State Governments

Blogging About the Paleo Diet Can Get You Shut Down in North Carolina


The state of North Carolina has its own "Board of Dietetics and Nutrition"–of course it does–and it has decided that one bloggers right to free speech ends where the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition's officious overbearingness begins, as I think Oliver Wendell Holmes (or was it Oliver Wendell Douglas?) once wrote.

Here's the naughty bits, as reported in Carolina Journal:

[When] Steve Cooksey…was hospitalized with diabetes in February 2009, he decided to avoid the fate of his grandmother, who eventually died of the disease. He embraced the low-carb, high-protein Paleo diet, also known as the "caveman" or "hunter-gatherer" diet. The diet, he said, made him drug- and insulin-free within 30 days. By May of that year, he had lost 45 pounds and decided to start a blog about his success.

But this past January the state diatetics and nutrition board decided Cooksey's blog — — violated state law. The nutritional advice Cooksey provides on the site amounts to "practicing nutrition," the board's director says, and in North Carolina that's something you need a license to do.

Unless Cooksey completely rewrites his 3-year-old blog, he could be sued by the licensing board. If he loses the lawsuit and refuses to take down the blog, he could face up to 120 days in jail.

The board's director says Cooksey has a First Amendment right to blog about his diet, but he can't encourage others to adopt it unless the state has certified him as a dietitian or nutritionist.

Seems he came to their attention after contradicting a local hospital's director of diabetes services at a local meeting, and handing out cards about his site. What did the Board find objectionable about Cooksey's site?

Cooksey posted a link (6.3 MB PDF download) to the board's review of his website. The document shows several Web pages the board took issue with, including a question-and-answer page, which the director had marked in red ink noting the places he was "assessing and counseling" readers of his blog.

"If people are writing you with diabetic specific questions and you are responding, you are no longer just providing information — you are counseling," she wrote. "You need a license to provide this service."

The board also found fault with a page titled "My Meal Plan," where Cooksey details what he eats daily.

In red, [Dietetics and Nutrition Board director] Burril writes, "It is acceptable to provide just this information [his meal plan], but when you start recommending it directly to people you speak to or who write you, you are now providing diabetic counseling, which requires a license."

The board also directed Cooksey to remove a link offering one-on-one support, a personal-training type of service he offered for a small fee.

Cooksey posts the following disclaimer at the bottom of every page on his website:

"I am not a doctor, dietitian, nor nutritionist … in fact I have no medical training of any kind."

The bureaucrat speaks!

Charla Burill, the board's director, told Carolina Journal she could not discuss the details of Cooksey's case because his website is still under investigation, but agreed to talk about the law in the hypothetical….

Burill said [Cooksey's] disclaimer may not protect a nutrition blogger from the law.

"If I've given you reason to not worry that I don't have a license because I have all these other reasons I'm an expert, you could still harm the public," she said. "At least you're not trying to mislead the public, but you're trying to get the public to trust you."….

Burill said if Cooksey refuses to come into compliance with the law, the board could file for an injunction. 

The paleo diet–a passionate fad and/or lifestyle change of an enormous number of folk I know concentrated in the world's of libertarianism, futurism, space, and your basic "new digital economy" (does that still exist?) and the places where all those interests intersect–may or may not save you from diabetes, give you the pep you need, or revert you back down the evolutionary chain, or whatever it's supposed to do.

But that someone should be able to describe his experiences with it and advocate for his own good results should go without saying, though my saying that may well contradict a directive of the California Board of Going Without Saying.

The board's review of Cooksey's site. in remarkably official-looking pen scrawls in margins of a printout of the site.

Read Cooksey's site if you care to–it ain't illegal (yet).

In a previous century, I wrote about the Federal Trade Commission's power to essentially censor speech when it comes to claims about chiropraxy.

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  1. AgriCULTural City STATE!

  2. Ook find that all-mastodon diet meets Ook nutritional needs.

  3. Am I free to Gambol officer?

    1. Yes, unless you Gambol on someone else’s property. You can gambol on public property or your own pretty much all you want. And it’s Mr UvalDuvalCukoo, not officer

  4. If I go on the paleo diet, do I have to eat Ramesh Ponnuru raw or can I cook him first?

    1. Slow-roast him over an open fire, preferably by the indirect method.

  5. I’m not exactly Paleo, but I am low carb. In three months I lost ~21 pounds. Running on fat for energy is a different “feel” than the spiky ups ‘n’ downs I got with carbs.

    Again, different sorts of people seem to have varying levels of insulin resistance. etc etc – read a Taubes book or article for more info.

    1. Are you a doctor? ARE YOU A DOCTOR?

    2. “read a Taubes book or article for more info.”

      Do you have a license to give council like that?

  6. Thats jsut downright crazy when you think about it.

  7. Is his website even hosted in NC?

    1. I’m guessing he lives in NC, which is what gives them jurisdiction. So, like, can’t he just move?

    2. It’s hosted in Utah. The Domain maps to which through Geo IP maps roughly to Provo, Utah. I’m sure it’s a West-Coast or Mid-West data-center that is hosting him. I live in NC but have my servers at the NAC Data Center in Newark, NJ. I wonder who’s laws I fall under?

  8. When the Singularity occurs what will the robot paleo diet be?

    1. Do androids dream of electric lamb chops?

  9. I’m very tempted to mirror this guy’s site, with a big fuck you to North Carolina.

    Presuming I personally survive the Krugpocolypse, I swear that when we begin to rebuild civilization, I will immediately shoot anyone who proposes licensing of professions.

    1. But you’re not on the paleo diet, you’re on the South Bronx Paradise diet.

      1. The joke’s on you! I’m on the drinking man’s diet.

        Nothing but booze and asprin.

        1. Hey, that sounds like my diet!

          1. This weekend I ate three undercooked brats, two gas station sandwiches, about forty beers, eighth of dank, pop tarts and granola bar, two hits of acid, some kind of roll, chicken titties with onion and potato, and I forget what else.

            1. That’s the Spicoli Diet.

              1. Needs a double cheese and sausage pizza.

                1. You’ve heard of 2nd breakfast, I see.

                2. Did you bring enough to share with the class, JW?

                3. A double cheeseburger and sausage pizza. I’m gonna put hot sauce on that bitch.

      2. No Carl, that doesn’t say *paradise* – it says *parasite*.

    2. “I’m very tempted to mirror this guy’s site, with a big fuck you to North Carolina.”

      Does anybody remember that TV show ewhere the guy ran a pirate radio station out of his van and he had to keep moving it around to keep from getting busted? Long time ago.

      1. Pump Up the Volume??

        1. No this was from the 70’s. I think it was California Fever.

        2. No but:

          Pump Up the Volume is one of my all time favorite rebellion movies.

          TALK HARD!

  10. So there me was beating boulder into powder because me couldn’t eat it and magic ball land in lap. Naturally, me think, “All right! Free Egg!” because me stupid and me cave man. So me spent about 3 days humping and bust open with thigh bone so me could eat it good, then magic ball shoot Oog with beam, and next thing me know me go out and invent wheel out of dinosaur brain! Magic dino-wheel rolled for 3 short distance before me eat it, the point is me get smarter. Soon, me walk upright. Me featherback dirty, matted hair into wings for style and me stop to use bathroom as opposed to me just doing it as me walk.

    1. matted hair into wings for style


      1. MEEREEN


    2. So do you think you’ll do another season of Jersey Shore?

  11. The board also directed Cooksey to remove a link offering one-on-one support, a personal-training type of service he offered for a small fee.

    I bet that’s really what this is all about.

    1. Yep.
      “Burill said if Cooksey refuses to come into compliance with the law, the board could file for an injunction.”

      ‘Come into compliance’ means pay the fees for the license.

      1. Actually, NC requires you to get an advanced degree in nutrition science or medicine before you can become licensed to do nutrition counseling. Presumably you have to pay for the license too, but being qualified to know what you are talking about is the more important determiner for getting licensed.

  12. Paleo inspired food combinations can be some good shit though.

    Also, people who don’t eat meat are at a very high risk of developing vaginas all over their skin, and dying from it. I recommend eating five portions of meat every day.

    1. I had bacon for supper.

      1. As did I. My reasoning was that hot sauce would be good on it. My later supper will be fish, which is a kind of meat, you stupid Catholics.

        1. I worked as a cook with a foreign guy who didn’t know that vegetable = plant. We convinced him that fish and chicken were vegetables. He was always giving the poor vegan waitress soup with chicken stock.

          1. I knew a woman who thought fish weren’t animals, and therefor were ok to eat if you were a vegetarian. I even opened up a fucking encyclopedia and showed her that fish were in fact classified as animals, but she still refused to believe me.

            1. It’s ok to eat fish cause they don’t have any feelings.

            2. I had an argument with a vegan who said she refused to eat living organisms.

      2. I had a very civilized Monte Christo sandwich with raspberry jam.The fries sucked so I kept my carbs down. Why don’t most restaurants understand blanching, beef tallow and the double drop? Even lousy frozen fries cooked in vegetable oil can usually be salvaged with the double drop. Alberger process salt is a must.

        1. Most restaurants use shitty frozen fries, and vegetables too.

        2. Chicken thighs baked in a sauce made of mayo, red wine vinegar, Kaffir lime leaves, Thai peppers and chives. Twas excellent.

  13. Considering the paleo diet,the survivalism, the conspiracy theorizing, the left-libertarian attacks on “vulgar libertarianism”, the attacks on colonialism, imperialism, LLCs and IP I can see where Mrs. Stack was coming from with her White Indian trolling.




    2. Paleos are more likely to gambol in to the forest to hunt and gather things like grasshoppers, squirrels, and algae.

  15. Paging Institute for Justice. You have a call on the white courtesy phone.

  16. He has a 1st Amendment right to say and promote anything he wants, assuming he isn’t defrauding anyone, which it doesn’t sound like he is.

    Eat shit and die, North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition. See? Anyone can offer nutritional advice.

    1. Well, they might not take issue with that advice, since they’ve been feeding the citizens of their state a steady diet of bullshit for years.

    2. I see nutritional advice given on MSM sites by non-nutritionalist every day.

  17. I think the saddest thing about vegetarians is that they don’t realize they are made out of meat too.

    Hating meat is hating yourself.

    1. They don’t hate meat. They love it. That’s what they don’t want to tear flesh from bone with their teeth.

      1. That means that they don’t even know how to love meat the way meat wants to be loved.

        It’s the saddest story ever told, like hearing that retarded baby seals burned down a warehouse full of fresh pornography. .

        1. Pornography that included the only remaining high definition pics of Mindy McCready’s camel toe. Sadder than an eyeless possum.

          1. Mindy McCready is the reason I got into this business. And I won’t stop until one or both of us are dead.

            Dead, I say! DEAD!

            1. Some decent camel toe:


              But, I’m not jackin’ it to anything that pixelated in 2012.

    2. Chances are they are eating some kind of processed animal product anyways.

      1. Unless you’re using a vegan condom of course.

  18. Just look at what bodybuilders eat when they’re cutting. Lean Protein, low-carbs.

  19. I’ve lost about 12 pounds in the twelve weeks that I’ve been paleo and my glucose dropped below 100 and has stayed there. All I did was cut out carbs and legumes. Easiest diet I’ve ever been on and I would probably lose even more if I gave up beer.

    … Hobbit

  20. I’ve lost about 12 pounds in the twelve weeks that I’ve been paleo and my glucose dropped below 100 and has stayed there. All I did was cut out carbs and legumes. Easiest diet I’ve ever been on and I would probably lose even more if I gave up beer.

    … Hobbit

    1. All fruits and Veggies? Whole Grains as well?

      1. Also, Milk?

      2. No grains at all. Except an occasional beer.

        OK are all veggies except starches like potatoes and corn and (for some reason) legumes. I eat cauliflower, broccoli and carrots and/or a big bowl of salad with my steak or pork chop for dinner.

        Most fruits are fine although some have a lot of carbs. I love me some avocados, pears, oranges and grapefruit for lunch.

        Dairy is fine (real stuff, not processed cheese). I put cheese on lots of things for flavor.

        Your taste buds change. I had a Coke a while back and nearly gagged because it was so sweet!

        … Hobbit

        1. oool, thx. I figured cheese would be ok, but milk is pretty high in sugar with all the lactose. The legumes surprise me a little but since they’re so high in fiber. Yeah, I know years ago when I quite eating fat for a while that when I would go in greasy spoons with a lot fried food the whole place would smell rank to me.

          1. Dairy is technically out because it’s not paleo, but most people still consume butter and cream and a few people run pretty well on milk and cheese, but the casein can be a problem for a lot of folks.

            Legumes are out because of their lectin (what causes inflammation) load. While they are nowhere near as high as gluten containing products they are certainly not ideal.

            TBH: Have you considered switching to sorghum beer, wine or scotch for a while. I’ve been gluten free for about five months (paleo the last two) and honestly having one thing with gluten in it can mess me up for a while. Same with my girlfriend and neither of us have been diagnosed as gluten intolerant.

  21. Burill said if Cooksey refuses to come into compliance with the law, the board could file for an injunction.


  22. Knowing multiple diabetics, I have to say that the ADA the medical consensus are very stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that a low-carb diet reduces blood sugar and fuels weight loss. Normally this manifests as stalwart unwillingness to change dietary standards and setting blood-glucose standards that are well above safe levels. But I’m not really surprised to see that nutritionists are acting to block this blog.

    Doctors typically prescribe dangerously high-carb diets for diabetics, but they are often far less dogmatic than nutritionists. Among the diabetics I know and read, nutritionists are notorious for being much more defensive and much more self-righteous. They basically argue that a low-carb diet will deprive you of energy, cause your brain to shut down, and raise your cholesterol (I’m not diabetic, but I can testify that a low-carb diet did the opposite for me).

    A recurring diabetic anecdote is an argument over low-carb dieting with a nutritionist who descends from confusion to apoplexy when a patient refuses to eat more carbs and suffer higher blood sugar. So reading a news story that frames nutritionists as thin-skinned control freaks is par for the course.

    1. Worth noting that the medical community is so intensely risk averse that they would typically rather their diabetic patients contract long-term complications (poor immune function, loss of eyesight, loss of sensation in the extremities, increased heart risk) than see any possible increased risk in the short term.

      Medical professionals are scared that their diabetic patients will cut out carbs and get hypoglyecmia and brain death. Even though this is almost impossible for a diabetic not overdosing on insulin, the distant specter of lethal hyperglycemia forces doctors to tell patients to eat the officially approved high-carb diet. Better that the diabetic die in 10 years, under a different doctor, since you can just blame the disease’s progression, rather than accept a small risk of early death from what tort lawyers and professional review boards might characterize as an overly aggressive treatment.

      But if a patient follows a low carb diet on her own initiative, then doctors basically wink at the practice. As long as tort lawyers cannot tie them to the liability, doctors practice benign neglect of a practice that ought to be the front line treatment for diabetics.

      There are doctors who push aggressive treatment of diabetes (the goal being totally normal blood sugar) and their names are widely spread among diabetics. But the official treatment is still positively medieval and the typical GP will follow it unthinking.

      1. Meant to say “lethal hypoglycemia”

    2. I met an Alaskan doc at a medical conference a few years back who had worked in a remote native village, whose residents’ diet consisted mostly of seal blubber. There was no diabetes whatsoever. Western processed food like Doritos and Pepsi eventually became available, and soon my acquaintance treated the first ever case of diabetes in that entire region of Alaska.

      1. and soon my acquaintance treated the first ever case of diabetes in that entire region of Alaska

        did he then climb a mountain and shout “FIRST!!!!!”?

  23. Maybe this problem would go away if he paid the guild cost and got certified as a nutritionist. I’m assuming the coursework is a seven-minute flash animation and a ten-question true-false test.

    He could print his degree from home inside of ten minutes and practice his services, provided he keeps kicking back his membership dues.

    1. That would qualify someone to be a “nutritionist” but not a Registered Dietitian and that is the concern. Please, check out the course work required to become an RD. A BS is the basic education requirement, though many if not most have master’s degrees. It is a science heavy degree (yep, chemistry, biochemistry, human metabolism, anatomy, physiology, microbiology plus all of the courses specific to human nutrition like medical nutrition therapy, nutritional counseling and a whole slew of others.) Then there is a 1020 hour unpaid internship and the registration exam. I actually have two college degrees and am committed to ensuring that people don’t get crap information. I’m not a physician or a PA, but I do need to understand how medications work (I’m guessing Mr. Diabetes fixer doesn’t know the difference between a sulfonylurea or a DDP-4 inhibitor.)

  24. Brian, do you have a license to counsel people on their First Amendment rights?

    1. Spiny, do you have a license to council people on whether they need a license to council?

      1. It’s licenses all the way down.

      2. Counsel, damn it, counsel!!!

        Homonyms, how do they work?

  25. How about this disclaimer:

    “I am not a doctor, dietitian, nor nutritionist… in fact I have no medical training of any kind. I cannot encourage you to adopt this diet because the state of North Carolina has not certified me as a dietitian or nutritionist. This site contains coarse nutritional information and due to its content it should not be read by anyone.”

  26. What’s truly funny about this is how little dietary training doctors get and how little biochemistry training nutrionists get. None of them are as knowledgeable regarding the benefits of paleo/low-carb as the many of these authors/bloggers.

  27. I drive a car, I am not qualified as an auto mechanic.
    So many people who eat seem to think they’re experts in nutrition and human metabolism.
    One person’s anecdotal evidence is not enough to make him qualified to provide nutritional counseling.

    1. Sure it is. People who know his qualifications, or lack thereof, can choose to follow his advice or choose not to.

    2. Where does the power to decide who is and who is not allowed to provide any product or service come from?

      The barrel of a gun?

      1. Nice critical thinking there. The government regulates who can provide all kinds of products and services to ensure proper care and to make sure people aren’t getting lied to or ripped off. I want my dentist to be licensed, I’m a fan of requiring food handler permits for teenagers flipping burgersand even think it’s a good idea for a manicurist to be licensed so she has a basic understanding of how not to give me a staph infection. The government DOES regulate all of those things. It is reasonable to expect that medical information having to do with nutrition would also be regulated.

        1. Look to thine own ass first you douche. You assert correctly that the government does point a gun barrel at you and force you to accept whatever bullshit ‘license’ they deem appropriate regardless of content. The question here is whether that practice is acceptable. If you are so worried about a stamp of approval, why not give that to actual industry professionals, aka the free market, rather than some bureaucrat? I get so tired of this intellectually vapid argument about the NEED for state sanction and protection. Would all you assclowns that believe this just take a walk and let the rest of us be? By the way, I’m terribly sorry that you wasted so much money on a degree that w/o state licensing is utterly worthless, but that is in fact your problem.

  28. The South Beach diet is very similar to the Paleo Diet, at least the first 2 weeks of it.

  29. I’m about to be in my senior year as a Dietician major.
    I founded the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at my college.
    Got my work cut out for me with getting a free market in nutrition information.

    But I thought you should know paleo is not low carb or anything close to Atkins.
    Paleo involves eating about 45% of your food as fruits and vegetables.

    I will be available as a Registered Dietician to Reason and Cato and any other libertarian organization at a discount come 2014 😀

  30. Cutting out sugar is blasphemy, I tell ya, BLASPHEMY!!

  31. The blogger Steve Cooksey was on The Robert Scott Bell Show this morning. It’s quite a story he has and outrageous what NC is doing to him. You can hear what he had to say here:

  32. This eating plan is wonderful! I lost fifteen pounds in 8 weeks and have not been this pleased in an extremely long time. Cannot wait to view what happens immediately after the total 11 day cycle! –

  33. This diet program is wonderful! I lost 22 pounds in 6 weeks! Very recommend this diet plan! –

  34. I adore this diet program!! I’ve used this eating plan for specific occasions many times over the past couple of years and I’ve always lost roughly between 7 and 14 pounds in each 11 day cycle. Initial couple days had been hard but I stuck with it and cannotrecommend this diet regime enough!-…..ace-review

  35. Hello Brian,

    This paleo diet is good also why dont you try this lose wait quickly the master cleanse diet is the most simplest of pro-grammes, it involves drinking as much lemonade (with a twist) whenever you are hungry, and then taking a laxative or doing a salt water flush, morning and evening, for 10 days.

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