A Classic She Said / He Said
The “she” is Marian Burros, a reporter for the New York Times, who wrote an article about the Atkins diet last week. The article implied that the folks at Atkins are changing their message to advise dieters who use their plan to limit the amount of red meat and saturated fat intake.
The “he” is Paul D. Wolff, chief executive of Atkins Nutritionals. In response to the Times article, a message titled “Atkins Has Not Changed” was posted on the Atkins web site, stating that these “basic tenets” of the Atkins approach have remained consistent for more than 30 years: avoid refined carbohydrates and consume a variety of protein sources.
Ms. Burroughs has some quibbles with what she sees as a mixed message that the Atkins organization has put out, but she does acknowledge that in “Atkins for Life” (the most recent Atkins book), Dr. Atkins is quoted as saying, “You should always eat a balance of different types of natural fat.”
That comment is completely out of line with the media’s portrayal of the Atkins diet. Invariably, when television news delivers reports about Atkins, you’ll see shots of bacon frying and steaks grilling, while a voice-over states that Atkins dieters can eat all the greasy high-fat foods they want. You can’t blame viewers for interpreting this as an invitation to an all-you-can-eat meat marathon; as if Atkins encourages dieters to gorge on beef until they’re stuffed to the gills.
The fact is, on the Atkins diet you don’t HAVE to eat any red meat at all. And no one makes you eat a daily pound of bacon. Following Atkins, you can get your protein from chicken and fish, and there are plenty of low-glycemic vegetables and fruits that are allowed as well.
I’m not trying to convince anyone to use the Atkins plan. As with any diet, Atkins is right for some and not right for others. But the television image of the Atkins diet as an unbalanced, gluttony of nothing but red meat is way off the mark. And once again, the New York Times has the picture wrong.
To Your Good Health,
Health Sciences Institute
“Make That Steak a Bit Smaller, Atkins Advises Today’s Dieters” Marian Burros, the New York Times, 1/18/04, nytimes.com
“Atkins Has Not Changed” Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., atkins.com