My life of hell since I took on Tim Noakes
Dietitian opens up to Times Select about the abuse she has endured for her anti-Banting views
Dietician Claire Julsing-Strydom says she has had to endure hundreds of insulting messages from Banting fans since she laid a complaint against Professor Tim Noakes in 2014 for advising parents not to feed their children carbohydrates.
She has been called “frumpy”, “obese” and “dim” on social media and has been accused of being on the payroll of big sugar companies. Remarks were made about her weight when she was six months pregnant.
Julsing-Strydom, as voluntary president of the Association of Dietetics, laid multiple complaints with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) about Noakes giving advice on what infants should eat, as well as a voice clip in which he said on radio “children don’t need any carbohydrates”.Vegetables and fruit are considered carbohydrates.
Noakes was found not guilty of professional misconduct in 2017 and the council’s subsequent appeal was dismissed on Friday. The panel did not make a decision on the science of what children should eat, but did rule that a low carbohydrate and high fat diet was not unconventional advice.
Hundreds of tweets aimed at Julsing-Strydom suggest she isn’t thin enough to be a dietician, that she needs to try fasting, follow the low-carb high-fat diet that Noakes promotes, and is not giving her patients good advice.
She told Times Select some people had even sent threatening letters to her practice.Julsing-Strydom has not spoken publicly about the four-year legal hearing. She said the HPCSA had told her not to speak to the press and, because she is regulated by the association, she had not questioned the media ban. But she feels her side hasn’t been heard.
She said although the HPCSA had homed in on her complaint that Noakes had on Twitter advised a mother to wean her baby on a low carb, high fat diet, this had been just one of several complaints she had laid.She had also received complaints from other dieticians about Banting advice for children and, as their elected representative, had passed them on to the head of the dietetics board at the HPCSA, Professor Edelweiss Wentzel-Viljoen .
She said Noakes and his lawyers had argued during the hearing that she had conspired with Wentzel-Viljoen to complain about him. However she said she had never even met her, but had merely passed the complaints on to her because it was procedurally correct.Julsing-Strydom, who has spoken at events with Noakes, said she had always been polite to him, but felt her name had been dragged through the mud. “I don’t get a cent from the food industry.”
She said her husband told her to ignore the insults, which she does, but it was upsetting. She has tried to respond with scientific articles on nutrition and had offered to discuss nutrition science on the phone with any of her critics, but she said no one had ever taken her up on her offer.
Noakes told Times Select he stood by his belief that Julsing-Strydom had colluded. “It’s on the record. We have the e-mails. We describe it in the book. What she did was completely and utterly unforgivable. What happened thereafter is the result purely of her own actions. She needs to front up and accept responsibility. Until she does that, she sets herself up as a target.”
Noakes supporters continue to call for her to apologise for laying the complaint.