Last week the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) sent out a Media Release highlighting the risk of malnutrition in the elderly population of Australia. In fact, figures show that 1.7 million older Australians are malnourished. And it’s not just an Australian problem. I see malnutrition every day in my working life in the clinical setting. The rates of malnutrition in hospitals, aged care facilities and even just in the community in all Western countries are similar around the world.
The DAA thought with Easter approaching it was an opportune time to remind the public that malnutrition is a very prominent and real thing. They suggested that it was appropriate to provide elderly malnourished people with higher calorie snacks such as hot cross buns and chocolate this Easter.
And Oh My God, I thought World War III was going to ensue. Why? Because Chef Pete Evans and his tribe got hold of the Media Release and used it as another reason to rubbish Dietitians on his Facebook page.
He asks, “Does the promotion of what would be contained in hot cross buns being white sugar, white flour and margarine, be the best options for someone that is malnourished or would it only add to the underlying issues?”
So instead he suggests that the poor elderly malnourished folk eat “some healthy chicken and vegetable soup” (AKA broth), “or perhaps fish and veggies or salad for Easter?”
Goodness, how many sick and elderly or malnourished people has Pete Evans worked with??
Ok it’s about here that I should say that I don’t actually have anything against Pete Evans per se. Or the Paleo diet in some ways. If you follow a Paleo diet and it is working for you then that is great! If you follow a Paleo diet and it has encouraged you to eat more wholefoods and vegetables then that is fantastic! However, I do have issues with people harping on about how there is only ONE diet worth following, and if you do not follow it then you are not qualified to give advice on any other diet or way of eating at all. And this is where I have some issues with Pete Evans and his Tribe. I also have issues with people who have NO nutrition background or qualifications promoting things when they have no idea about the science behind it. (Or lack of science behind it). I would not walk into one of Pete Evans’ kitchens and try and teach anyone in there how to cook. So what makes him think that he is qualified to spout rubbish to his thousands of followers when he has no nutrition qualifications? Even a bogus online qualification as far as I know.
The other thing I have issues with is people who are not willing to listen to an alternate point of view, or read anything that helps encourage debate and critical thinking.
Most Registered Dietitians in New Zealand work in the clinical setting. Every day they are faced with malnutrition – not just those that are elderly, but people who have just come out of massive surgeries, have chronic disease or are going through chemotherapy. These people’s bodies are fighting disease or struggling to repair themselves. The Energy Expenditure of these people is huge. They need calories. In this situation, most Dietitians I know would be promoting high fat and possibly high sugar snacks and meals. They would be trying to provide energy dense foods that are as easy as possible to eat. I haven’t met anyone in hospital recently that has asked for a fish salad. Some of the patients I work with would not even be able to chew a salad. If they did manage to chew it, the likelihood of them aspirating on it would be huge!
Dietitans take an individualised approach when it comes to nutrition advice. Advice that is given to patients in hospital is vastly different to that given to the general public around healthy eating. And as such I decided to highlight a few things on Pete Evans’ Facebook page.
In a very calm and professional manner I commented: “I think the DAA Media Release has been misinterpreted. I am pretty sure they are not promoting that every Tom, Dick and Harry eat hot cross buns and chocolate all Easter, but that if an elderly and malnourished (insert person here) asked for a piece of chocolate, then we should give them the damn chocolate.
About 10 minutes later I checked on my comment. It was gone, and I had lost my ability to comment on any more posts. I had been #blockedbyPeteEvans.
It is this sort of behaviour that really grinds my gears. All it means is that everything on Pete Evans’ Facebook page is completely biased and one sided. He isn’t willing to open his mind to other viewpoints or to listen to anyone with any kind of credible qualifications.
Science is forever evolving. We are forever learning new and exciting things in nutrition. It’s a shame Pete Evans will never find this out, as I don’t believe he reads anything that doesn’t promote his own viewpoints.