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COVID-19: a tipping point for a change in dietary behaviour

COVID-19 has increased the focus on new opportunities to efficiently manage health outcomes in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. We must harness this unique moment in time to fight the pandemic and, more broadly, manage the rising tide of chronic disease.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of maintaining overall health; in Australia more than 70% of COVID deaths had pre-existing conditions. The value of a healthy, balanced diet, rich in whole foods is more crucial now than ever.

Doctors For Nutrition, a registered health-promotion charity led by medical and dietetic professionals, has launched a toolkit to assist medical professionals in leveraging this opportunity.

Dr Adrian Griscti, a rural GP for over 33 years and Doctors For Nutrition Advisory Council member, welcomes the launch of Doctors For Nutrition ‘Plant-based nutrition and health: A guide for health professionals’.

“We’d all agree that diet is the number one decision you make for your health each day. Health practitioners play an important role in inspiring and supporting people to improve their diet and longer-term quality of life,” he said.

12-page guide

“Although our training often does not include nutrition education, patients still turn to us for advice about healthy eating.

“Unfortunately many GPs simply don’t have enough time during appointments to provide their patients with nutrition advice. Also patients may not realise how vital simple dietary steps can be in improving their ailments. This guide helps to bridge that gap.

         Diet is the number one decision you make for your health each day.

“In just 10 minutes, you’ll be informed about the benefits of shifting to a more whole food plant-based eating pattern, how it is linked to reduced rates of chronic disease and the range of positive outcomes for those who adopt these changes. It provides evidence-based guidance on healthy, sustainable eating patterns,” Dr Griscti said.

The guide includes practical tools such as a quick diet survey to find easy areas for improvement. There are also useful support tools for patients such as a 2 page patient handout and dietitian-designed shopping list.

Emma Strutt, Australian Practising Dietitian and Doctors For Nutrition Queensland Lead Dietitian, said the guide has been designed to be very user friendly.

“Even health professionals with limited nutritional knowledge will feel comfortable using and sharing the tools with clients. For instance the shopping-list requires minimal explanation, making it an effective handout that won’t take up too much precious consultation time.

“I believe plant-based nutrition has been one of the most powerful and underutilised interventions in healthcare. This way of eating centres on unprocessed fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and legumes.

         Plant-based nutrition has been one of the most powerful and underutilised interventions in healthcare.

“Unfortunately this isn’t the last, or the most severe, pandemic we are likely to experience. By using this global crisis as an accelerator towards healthy, nutritious and sustainable diets, we will improve resilience to future pandemics, reduce rates of chronic disease and help address environmental crises.

“Doctors For Nutrition is providing health professionals an extremely relevant and simple tool to do this,” Emma said.

Free access is available to health professionals and the general public at here.

Interview opportunities with Dr Adrian Griscti and APD Emma Strutt are available on request via phone or on location in Adelaide for Dr Griscti. An Advisory Council member in your area may also be available.

Media contact: Alicia Temple | 0403 987 567

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