This is my final DietDoc article to be published after 21 years of being a diet and nutrition advisor to three successive South African Internet organisations. I dedicate it to you, the public, who have interacted with me on a daily basis for so long.
I am retiring and handing over the torch to my successors, a group of young enthusiastic dietitians who work for Nutritional Solutions.
The history of the “Diet-and-Nutrition” service on the Internet in South Africa started in 1995 when I was asked by colleagues working at the CSIR on a project known as “WorldNet Africa” to become their diet and nutrition advisor.
I chose the name “DietDoc" as my pen name and joined four other Health Experts (medicine, infant care, psychology, and veterinary care), to supply information in my field. I set out to specifically publish weekly articles on the latest diet-, food- and nutrition-related topics and to answer questions posted on the “Ask an Expert” DietDoc Message Board.
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After two years, the service was transferred to MWEB, and in 2001 the health-related services of MWEB, including the DietDoc service, were moved to the Health24.com platform.
In the many years I have worked for Health24.com I have seen the number of Experts grow exponentially, from five over a decade ago to 44 in 2016. A most divergent team, the Experts have answered close to half a million health-related questions in total – and the service continues to go from strength to strength.
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Personally I have written nearly 800 weekly articles for the DietDoc site and estimate that I have answered more than 5,000 questions posted by readers via e-mail and on the Message Board. I sincerely hope that I have contributed to your knowledge of food, diets and nutrition and have helped you understand how the food you eat can influence your health and well-being.
Before I depart, I would once more like to emphasise what I believe are the most important take-home messages related to nutrition:
- The most important rule in nutrition is to eat a varied diet that contains foods from all the foods groups, namely carbohydrates, proteins and fats. During a final-year lecture given by my Professor Mattie Jooste, one of the first dietitians in this country, she emphasised that from a diet point of view “what we lose on the swings, we must make up on the roundabouts”! No one food or food group can provide all the varied nutrients we require as humans and omnivores. We need meat and fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit, grains, seeds and legumes, milk and milk products, fats and oils, plenty of clean water and lots of exercise on a daily basis, to stay healthy.
Read: Get the most out of your food
- Never consume more energy than you need for daily living and try to do regular exercise to keep you fit and slim and trim.
- Don’t fall for fad diets and extravagant promises made by unscrupulous people who exploit your desperation to lose weight or fight disease. These charlatans are using your despair to make themselves rich and do not have your best interests at heart.
- Above all, be sensible and mature in your approach to eating, food, use of diets, supplements and over-the-counter slimming and health products. Deep down you will know that you are falling for a scam and running after a mirage. Spend your money on worthwhile treatments and products.
I would like to thank all the support staff at MWEB and Health24.com who have made my job a pleasure and a joy for more than 20 years. I shall miss you!
I wish all my readers well and hope that you will continue to support the “Diet-and-nutrition” section of Health24.com. I am confident that the dietitians at Nutritional Solutions will keep you well informed about the vital subjects of nutrition, diets and health, and I wish them great success and job satisfaction.
I sincerely hope that my successors will take good care of you and the site that I helped to create.
I wish you and your families good health and a long and happy life.
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Van Heerden, IV (2010). Nutrition Education via the Internet - The DietDoc Experience. Poster presented at the Nutrition Congress, Durban, 19-22 September 2010.
Dr Ingrid van Heerden is a registered dietician and holds a doctoral degree in Nutrition and Biochemistry. She believes that "we are what we eat" and offers free nutrition and weight loss advice via her DietDoc service on Health24.com. Read more of her articles.