When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Australians to stay at home, we had to change our eating habits.
And we did, says Laureate Professor Clare Collins of the University of Newcastle.
Sales of fruit and vegetables increased as people spent more time preparing their own food at home, the nutrition and dietetics expert explains.
"We couldn't go out for dinner, and people had to go out and walk because you couldn't go anywhere.
"When we're made to, we can change our habits. But what it tells you is that something major has to happen that makes it less attractive to go out and more attractive to do the basic things your parents and grandparents just did - which was cook with basic foods, look in the cupboard and base a meal off what you've got rather than ordering UberEats."
Hear more from Clare Collins on the Voice of Real Australia podcast
Professor Collins says it's been estimated that if every Australian ate as the national dietary guidelines recommend the burden of diseases caused by type 2 diabetes would be cut by 40 per cent.
"It is so stark. It is a real contrast to the lack of action," she said.
"We used to say that for every person currently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there is actually another person who hasn't yet been diagnosed. What is sad is that it doesn't need to be the case - but the longer we go on neglecting a condition with a big preventable component, the harder it is going to be to solve."
A key problem the professor sees is how junk foods laden with fat, sugar, salt and preservatives "hijack" our appetites.
"We are not offered any protection from the onslaught of those foods or the marketing of them - except for the message - 'just don't eat it'," she said. "And that's everything against our biology, which - since we got up onto two legs - has been designed to find food to survive.
"That's why you read all the horrifying statistics about more people developing obesity, and how the age is coming down when people have their first stroke, first heart attack or develop diabetes. But still, we don't have any policies that are stepping up to address that."
While there was evidence it was possible to put type 2 diabetes into remission with an "intensive" amount of rapid weight loss early after a diagnosis, Professor Collins said simply quitting all carbohydrates to shed kilos was akin to "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".
Large-scale studies in Finland, the US and China showed that a 10 per cent reduction in starting body weight - with at least half of that kept off in the longer term - could reduce the number of new cases of diabetes by nearly 60 per cent.
"Lose 10 per cent and keep off five [per cent] doesn't sound like much," she said. "But ... the average Australian is gaining a little bit of weight every year. To go from a trajectory of putting on a little bit of weight year in and year out to actually losing a lot of weight and keeping some of it off is a really big change in your dietary and physical activity patterns."
People with type 2 diabetes should consult their doctor before embarking on a long-term low-carb diet.
"There is evidence for short-term restriction of carbohydrates," she said. "Why might that work in the short term? Because it's easier to recognise what foods have carbohydrates in them, and then you end up with a very narrow food intake. It's a proxy for cutting down."
But people who wanted to lower their carbohydrate intake should "make sure it's the junk carbohydrates you are restricting, and not the wholegrain ones".
"Definitely reduce your junk food carbohydrates like soft drinks, lollies, cakes, takeaway, and pastries. But don't restrict your wholegrain bread, or lentils, and legumes and other wholegrain cereals, because wholegrains are protective against a whole range of other conditions like heart disease, and specific cancers - especially colon cancer.
"Far better to eat a slice of bread and not get to the point of bingeing on a burger and fries."
Professor Collins said reducing certain carbs and fats could help someone with type 2 diabetes but they should seek individualised support rather than rely on one-size-fits-all online diet programs promising big results that would "reverse" diabetes.
"The research is showing that with an intensive amount of weight loss, and making really big changes so your pancreas starts working better and you become more sensitive to the insulin your body is making, remission in that one-to-two year period is possible for some people," she said.
"But most studies have used one of the fasting-type diets to achieve a rapid and big weight loss, and that type of diet needs medical and nutritional support."
The total energy intake of some of these diets was about 500 calories a day.
"These diets can work - but they need a lot of support and they need to be supervised, because you can develop gallstones and you can develop inflammation."
Professor Collins said after a couple of days on fasting and semi-fasting diets, the body began using its stores of glycogen.
"It's a bit like a car - if you don't put any petrol in the tank, it starts to get pretty low," she said.
"But you are then metabolising predominantly fat stores, and when you are doing that you produce these chemicals called ketones as a byproduct.
"One byproduct - acetone, is fairly volatile, and when it goes into your blood and the blood flows through your lungs, you actually breathe it out and your breath smells like nail polish remover. There's something about reducing ketones that helps people tolerate hunger."
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