Noakes adds fat to Par­lia­ment diet fire

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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”.

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