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Breaking the cycle

Growing up in the 50’s, was pretty awesome.
My immigrant (Hungarian) parents settled us into the family home at the now über trendy Tamarama Beach; right around from Bondi Beach in Sydney’s East. I attended a now defunct local private school with 300 pupils, most of them boarders.

My dad had been a professional dancer, performing throughout Europe along with my aunt and uncle; a tap and acrobatic team; much like the famed Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers partnership.

The war forced him to turn to another profession here in Australia, that of a tailor. My mum stayed at home taking care of us and worked part-time also.

Why am I delving into the past you may ask??

Because how we lived then; the day-to-day life as kids, then teens; formed the basis of my adult years in terms of my health and wellbeing.
Afer school activities included backyard games, running around and generally letting off steam. A snack was a piece of fruit and a drink followed by homework until dinnertime. Then it was usually bath-time and before bed; we read books. As we grew older, my brother and I were allowed an hour of TV but only if the viewing was suitable for children.

ROUTINE became the foundation of each day. Meals were shared together as a family, sitting down and eating home-cooked and fresh produce.

The meals looked something like this…..

BREAKFAST – a very important meal for all of us, especially growing youngsters. For me growing up, this consisted of cereal (weetbix) or home cooked porridge in the winter months. Recipe can be found below. 
Also included were poached or soft boiled eggs, a piece of toast (the yummy Bronte rye bread only available from the deli on certain days), jam which was usually home made; my Dad had an aversion to all things canned or in packets; and all washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice or half a grapefruit. As I grew older, it turned into a freshly brewed milky coffee.

LUNCH – always packed fresh daily and consisted of a sandwich, piece of fruit plus a treat; again a home-made biscuit or small piece of cake. No tuck shop or canteen money for me 🙂

DINNER – sit-down meals at the dining room table with Mum, Dad and brother. We shared simple and home-cooked meat and veggies with a Hungarian touch; namely paprika, onion and garlic. Mum and Dad often also enjoyed a spritzer (half wine/half soda) and occasionally us kids were allowed a small glass of the same..

Perhaps a trifle long-winded though I think it is imperative for you to get a “feel” of what a great impact my upbringing had on me; personally and as a mum myself to two daughters.

Our society; and I’m focusing here on us Aussie’s; has become “soft” in regards to how we treat our kids and their meals. Giving in to the easy way out, to avoid meal time tantrums. Forgoing the veggies, allowing the blame to go on the meat being too chewy or the little ones all of a sudden having various intolerances to dairy, wheat, meat etc etc. Oddly though, not to sugary treats and processed food. *This is not to be related to serious allergies and intolerances experienced.

I do not for a minute think that my folks were over-the-top strict. We always enjoyed our hot chips or ice cream cone treat however they were just that; treats.

Although not a true fan of the show; appreciating however the message it is trying to convey; THE BIGGEST LOSER (Australia) this season is focusing on “breaking the cycle.” It is facing head-on the issue of parents being too soft with their children; as well as themselves; in terms of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

From a recent episode and one of the trainer’s mouths; in Shannon’s words, “cut out the crap right now!”

Easier said than done?


Start by saying NO! To your kids, and to yourself. NO to sugar. NO to white bread. NO to the takeaway dinners. Step-by-step, baby steps…
Instead try an old but tried, tested and guaranteed solution – sit down at the table and eat dinner with the family. Relax and allow it to be an enjoyable time for all family members, young and old.

The food need not be fancy; simply clean, fresh and tasty.

From both Shannon (and me!) – “EAT LESS, MOVE MORE.” This is a simple equation and relevant to both child and parent.

Image credit : Raw Food Recipes

WINTER PORRIDGE – from my mum

  • Soak the oats (Uncle Toby’s) overnight in a saucepan – just covered with water, approximately 1/2 cup of oats per person
  • In the morning, add enough full-fat milk to cover the oats well & add a teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Over a gentle heat, stir the oats till they thicken and the milk starts to bubble *this doesn’t take long
  • If you like a little sweetening, then a spoonful of honey can be added OR, as I like, home stewed prunes in their own juice (water based). Strawberries or blueberries could also be added in lieu of/as well as prunes

The full fat milk combined with the amazingness of oats means that you will stay full for longer. Porridge; done well; is a truly nourishing and filling way to commence the day.

Bon Appetit!!

Love Viv xxx

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