The truth dietitians won’t tell you about fad diets

Here’s a thing:  Diet books for dogs.

Because why limit the dieting industry to humans, when there’s a whole market out there for overweight, guilt-ridden, food focused dogs?

diet books for dogs

Now they can unlock their ancestral diet too.  Or go vegetarian (I’m no dog nutritionist here, but seriously?).  And someone very passionate about canine diets, felt the need to write a ‘complete guide’ to not eating poop.  Yes they did.

It’s further evidence that the diet industry is showing no signs of easing up.  And do you know what?  My sensible, measured dietitian-ness can’t fight it any longer. I’ve decided it’s time I ditched the goody-two-shoes routine and jumped aboard that juggernaut.

Because nobody wants to read about how small, sustainable changes to your eating habits can help you lose weight and improve your long term health.  Not even dogs.  What we’re searching for is the dietary holy grail: a revolutionary new eating program that melts away kilos, cures chronic diseases and doubles as religion.

The key to fad diet success is pretty simple – as you can see from my nifty graphic below.

Fad Diet Writing 101

Sounds pretty awesome – right?  A lot more happening than ‘eat less crap and exercise more’.

But fad diets don’t just look and sound good.  The truth is that they’re benefiting us in more ways than we can imagine.  And the new, edgy, laser-tooth-whitened me is here to let you in on what the DAA and the Government have been trying to cover up for YEARS:

 1.  Fad diets help people lose weight and feel happy

Every year, millions of people shed millions of kilos of lard on fad diets.  And while they’re doing so they feel FANTASTIC.  It’s hard to miss how fantastic they feel, because they tell anyone and EVERYONE who will listen, and the best ones even get to go on TV. The giddy joy of fitting back into your old skinny jeans and living on ketones are a pretty heady combination.

But don’t feel bad if your friend is looking suddenly more buffed than you since they kicked their toxic sugar habit.  The flip-side to stringent diets is that they just aren’t sustainable for 98.7% of those who try them**.  You’ll be able to get your own back a few months later, when they’re back in their fat pants and no longer sporting that zealous, invincible look. When you pop over for coffee, just stare a little too long at the packet of biscuits on the bench, and then ask ‘hey how’s your sugar-free diet going?’.

**figure based on random sample of my dieting friends over past 25 years

2.  Fad Diets Are Good For The Economy

Because they sell books.  Billions of them!  And you can’t stand an ebook proudly on your coffee table as a conversation starter.  Fad diets are what keeps the publishing and printing businesses afloat, and keeps people in jobs.   And it doesn’t end there.

dietbook montage

With all of these sensational, ground-breaking new diets, comes the demand for sensational, groundbreaking new products – Himalayan Sea Buckthorn Seed Oilhome fermenting kits, and fart-proof underwear (I know you think I’m joking but check this shit out).  And let’s not forget the celebrities, shonky doctors and wellness coaches whose pictures grace the covers.  Their maca powder habits and alkalised water deliveries keep the health food industry in business, which in turn sells more kooky books, which in turn drives sales of carb-free pasta and dairy-free-soy-free-real-cheddar-taste-without-the-cheese kale chips.  And who can argue with that logic?

kale chips

3.  Fad diets put food on the table for desperate TV programming executives

Just imagine where those poor souls would be, without the constant turnover of new fad diets to feed the 24 hour news cycle?  Very short on low-brow current affairs and breakfast ‘news’ segments, is where.   And in the absence of such tasty programming morsels, we’d probably be subjected to more awful news about war, disease and famine. Which would make us so miserable we’d just gorge ourselves on more biscuits and cake, and get even fatter and more disgusting.

4.  Fad diets make for excellent dinner party and water cooler conversations

Which helps us connect with like-minded suckers individuals who’re interested in any new fad innovations in nutritional science.  Next time you’re stuck for conversation, just try this:

Simply combine the phrase ‘I read recently’ or ‘my trainer says’ or ‘many people now believe’ with any old rubbish, and you’ve got yourself a whole lot of credibility and a sure-fire conversation starter. For example:

‘I can’t believe you still eat carrots.  I read recently they’re worse than soft drink’

‘Gee I’m glad they do a paleo all day breakfast here – my trainer says I shouldn’t eat gluten after 4pm on weekdays’

‘I wouldn’t touch dairy with a barge-pole these days.  Many people now believe it causes early puberty, autism spectrum disorder and flabby upper arms’

5.  Fad Diets give stupid people a chance to be famous and make money

My final point on this matter may sound a little harsh, I know.  But doesn’t everyone deserve a chance to have their day in the sun?  Why should stupid people miss out?

And here, I give you Freelee the banana girl – a raw, vegan diet coach who has invented the Mono diet.  She’s shed 20kg by eating ANYTHING SHE WANTS (as long as it’s low fat, raw and vegan that is), in ANY AMOUNT.  The catch is that she only eats one type of food at each meal. NB. If you are contemplating watching this clip, proceed with caution, and please note these are 4 minutes of your life you will never get get back.

And on the subject of stupidity, I couldn’t finish up here without introducing Alicia Sliverstone and her books The Kind Mama and The Kind Diet.  

#1 New York Times bestseller Written for the many people out there who prefer to get their dietary, fertility and medical advice from a celebrity instead of a doctor – it’s apparently topped the New York Times Best Seller list.  Now that’s what I call #booksales.

But before you race out and get your own copy, do me a favour and check out this review, which is quite frankly, more useful and entertaining than both her books put together.

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Supermarket stupor

Well, it’s been a pretty big few weeks, I’ve got to say.  Firstly, I dissed the machine that is Pete Evans – and survived to tell the tale.  Secondly, I donned my invisible cape of assertiveness and pimped the story to a parenting website (at the risk of being descended on by activated nut-jobs around the country).  And thirdly, I joined twitter.

The freakish spike in my stats since last week’s post appears to confirm three things:

  1. Love him or loath him, Pete Evans and his ‘Paleo Way’ are very hot right now
  2. I’m not the only one who has completely cracked the sads with fad diets, food wankery and the people getting rich off the back of it all
  3. Secretly, we all have a little bit of Alf Stewart in us.
My (surprisingly real) Alf Stewart impersonation

My (surprisingly real) Alf Stewart impersonation

Happily, all of these factors seem to be working in my favour, and have brought about more than one spontaneous expression of joy through dance in my kitchen, and a record number of new subscribers.   So to the newbies, I’d like to introduce myself:

Hello. I’m Marnie.  And in real life, I’m not nearly as authoritative as I sounded in my last post (just ask my children, who never listen to me).

In a previous life (B.C.), I lived with my husband in cosmopolitan St Kilda, dined in the hottest restaurants, and worked with one of Australia’s most talented chefs (he was scary as hell in the kitchen, but a teddy bear outside of it).   But these days, I spend a lot more time reading Lego instructions than articles about the hottest new fad diet on the scene. And (quite dull I’m afraid), I spend a large chunk of my life teaching clients about basic nutrition, and preparing meals that my kids will actually eat.

I don’t usually make a habit of poking my nose into the business of celebrity chefs, or blogging about their peculiar food choices – but I’ve made an exception in Pete Evans’ case.  And that’s because he’s decided he knows a crap-load more than anyone trained in nutrition or public health, and has quite a penchant for dietitian-bashing.

The recent argy-bargy between Pete’s disciples and dietitian Susie Burrell is proof that many members of the public prefer to take dietary advice from a tanned celebrity, than an experienced health professional.  It’s also been a stark reminder of how downright revolting people can be, from behind the anonymity of a computer screen.

And that’s what was on my mind, last Friday afternoon when i-village parenting site published an edited, (somewhat less entertaining version) of my Pete Evans rebuttal.  As I quietly closed my laptop, and bundled the kids into the car for the shopping trip I’d be putting off all day, I realised I had just put myself out there amongst the trolls.

And it was in the supermarket, under that horrible flurescent lighting (my shopping list predictably forgotten) that I experienced a severe case of Supermarket Stupor.

super stupor

It went something like this:

‘Okay kids let’s think about what we came here for THINK Goddammit. Visualise the list and stop pulling the trolley – it makes it hard to steer’ Oh God… have they started slagging me off yet?!  

‘I think we’re out of juice [toxic cocktail] Who said that?!?  and cheese sticks’  Oh no – excess packaging = bad.  Will get 1kg block and cut into cheese sticks.. [probably from miserable grain-fed cows] Excuse me? What are you doing in my head?!  Hmm.. maybe should buy organic cheese – is that a thing? Quick! What would Rosemary Stanton do?

‘You wanted granny smith apples?  There – grab that bulk pack. Oh FRIG the packaging thing again –  must send message to evil supermarkets re: obsession with wrapping everything  No – get the loose ones and put them in a bag I’ll reuse the bag for dog poo and Arlo STOP pulling.  It makes it VERY. HARD. TO. STEER.’  Ommmmm… Breathing… breathing is good….

‘Mummy!! You said we could choose one thing – can we have CLIX?! Yeah CLIX! CLIX!’ here we go – this is my fault for letting them have Clix last week

‘No. We’re not getting Clix.’ stop frowning – people think you’re a grumpy cow


‘NO!’ because I’ve just published a post professing we all need to eat less processed food and more plants, and I’m pretty sure Clix biscuits don’t fit into the second category there, and ? is that guy looking at me strange ?  Is he going for his..?!  No of course he’s not. Don’t be silly.  He’s just looking at his phone.  

‘Mumma can we have Shapes then?’  Maybe he’s waiting to snap a picture of your kids with Clix and Shapes so he can post it to Pete’s Facebook page with the caption:

Just encountered outspoken paleo ridiculer and brainwashed brand-slave dietitian Marnie buying her kids processed crap in the stupor market this evening #slavetothefoodindustry #dietaryguidelinesfail #badastherestofthem


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You’ll be glad to know that I eventually pulled myself together and escaped the supermarket without appearing obviously unhinged.   I also stopped worrying about my potential death by social media suicide, and enjoyed an extremely delicious Thai takeaway with a friend while we watched Dead Poets Society and toasted the life of Robin Williams.

But the point of this post (I think) is that being a parent is a tough gig.  Sometimes, all of the noise and clamouring and expert advice out there about what we should and shouldn’t eat drives me a little batty – to the point where I just want to pack up, go home, and cuddle the dog.

But when I take a breath and a step back from it all –  I realise this:  Rather than freaking out and reinventing our way of eating, I just need a reminder, every now and then, to get back to basics.  And so my aims this week are simply to say no to the pester power of packaged rubbish, and to pack good, simple food in their lunches.

I’m also working on my new book I know stuff Pete Evans doesn’t – which I’m writing in the hope it will convince my husband and children that I actually do know what I’m talking about.  Wish me luck.

i know stuff pete evans doesn't