North Carolina blogger, Steve Cooksey, could face misdemeanor charges and jail time for sharing his positive experiences with a low-carb, Paleo lifestyle. According to the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition, Cooksey is practicing “dietetics and nutrition” without a license because, according to the statute, he is “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutritional counseling”.
According to his blog, Cooksey was hospitalized in 2009 with uncontrolled (and undiagnosed) diabetes. He got the usual spiel from the hospital personnel and was sent home with insulin, prescription meds, and dietary guidelines from the American Diabetes Association. His doctor pointed him in the direction of a low glycemic diet to control his blood sugar, and it wasn’t long before he was insulin and medication-free — particularly remarkable because when he went into the hospital, his blood glucose was over 700 mg/dL and his A1c was too high to measure.
These days, Cooksey blogs about diabetes control from a low-carb, Paleo perspective, and because he’s had such life-changing results, he shares his enthusiasm, experiences, and trials with his readership. Part of the footer on every page at his site reads:
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…
Despite the disclaimer, and despite the fact that I see him posting as just another guy whose life was changed forever by low-carb and Paleo living, the board isn’t giving up. Apparently, Cooksey’s participation at a Charlotte seminar ruffled enough feather at the board that they could seek an injunction against his site.
Many think, as do I, that Cooksey’s blog is protected by the First Amendment. You all can’t see the blood shooting out of my eyes right now, but let me tell you, it’s happening! From what I’ve gathered so far, the powers that be in North Carolina don’t like Cooksey’s message that flies in the face of their “low-fat, sugar in moderation, healthy whole grains, you need carbs to live” wisdom, and we all know that there’s a LOT to be lost there. After all, can you all imagine how much money Big Pharma would lose if people controlled their diabetes with a low-carb, real food diet and exercise? Many fewer blood pressure meds, blood sugar meds, insulin, testing supplies, cholesterol-lowering meds, heart medication — and the list goes on and on.
I’ve been saying it for a long time. The world of diabetes management and nutrition is terrified by those of us who talk about our success with low-carb and Paleo. After all, I don’t have to buy any meds, I don’t have to buy any special equipment. I just have to eat REAL food, move my butt, and get good sleep. Scary, isn’t it? Are you quaking in your boots? I know I’M shaking!
But seriously, what’s it coming to in this country when you can’t share the benefit of your experiences and research without risking JAIL time? It’s one thing if you claim to be something you’re not, but if, like me, you’re just another idiot with a keyboard and the time to do research, there shouldn’t be anything to fear.
I consider this case to be something of a slippery slope. Yes, I happen to agree with Cooksey’s topic and his passion, but even if I didn’t, even if he were singing the praises of a vegan diet for instance, I’d support his right to share.
Now, some would say that it’s different with Cooksey because he offers private contact and support for a small fee, but again, I still don’t think he’s doing anything wrong. First, his time has value, and if people want to pay to ask him about his personal experiences, then all the power to them. Second, and perhaps more importantly though, he’s not CLAIMING to be a dietitian or a nutritionist. Again and again on his site, he makes it clear that he’s none of those things. He’s just a guy who wants to help folks by sharing the benefit of his experiences, his research, and his passion.
I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, folks, but we’re all at risk. The moment we start vocalizing our support for issues that go against the grain, we become targets. Big Ag and Big Pharma in particular fear that they have the most to lose from folks who want to get healthy and grow/consume local food. It saddens me and it certainly worries me.
Times are changing, folks. Keep claiming your own personal liberty, and whatever you do, don’t let clowns who’re afraid of losing money push you around. We need to take charge of our families, we need to take charge of our food, and we need to take responsibility for our lives. It’s not complicated; it’s just not always easy. Keep up the walk though! We can do this together!