As a Clinical Nutritionist that has studied Nutritional Medicine at University Level, I consider myself knowledgeable about food and nutrition. I wrote this blog to debate the fact that the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) are calling ‘Paleo’ a fad diet.
In 2007, I first started working in the wellness industry for the well known Tony Ferguson weight loss brand (which is a shake diet if you aren’t aware). I worked with them for 4 years and in that time I saw many people, young and old, lose weight and then come back after regaining it. I soon discovered that Very low carb shake diets were not a sustainable weight loss program. Tony Ferguson was and is not a Nutrition expert – he was a pharmacist that saw a good opportunity to make some money off those desperate to lose weight.
In 2008, I went on to study nutrition at Advanced Diploma level as I wanted to gain accreditation to mentor people on how to eat real food to lose weight and prevent illness. I was taught about the food pyramid and healthy eating recommendations (currently high grains,cereals, and low in fat). I thought I had gained power with this knowledge. I thought I had learnt the simple equation to help people lose weight. It was ‘their’ fault that they were overweight because they were eating more than the ‘recommended’ calories for their weight and height.
Then, in around 2012 I went into private clinical practice – at the same time, I upgraded my Adv. Dip to a Bachelors in Health Science degree. I mentored people about healthy food swaps and put them on calorie restricted diets – using the Harris-Benedict equation I was taught at uni to work out recommended calories.
It would look something like this: 1200 calories for a short, sedentary woman or 1500 calories if you did a bit of exercise, and so on. It did not matter if carbs were eaten at every single meal – as long as the calories added up. Again, clients lost weight, but they couldn’t keep it off for long and usually had to exercise to work off the carbs so they didn’t store as body fat. They were also hungry, missing their favourite foods and found it hard to sustain.
In 2016, I stumbled upon LCHF by accident. By reading about an Australian Orthopaedic surgeon that was due to travel the country to talk about this way of eating that had helped so many people reverse their T2 Diabetes and lose weight. Due to a heavy genetic pre-disposition of diabetes in my family I was interested in his work.
I went on to complete a LCHF coaches course with ‘The real meal revolution’ and continued to watch all of the big names on youtube, schooling people on low carb eating. After many months of studying this new found knowledge, I knew I had found the missing link.
This way of eating was always there, but due to my education and they way I was taught, I had failed to see it was what I had been searching for. It reminded me of the Atkins diet, which as a health professional, I used to call a ‘fad’ diet. Now I know that it is how our bodies were supposed to be fueled all along. That cannot be called a fad, it is actually the total opposite.
‘Everything in moderation’ we were taught at college. But everything in moderation seemed to be causing Australians to become ill with preventable diseases. Cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions, this saying is contributing to disease and this needs to stop.
I don’t have a PhD in nutrition and I don’t have all of the answers. I am aware that there are many different diets and preferences and not everyone feels the same as me. I just ask that you be aware to the possibility of another way of eating that is not a fad.
Written by Elisha Danine – BHlthSci (Nutritional Medicine)
Member of Nutrition Society Australia and Complementary Medicine Association