The Australian Dietary Guidelines – formerly known as the healthy food pyramid – are a framework for what, and how much, we should be eating. With it comes the advice to eat four to six serves of grain foods a day. It’s advice that Pete Evans insists we have wrong.
The chef, author and TV personality says we should invert the pyramid: instead of grains sitting at the base, being eaten the most, they should be at the tip and eaten the least. “A good diet should feature healthy fats, vegies and herbs in the ‘eat most’ category,” he says. “Next is high-quality proteins from free-range animals and sustainable seafood, followed by a moderate amount of fruits, nuts and seeds.”
Evans follows the much-touted Paleo diet. Inspired by our prehistoric roots, it consists of fish, grass-fed meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit and nuts. Eliminated from the diet are legumes, refined salt and sugar, processed oils, dairy and, controversially, grains. The diet is said to assist weight loss and muscle gain, increase energy and rid the body of niggling aches and pains.
“To simplify it, humans are animals and we’re biologically adapted to a ‘species-appropriate’ diet and way of life,” Evans says. “When animals eat and live in compliance with the environment they are adapted to, they thrive.”
Critics of the Paleo diet claim it is nutritionally incomplete or even a fad. But Evans says, “If Paleo is a fad, then it’s the oldest and most popular fad diet known to our species. It has seen us through the last three million years.”
Evans has just qualified as a health coach at the New York-based Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Three years ago, after reading the book Primal Body Primal Mind, he adapted his diet to a Paleo-inspired philosophy and, he says, his mental and physical health began to thrive.
Aside from improving his own health since flipping the food pyramid, this grain-free convert claims to have some compelling evidence on his side. “There are more than 200 potential adverse health effects clearly linked to grain consumption,” he says.
Controversy about food is something Evans is comfortable with. In late 2012, social media went into meltdown when, in Sunday Life‘s My Day on a Plate column, he listed “activated almonds” among the ingredients in his smoothie. Within hours, #activatedalmonds was trending on Twitter and the jokes soon followed. As ABC presenter Leigh Sales tweeted, “Time for bed: lights off, blinds down, almonds deactivated.”
They’re comments Evans takes in his stride. “Everyone is entitled to their own educated opinion and I’m happy to be judged. My soaked nuts managed to start the nation discussing activated almonds and, more importantly, health.”
It seems we’re much more open-minded these days. Evans has an active online community at, while his book, Healthy Every Day, is a best seller. And he is passionate about educating families on the importance of healthy eating.
“Parents who raise their children on heavily processed foods don’t realise the harm they’re doing long-term,” he says. “If they care about their children and themselves, they need to embrace current knowledge about food and nutrition for the emotional and physical well-being of their families.”
No matter what side of the dietary fence you sit on, that has to be something on which we all agree.
PETE’S KITCHEN RULES
• Drink more filtered water that is fluoride- and chlorine-free.
• Be mindful when eating. Relax and chew your food well.
• Get the kids involved and allow them to feel a connection to their food.
• Support farmers’ markets and those working with nature and not against it.
• Seek the advice of a holistic healthcare professional.
Find a healthcare professional who specialises in Weight Control Services in your area with doctors.com.au or start with your local GP for advise