Noakes adds fat to Parliament diet fire
The fat sizzled in Parliament this week as staff and MPs discussed plans to incorporate parts of Tim Noakes’ controversial “Banting Diet” in Parliament’s menu.
Noakes was invited by Parliament’s Wellness Unit to address MPs and staff, and left a few converts in his wake. MPs previously blamed Parliament’s food for making them fat. Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana told City Press in May that “food in Parliament is always available”.
“When you come for the committee meeting in the morning, there are cream- and jam-laden scones, puff pastries and all sorts of sweet delicacies,” said Manana, who went on a strict diet after gaining 22kg in five years in Parliament. “For lunch, we are served a three-course meal which may include soup for starters, starch, various meat and fish for main course, and cheesecake or malva pudding for dessert. For evening study groups, we also eat heavy meals.”
Noakes is a nutritional hero or villain, depending on who you talk to. He encourages a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.
Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli, who attended the talk, said he supported Noakes’ ideas on nutrition.
“I know when something makes sense, and what he says makes sense to me. After all, he said ‘experiment, talk to your doctor, because it may not be suitable for everyone’.”
Tsenoli could not say when changes to Parliament’s menu will be made, but emphasised it would be discussed with MPs, and the healthier options on the existing menu would be expanded.
“We want healthy MPs and staff, and being healthy is what the Tim Noakes’ story is about.”
ANC MP Andrew Madella said incorporating parts of the Noakes diet in Parliament should be welcomed.
“I’m planning to buy his book. I support the principle of healthy eating and there are already healthy options on the menu.”
But the IFP’s chief whip, Narend Singh, who doesn’t eat some meat for religious reasons, said it was important to eat healthily – but not necessarily because one person said so. “MPs must take responsibility for what they put into their mouths,” he said.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation this week warned against adopting Noakes’ approach in Parliament, saying if MPs “continue eating what they eat at Parliament and then add more fatty foods, things will only get worse”.