By Taylor Guthrie, Student Dietitian
Recently, I have been interested in the paleo diet’s growing number of devotees and media following. Having considered a career in Journalism before commencing Nutrition and Dietetics at QUT, the media’s representation of healthy diet has always caught my attention. Over the past three years of my degree I have literally spent hours attempting to discourage the fad dieters in my life and advocate for Australia’s evidence based recommendations, with little avail. What perplexes me is that these diets often consist of very strict, expensive, complicated regimens and STILL they attract masses of followers, celebrity advocates and endorsements. This leads me to consider – what do these philosophies, aside from the unrealistic claims, have that the evidence based scientific recommendations suggested by APDs lack? Why is it easier to give up an entire food group than cut out soft drink? As scientists at heart we know their heavy reliance on word of mouth, celebrity endorsements and testimonials lacks credibility; however this seems to speak to the public in a way that scientific publications and media releases do not. In order to compete with these unproven, potentially harmful diets, we must strive to emulate the popularity of fad diets but with evidence based recommendations. In short – let’s make dietetics sexy! Why can’t the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating be marketed as something to post on Instagram, be the topic of discussion on popular radio shows and spread like wildfire throughout social media? Constantly evolving technology and social media only presents more opportunities for the profession to develop the way it connects with the public. Imagine a ‘get your dairy serves’ challenge marketed specifically at women? Or a 30 day salt fast (no adding salt at the table)? Obviously, evidence based recommendations are not a ‘one size fits all’ approach and there are challenges for maintaining accuracy and context using these methods. As someone who still has very much to learn within the profession of Nutrition and Dietetics – I am in no way claiming to know exactly how to do this nor am I criticising the current approaches of Australia’s public health nutritionists. Rather than completely discrediting the less scientific approach taken by fad diets, I am merely using this as inspiration to deliver diet recommendations in new, innovative ways to emulate their success. By doing this, could we make dietetic recommendations a sexy, long lasting trend?
I am a third year Nutrition and Dietetics student at Queensland University of Technology and self-confessed nutrition nerd! My professional interests are growing and encompass both clinical and public health/research settings:
-Infant and maternal nutrition
-Nutrition for professional and recreational athletes
-Long term behaviour change for prevention and/or management of chronic disease
-Developing the use of new technology in dietetic counselling and public health nutrition
Outside of university, you’ll find me sweating it out at a ballet or weight training class, visiting local markets (I love trying weird and wonderful vegetables) or enjoying the reef and rainforest with my family in Mossman (Far North Queensland). I quite certain that I’ve chosen the right profession and look forward to gaining more experience and a greater understanding of our important role in health.