Attendees wanted to know how they could encourage plant-based diets for their children, to which Dr Griscti answered, “Well, if there’s no junk food in the house, children won’t eat it – you’ve got to set your pantry up for success.”
Hmm, sound advice, but easier said than done, methinks, what with junk food consistently cheaper than healthy food. Cost therefore was another issue raised by the audience – what can people do to eat right, and it not cost the earth?
“Especially for mothers, who just want to feed their kids well,” says Graeme Washer, medical advisor for the Men’s Health Trust NZ.
Well, say the panellists, the nutritional value of starchy foods is often overlooked; they are often a cheap but excellent source of energy.
“We can sustain ourselves quite well on sweet potato, white potato, it’s still quite healthy,” says Ms Cameron.
Among challenges that prevent people from improving their diets is confusion. One attendee asked about the ketogenic diet, another about intermittent fasting.
The panel says the benefit of the keto diet is purely short term, with weight loss and some diabetes control. Anything asking you to eat high fats, lots of meats and oils and less of fruit and certain vegetables can’t be good for you, they say.
As for intermittent fasting, there is a range of ways to do it, but the benefits depend on what you’re trying to achieve.
The panellists reckon more resources and services are needed to guide people through how to eat well and sustainably. Not only is the dietary change important, but also the behaviour change, which is often the hardest step.
All of a sudden, the panel was brought to a close by Hannah, and I was left feeling faintly disappointed that there hadn’t been more time to quiz the experts.