Within two generations there has been a complete restructure of our food environments from mainly fresh foods prepared in the home, eaten with family or friends at the table with plates and utensils; to a high proportion of fast food, convenience food, snack-food, confectionery; from or at restaurants, cafes, take-away outlets and food-halls; out of bags, packets, bottles, cans, tubes, tubs … and eaten on the run. Continue reading “Living through history. Our changing food environments. 1980s – 2010s.”→
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.
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”→
When my eldest son was about seven years old, he came to me distressed about a school project on food. He had learned from his teacher that brightly coloured vegetables and fruit were good foods. He had also learned fatty snacks such as crisps, and confectionery were bad foods. His distress was that he didn’t know how to classify many of the foods our family were eating. He wanted to know whether we ate good or bad foods.