Are you on a Fad Diet?

How do you know if you are on a fad diet? Let’s define fad diet, Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), give this definition: “a fad diet is any diet that promises fast weight loss or radically improved health, without a scientific basis. These diets often eliminate entire food groups and as a result do not provide a wide range of important nutrients”.

In my opinion, the problem with the term Fad Diet is that it is subjective, it depends what you believe to be a healthy diet! Clearly there are many opinions on what makes a healthy diet and the truth is that there is no one healthy diet, there are many. Individuals require different diets at different times in their lives to be healthy. For example someone with Coeliac Disease needs to avoid gluten and possibly other grains, someone with Diabetes needs to reduce their carbohydrates, different protocols work differently for individuals depending on their current health status, ancestry, stage in life and much more.

Interestingly the DAA who call a fad diet “a restrictive diet that often eliminates entire food groups”, and uses this as their justification for being anti paleo and LCHF (low carbohydrate healthy fat) also promote vegetarian and vegan diets to be healthy, by definition these are diets that are a “restrictive diet that often eliminates entire food groups”. I understand why the public are confused, I am too!

Let’s get some clarity on this:






Still confused? Me too…….

Hmmmmm, maybe what they really mean when they say fad diet, is a diet that they don’t approve of, or more likely a diet that their sponsors don’t like! The DAA are ending their long standing relationship with Corporate Partners at the end of this year – finally! But in the meantime their list of partners includes Nestle, Campbells, Arnotts and The Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum with members such as members Freedom, Kellogg, Nestlé and Sanitarium.

Since paleo/LCHF style diets have been popular, cereal sales are down. The companies who sell cereal have been getting the Australian Government, the DAA and various dietitians and health professionals to push the cereal message whilst at the same time continue to discredit anyone recommending paleo and LCHF and ensure they are called fad diets at every opportunity.

In November 2017, the Australian Government released a report created by Kellogg’s: Australians need to eat more cereal fibre. Since when is it OK for our Government to do marketing on behalf of big business? An industry written “scientific” report just passed on to the public as fact with no question! This is a cereal company funding a health study and having it promoted as government advice. Read this blog post written by Dr Maryanne Demasi who is an investigative medical reporter for more information on this report.

There is another great article here from Dr Maryanne Demasi Investigation: how Kellogg’s and Sanitarium infiltrated the medical profession.

One of the people targeted by the DAA and cereal companies was Dr Gary Fettke, he had complaints against him made to AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) for encouraging his diabetic clients to reduce sugar and carbohydrates. Dr Fettke is an orthopaedic surgeon; his recommendations were to help avoid the amputation of people’s legs! The good news is that Dr Fettke has recently been cleared of all claims against him and has received an apology from AHPRA. One of the documents using in these hearings will be released soon, it contains confirmation that he was targeted by cereal companies who used the DAA and AHPRA to target him. More details about Gary Fettke’s case here.

Belinda Fettke recently wrote a great blog post with a thorough look at vested interests and ideology shaping our dietary guidelines here: Dietitians Association of Australia and Fad Diets. In this article Belinda explains that all the references used by the DAA in regards to their position statements on vegetarian diets are from Seventh Day Adventists and/or employees of Kellogg’s a breakfast cereal company founded by Seventh Day Adventists who are vegetarians! Senator Cory Bernardi wrote about Gary Fettke and the DAA in his blog post The World Has Gone Completely Mad.

As I mentioned above, there is no one healthy diet. Different protocols work for different people at various stages of their lives. Just eat real food is a good starting point, loads of colourful vegies, good quality protein (meat or vegetarian) and healthy fats and oils like olive oil, butter, avocado, eggs, nuts and seeds. For a little sweetness add in season fresh fruit.

It is important that if you are receiving dietary advice from government authorities and health authorities, that it is based on science and is in no way influenced by the junk food industry or religious groups. Unfortunately this is not true at the moment in Australia. It is fine for people to make ethical and/or religious choices around food; however recommendations for health must be based on science and not on belief. Next time you see a health professional attacking diets as a fad, check out who they work for, who is funding or influencing them or what religion they are.

Kirsten Flavell © 2016

In my opinion, examples of fad diets are the cabbage soup diet or the banana diet. Diets where people only eat one thing or one food group. I think we get caught up on names of diets, let’s just focus on cutting out packaged highly refined foods and eating real food. Paleo, LCHF and vegetarian diets can all be very healthy if balanced well, vegan diets can be healthy but are not suited to everyone. Ultimately choose the diet that works best for you and don’t be afraid to ask yourself “is this working for me”? If you are healthy and happy; well done. If you are not, you need to make some changes.

The good news is that the tide is beginning to turn, as I mentioned before the DAA are cutting ties with food companies, Dr Maryanne Demasi writes about this here: Vindication: dietitians cut ties with sugar lobby. Various diabetes authorities around the world including Diabetes Australia are now beginning to support low carbohydrate diets for diabetes, read more about that here. Science is beginning to win and sponsorship and influence by the food industry is now being seen for what it is! This is really good news in nutrition and health.

Fiona Kane is a Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, Holistic Counsellor, Transformational Life Coach, Professional Speaker, Podcaster and writer on Health and Nutrition and the founder of Informed Health Pty Ltd, holding an Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine, Diploma in Holistic Counselling and Life Care and Certificate in Transformational Life Coaching. Fiona is registered and accredited with Australian Traditional-Medicine Society (ATMS), Australia’s largest professional association of complementary medicine practitioners. Fiona has been in practice for 11 years.
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