Rules for Eating (that are better than the new Guidelines)

I've just finished perusing the majority of the 200 pages that make up the new draft Australian Dietary Guidelines (oh it was super! fun! times!), which were released last week for public review. They are, it shocks me to say, a significant improvement on the old guidelines, because they recommend we eat food, rather than macronutrients. That's a good start. An important start, because recommendations to eat less fat and more carbohydrates (rather than say, less fish & chips and more wholegrains) are what led us down the garden path to nutrition chaos, and allowed high sugar low fat yoghurt to be touted as a health food.

Photo by Rohan Anderson of Whole Larder Love

Yet still I feel the need to talk more about the way we eat. Because dog damn on the one hand the guidelines recommened we avoid processed foods, and on the other they recommend we eat low fat dairy. They tell us to eat more wholegrains, yet don't tell us how to properly prepare them. They recommend women (particularly pregnant women) eat more meat, yet they don't specify that this meat should come from grass-fed not grain-fed animals that have been ethically farmed.

So these here are my guidelines, and those of many nutritionists and leading thinkers around the world:

Eat food. Real food. Food that the food industry hasn't fiddled with.

Yep, it doesn't take 200 pages to give someone good dietary advice.

I've just begun reading Nina Planck's Real Food for Mother and Baby, which despite it's title, is a book for every woman (not just those with baby bumps in sight). Planck is one of the leading experts on local and traditional food, and set up the first farmers' markets in London way back in 1999. In her book, she gives a true blue description of what she means, what we all mean, by real food, and I thought I'd share it with you here:

"Real food is old, and it's traditional".

Complicated hey?

She goes further, giving examples (annotated by me below) of what food is real food, and what food, well, is not:
  • A free-range pork chop with the fat, brown rice, and an orange, are all real foods.
  • Full cream milk as it comes out of the cow (unhomogenised and unpasteurised) is real food. Skim milk powder reconstituted with water and fortified with vitamin D is not.
  • Full-fat plain natural yoghurt is real food. Omega-3 enhanced low-fat yoghurt is not.
  • Butter from grass-fed cows is real food. Margarine (corn oil pummeled with hydrogen atoms to make it solid at room temparature, then dyed to make it yellow) is not.
  • Beetroot straight out of the ground with the green leaves attached is real food. Beetroot in syrup out of a can is not.

Recipes made from real food are also read foods:
  • Sausage made with fresh free-range pork, herbs, spices and natural casing is real food. (BBQ sausages from the supermarket are not).
  • Mayo made with organic egg yolks, olive oil, salt and mustard is real food.
  • Soaked lentils with asparagus is real food.

I'll add:
  • Bread made from stone-ground whole wheat flour, yeast and a pinch of salt is real food. Fibre-enhanced white bread is not.
  • Raw honey is real food. White sugar is not.
  • A free-range egg and mushroom omelette is real food. A protein bar is not.
  • Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil are real foods. Hydrogenated vegetable oil is not.

So you see, eating well for our health and the planet's isn't difficult. It's not scientific. It doesn't call for 200 pages. Our only guidelines should be what makes sense. Eating what comes out of the ground makes sense. Eating what comes out of a factory does not. Eating food that our great-grandmothers would have recognised makes sense. Eating food with ingredients we can't pronounce does not.



  1. Hello,
    I came to your blog and have been reading along your posts. I decided I will leave my first comment.

  2. Welcome! Hope you enjoy:) And thank you for commenting :)

  3. nice summary!

    sar @

  4. Thanks Sarah, just had a squiz at your blog, love the dahl-brownrice-watermelon-mango mash-up!

  5. Love this. Also now reading "In Defense of Food".
    I have a question. I make my own mayo using my own eggs (well eggs from my own chooks!), mustard, vinegar & home grown garlic. I use canola oil as EVOO is too strong tasting. Is there a better (read more "real") alternative?

  6. Love this! It is totally my food philosphy, and it holds me in good stead :) Just found your blog and am loving it! Can't wait to peruse your archives more :)

  7. How on earth do you even find butter from grass fed cows?



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