My Kitchen Rules chef Pete Evans’ impassioned campaign promoting the virtues of the controversial Paleo Diet has recently met with opposition from the Heart Foundation
and the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA).
The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman, Stone-Age or Primal Diet, attempts to emulate what Paleolithic humans would have supposedly eaten during this era: poultry, eggs, fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, and no legumes, grains or dairy products.
Evans describes himself as a “warrior” for the Paleo, and states that his life’s purpose is to promote its health benefits, which he has been doing via forums including a Sydney Morning Herald interview and his Facebook page, where a recent post ran, in part, “You all have ignited a spark that has been inside me, which is now a raging fire in my belly… The warrior in me is now ready for what’s next. At times in my life I haven’t been focused or very clear of my life’s purpose, however I have a laser focus for what I want to achieve whilst I am on this journey in this body.”
The Paleo Versus Bio-Individuality
Evans recently graduated as a health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, and his claims are somewhat in conflict with the institute’s own ‘bio-individuality theory’, which is all about the notion that there is no one diet that suits everyone. Difference in age, metabolism, anatomy and more mean diets need to be tailored to an individual. The institute’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal, notes on the website, “Our curriculum teaches bio-individuality, or that one person’s food is another person’s poison, because no one diet is right for everyone.”
Nevertheless, Evans, who has also written a Paleo cookbook and frequently promotes its recipes, has personally targeted the Heart Foundation and DAA with his strong defence of the Paleo diet, with quotes including, “How can this organisation [the DAA] publicly attack a way of life that is helping families reclaim their health in the most natural way possible?”
The Heart Foundation and the DAA tends to distance themselves from diets like the Paleo and the Atkins, although a spokeswoman for the former stated, “We know that the high level of saturated fat in a diet increases the risk of heart disease”, and, in July, the DAA’s chief executive officer, Claire Hewat, said, “Any diet excluding whole food groups should raise suspicions. The idea of cutting out grain-based foods and legumes is not backed by science and eating more meat than is needed by the body certainly has risks, according to the World Health Organisation.”
On Tuesday September 30 the DAA further stated, “Outspoken advocates of the Paleo diet have criticised the Dietitians Association of Australia and its members for questioning the merits of the Paleo diet. Our members work hard to make a real difference in people’s lives by helping and supporting them to eat better food and be healthier, or working on policy and product development to improve the food supply. Our primary concern is that some aspects of the Paleo diet are inconsistent with the Commonwealth Department of Health’s ‘Australian Dietary Guidelines'. When it comes to diet and health there is no one-size-fits-all or ‘magic bullet’ approach. The DAA encourages Australians to take a longer-term view to health, based on the recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines.”
Yet Evans, who has over 307,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook and many supporters, isn’t giving up the pro-Paleo campaign, so the fight isn’t over yet.