You are what you eat… Really?

By Rebecca Novakovic

Eating Trends

French doctor and gourmand, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is often quoted as saying ‘you are what you eat’ but the direct quote was from her book ‘Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy’, was “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are” (Hancox 2010).

If this is true, I bet we all feel a little queezy at times. Today’s society has been changing dramatically, with the advent of new technologies, transport and availability of produce and also our lifestyles. The way we eat now is so different to the way our grandparents ate when they were growing up. Does this have an impact on how we feel and our health? I believe that it has a direct correlation, and as it turns out so do many scientists and doctors.


According to the statistics, the rates of obesity in children and teens have been rising significantly since the mid 70’s (Bariatric Surgery Source 2013). This is an alarming trend.  But what is causing this epidemic and what can we do about it?

In the video link at the start of the blog, there is a trailer of a documentary called ‘Food Matters”, this is an amazing documentary about:

  • The link between food and health
  • Impact of fast food on society
  • Government recommendations for nutrition and the bias from major industries

After watching this documentary, I started to question the guidelines and advice from governmental groups surrounding nutrition. Did you know that Dairy consumption has been linked to osteoporosis and other diseases? (Food Matters 2013). One might ask the question – Why then is the recommended intake of dairy 3 serves per day according to the ‘Food Guide Pyramid’? (That is recommended by dietitians from government and registration board members) (Mazansky 2011).


Government & Agricultural Influence

I went to the dietician the other day to get some dietary advice for my allergies. After a discussion with the dietitian I was shocked and appalled to find out that according to the dietician (who shall remain anonymous) could only recommend what the board of nutrition stated as ‘daily recommend intakes’. Only the dietary information given by her supervisory board could be given to patients, even if there was evidence to the contrary that other dietary advice would be more suitable.

Do the governing bodies really have our best interest at heart? I think not.

The agricultural industry is promoting dairy and meat consumption for their own benefit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was started originally to advocate for the interest of the farmers and is said to be acting on: consumer interests and setting nutrition standards (Simon 1998). Does anyone see a problem here?

If the evidence leads towards a plant based dairy free diet for increased health, where would that leave the meat and dairy industry? Without a lot of money…

Many different movements of healthy diet opinion point towards a plant based diet that is free from dairy, gluten and meat. We all could do with some more thought towards our food intake and eating a balanced diet that is low in saturated fats, salt, sugar and processed food but why do people not eat healthier diet?

Upcoming Posts

In my next two postings I will talk about:

  • The Fast Food Epidemic
  • Nutrition and Guidelines for Healthy Food Consumption.


Bariatric Surgery Source 2013, ‘Child Obesity Statistics & Teenage Obesity Statistics: 1963 to Present’, retrieved 17 April 2013, <;

Bosch, L & Colquhoun, J 2013, ‘Food Matters – You are what you eat’, retrieved April 17 2013, <;.

Dawn, L 2013, ‘Cow’s milk linked to osteoporosis’, retrieved 17 April 2013, <;

Hamouy, P 2013, ‘Diet -Can dairy cause disease?’, retrieved 18 April 2013, <;.

Hancox, J 2010, ‘You are what you eat’, retrieved 16 April 2013, <;

Mazinsky, H 2011, ‘Food Pyramid’, retrieved 16 April 2013, <;

Simon, M 1998, ‘The Politics of Meat and Dairy: How Big Business Influences Government Policy and Our Food Choices’, retrieved 16 April 2013, <;