Western Australia's food shortages and rising cost of groceries are starting to impact our long-term health, according to Monica Divine.
"It [food shortage and grocery costs] just puts another layer on top of a problem we already have," the Mandurah Nutrition and Dietetics dietitian said.
"I get them [clients] to write everything the eat and I can see what they're eating is different. I've had clients that said eggs are going short. For cholesterol, we use active heart milk, again you can't find it. People are having to go to Farmers Jack's, Gilberts, those supermarkets are going to cost more money. In general, people are going to unhealthy options."
In a recent article by the Mail, a number of Mandurah residents revealed that they were forced to skip meals as they were unable to afford enough groceries for both themselves and their children.
"That's going to give them the same impact [as overeating] in the long term, they are going to put weight on. We get these people that are overweight but they still feel malnourished. They then put on weight quickly, it only takes one or two weeks for some. It's a big dilemma.
"They are missing out on nutrients. As a safety measure, the body thinks they are starving, and starts storing fat. They may feel tired and not sleep well," Ms Divine said, explaining how skipping meals depletes nutrients and can cause unhealthy weight gain in the long run.
While this crisis would not last forever, Ms Divine said, it would have long-term implications on gut health and on those who are pre-diabetic.
"This is not forever, but it will affect the gut health because a lot of things are going to cause inflammation," Ms Divine said.
Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, fried and processed foods, sugary beverages, processed meat and margarine are all known to cause gut inflammation, according to a 2021 Harvard Heath article. Unfortunately these food items are normally the most affordable options, or what's left on the shelves.
"An immediate impact is obesity, cholesterol and high blood pressure," Ms Divine said.
"For some people it can be a little ticking time bomb and it can be really quick, some people possibly have started not eating good food, they may be pre-diabetic and don't know it. They were already on blood pressure medication and this [food shortages and rising cost of groceries] just takes things to another level.
"We didn't have a very prolonged lockdown but even just that short shut down, people increased 5-10kg," Ms Divine said.
For those struggling with the rising cost of groceries and accessing healthy options, Ms Divine had a few simple tips to ease the pressure and stress.
"We need to keep food, keep cooking, very simple; we always over-complicate things. We also need to respect that everyone is different instead of just following someone else's diet. People have to enjoy their food otherwise nothing's going to stick.
"You have to go back to the basics. You could have baked beans, tuna and beans, and keep it simple that way," Ms Divine said. These food items are usually affordable and accessible in grocery stores, or even at service stations if your local store is out of stock.
Ms Divine said that asking for help was crucial for those struggling to find healthy options in the supermarket but with the cost of living rising, many may not be able to afford a dietitian.
There are a number of free online resources to help navigate healthy eating on a budget.
If you are struggling to access or afford groceries, there are also a number of free food services around Mandurah and Peel.
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