She plans to address this issue in an upcoming address at the upcoming Food is Medicine virtual conference hosted by the University of Utah College of Health and the Utah Center for Community Nutrition (UCCN).
Nestle is an internationally recognized consumer advocate, nutritionist, award-winning writer, and academic specializing in food and nutrition choice politics. She will be keynote speaker at the conference on September 11th, “Diet & Health: What Health Professionals Should Tell Clients About Food And Nutrition”.
Healthcare Professionals, Their Patients, and Our Diet
Nestle’s address will focus on the impact health professionals can have on health prevention simply by talking to their patients about diet. Unfortunately, Nestle said, far too few health professionals do so.
“Doctors are lucky when they have 15 minutes with the patient,” said Nestle. “This is not enough time to find out what people are eating or talk about what they should be eating.”
This is a particularly pressing issue because many patients who go to the doctor have problems that revolve around food.
“There is a tremendous need for doctors to advise patients about diet, but there is no time to do it,” Nestle said. “There is a vast amount of evidence that the people who have the greatest influence on people’s diets are theirs [health providers]. “
Investigation of the links between diet and health
The relationship between nutrition and health is one of the main research areas of the UCCN. The UCCN was founded at the University of Utah in 2017 to combine nutritional research with outreach to improve the health of Utahners, said Dr. Julie Metos, Executive Director of the UCCN.
This also includes the “Food is Medicine” conference for doctors and students. The conference is also open to anyone who wants to learn more, said Metos.
Other topics of the conference sessions range from practical food preparation to how low-income people can meet their nutritional needs to other wellness and integrated health practices and sessions aimed at health professionals, Metos said.
Just start for a lasting effect
“We live in a pretty toxic environment when it comes to nutrition; the things that are available to us in offices, schools, churches … the way we furnish our neighborhoods with fast food, ”said Metos. “Our environment does not encourage us to eat healthily.”
Nestle said the surge in “ultra-processed foods” is a new contributor to ill health. Ultra-processed foods are a special category of junk food that has been linked to weight gain, chronic illness, and higher mortality rates.
Highly processed foods are easy to spot:
- It is manufactured industrially
- Its ingredients are things that cannot be recognized and that cannot be bought in grocery stores
- You can’t do it in your home kitchen
For example, Nestle said, corn on the cob is not processed. Frozen or canned corn is minimally processed, but corn snack chips are ultra-processed and unhealthy.
People may be tempted to go for cold turkey and cut out meat and processed foods altogether. It could be difficult to follow such a strict diet, Metos said. Smaller steps are the key to success.
“Can you have one meal a day without meat?” said Metos. “Or a meatless Monday? All of these things can make a pretty big change.”
The conference aims to help participants achieve sensible and achievable nutritional goals:
- Choose plant-oriented options
- Choose drinks wisely
- Pay attention to the portion sizes
- Practice mindful eating and more
While the problem facing our modern diet is complicated, Nestlé said the solution was simple.
“Michael Pollan could put it in seven words,” said Nestle. “‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.'”
This press release was produced by the University of Utah. The views expressed here are your own.