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Dieticians Go After Nutrition Blog – My Take

Hello there everyone! It has been a long time since I last wrote. I am happy to announce that I have found employment, and the training has been keeping me quite busy! I’m also glad to be back. My schedule is going to get pretty hectic soon, so I will be needing to figure out quickly how my writing fits into all of this.

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Here’s the Pitch:

State Threatens to Shut Down Nutrition Blogger

The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send a blogger to jail for recounting publicly his battle against diabetes and encouraging others to follow his lifestyle.

Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”

Steve Cooksey has learned that the definition, at least in the eyes of the state board, is expansive.

My blogging friends have united about an issue that is dividing the Nutrition Blogging world. Fathead, Robb Wolf, Jimmy Moore, Hunter Gatherer have posts on it. The site in question is Diabetes Warrior – run by a fellow diabetic named Steve Cooksey. You can see his diabetes story here.

Now, I am all for bucking the Man. Thing is, in this case, I take the stand against Cooksey. I did before – and got some heat for it. That’s okay though – if you can’t stand the heat…

In the following post I will be bringing some of their comments to light, and my response to them.

My Take

Here’s the thing – In it’s own way, Cooksey is really being prosecuted because he crossed a line. I understand the libertarian slant, I really do. Licensing isn’t worth beans, so what’s the big deal?

The trouble is, Steve Cooksey wasn’t just giving general advice on diet. He was giving specific, individual advice to people about their nutrition so they could reduce or get off their meds.

I’ve seen plenty of books in bookstores that offer nutrition advice, but weren’t written by people with degrees or licenses.  If any of those authors live in North Carolina, will the state’s dietetics and nutrition board be going after them next?  Are those of us who don’t live in North Carolina going to be threatened with fines or jail, since we have readers in North Carolina? – Tom Naughton on Fathead

Books in bookstores don’t offer INDIVIDUAL, SPECIFIC nutrition advice. They offer guidelines based on a readership pool. They also ALWAYS state that the information inside is of a educational manner, and is not supposed to replace medical advice. They also state that you need to work with your medical team before and during use of their book. It has always been that way Tom. Look at exercise books, nutrition books, diet books. There’s a reason for that.

A co-worker of mine recently asked me for advice about his diet because his triglycerides are way too high and the low-fat diet he was advised to follow isn’t helping.  (Duh.)  He gave me a copy of his lab report and a list of his typical meals.  I’d say that means I performed an assessment. If we were in North Carolina, could I get around the law by declaring that I consider the co-worker a friend?  Would we need to submit pictures of ourselves having drinks together after work to prove we’re friends?

Sure, it looks like it would be the same thing as if I listened to my Grandma about how to eat, and all of that. Thing is, you know I am not that dumb. It’s not the same thing.

If I chose to take my Grandma’s advice, that’s cool. Is it against the law? I don’t care. BIG DIFFERENCE Tom. My grandmother, or you, as a coworker, or some dude on the street is giving their me their opinion. They are not [really] approaching it from a standpoint of authority. My friend may say that the ADA is stupid, or their doctors are out to lunch, but he sure as hell doesn’t do it in a PUBLIC FORUM, and try to convince EVERYONE that he is right, the “experts” are wrong, and to follow his protocol instead.

Steven Cooksey is offering advice based on what worked for him. He is approaching it from a standpoint that he is right, even though he has no clue about the inner workings of endocrinology. He is trying to translate his N=1 experience into a protocol for everyone – as if he had the experience to do so. Ironically, he even states on his website that:

I am not a doctor, dietitian nor nutritionist… in fact I have no medical training of any kind. If I can figure this out so should they… if it wasn’t for their …

A) Intellectual Laziness

B) Willful ignorance

C) Greed

D) All of the Above :)

Can you spot the irony? Call A,B,C, and D for Cooksey as well. Did he offer his “advice” for a fee? Yes, he did. That’s against the rules.

He is NOT licensed, and he is acting as if were – by taking individual advice, and charging a fee for it, and doing it on a public forum. Call that C) Greed.

He doesn’t know the finer points of any medical history, endocrinology, the balance of a body. What he knows is that a low carb, primal diet has worked for him. BUT, he is “helping” people as if he were an authority. He is counseling them to get off their meds, insulin, without understanding the medicine behind it. Call that A).

He stated that he didn’t want to get licensed, had no interest in it. Call that B).

Why My Stance?

When I was diagnosed, I would have done ANYTHING to get off the insulin. I would have moved heaven and earth. I would also be dead right now. Unfortunately, I need insulin to live. I was also misdiagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic, the exact profile Steve Cooksey advises. In truth, I am a LADA diabetic.

The insulin and metformin gave my pancreas a rest. As a result of that, my needs for insulin are lower than most T1D after diagnosis. I have maintained my “honeymoon” period with the use of drugs, diet, and [lack of] exercise.

Diet and exercise are a huge factor in the treatment of diabetes – but aren’t the only thing. In fact, counter to Cooksey’s advice, even Dr. Bernstein advocates the use of drugs and insulin in a newly diagnosed diabetic so they can give their pancreas a chance to rest. That’s right – you heard it here. Even for type 2 diabetes.

I agree with the First Amendment.

Steve Cooksey can say whatever he wants. What I don’t get why some people don’t understand that the First Amendment does NOT give you a free pass from the repercussions of what you say. He attacks the ADA, dieticians, tells everyone they are stupid, that people should follow Cooksey’s way, and he is surprised that there is a pushback. He is also surprised that there would be consequences because he is blatantly breaking the law.

Ice T said it best:

I thought free speech meant I could say whatever I wanted to say. Now looking back on it, this is what I learned. Yes, you have the right to say whatever you want in America, but you have to be prepared for the ramifications for what you say.

You Tell Me:

Those are my thoughts on this matter. What do you think? Am I right, or off my rocker? Let me know in the comments!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.confessionsofawannabehousewife.blogspot.com Betsy

    You say he was offering individualized advice for a fee – where is the source to back that up? I’ve browsed the website and no where does he offer or advertise this service. His disclaimer (at the top of the page) states that he is not a medical professional and that the advice offered on his site is to be used for educational purposes only.

    Based on what I’ve seen on the site he isn’t doing anything any other nutrition/health/foodrights/foodie blogger is doing. Many people who blog on Food Renegade have called the ADA, and many other “health” agencies, idiots (and worse).

    If he was giving individualized advice for a fee, then yes, that crosses the line of legality, but can you point out where he was doing so?

  • http://welldonechef.com Jason Sandeman

    @Betsy – Great question! He used to offer the service on his site, but was counseled by his lawyers to discontinue it. You can see that here:

    http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/2012/01/28/this-site-free-speech-are-being-investigated/

    In it he writes:

    2) I agreed to take down the ‘Diabetes Support” page. It’s a page few people new about, I did not ‘promote it’ but people could become my client and I would assist them doing what I had done, for a fee. My earnings were meager and I left the link up there just in case someone wanted my assistance.

    I hope that clears that up.