, she eats very, very few eggs. I didn’t find much dairy in them either. Tons and tons of sugar, though. Going by her blog, she’s got severely disordered eating. She likes tasty foods that are burned up very quickly and avoids foods that are filling. I’d feel really bad for her were she not trying to sell her issues to others.

  31. Ash says:

    I am a doctor who runs a busy functional medicine clinic. The other day we got a call from a Registered Dietitian who was asking if we’d like to hire her to provide nutritional counseling to our patients. Um, no thanks! She might have been one of the good ones, but I wasn’t willing to take the chance. We don’t do politically correct nutrition in my practice.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Too bad, but that’s the situation we’re in.

    • Archie says:

      Ash, should another such application arrive, it might be quite a good idea to do a bit of education…

      During an interview, you could ask, for example, “Is ‘Atkins’ a swearword?’ Or “What do you know about the effect of ketone bodies on cancer cells?” Or “Is LCHF a healthy way to reduce adipose tissue?” Or “Is Type II diabetes reversible with dietary measures?”

      If the candidate answers correctly, you could then hire her or him without worrying.
      And if the wrong answers are given, it would be a golden opportunity to present one more of the diet-sheeple with a healthy dose of information.

      • Stephen T says:

        Good point, Archie.

        A couple of weeks ago, as I left my gym, I was approached by a dietitian and I told her that she wouldn’t like my views. This started a conversation and her views were very similar to mine. She thought low-fat foods were terrible and had no fear of natural fat. Predictably, she worked privately and not within the health service.

  32. Another Mike says:

    Here is a dietician who saw the article and also decided to fisk it, so there is some hope:

    http://www.metrodietetics.com.au/month-without-sugar-critique/

  33. Butter Fury says:

    >”Omitting added sugar from my diet has made my already healthy diet even healthier. I have no choice but to eat plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains.”

    Hmmm, what is this feeling of discomfort and expectation of incoming cringe? Why does my hand reach for the nearest weaponisable object seemingly on it’s own?

    >As a vegetarian

    Ah, that’s why. *Sigh*, i’m so bloody tired of these plant fetishists, i can’t even start to describe it.

  34. Dave says:

    Having made the mistake of experimenting with a low-carb diet once upon a misguided time, I can understand why you yourself consider pushing a lawnmower an endurance exercise.

    Mowing your lawn ‘several times’ is not, however, remotely comparable to running a marathon. As someone who engages in many actual endurance and high-intensity exercises (mountain biking, CrossFit, ice hockey) on a daily basis, I can say that sugar undeniably leaves me happier and more energetic doing so. And that experience is widely shared among my very fit, lean – many previously overweight – acquaintances.

    If I were to succumb to sedentarism one day, I would probably consider curbing my sugar intake. As a means of adjusting my calorie intake to suit an inactive lifestyle, not because it’s the metabolic boogeyman.

    You’re not an athlete. Don’t mock athletes for sharing dietary choices that improve a lifestyle you don’t understand.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Well, gee, I’m very sorry I made fun of a sugar addict who couldn’t get by without sugar (despite running a HALF marathon exactly once) for 26 days. Clearly she needed that sugar before and for many days after running a whopping 13 miles. After all, who can possibly survive an airplane flight without some sugar?

      A dietitian telling people — all people, including those who don’t run a half-marathon once in awhile — not to give up the “entire food group” of sugar isn’t an athlete sharing dietary choices with other athletes. That’s a sugar addict justifying eating added sugar and telling everyone it’s fine to do so.

      No, I’m not a competitive athlete. But in five hours, minus 10 minutes rest or so per hour, I push a mower more than 15 miles, up and down a very steep hill, often in 95-degree weather. I’m pretty sure I burn more energy than the sugar addict does during her half-marathons.

    • Firebird7478 says:

      I’m a former pro athlete and I have been a bodybuilder/weightlifter since I was 13. Been at it for 40 years and I am sure you manage your day by Crossfitting, playing hockey and mountain biking all in one day (Is that the new triathlon?) quite well. When you find time to work at a job…beats me. But I can tell you from PERSONAL experience that I DO understand her lifestyle because I was there when it was first incorporated and I was hoodwinked into it, too.

      How sad for me that I scoffed at the Vince Girondas of the world who were preaching meat and fat and limit carbs back in my youth for I suspect following what this “registered dietician” still recommends did permanent damage to my metabolism. How sad for you that YOU would MOCK US who have learned that the hard way and have adapted.

    • Mike says:

      It is arguably the case that certain kinds of athletic activities work better with some carbohydrate intake. If that is the case, such athletes should be eating glucose or starches. Eating table sugar might make you happier, but half of that caloric energy isn’t immediately available to an athlete. If sports drinks were serious about fueling athletes it wouldn’t contain table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. One may as well make the argument that a pre-race cigarette makes you happier, since what we are talking about here is a dopamine response and not fuel.

    • Emily says:

      If she’s an “athlete”, I was too before my back went out. Have you actually looked at the foods this woman recommends for fueling before her so-called “athletic” endeavors?

      Pancakes with syrup. Oranges. Frozen grapes. Pasta. Unlike many people here, I have nothing against those foods, but as fuel for endurance? That’s nuts. There is hardly any protein or fat to be found. At my former level of activity, which was at least as much as hers, I would have spent all day crashing and probably fainting if I’d followed her recommendations.

      Also, I’m sorry, but if you claim someone who’s a partner in personally running a farm, even a small one, isn’t as “athletic” as someone who goes on the occasional hike or half-marathon, you’re simply wrong. This dietician’s no Olympic athlete. She’s not even a high school athlete.

    • At the risk of sounding like a Certified Health Professional — “you were doing it wrong.”

      A standard carb-based athlete engaged in continuous over-training who tries “experimenting with a low-carb diet” is indeed courting disaster. Despite high level athletic performance, fat-burning under exertion isn’t something that just automatically happens if you stop eating sugar. So without the sugar fix, you’re essentially trying to perform with no usable fuel.

      As detailed by several experts (Mark Sisson, Phil Maffetone, Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney, etc), training the body to utilize fat as a primary energy source entails up to several months at a greatly reduced workload.

      Although many testify to its value, it’s a real time investment that isn’t possible in the middle of a competitive season. top level athletes who’ve done it sing its praises. but talk of “practically crawling,” having a hard time getting used to the amount of resting, and having to watch their training colleagues zoom by them while they rebuild.

      Our vegetarian dietician, however, would qualify as a “weekend warrior” at best, and to think that loads of sugar intake are required for a non-competitive 1/2 marathon is insane.

      Cheers

      • Tom Naughton says:

        Based on what she says she eats, I think it’s pretty clear the dietitian takes a daily ride on the blood-sugar roller-coaster. After that “super-healthy” meal of oatmeal, dates and bananas, her blood glucose spikes and then dips below baseline. Then she needs a cookie to feel normal.

  35. Nick Mailer says:

    This reminds me of a recent discussion I had with an MD on twitter.

    He’s a statin-pusher, and was promoting their supposed pleiotropic effects. His argument was that they prevented CVD by being anti-inflammatories.

    I pointed out that almost all exogenous anti-inflammatories EXACERBATE heart disease, and included a shedload of solid references. He agreed that this was so, and belittled me for even daring to point it out to someone as all-knowing as he. I asked how this fact squared with his statin argument.

    His retort was that he was a qualified Doctor, and who the hell was I to question him. Then he blocked me.

    I’m beginning to wonder if certification or registration destroys a part of the brain that processes logic.

  36. Stacy says:

    How did my grandparents live so long without food labels? They ate eggs, whole milk, pork, steak, chicken, venison, butter. They were lean and strong and healthy. Maybe they were French and I didn’t know it because it is a paradox.

    • Tom Naughton says:

      Now that mention it, most of my relatives must’ve been French as well. And here I’ve always thought I’m Irish.

  37. Firebird7478 says:

    The more and more I think about it, the more I am convinced that somebody needs to take Chareva’s “What are you a moron?” quote from the movie, put it on a loop or a GIF, just so we can play it back for occasions like this.

  38. chris c says:

    Awww, don’t be too hard on her! She knows that giving up sugar is a symptom of orthorexia, which she obviously doesn’t want to catch.

    So is cutting out any other “food group”, except meat of course.

    I’m not sure if radically improving your health is a defence against this diagnosis.

  39. E. V. Lynne says:

    Tom, two questions.

    1. Why do I have such an unhealthy obsession with Jimmy Moore?

    2. Why do I keep showing up here and attempting to use your blog as a forum for trashing Jimmy Moore, even though you’ve made it clear that’s not going to happen?

  40. Paula says:

    Let me get this straight. This RD avoided added sugar by…adding sugar? Talk about Head. Bang. On. Desk.

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