The Tim Noakes Banting lifestyle, which encompasses a low carb, high fat diet, needs little introduction. Yet, most would agree that the final proof of this pudding will only be seen in years to come.
What many have found is that, if followed to the letter, Banting does result in weight loss. But what the health implications down the line are still remain to be seen. Plus, many have found that eating the Banting way can be quite expensive.
The Noakes Foundation’s Ocean View Community Project is a community project piloting a dietary intervention and educational programme for impoverished communities. The aim is to introduce the Banting lifestyle, which is essentially a low carbohydrate and high fat diet, and to see how they would respond.
Led by Dr Hassina Kajee, lead physician at Groote Schuur Hospital’s high care unit, strategist Jayne Bullen, and trauma counselor Euodia Samson, researchers are helping these participants to Bant for five weeks while monitoring various aspects of their health including weight, blood results, and any diet-centered challenges they may face along the way.
The Foundation's Jayne Bullen says that, looking at the participants' food diaries, it came as a shock that some of them were eating up to 46 teaspoons of sugar a day, topped with chips, sweets and ice-creams.
Take this quiz: Am I eating too much sugar?
“Our physician heads up a high-care unit at Groote Schuur and, like us, she knows that many of the chronic illnesses we are seeing taking over younger generations are directly related to very poor diets and unhealthy over-consumption of sugars,” Bullen explains.
“We are working with doctors, nurses and primary healthcare to make sure that Banting is not something for the upper middle class, but a real, affordable long-term way to eat,” she says.
“We know that nutrition and current food guidelines are not working for many. With obesity and heart disease at sky-high rates, we also know that the poorest are the most dramatically affected by malnutrition,” she says.
Why Ocean View?
The Foundation’s Hassina Kajee believes Ocean View is a great sample of a population that is in need of an intervention.
“Underprivileged people generally eat less healthy foods. Carb-rich foods tend to be cheaper. The vicious cycle continues with underprivileged people becoming unhealthier and developing chronic illnesses with long-lasting effects, resulting in a lack of income due to job loss,” she says.
“While many assume that eating healthy food is expensive, this is a myth. The Banting lifestyle promotes eating of the entire animal, bones and all. Cheaper sources of protein can be found in offal and eggs.”
The diet also promotes eating only two meals a day without snacks, Kajee explains.
“This form of eating actually is more cost-effective. There is no buying of juice, cereal, bread, cooldrinks, cakes, chocolates or biscuits. Your shopping becomes more ‘concise’, being limited to real foods – and vegetables can be grown in your own garden,” she says.
Let the Banting begin
On Wednesday 8 July 2015 the programme kicked off in Ocean view, involving 40 volunteers who adopted the “Banting on a budget” eating plan and supported by Ocean View community leader Euodia Sampson and the Real Meal Revolution.
Take a look: Comparison between what Banting would cost vs the Heart & Stroke Foundation's diet recommendation
The participants consist of mostly women, some of whom are struggling with obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Participants are monitored through weekly consultations with doctors.
On Wednesday 22 July the project reached its halfway mark. Participants received encouragement at their weekly medical consultation, including a special screening of the Banting documentary “Cereal Killers” and a discussion with the filmmaker Donal O’Neill.
Read: 10 golden rules of Banting
What the reaction is so far
When speaking to some of the participants, a few have already enjoyed positive change. Crystal Williams, who is participating in the programme with her mother, said in an interview for Health24 “I feel better than I used to. I suffered from migraines but haven’t had one since I started and I am into my third week already, so for me that is a huge improvement.”
She also said that allthough some of the ingredients can be expensive, she goes with what she can afford. "It’s about making it work for you” she says
On Saturday 8 August, the participants will undergo their last medical consultation and the result of their perseverance on the programme will be revealed.
LISTEN: Participants Crystal Williams and her mother Elizabeth Spannenberg, Darryl Folks and Jessica Johns talk about how the Banting diet is working for them so far:
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