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JULY 2019 Newsletter

Lately we have been considering who gives nutrition advice and where people like to access nutrition information.  I was fortunate to attend the Australasian Lifestyle Medicine Conference held in Auckland in June and soon after, the New Zealand Food Writers Mid-Winter debate on the Future of Food and in particular the place of red meat. Both events really rammed home the message that nutrition is not the preserve of registered nutritionists and dietitians. The fact the Lifestyle Medicine conference attracted 450 registrations, far more than any local nutrition or dietetics conference, shows GPs, nurse practitioners, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists and other primary health disciplines see food and nutrition as an integral part of their practice and something they discuss regularly with their patients and clients. Many had strong views on the approach they favoured for their community, which included vegan diet, keto diet, low carb diet. My overwhelming impression was an acknowledgment that there were many approaches that could be successful, and all had much in common. 

At both events there was a lack of clarity around the term “plant based”. While there was general agreement there are many advantages to a plant-based diet there was discussion on whether this included meat or not. We use the definition from the Harvard Medical School, “Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.” And have adopted the mantra of Michael Pollan “Eat Food. Not too much. Mainly plants.” Our programmes continue to focus on ways to include more plants in everyday meals and we are enthusiastic about new partnerships (both funding and delivery) that will help us achieve this.

- Sarah Hanrahan, CEO, NZ Nutrition Foundation