Mid 1980s – A turnaround in my diet to Friendly Food
Sorting out the family diet after the RPAH protocol for food sensitivities (1) was at first daunting and confusing. The prime objectives were to get my son well, establish his symptoms due to diet and the culprit foods, then exclude only those foods. This final modified diet was to become the ‘friendly’ diet (2) we grew to know, of foods that were safe for my son to eat without him becoming ill. However, I also wanted the family diet to be a ‘healthy’ diet in fulfilling long-term objectives of preventing diseases that plagued my parent’s generation: heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. The longer-term family diet also had to be nutritionally adequate, palatable, fit in with the family lifestyle and be socially acceptable. How could I meet all those objectives? Continue reading “My food history # 8 – The 1980s Healthy Eating (Core Foods) Pyramid”→
I underwent The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) exclusion diet protocol in 1985 (1) which involved a few-foods diet until symptoms settled, followed by food challenges, then a modified diet excluding only problem foods. Lastly, there was moderation of the diet up to my level of food tolerance.
Some of the food challenges raised my blood pressure.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a medical condition in which blood pressure pumping through the arteries is elevated compared to what is considered normal. It is a major risk for coronary heart disease and can lead to long-term complications such as vision problems, or kidney disease. My own father had uncontrollable high blood pressure and died of stroke in 1974 age 49 years. His mother and aunt also had strokes.
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) Exclusion Diet (1)
I underwent the RPAH exclusion diet protocol in 1985. On the exclusion diet I felt ‘withdrawal’ effects of flu-like symptoms, aching joints, sore throat, cough, tinnitus (ringing in ears), teeth-grinding and headaches. I became edgy, uptight and lethargic. As symptoms settled, I became clear-headed, alert and energetic with natural colour in my cheeks, a change from my previous pale complexion with black rings under my eyes. Food cravings (for fruit) vanished. I became extremely calm, relaxed and organised. My blood pressure was 110/70. I was ready to perform the food challenges.
After my father had a heart attack, our family diet changed to avoidance of fatty red meat, full-fat milk and butter to one including more fish, chicken and vegetable oils. Those messages and promotion of fibre and fruit, and less refined cereals and sugar stuck with me. Thus, when I started out on motherhood I had high ideals of a healthy diet being wholegrain cereals, vegetables, fruit; and avoidance of excess fat, salt, sugar and refined cereals.
My ideals came crashing down when my second son was a failure to thrive, suffering chronic ill-health from the introduction of solid food. After a three year battle, I sought advice from a specialist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) in Sydney. An exclusion diet and series of food challenges (1), proved he was sensitive to salicylates, amines and some food additives (colours, preservatives and MSG). Salicylates are flavour components of many fruits, juices and vegetables. Amines occur in cheese, chocolate, bananas and yeast extracts. On a diet removing those foods he became well and gained weight.
By my late twenties, my red-meat-centred, full-fat dairy, white bread and sugar-treats diet of my childhood had changed. Food swaps after my father’s heart attack meant more chicken and less red-meat, skim milk instead of full-fat milk, oil instead of butter, and fatty foods only eaten socially. I also restricted sugar, confectionery and chocolate. I based my diet around foods high in fibre with wholemeal breads, added bran, and fruit. Thus in the early 1980s, when I started out on motherhood, I had preconceived high ideals on a healthy diet for myself and healthy foods for my children. I believed if I fed my children mainly wholegrain cereals, vegetables and fruit; if I avoided excess fats, salt, sugar and refined cereals; then good health and well-being would naturally follow.
How wrong I was.
My second son was a failure to thrive, suffering chronic diarrhoea and repeated wheezy chest colds from the introduction of solid food. Referred to a paediatrician at 15 months, a series of tests ruled out sinister problems, and he was diagnosed with food allergies. He initially improved on a restrictive diet excluding milk, eggs and wheat. However, he had frequent relapses and it would be another two years before I had the complete answer for him. Needless to say, this was an emotionally distressing time as I battled sleepless nights, guilt-choked days and a socially-crippling diet. Continue reading “My food history # 6 – critical moments … high blood pressure”→
While I was growing up and in the years as a young adult, as my own family mainly consumed home-prepared foods, garden-grown vegetables and eggs from our back-yard hens; swirling all around me were economic improvements and major shifts in social norms, a prelude to the storm that was to become a complete restructure of our food environments within a generation.
Working and walking
In my parents youth, in the 1930s and 1940s, times were tough with the depression, World War 2, and food rationing. The 1950s through to the 1970s were decades of relative improved prosperity. My father worked full-time. Initially he rode a bicycle to work. In the 1950s only 10% of families had cars. (2) Gradually we became a one-car and in the 1960s a two-car family. My mother was a homemaker, as the majority of women were in the 1950s. There were no modern appliances. Housework took many hours with washing, ironing, sweeping, cleaning, and chopping wood. The evening meal was cooked over many hours. In the 1950s, women averaged 77 hours per week housework. (2) As children we walked to and from school, except on rainy days when we caught the bus. After school we rode bikes around the neighbourhood or played in the back yard. Continue reading “Living through history. Our changing food environments. 1950s – 1970s.”→