Hello, my name is Leonie Elizabeth.
I am a nutritionist and writer.
Since a young student I have 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.
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.
Much confusion abounds about diet due to a reductionist focus on nutrients. Much can be gained by returning to eating whole-foods. At the same time there is a need to move away from a reliance on ultra-processed food.
My professional backgrounds are in pharmacy and nutrition. I have Bachelor of Pharmacy degree and a Master of Human Nutrition. I have experience in community pharmacy, nutrition consulting, nutrition research, and dental practice business management. I have a certificate in editing and book-editing experience. Further details are provided in my professional portfolio.
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 diet-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 avoided excess fat, salt, sugar and refined cereals, good health and well-being would naturally follow. I was wrong. My second son was a failure to thrive, suffering severe health problems from the introduction of solid food. At age three he was diagnosed with food sensitivities by a specialist paediatrician at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), following an exclusion diet and series of food challenges. Following the same protocol, I was also diagnosed as being salicylate, benzoate, amine and glutamate sensitive.
On my return from Sydney, 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 a 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 research-based advice in nutrition and diets.
Many non-communicable diseases, previously considered 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 conditions such as asthma, rhinitis, eczema, urticaria, mood disorders, childhood AHDH, and gastrointestinal disorders may be triggered or exacerbated by food sensitivities and improved with a change in 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 research-based information in a format that is easy to understand. The theme of the website will be across several areas:
- Basic food facts
- Ultra-processes foods
- Food for healthy living and prevention of con-communicable diseaeses
- Food sensitivities (allergies, intolerances, coeliac disease, FODMAPs)
- Nutrition on a restricted diet
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