In Depth

Dr Trudi Deakin: Using Education to Deliver the Real Food Message

Dr Trudi Deakin obtained her degree in nutrition and dietetics in 1993, a teaching qualification in 1998 and a doctorate in diabetes in 2004. She worked as a dietician in the NHS until 2008, when she left to set up the registered charity, X-PERT Health, which delivers structured education for both healthcare professionals and the public. Through her programs, Dr Deakin has trained over 1000 healthcare professionals as educators, which has led to the education of over 200,000 diabetics and prediabetics. Her primary goal is to improve health and wellbeing through education, whilst reducing healthcare costs. Dr Deakin is a founding member of the Public Health Collaboration. This talk was given at their 2017 conference in Manchester.

Whilst running clinics for diabetics within the NHS, Dr Deakin noticed that patients in general lacked understanding of their condition. This highlighted the need for better patient education on the matter. Dr Deakin decided it best for healthcare professionals to start acting in a collaborative and educational manner with patients, rather than an instructional and prescriptive one.

Because obesity and diabetes are primarily hormonal conditions (involving primarily insulin), the idea that calories and exercise are the deciding factors needs to be dispelled. The consensus ‘eat less, move more’ approach has poor long-term results, whereas low carb and fasting approaches provide effective and sustainable weight management, as they address the underlying metabolic issues. In the interest of patient choice, the X-PERT programmes allow four dietary approaches: low fat, Mediterranea, low carb and intermittent fasting. Fasting itself is a versatile tool offering many different regimen options. It can also be factored into any type of diet. All of the X-PERT approaches share a common theme of ‘real food’, with the aim of improving metabolic health, however, patients with higher insulin resistance may have to restrict carbohydrate to a greater degree.

A key aim of the X-PERT programme is to improve understanding of how diet affects the body. To this end, the program delivers education on subjects such as insulin, types of fat, cooking oils, lipid profiles, glycaemic index and fructose metabolism. Part of this education is also about teaching individuals to appreciate their personal carbohydrate tolerance. The end result of the six-week programme is an improved understanding of the diet’s role in health and wellbeing, allowing for well-informed lifestyle choices and collaboration with healthcare professionals.

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