Hello, my name is Leonie Elizabeth.
I am a nutritionist and writer.
I have Bachelor of Pharmacy degree and a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Nutrition. I have experience in community pharmacy, nutrition consulting, and nutrition research. I have 36 years experience in dental practice and business management. I have a certificate in editing and book-editing experience.
I am currently studying for a Master of Human Nutrition at Deakin University. Further details are provided in my professional portfolio.
Since a young university student I have always queried medical knowledge, asking why certain diseases occur, rather than accepting the sole role of health professionals is one of diagnosis and treatment.
My attention to preventive health focusses on the role of diet and, more specifically; adverse reactions to foods, food components, food additives, drugs and drug excipients. These encompass my professional backgrounds of pharmacy and nutrition.
The globalization of food-processing, marketing and distribution; and how these impact food quality, the environment, social structures and non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes; are areas of keen interest to me.
My father had a heart attack at the age of 45 in 1965. After his heart attack our family’s meat centric diet changed to one that avoided fatty red meat, full-fat milk and butter; and included more fish, chicken and vegetable oils. Tragically the diet was too late for my father and he died of a stroke four years later. Nevertheless, the diet messages stuck with me. I became quite health conscious as a young adult.
Thus, when I started out on motherhood I had pre-conceived high ideals on nutrition. I believed if I fed my children a diet of wholegrain cereals, vegetables, and fruit; and if I avoided excess fat, salt, sugar and refined cereals; then good health and well-being would naturally follow.
How wrong I was.
My second son was a failure to thrive, suffering chronic diarrhoea and asthma from the introduction of solid food. At age three a specialist paediatrician at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) in Sydney prescribed for him an exclusion diet and series of food challenges. He was subsequently diagnosed as being salicylate and amine sensitive; as well as being sensitive to some food additives; colours, preservatives and MSG. On a diet removing these foods and additives, he became well and gained weight. Other family members including myself were also diagnosed as salicylate /benzoate/ amine sensitive.
On my return from Sydney, and inundated with queries from patients, medical practitioners and community health groups; I studied for the Graduate Diploma of Human Nutrition, at Deakin University. I completed a research project The Assessment of Perceived Food Sensitivities in Adult Asthmatics. On completion of my Graduate Diploma in 1991, I set up the Nutrition Advisory Centre, in Burnie, Tasmania. This was a consultancy service advising on all aspects of nutrition, but predominantly for those requiring help for food sensitivities. As a pharmacist, I had a working knowledge and experience in cross relationships between adverse reactions to foods, additives, drugs and drug additives. Through Deakin University in 1996, I completed a comprehensive literature review and submission of a research proposal of a community survey in perceived food sensitivities in children aged 4-8 years.
With the family diet adapted for food sensitivities, which involved restriction of many fruits and some vegetables; bread, cereals and potatoes became the mainstay of my children’s diets; complemented with vegetables, some fruit; meat, poultry and eggs. Inclusion of small amounts of sugar and fats for home-made baked foods and occasional treats; added choice and variety and allowed socialisation of an otherwise bland diet. The children learned the difference between foods they could eat (friendly food); foods they should eat (for long-term health); foods they couldn’t eat (those that made them sick); and foods they could, but shouldn’t (eg; fatty and sugary snacks).
Beliefs and Attitudes
I have a great belief in evidenced-based advice in nutrition and diets.
I believe many non-communicable diseases, previously considered a natural part of aging; such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes; can be prevented or better managed through a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Other illnesses such as asthma, rhinitis, eczema, urticarial; mood disorders such as anxiety or depression; and childhood AHDH; may be exacerbated by food sensitivities and improved with diet.
I believe if a patient or carer is willing to try a dietary approach, and the diet is nutritionally adequate, they should be supported in their efforts prior to or at the same time as a pharmacological approach. Any dietary approach requires commitment and knowledge by the person concerned and support from health professional advisers. These are not always available. Much in the way of helpful dietary manipulations, especially in regards to food sensitivities; are still buried within the medical literature.
I have a concern the public are turning to alternative practitioners or advice in the lay press or internet; for the help that they should be receiving from health professionals. Many of the recommended alternative therapies, diets or supplementations have not been subjected to adequate scientific review or scrutiny. Some are beneficial. Some are harmless but inappropriate or unnecessary. Others may be dangerous and harmful.
I am also concerned regarding haphazard removal of a complete range of foods, especially when that may influence diets of young children; and the popularity of diets proclaiming sugar as being toxic being extrapolated to the removal of many foods high in carbohydrate including the core foods of potato, rice, oats, pasta and bread.
I am equally concerned regarding our current food environments which lends itself to ready-availability of fast-food, fried food, confectionery, sugar-sweetened beverages, alcohol, fatty-snacks, sweet-foods, convenience foods; and the marketing resulting in their over-consumption and contribution to obesity and non-communicable diseases.
I have set this website as a resource for people who would like evidence-based information in a format that is easy to understand. The theme of the website will be across five main areas:
- Food – what is it?
- Basic nutrition
- Food environments
- Lifestyle as prevention of disease
- Nutrition on a restricted diet (food sensitivities)
I believe in being one’s own ambassador for good health and vitality.
I believe in the strength of family and local communities.
I am passionate about the environment and of making the world a better place for future generations, and of having a fair and just society with equal opportunities for all.
For family and communities, food is an important connection.
For society and the environment, food can be the solution.
I do not claim that I have all the answers.
I am learning to ask the right questions.
Photo owned by author. Taken 23 December 2015. Photo by Dale Cumming