Sunday, September 16, 2007

Kimkins survivors

I've been on a few forums lately with a high number of new members that are former Kimkins members.

Now, anyone who's been following the chatter in the low carb community knows that there's a lot of controversy about the Kimkins plans, and that it looks like the whole scam is about to blow wide open. Many members have been banned from the site and have looked for an found other sites to get the support and help they need.

You know....this whole thing turns my stomach and makes me want to cry for the victims.

Here's the story, from what I can gather on the net.

Back several years ago a poster on a forum said she had lost close to 200 pounds in a relatively short period of time. This poster went by the name of Kimmer. Over the course of many postings over many months, Kimmer said she was a woman who lived in California with her son. She also said she had foster children, specifically male teens. Apparently there was also a claim of being on permanent disability and having defaulted on college loans. Apparently there have been several confirmations that this Kimmer is actually a woman named Heidi Diaz, who lives in Corona, CA. (I encourage you to look up and at the evidence and make your own conclusions, but the sources I've seen look pretty convincing)

People on the forum were impressed by Kimmer's before and after pictures and started asking her questions about her plan. Eventually they started asking for advice in following her plan, and she more firmly defined it. Apparently there were several plans. After a while Kimmer was apparently approached by someone who suggested setting up a website of her own where she could post her plans and set up a forum for members. There would be a fee for membership. That fee started around $15 and is currently around $60. The fee was supposed to be for the support forums, a personal page, email, etc. The plans were readily available all over the net! (And there are a few!)

I never joined Kimkins as the first time I looked into it I found it was a low fat plan. At that point I just dismissed it as one I wasn't interested in. I did notice there was a lot of chatter on the forums about Kimkins, but never really paid much attention. I noticed more and more ads for Kimkins on all the diet sites....and noticed that even links that looked like they were for different things also lead to the Kimkins site. Women's World did an article about Kimkins and boy did the Internet light up with activity to the Kimkins site as well as various weight loss forums!

While this was going on, there began to be a few in the low carb community that were questioning the wisdom of these plans. There were also bloggers that were trying and openly promoting Kimkins, even some of the lower calorie plans.

Now, generally there are 2 groups that use low carb as a diet, and of course there are subgroups. The first group is mainly interested in weight loss....and the faster the better. The second group is more concerned with the health aspects of low carb while working at loosing weight. Within each group you're going to find differences of opinion on whether calories "count" or not, if high fat or low fat is better, if you should eat high protein or high fat, etc. Personally I am of the health group and believe both fat and protein are good in any amounts (as long as they're as natural as possible) and that carbs should be avoided unless they are veggies, fruit and some dairy. I also believe that calories do count, but low carb calories are generally better tolerated than high carb calories.

So anyway....while Kimmer was building her site and more and more people were joining and talking about the plans on other sites, there started to be seen people who had personally been harmed by the diet or were concerned about things that were being said on the Kimkins site forums. And I guess it was right about here that Jimmy Moore publicly joined Kimkins and began to heavily advertise for the plan. (Jimmy has since quit the plan and publicly apologised to his readers)

Jimmy Moore's enthusiastic approval of Kimkins really upset the low carb community. Jimmy's is a very heavily read site and many of his readers are people looking into low carb. By Jimmy approving the Kimkins plans, he was saying that these plans were low carb and safe. (There is also controversy as to whether these plans are to be considered "low carb" or "low calorie". Personally I say they are "very low calorie" diets that happen to be VERY low in carbohydrates and fats) Jimmy's endorsement upset many in the low carb community, myself included.

Now you are seeing blogs reporting fantastic results of following Kimkins as well as blogs explaining the dangers of a very low calorie diet. There are blogs with before and after pictures and blogs talking about the hair loss, weakness, inability to exercise and even loss of menses related to the effects of the diets. There were blogs praising Kimmer and the Kimkins plans and there were now blogs questioning the very existence of Kimmer, aka Heidi Diaz. The pro-Kimmer postings were definitely being overshadowed by the anti-Kimkins postings.

The charges that people are saying about Kimmer and Kimkins?
1. Kimmer is in fact Heidi Diaz, a woman that lives in Corona, California. This woman appears to be morbidly obese. No one knows if she ever lost the weight she claimed to have lost, but even if she did, she apparently was unable to sustain the loss.
2. That Kimmer is posting advice to severely limit the intake of calories to the point of starvation levels.
3. That Kimmer is posting advice to use laxatives on a daily basis.
4. That Kimmer is allowing and even advising at least 1 teenager on her site.
5. That posts on the Kimkins support forum have been edited or deleted. These posts are posts questioning the wisdom of the advice given by Kimmer.
6. That Private Messages have been accessed by the administration staff on the Kimkins site.
7. That members have been banned from the site,, but given no refund and in many cases any explanation.
8. That some of the before and after pictures on the site are fake.
9. That Kimmer accepted money for non-existent foster children as a result of posts about money problems on the site.

To me, there are 2 disturbing things about this whole thing. One is that this woman has been pushing and promoting a very dangerous diet plan without any training in the field. And the other is the way she preyed on a group of people that were vulnerable and, in many cases, desperate.

The plans that many are upset about are the plans that encourage very low calories. Some of these plans are said to have a high of 800 calories!! Fat is restricted as much as possible and vegetables are severely limited. Some argue that these plans are only for short-term use, while others note that there is no time limit stated with the plans and Kimmer is advising people to stay on them for the long-term. Even in the short-term, diets that call for calories as low as these promote should only be undertaken with close medical supervision. I have known several people who have been put on very low calorie diets by their physicians and they were all very closely monitored. They were also told to watch for certain signs of starvation like hair loss and loss of menses.

Kimmer preyed on people, mainly women it seems, who are desperate to loose weight at almost any cost. Some only had a small amount to loose, but desperately wanted to get back to their "goal" weight, and many others had 100 pounds and more to loose. The one thing in common that these people had is that they'd tried other plans and weren't successful....or weren't as successful as they wanted to be. These people were willing to do something dramatic if that something worked....and by all reports, Kimkins did work!

Apparently the support forums on the Kimkins site were great. Many wonderful people posted there and many friendships were formed as a result of belonging to Kimkins. Good thing, as now many of these disillusioned members are finding each other on other sites, including Jimmy Moore's new forum. Many refer to themselves as Kimkins survivors, and survivors they are!! They are now starting to figure out how to eat healthy and loose weight. Many are going to different low carb plans, but are still reluctant to increase their fat or calories too much. They are upset, and rightly so, that not only were they used by Kimmer, but they are also now being used by anti-Kimkins bloggers who are using their words without permission. They are afraid to trust again. The damage done by Kimkins is not only physical.

Luckily there are plenty of support groups on the Internet. I follow several low carb/diet support sites and I'm seeing threads and posts from new members who are former or still current Kimkins members. And the other members on these forums are doing what they can to help. Many of these sites have tools to help track your intake and progress and members that are more than willing to answer questions and provide information and support for those that are asking for it. If you aren't already a member of a support group, I highly recommend joining one. Here are links to some of the favorites on the net:
Active Low Carbers Forum
Jimmy Moore's site
Spark People
Low Carb Friends

22 comments:

BamaGal said...

"Many are going to different low carb plans, but are still reluctant to increase their fat or calories too much."

so I'm not the only one who noticed this......

Cindy Moore said...

LOL nope, you're not the only one. There is a real fear....and every bump on the scale just reinforces their beliefs!

Sparky's Girl said...

It's gonna take some time for those who have been duped to realize that fat and higher calories are not evil. So we need to just keep encouraging them and steering them in the right direction until their bodies confirm what we've been telling them. :0)

DietKing2 said...

Goes to show you, with all the data out there showing the efficacy of sugar reduction and despite the relative ease of adhering to a straight-up low-carbohydrate plan, how people do not hesitate to cut back on fat and calories right away to speed up scale action.
Not to beat a dead horse or kick anyone while he or she is down, but when I saw the tidal wave of Kimkins ads and the constant praise being lavished on this plan, I simply disregarded it out of 'simplicity'; i.e., between Atkins, the Eades, Schwarzbein, and every other doctor/author who has written on the subject, the information has been analyzed, reviewed, and synthesized--and the result has always been the same--it's the refined carbohydrates that are killing us, nothing else.
I made the assumption that any low-carber taking the time to write and read blogs would know that.
Hmm
Good post, Cindy.
Adam;-)

Cindy Moore said...

Yes Amy, we need to continue to encourage and support them. Sad that one person can cause so much grief!!

Adam...it is amazing how many people have very little knowledge of low carb, even the plan they're supposed to be on!! Many just want to be told what to eat and when and that's it. They are not interested in learning anything about nutrition, etc they just want to loose weight!

BamaGal said...

"it is amazing how many people have very little knowledge of low carb, even the plan they're supposed to be on!! Many just want to be told what to eat and when and that's it. They are not interested in learning anything about nutrition, etc they just want to loose weight!"

and Cindy they will be the same ones regaining all their weight and then some---just like many in the WLS community---they go into strictly for the weight loss---they are not looking at a lifetime of change

Amy---yeah we just need to keep showing them the way

No Kimkins said...

You did an excellent job putting this in chronological order.

When you have something like anorexia or Kimkins that is all about control, I can understand why its so frightening for people to let go of it. For me, having my hair fall out was reason enough to quit but for others I know when you hear people tell you how good you are looking from losing weight its hard to give that up, its hard to let go of this plan and transition to another but people need to know its not only possible, its necessary to have a healthy life.

Cindy Moore said...

I agree with you No Kimkins!! It is hard to let go of....but absolutely necessary!

Thanks for your nice comment.

mohit said...

Great blog. I really liked it. I have also created a lens in same niche. This is my first time, hope u guys like it. Here’s a brief intro: With all low carb diets claiming success, it can be hard to pick the perfect low carb diet for you. Are all low carb diets the same? What is the difference among all low carb diets? It can be confusing with all low carb diets, products and plans you see out there. Luckily, thousands of people have been trying all low carb diets for years now, and almost all low carb diets have well known pluses and minuses. http://www.squidoo.com/All-low-carb-diets/

OhYeahBabe said...

Great post! Would you like to add your blog to the Say NO to Kimkins web ring?

Stop the fraud! If you were a member of Kimkins, join the Kimkins diet lawsuit! Here is how to join the Kimkins lawsuit. It's easy!

Kat said...

Now that you know the Truth...Join the Lawsuit!!

http://kimkinslawsuit.wordpress.com/

Cindy Moore said...

OhYeahBabe absolutely! Anything to get the word out! What do I do?

Kat, I never joined Kimkins, so don't have a part in any lawsuit. I hope she looses everything, gets community service AND some kind of jail time.

David Brown said...

Very well done, Cindy. You're a great educator.

You do a lot of research. Have you read "Biochemical Individuality" by Roger J. Williams, PhD yet? It appears to be unique in the literature of nutrition science in terms of explaining what constitutes an adequate and appropriate diet for individuals.

A related book ("Nutrition and your Mind") by mental health researcher George Watson, PhD provides some additional insight into the need to individualize nutrient intake.

About 200 years ago Benjamin Franklin observed, "You are what you eat. About 35 years ago Ross Hume Hall in "Food for Nought" noted, You can't be more than what you eat." Then, last year in "The Omnivores Dilemma" Michael Pollan wrote, "You are what you eat eats." And just a few days ago in the journal "Lipids" Jeff S. Volek commented, You are what your body does with what you eat."

The health issues people face in our modern world stem directly from both a lack of understanding of what constitutes adequate and appropriate food intake and the quality of the food supply. Your efforts to educate are much appreciated.

David Brown
Kalispell, Montana
Nutrition Science Analyst

Cindy Moore said...

David, thanks for your great comment!

I've not read any of the books you mention and will have to check with my local library and see if I can get them.

Right now I'm reading Gary Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories and have found it very enlightening.

Low carb is a fantastic eating plan....but followed with low fat and calories isn't low carb, it's just another calorie restricted diet....and in this case a very dangerous calorie restriction!

Kat said...

This is one of the key players in the fight against Kimkins and I think you should read her blog...don't foget to search the webring too and see the other great info about this SCAM!

http://honeybeesblog.wordpress.com/

Cindy Moore said...

Thanks Kat. That's not a site I'd found yet. I've not been able to fully explore the ring yet! Too much going on!

lowcarbmargi said...

Great post Cindy! Happy New Year to you and yours.

Cindy Moore said...

Thanks lowcarbmargi!! Happy New Year to you to!!

Kat said...

Get The Word Out…
I recently took up the cause to “get the word out” about Kimkins.com and the dangers of following this very low calorie diet. Don’t be fooled. Do your research! Kimkins.con is nothing more than a low fat, low carb, low calorie, unhealthy starvation diet that is causing Eating Disorders (EDs) and hair loss in many. This diet was started by a lady who calls herself "Kimmer" and never even lost the weight herself on her own diet. Kimmer even charges $59.95 for her unhealthy starvation diet and offers a “lifetime” membership that gets you banned from her website if you question her about her diet or after pictures. Friends don’t let friends do Kimkins!! Be smart in 2008 and lose weight the right and healthy way!

Cindy Moore said...

You are right Kat. Even with the investigations and scrutiny the site and program continues....and she's now increased the price to $79.95!!

Kat said...

Kimkins.com is a very dangerious diet that promotes Eating Disorders (EDs), hair loss and other health problems in people who follow it. This diet was started by a lady they call Kimmer who never lost the weight on her own diet let alone any other. Kimmer’s real name is Heidi Kimberly Diaz and she has set up a site for the specific reason to Scam and take money from people, NOT help them lose weight. Friends don’t let friends do Kimkins!!

Cindy Moore said...

You're right Kat, it's nothing but a scam, and apparently an effective one!!

Adding to the mix, "Tippy Toes" has started a site that is basically a clone of Kimkins, and then there's the Mad Chicken Diet, also very Kimkins looking.

One of the problems is that these sites can essentially do what they please, at least until someone wises up and reports them.

I am 100% in favor of not regulating how we access, what we post, etc....but if you scam someone, or cause someone injury, or defraud someone online you should pay the same penalty as if you did it face to face!