Pete Evans’ rise to fame was not so meteoric; he’s worked in television for most of my adult life, and I am pushing 40. Remember those awful Women’s Weekly cooking shows? Tedious. Tenuous. Terrible.
At the time I was studying to be a Naturopath and paving a unique path to wellness avoiding many of the ingredients he used. Like sugar, wheat flour and the like. He was so old school and uncool to me. Plus he had one of those faces that was not pretty and not ugly. Mediocre – like his cooking!
Having been in the Naturopathy & Holistic Nutrition profession now for the same amount of time I have seen fads come and go. I have been asked my opinion on all things from the South Beach Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Vegetarian Diet, Raw Food Diet to Michelle Bridges, Jenny Craig, Light & Easy and the list goes on and on. I have seen people change their lives with food. From barely walking up the stairs to my clinic to competing in triathlons 12 months later. I have watched people become desperately defeated by food. I have seen them fail too. I have had the pleasure of witnessing people rise from the ashes of poor health and shine the light that was always inside them. A gift to say the least.
Many times I have felt that there is not any one particular diet that would befit everyone. A somewhat observational opinion after years of clinical work with people who enjoyed variable degrees of ‘healthy eating’. My job is to treat people less like text books and more like individuals – seeing each organ and function of the digestive system as unique to them and their body type. Some people are wired for carbohydrates, others could not care if they ate a legume for the rest of their lives. C’est la vie.
I have had my share of dietitian patients who have been put on unhelpful oh so 1984 styles of diet. You know, the low fat, high grain, lot’s of margarine and no butter kind of plan. This so called ‘scientific’ food profession is endorsed by the medicos- a bazillion dollar industry with limited interest in holistic nutrition. And this is not about the magic of any particular food like Super Food Fads, it is about using solid healthy nutrition to provide an opportunity for the body to heal every day. Because that is what our body does: it repairs, regenerates and restores a bazillion cells every living day of our life. Nutrients are required for that ‘invisible’ process. Valuable nutrients like Essential Fatty Acids – chains which form the lipid bi-layer of every cell wall in your body; a wall which determines the entry of enzymes, minerals, vitamins, glucose etc and the exit of waste product that may act to damage the cell. Trans-fatty acids (TFA’s) such as those found in Margarine do not plump up and nourish the cell wall. In contrast they oxidise rapidly and contribute to a host of chronic diseases (choking our health systems) like Cardiovascular Disease.
Eventually, as my career has evolved I have found myself repeatedly encouraging people to adopt a Paleo style of diet. I am not hard-core but I believe in people moving away from our lazy, convenient style of pre-packaged eating. I urge people to celebrate and explore fresh living produce like their body’s depended on it – because it does! When people choose to eat meat, I ask them to consider their environmental footprint and make informed ethical decisions when buying their meaty cuts – a choice that is becoming increasingly easier due to popular demand. If that is what being Paleo is, then blimey – tell me the problem? And if it is not the diet it leaves only one man standing……
So what is it about Pete Evans that really pisses people off?
I was slow to jump on the Pete Evan’s wagon. I reluctantly joined his Facebook Page – professional curiosity made me do it. I read his posts suspicious of his intentions, claims, and wondered who was writing on behalf of him. I was unsure about the fuss, hoo-haa, the celebritisation of it; but I also could not un-follow. I was surprised to see that Pete was actually saying things I professionally agreed with, the witch-doctor in me suddenly had a bigger voice. I actually love it when he shakes shit up. He is a TV personality, a chef, and he is full of mad passion for well-being. He’s never looked better. I even went to his recent The Paleo Way tour in my home town and he is visibly glowing. I sat there expecting an arrogant twerp, but I found he was kinda like me when I am in the zone of convincing people that their lives can really change. I think that is what people mean when they say he is obsessive, but I found him to be energetic, informed and knowledgeable. He engaged every person in the audience – including me. I didn’t hang around for the book signing, I didn’t tattoo “Pete or Die”across the nape of my neck the following day, what I did was realise that I was developing a respect for him and his message. I respect that he calls on other professional experts in the industry to back his journey, I would be less forgiving if I thought it was just a Pete Evans jaunt. And perhaps that is why he receives so much criticism – because he is a chef and he seems to thrive on the media attention.
What I see from an educated perspective is a man encouraging people to step back from their children’s lunch boxes, their family dinner plates and pantry’s and ask themselves the same question I have my patients ask everyday “What the F*ck am I doing”? He is encouraging parents to remove the sugary, starchy, chemical laden snacks marketed to us and replace them with REAL food. What an OUTRAGEOUS JERK. He is asking people to move away from the foods that have them on the unhealthy rat-wheel of carbohydrate and sugar addictions. LESS pizza, less fast food and MORE cooking, more ethical informed choices. What a total F#CKWIT. Get my drift?
How do I feel about babies drinking Bone Broth instead of Formula? My professional opinion rests with the parent’s choice first and foremost. I would suggest that bone broth is a valuable alternative to highly processed Baby Formula, though I would not encourage the use of broth INSTEAD of formula in any baby under the age of 12 months. I do NOT agree with the use of toddler formula’s and I would like to call an end to the advertisements on TV that emotionally manipulate mothers to adopt Formula as part of a child’s full nutritional requirements. That pisses me off more than Pete Evans’ suggestion that bone broth is suitable nutrition for babies and toddlers. Just look at it with common sense, and not like you need lasso a wild bull. If you choose to make a bone broth for your baby/toddler 1. Make sure they are eating a variety of other nutritional foods 2. make sure they are receiving essential nutrients via the breast or your choice of formula 3. do not over-use salt in the broth 4. add the broth to vegetables, potatoes, fritters, or a sippy cup.
Some of the other reasons why I support Pete Evan’s Paleo Way is because he has single-handedly influenced mainstream nutrition on his journey; challenged the free ride many tired old Dietitians have enjoyed for too long; he has challenged the labelling of our food in the biggest supermarkets – such as the Heart Foundation and the big FUNDED tick of approval that is up for purchase to any company with deep enough pockets; he is using his fame to shine a light on the Naturopaths and Holistic Nutritionists who have had to slug it our for most of their careers without AMA and government support or recognition.
Sure, he is making a brand. I am a small fry, but everyone who wishes to be successful in business aims to do the same. Sure he is outlandish, but he believes in what he is doing – and like those of us who are buzzing with vitality, we want to share it.
Love him or hate him, he is laughing. And many of the people who are following him and changing their lives with real food are too.
Speaking of cowboys……
Melanie Robinson ND BHSc is a Naturopath and Real Food Enthusiast who believes that good nutrition is a portal to a better life. Float your own boat, but be wary of who and what you are defending before you start to lasso the people who are trying to push for change. She does run her own Nutrition Talks, even travels out of town to do so. She is speaker at this years IGNITE event presenting “Food as Medicine” in Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne. Contributor to Nurture Magazine, Health & Heart blogger, Mother to 2 deliciously healthy boys, occasional potty mouth, writer of her own Bio’s….. (oh and Bazillion is not a word, just a friendly gesture of heaps and heaps)