Saturday, November 9, 2019

Retrospective #265: “Let’s Start with Food”

A TV commercial targeting people with Type 2 diabetes begins, “Now I’m ready for someone to listen to me.” I didn’t get the pitch at first, but it had a few things I can relate to: 1) my reason (and hope) in writing this blog is that people will “listen to me,” 2) I share the speaker’s frustrated tone, and 3) I like the inference that people with Type 2 diabetes should “take charge” and be more involved in their own management plan. The pitch all became clear to me, though, when the backer of the website, Fit2Me, became apparent. It was AstraZenica, the drug maker.
Then the voiceover says, “Let’s start with food.” I liked that too. The pitch made each one of us an important and unique individual. That’s good marketing, and it reflected the recent clinical guidance from the ADA: “It is the position of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” eating pattern for individuals with diabetes.” The ADA has declared, in effect, that low-carb diets are an appropriate “eating pattern” for Type 2 diabetics. Zowee! Fit2Me (AstraZenica) had obviously read the ADA Position Paper and were attempting to cash in.
So, to learn more, I decided to sign up. It was a well-designed interactive website where you provide a little information, and then you pick a “counselor” to choose your style of mentoring. You then choose, with clicks, 1) the foods, 2) activities (exercise) and 3) treatment plan just for you. I answered all their questions and was automatically put into a bi-monthly Sweepstakes program!  I “liked” certain foods and “disliked” others. The result, I was told, was over 1,000 recipes (from over 10k) that fit my “likes.” I “liked” zero (0) “activities,” but that didn’t deter my mentor.
Then I went back to the food and recipes section. It also was very well designed with a keyword search function and a list of 7 additional search dropdown boxes for things like meal, type of cuisine, type of dish, time to make, serving, style and main ingredient. I searched on “eggs” and got over 100 recipes. I clicked on #12, “Sweet Southern Egg Salad,” (132 calories, 6 carbs) to get more details. Among my food choices I had previously selected “gluten free,” and the picture showed two brown slices that looked suspiciously like pumpernickel bread, so I wondered how that could be? And while I was glad to see carbs listed with calories, how could this recipe have only 6 grams of carbs?
Well, obviously, it couldn’t. And the “bread” (if that what is was) was not included in the recipe. Neither was the green leafy veggie under the top slice. But, I said generously, it’s a start-up website, so maybe I should cut them some slack. Then, I read the preparation instructions. It calls for 8 eggs (for 4 servings), but throws out (or sets aside), 4 of the yolks. Yikes! Okay, I’m starting to get the drift here. The secret agenda – well, not so secret if you draw inferences – is that they follow ADA protocol, which follows AHA protocol, which follows the USDA Guidelines on dietary cholesterol.
Further evidence was the “non-fat” plain yogurt and “low-fat” mayonnaise in the recipe. The Nutrition Facts panel provided had all the required items plus more like “exchanges” and “carb servings” for the yo-yo dieters out there who have tried and failed to permanently lose weight. Interestingly, the required “Total Fat” and “Saturated Fat” are there, and it also included “Monounsaturated Fat” which is not required. That’s another clever inclusion, no doubt to appeal to the Mediterranean Diet followers. But how about polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs)? They’re NOT included!!!
I don’t blame AstraZeneca or their diet consultants. It is the USDA that’s behind the curve here, and they are between a rock and a hard place. How can you constantly demonize saturated fat to the point where red meat is verboten and full-fat dairy is getting harder and harder to find in the store, and not include polyunsaturated fats in your eating pattern? Besides, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines expressly extols PUFAs, while strongly condemning saturated fats, linking them like conjoined twins with artificial trans fats. That only leaves monounsaturated fats unscathed. And frankly, how much olive oil can a person eat?! This recipe has 3g of PUFAs per serving vs. 2g saturated and 2g mono.
So, while this is a very nice interactive website, and it’s easy to get sucked in, it has its limitations and the eating plan sucks. There are, however, many other websites with low carb (even very low carb) recipes and healthy saturated fats.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see if they pitch a medication regimen to me before my next doctor’s appointment. They did ask me for the date and offered to remind me! That makes very clear to me what this website is all about.

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