An open letter to Jamie Oliver from Cyndi O’Meara – let’s work for the common good

Written by Cyndi

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

March 31, 2015

Hi Jamie

Let me start by saying welcome to Australia. I love your work.

I especially love your recent worldwide petition to ask governments to start teaching about food and cooking in schools. I signed the petition and I agree whole-heartedly. When I went to school in the sixties and seventies we were taught cooking, sewing, typing, maths, science and English, and each subject has been instrumental to my health, further education and wellbeing and all are key skills that I’ve needed everyday.  I think they should also have a class on relationships.

I know you have worked very hard for years to get an important message across and have changed the lives of many people in the UK and around the world. It’s been inspiring to hear your message.

I’ve been disappointed in recent months, however. First, I was surprised with your alliance with the Gates Foundation – which supports GMO foods, not real foods. GMO foods are really harmful and particularly risky for people who have weak immune systems, autoimmune diseases or pre-existing allergies, as they are more susceptible to the Bt toxins. Genetically modified products can also lead to all three conditions in otherwise healthy people. Studies have also linked GM products to a range of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, various types of cancer, allergies and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

My main concern though, is with your recent comments to the Australian media on Paleo.

You are quoted as saying: ‘There’s lots of b******t around at the moment… these diets are unsustainable… everything in moderation”.

Let’s first briefly get the facts right on Paleo.

It’s about real food; it’s about eating local, sustainable foods with condiments and highly nutritional foods from around the world, to support the taste and nutrition of the local foods. It’s about cooking again; it’s about getting appropriate sleep, movement, sunshine and living the life our evolutionary bodies require but maintaining the benefits of this modern lifestyle, in order to have abundant health.

Science is wonderful, but it’s not all powerful. It’s made mistakes. Antibiotics, glyphosates and monocultures, to name a few, have all been instrumental in destroying the soil ecology, plant nutrition and the animal and human body microbiome. As a result many people are suffering ill health and especially our children. Allergies, food insensitivities and intolerances are rampant in all population demographics.

Our realisation of this is growing with an exponential amount of research now being done on the microbiome and its importance in digestion, nutrient availability, immunity, cell communication and much more.  The dawning of this information has shown that our need to wipe out all bugs was perhaps a big mistake and the relentless use and over prescription of antibiotics for humans and as growth promoters in domestic animals has created a cascade of damage that we are finding hard to repair.

Of course antibiotics are just the tip of the iceberg of things we do to eradicate microbes that we believe to be dangerous but in fact have been instrumental in helping us to adapt to a changing environment and thus survive millions of years evolving to the changes that have been thrown at humans.

Healthscope Laboratories in Australia has indicated there are a growing number of people with grain, legume, dairy, nut and egg sensitivities and allergies. This is seen more and more as a result of a disbiosis in the microbiome, so the reason why Paleo works so beautifully is it removes the common problems, and allows the body to reduce its inflammation and the symptoms that go with it.

More than condemning the “Paleo’ diet I think it is more important to ask – why we have come to this crisis?

We have created the problem and sometimes the only thing to do is remove the offending foods, heal the gut, reinstate a healthy soil ecology and GUT microbiome and then hopefully we can introduce these foods back into the diet. But – it is important that reintroduced foods are the real foods of our ancestors – unadulterated – not the processed foods of the food industry that have been part of the problem in the first place.

Rather than foods with additives, preservatives, flavours, texturised proteins, hybridised wheat, hydrogenated and interesterified oils, grains laced with glyphosates, milk with antibiotics and GM fed cows and 1400 other chemicals in our food supply, we need to go back to the foods that allowed us to get to this point in history without becoming extinct. Millions of years of eating these foods are enough to show that they are necessary for our adaptability and survival.

The Paleo diet may be restrictive in the beginning, but the benefits far outweigh the restrictiveness. Once the GUT and its microbiomes have healed then dairy, grain, legumes and other foods that have been avoided may be able to be introduced back into the diet.

You may be healthy and not experience these health problems – but for the person who is in constant pain, overweight or depressed, or who experiences headaches, autoimmune disease, shortness of breath, anxiety or whatever other ailment may be nagging them on a daily basis, then to get rid of the pain may be worth the dietary restrictions that are necessary to get to a place of health and peace. And the mother who has a child who screams for no reason, has severe allergies, signs of autism, hyperactivity, asthma and chronic and acute issues may also see this as a worthwhile endeavor.

We are individuals and we all need to find what works best for our body. Charlotte Gerson is in her 90s and has been a vegan all her life, the people of the Hadza only eat flesh and fibrous vegetables and they live into their 80s – this is the robustness of the adaptive human.

So, Jamie, I have to say, it’s not bull***t.

Despite my grievances I still believe you are doing the right thing in getting the real food movement and education into schools but I’d like to see everyone moving away from condemning another chef’s work as bullshit when Pete Evans is doing exactly the same thing but with a different slant on the real foods he uses. Perhaps you were misquoted, and in fact I really hope you were.

It would be great if the high profile people that have an interest in promoting the real food message could work together with a united front to help more people. Understanding the position of others would show an empathy that would show leadership, something that is needed right now with regards to the food slanging matches the media portrays on a daily basis.

Having an understanding of individual health needs and circumstances is the way to move forward. We need to work for the common good of getting back to real foods, back to basics, back to what our evolutionary body needs and eating what is right for the individual rather then believing the whole world can eat in moderation.

Good luck with the petition and let me know if you’re ever up the Sunshine Coast way. I’d love to catch up and show you around.

Cyndi O’Meara

Nutritionist and Founder of Changing Habits

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1 Comment

  1. Bianca Breakspear

    Hi Margy, thanks for reaching out to us. As we are not medically versed in this area, we recommend you speak to a practitioner that specializes in nutrition. Here is a link to find the right one:
    Hope this helps.


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