Result: meeting accomplished!
It happened at 12:30pm today, local time. I was told beforehand I would have 20 minutes, but unfortunately he was running late and had somewhere else to be straight after me, so I actually ended up with closer to just 10 minutes instead. But I like to think I made it count.
My audience was Dr Clark himself and an assistant, just the three of us in his office. I began by showing them a photo ID of mine from 5 years ago, and my biggest pants (no time to climb into them, hehe). Everything for me is awesome now, except whenever I think about how many others are still struggling with the life I used to live myself, which leads us to why we're here.
I broke out the proposal at this point, presenting it as stuff I wish I'd known so long ago, and talked about how much of it conflicts with today's guidelines, to the point where they actually explicitly advise against it. Yet here I am, living proof that it works, it's safe, it's effective and it's sustainable. I've helped myself, I've helped others, and now I want to help more.
Just a couple of minutes for each of the key points I wanted to make. Talk of a sugar tax is doing the rounds in NZ media at the moment, and I told them that while I agree with the principle behind the tax, if other things aren't done either at the same time or beforehand, it may not achieve as much as anyone would like on its own. If the guidelines were changed and people got the message that LCHF was actually OK, then I'd like to believe that that would make a bigger difference.
Of course, if changing the main guidelines was likely to suffer too much push-back, the other option would be to consider a separate set of guidelines for people with chronic metabolic conditions: obesity, T2D and so on. It wouldn't create any new precedent, since we already have targeted advice for the young, the old, the pregnant and so on. This seemed to resonate well with his assistant in particular, who suggested that the current guidelines were just about maintaining health, and I finished her sentence for her, "and what about people who have lost their health, or never even had it to begin with, like me? Make some new guidelines that are about gaining or regaining health, targeted at the very people who need that kind of help." That got a few nods.
Dr Clark asked me about low vs high GI food. I replied that while I felt that between two foods containing the same amount of carbs the lower GI would be better, either way you'd still be digesting the same amount of glucose, and my argument was to reduce the amount coming in altogether, so that the whole GI question becomes less of a factor anyway. They also asked me what sort of food I ate, and I went through all the regulars, basically variations of meat and veges, plus eggs and dairy. I mentioned the cafeteria I often go to for lunch, and he knew the place, saying he's been there himself occasionally; I don't recall seeing him there myself, but I'll be sure to say hi if I do in the future. He mentioned how he used to carb-load for some of the events he used to take part in, and I managed to get in a quick "keto may well have worked better."
Time ran out all too soon, so we took a photo outside his local office, and I offered to email him a PDF copy of the proposal, which he said he was happy to receive. A final handshake and they were off. I emailed him that PDF tonight, and also attached a copy of the photo, to help him remember who I am.
I have to say Dr Clark himself seemed quite friendly and attentive, and all of his staff were polite and welcoming. The lady who phoned me a month back actually made a point of coming out from her office to introduce herself to me while I was waiting, which was nice I thought. I just wish the whole thing had lasted longer, otherwise it all went about as well as I could have hoped.
So now that the meeting itself is done, I am prepared to present that same PDF to my fellow lowcarbers:
Evolving our nutritional understanding
Some quick disclaimers:
1. Writing is not something I do for a living (outside of code, at least). Hell, I failed high school English. But I've done what I feel is the best I could with the four weeks I had available to me. Keeping the personal aspects out was harder than I expected, but I tried to keep that stuff to the beginning and end sections only. The rest hopefully reads a little more formally.
2. There's a lot of New Zealand-centric stuff in there, which is only fair as it was originally intended for a New Zealand-based audience. The Health Star Rating system for example is something specific to Australasia. We also use the metric system; our scales for measuring lipids and so on are different. On the other hand, some issues overseas don't apply so much in NZ: we still have a publicly funded health system (with additional private health insurance options), there are no food subsidies here as far as I know, and pretty much all of our meat comes from grass-fed animals. So some recommendations I've made won't necessarily apply to other parts of the world, and I imagine the opposite applies as well.
One final note tonight that topped off my day: within an hour of posting the photo to the What the Fat
Facebook group, I got a like and a comment from Prof Grant Schofield himself:
Good work! The guidelines are still positively low fat.
Whether any of this ultimately goes any further at this point I cannot know or say, but as of right now I'm feeling pretty damn proud to have gotten as far as I have. Whatever happens next - if anything - today will not be forgotten anytime soon.