My Journey: In Search of a Healthy Diet
For my first post, I would like to talk a bit about the journey I have had to arrive at the place I am at now - an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD).
I am a mother of 3 adult children. Over the years, I developed an interest in how our diet affects our health. This interest developed mostly due to my desire to help my kids when they were dealing with issues such as acne, poor sleep patterns and moodiness. I was always wary of medical interventions that were not naturally based and so was on the lookout for solutions to issues that were as natural as possible.
During my searches for solutions I was introduced to a book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci (neurology), know as the GAPS book (which stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome). This book opened my eyes to the amazing effect that food can have on healing our bodies from a variety of conditions as well as the amazing benefits of probiotics which are primarily found in fermented foods.
While my children were young, I had home schooled them for a total of about 10 years. We then decided to put them into school for their teenage years. It was at this point that I had more time on my hands and decided that my interest in the effects of food on health could be developed by studying. I decided to apply for entry to Queensland University of Technology (QUT) to do Nutrition and Dietetics, not really expecting to be accepted. Needless to say, I was accepted into Nutrition at QUT and transferred to Nutrition and Dietetics as soon as possible.
I have to say, I was pretty sceptical about the information we were being taught regarding nutrition for a while. I felt that there may be a degree of influence by the food industry as the messages that were being given didn’t seem to align with my beliefs surrounding good health and food.
The more I have progressed with the course, the more convinced that my conspiracy theory ideas were not justified. I have seen the amount of research and the care that is taken in doing research, as well as the cross checks done once a paper has been submitted. In addition, one of the main areas that helped convince me of the validity of the science behind the messages being correct, was the enormity of the research done to come to the conclusions that resulted in the Australian Dietary Guidelines (55,000 journal articles were examined) .
I have also found that the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) will not back any health claim unless it is well researched and documented. This has given me assurance that the messages they give are sound and I now feel confident that I can believe that there is no conspiracy theory.
Another thing I have learnt on my journey to good health has been that even though people are very similar, we need to be aware that what is good for one person is not always good for the next. This is highlighted to me with the paleo diet ideas. For a while I really loved the concept of the paleo diet especially around eating less processed foods, getting back to home cooking and using fresh ingredients. I adopted this diet briefly in my bid to good health. Unfortunately, when looking at this diet as a whole, it lacks a few crucial ingredients. (I will write about this more in future to further explain my reasoning).
When people put themselves or families on a specific type of diet such as paleo, it may actually be causing more harm than good. Avoidance of food groups can lead to deficiencies in nutrients if it is not carefully monitored. There is also evidence to suggest that putting children and teens on diets with a good vs bad food mentality, can lead to eating disorders. I have seen this happen in people that are very close to me and so I know it to be true. It can feel like we are doing the right thing for our kids and there is an almost religious type of zeal associated with some of the diets we impose on our families, but in the long run, it can lead to further problems.
So, in conclusion, unless you have a specific medical condition that requires a strict diet, don’t label foods into good and bad, maybe try the idea of healthy vs occasional foods. You will be doing your family and your health a favour.
 Eat For Health. (2015, March 27). Australian Dietary Guidelines 1-5. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from EatForHealth.gov.au: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-dietary-guidelines-1-5