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Bonzer Words!: No-Fad Diets

Ken Sillcock offers some sensible words on the subject of food.

Ken writes for Bonzer! magazine. Please visit www.bonzer.org.au

'Are you on a diet?' I was asked.

'Of course I am. I couldn't survive long without food.'

'But what has kept you going all those 95 years?'

'I just follow the principles of animal nutrition. But of course so do horses, cows, cats, rabbits, koalas and earthworms, to name a few.'

'Yes, but let's be specific. Are you on low this, low that, or high this, that and the other supplement?'

'None of those. Humans, like pigs, can thrive on a wide range of foods. I did get away to a good start on 95 per cent fat-free milk.'

'What, that long ago? It sounds so modern!'

'Yes, ordinary milk from our own cows. Mother made sure we had plenty of it. We also had 65 per cent fat-free cream, on sweets like stewed fruit or steamed pudding, on bread with honey or jam, even with sugar as little kids.'

'And what about cheese?'

'It was always there, mostly Cheddar. We acquired the taste later.'

'What came next?'

'At boarding school, then university college, I mostly ate whatever I was given, as I did at home. Generally, wholesome, but we did go on a plum jam strike.'

'You're joking!'

'Oh no. After a long run of pear ginger, there was this endless supply of Damson plum jam, which was more stones than flesh, so we all settled for bread and butter at our evening meals. When that was forbidden we changed tack, took plenty of jam and left it on our plates. We soon ran into Industrial Relations legislation tougher than any passed by our present Government.

'The resident Geography master gave us no sympathy. He said it was an aid to teaching his subject. First you travel through a belt of prickly pear, and then you come to a stony desert. He didn't mention a strawberry patch.'

'Were there any other problems?'

'There was the tripe, often served for Saturday lunch. The master served one plate of it, then waited. It was passed all the way down a long line, then most of the way back. Only one or two boys would eat it.

'But there was a catch. On the next Monday morning the tripe was apt to turn up in the salmon patties we often had for breakfast.'

'How did you fare at the university college?'

'In Hall, the formal evening dinner (academic gowns etc) there was always a choice of two main courses and two sweets. But in first term the freshmen were allowed to drink only from egg cups, as part of the very childish initiations. I didn't bother to drink with that meal, but I was told by the head of table that I must bring an egg cup anyway.

'My university studies came to an abrupt end in the financial depression of 1930, seemingly forever. I got a job as a herd tester in my home district, staying overnight on each of 26 farms each month. The farmers agreed to supply three meals and a bed as part of the deal, and feed for a horse (but not petrol for my T Model car, which I bought for 26 pounds!) It was a good, healthy outdoor life, but I was grossly over-fed.

The farmers' wives all tended to make the meals a bit special for their visitor, so inevitably I put on weight. I daren't refuse food and leave a housewife wondering what was wrong with her cooking—"he eats everything Mrs. Bloggs serves up to him." In seven years my weight had almost doubled, helped by the farm where they had 65 per cent fat-free cream on their breakfast weeties.

After that I took the excess off again in only 40 years of a simple slimming exercise—a vigorous push away from the table three times a day.'


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