The Dietitians of Australia believe that everyone should have free access to nutritional advice through the Medicare system, at least 7 visits a year, unsurprisingly, I agree that people need more information and education on nutrition.
This free access to support and advice is all well and good but the potential issue is already glaringly obvious to me insofar as to assume that the dieticians will no longer be working for themselves but rather be working for the government and, therefore have to follow the guidelines of the government including how many tests they can request and what they are allowed to advise in the dietary melee.
In a statement Natalie Stapleton, acting, CEO of the DA gave, “Unhealthy eating patterns account for roughly 26 per cent of the burden of type 2 diabetes in this country,” and that “Accredited practicing dietitians are best placed to support Australians to adjust their dietary intake to include more foods like fruit and vegetables and less discretionary foods high in sugar, salt and fat.”
Now, this is where I take issue. “Accredited practicing dietitians…” Firstly, not only dietitians can give nutritional advice but there are a whole host of people that can teach the basics of real food and eating principles. I’ve seen many medical doctors now include in their repertoire the need for their patients to embrace diet and lifestyle changes. My graduates from The Nutrition Academy can help and have helped countless families change their diet and lifestyle to meet the health needs of the family. Naturopaths can also give dietary advice as well as Nutritionists who, like me, have decided not to operate under the banner of ‘dietitian’ and be hamstrung by what advice we can give with regards to proteins, fats, carbohydrates and the change of diet for the individual according to the government. And if we really want to get down to the basics our old cultures and traditions and those that were passed down by the mother is where true nutrition was taught.
If we look to culture and tradition, diet was appropriate to the human species and diet was in accordance with the latitude and longitude of food available in that area. For instance, in colder regions, more animals and animal products were consumed, the Sami in The Artic Circle are a perfect example of this. Whilst the Kitava’s on an island on the equator (warmer climate) ate more plant-based foods supplemented with fish. While this may be a pipe dream for many it can be achieved by carefully selecting as many foods as we can grow in our local area. It’s what I attempt to do as best I can.
The second part of the statement by Natalie Stapleton alludes to what foods they advise as ‘good’ for the human body and what is not. When you go through the dietitians Australia website (2) it is evident where the bias of their eating plans sits. Vegetarianism, or a subset of it like pescatarian, low fat, lean meats (fist size) and chicken 2 to 3 times a week, unsaturated fats, reduce salt intake, low fat dairy, non dairy milks and consider a diet inadequate if it does not have all the 5 food groups.
Of course, it’s important to note that they do talk about medical diets and nutrition and that these may be needed for some individuals. There’s also talk on low carbohydrate diets, but bafflingly, there are several breads that are included in this ‘low carb’ routine. It’s also worth highlighting that there’s continuous promotion, despite the research, that saturated fats are bad and cause heart disease, however I note eggs are back in the good books… riddle me this.
It’s not until you’re well and truly under the wing of the Medicare system as a dietician that restrictions come into play.
Last year I went hiking on the Overland Track. Dr James Muecke (Australian of the Year) his wife and their friends, all doctors and specialists, were on the track with me. You can imagine, 6 days and 5 nights hiking with only a few people to talk to meant there were many interesting conversations over several kilometers and campfires. During the hike I’d struck up a fast friendship with one of the doctors with whom I’d kept in touch. Not long after my adventure, I had reached out to her and was surprised (or maybe not) to learn that she had quit practicing recently. She told me the reason she quit was that she felt she didn’t have her own practice anymore but rather, was working for the government. It seemed that monthly she would get a letter from the regulators as to why she had asked for so many blood tests, or another type of test or an x-ray. She was being scrutinised about everything she did, questioned at every step. She said even though she had her own practice she was totally controlled by the Medicare system and felt hamstrung by the bureaucracy.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines are a government initiative. If the Dietitians of Australia want to be part of that scheme, then they will be heavily regulated for what they can say.
I’ve been in the field of nutrition for well over 4 decades. Changing a person’s diet from a standard Australian, highly processed diet to a real food diet with all the food groups (dairy, meat, grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs) would be a winner for many people in solving their health issues. But now this is not possible, with so many food allergies, intolerances, the destruction of the microbiome, the inability to eat many foods, we must sometimes become extreme in our eating patterns in order to bring back the homeostasis of eating all real foods again.
Our food has been and is being destroyed by the spraying pre-harvest with agricultural chemicals like roundup as a desiccating agent on grains and legumes; more chemicals are sprayed during crop growing and before seeding, and even on the seeds. Our foods then go from chemical farms to distribution points where they are preserved by irradiation, Apeel, toxic powders, waxes and the like. Then the food can be refined, extruded, or changed in some way. Add to that the synthetic biology (GM germ made additives) added to our food, plus other forms of additives like colour, flavour, fillers, binders, acidity regulators then we have a disaster waiting to happen or has happened to our microbiome and thus the health of humanity.
Our children are taught at a very early age that a pill will make them better rather than letting their innate intelligence get them through a fever, a cold, a childhood disease. There are vaccines for everything and more to come, put onto the childhood schedule. When I was a child at the age of 5 children walked to their vaccines, now our new born babies are vaccinated within 24 hours.
The COVID vaccine has shown the decimation of the microbiome of keystone microbes, what’s to say we haven’t done the research on the rest of the vaccines now being given that could be destroying our microbiome our very way we digest plants and create the fundamentals for our immune, hormone and nervous systems to work. These are merely questions I’m asking as something has to be done so that we can eat the five food groups again without causing autoimmune diseases, digestive issues, brain issues and immune issues.
As a young girl being bought up in the 1960’s and 70’s I do not remember any issues with foods at home or school. There were no rules against peanuts being brought into the classroom. Things have dramatically changed.
We no longer have the luxury to follow the dietary guidelines, which are so outdated and lacking in science back up. Whilst the DA do note that only 1% of the population follows the guidelines, the problem is that all hospitals, schools, elderly institutions, day care centres all must follow the dietary guidelines in their food delivery to the people that live or attend these public places. My Dad, in the final 2 years of his life, was subjected to what I shudder to even call ‘food’, that followed the dietary guidelines and it was the worst food I had ever seen. It was a smorgasbord of sugar, white flour, fried in polyunsaturated vegetable oils, plastic cheese, white bread, modified milks and breakfast cereal. And we have all witnessed loved ones in hospitals or care centres being delivered unfit food for a sick person. These institutions are merely following the dietary guidelines.
Since the conception of the dietary guidelines in Australia in 1982, the health of the Australian people, particularly pertaining to chronic disease, has exponentially risen in children and adults. From just 4% of the entire population in 1964 to now, a staggering 38% of our children and 80% of our adult population over the age of 65 have a chronic disease. I can’t blame this entirely on the dietary guidelines. There are many other factors, but the guidelines play an important role in advertising ultra-processed foods as ‘healthy’. This is by ignoring the ingredients of the food and only concentrating on the nutritional value of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
It is easy to manipulate the macronutrients and add micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to pretend a food has a health value, but in fact, is a completely fabricated food replacing a once-held healthy food. A good example of this is butter and margarine. Butter is made from cream. Anyone can make it in their kitchen with cream and salt. In stark contrast, margarine cannot be made in a kitchen. The refined vegetable oil it is made from is either hydrogenated or interesterified (the blending of highly saturated hard fats), making a completely different fat composition including some trans fats and interesterified fats (I write about this in my book Lab to Table). Then, because it doesn’t have the ‘right’ colour – you know the one I mean, glowing, almost fluorescent yellow, colours must be added. So must synthetic vitamins, preservatives, and flavors to make believe you are eating something that tastes like butter, looks like butter, and smells like butter but is not butter but rather a fabricated non-perishable food-like substance. We could pull apart a thousand food like substances that are now masquerading as food and people eat it believing that it would not be on the grocery store shelf if it were bad for us.
The dietary guidelines have never been about quality but rather focusing on the quantity of various macro and micronutrients and calories, going with the old adage of calories in, calories out. This will not win any healing crisis we are in. We must begin to focus on the quality of food we are eating. The failed heart tick and now the food star rating, which the DA wants to be made part of the National Nutrition Strategy, continue this vein. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Until we realise that quality is part of change, then we are nothing short of insane.
There are many dietitians that I have spoken with and watch on social media that seem to be going against the dietary guidelines, looking at different diets, like keto, carnivore, low carb, real food, and intermittent fasting. If these amazing, registered dietitians go under the Medicare system they may be stopped in their tracks and prevented from being able to help their clients with a repertoire of dietary changes. The DA already helicopter over their registered practitioners by stopping them prescribing different diets that are now found to be instrumental in healing immune, nervous and blood disorders. Food is our miracle cure, but farming, food manufacturing, and the pharmaceutical industry don’t want you to know it. The ‘why’ to that is glaringly obvious and needs no diving into.
Once upon a time and not that long ago, the DA was funded by major food manufacturers, especially those that were heavily involved in the grain processing areas, but on their website, it now states, “We will not consider partnerships with organisations within or related to food manufacturing and food industry associations, or alcohol companies”. However, I noticed that its members can still be paid by these food manufacturers to promote their refined and ultra-processed foods.
I was educated in the same system registered Dietitians are still being educated in. I employed young nutritionists being educated in the same system, and I have not seen much change from the 1980’s to now. It seems the game hasn’t changed, but the players have morphed and mutated into unrecognizable shapes. I created the Nutrition Academy to teach a new (old) nutrition approach based on the philosophy of vitalism and anthropological principles. They are guiding lights to help untangle the web of nutritional misinformation that seems to be permeating the consciousness of consumers.
I wrote my book Lab to Table to teach people step-by-step how to move away from ultra-processed foods to real foods. Yes, it takes effort, and yes, you must re-educate yourself in order to make these changes, but I know that following a real food diet is nothing short of life-changing.