Tag Archive | healthy eating

Fiction and non-fiction

There is a big difference for a writer between writing fiction and writing non-fiction. With fiction a writer can give free reign to his/her imagination. It can soar like a bird. The only restrictions are to stay within the bounds of possibility. But with non-fiction you must stick to reality – unembellished by your creativity.

With fiction you want to tell a story and you want captivate and entertain the reader, you want the story to be as engaging as possible, and so you employ all your writing skills – all your imagination and creativity – into producing your masterpiece.

Non-fiction needs a totally different approach. You are writing for a different type of reader – a reader who is seeking information. No flights of fancy here. Just facts. Here your reader is not looking to be entertained – he is looking to you to help him solve a problem. You can only attempt to do this if you have the knowledge and expertise to do so.

Perhaps you’re an expert in your field. Or you might be someone who has discovered a new and easier way to build a dog kennel, and you want to tell other dog owners or soon-to-be dog owners all about it to save them time and effort. In either case you do it because you know something that you believe will be helpful to others. And to be able to pass it on you have to explain it in the clearest way possible. No fancy words, just plain, simple statements.

I have just finished a non-fiction project, which has taken much more time and effort than I envisaged when I first started on it, and I have found it much more difficult and demanding than fiction. Called ‘Eat Cook Slim’ I decided to write this book because of the frenzy of diets, books, supplements and meal replacement products on the market today relating to weight loss and good health. During more than thirty years experience in the beauty/natural therapy industry in Australia I helped hundreds of clients to gain good health and a slim figure – by which I mean the right weight for them – along with the benefits of a healthy glowing skin, which is the basis of all beauty. I know that diets don’t work and that following the simple guidelines to healthy nutrition is the only way stay slim and healthy, and when you know how, it’s not all that difficult. And I believe I can pass this know-how on to others. So I wrote a book about it, and then decided to put together a series of books of quick, simple recipes to accompany it. It proved a big task.

I had no idea of the amount of time and effort I would need to put into such a project.

When I’m telling a fictional story I become embroiled in the lives of my characters – I’m like a fly on the wall watching them as they go about their endeavours, eager to see what they will do next, totally immersed in them. And I love every minute of it!

But non-fiction demands so much more. You must check your facts, down to the last detail. Does the latest research agree with your advice? You must be careful not to make a mistake, your readers are relying on you. I must admit I gave a relieved sigh when I finally finished this project. And if it helps a few readers I’ll be satisfied.

But I can’t wait to get back to my next partially written novel, which has been languishing in my laptop for too long!



Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes

On my Facebook  page today was a photo of women of all shapes and sizes labelled “Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes”, shared by a firm  in the USA called ‘Kathy’s Curvy Corners’.

How true those words are – beauty comes in all shapes and sizes! It’s true for everyone, man, woman and child. But it made me reflect on how social pressures today cause so many of us to overlook this, and to think we have to conform to today’s stereotyped version of beauty, which is usually, amongst other attributes, thin to the point of emaciation.

Over the centuries society has dictated its own version of beauty, from the voluptuous beauties of Rubens to the slight figure of that stealer of a Royal heart in the last century, Mrs Wallis Simpson – who is said to have once remarked, “No woman can ever be too thin or too rich!!”

We live in more enlightened times. Or do we? Intense pressure from advertising on television and in magazines makes it hard for anyone who cares how they look to maintain a healthy body image these days. Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 per cent less than the average woman — but today’s models weigh 23 per cent less than you and me. Popular film and television actresses are becoming younger, taller and thinner. Magazines are full of photos of young, beautiful, SKINNY models and pressure is on us all to accept that this is how we should look.

What many of us don’t realise is that these photos are airbrushed and changed to present the image they want us to accept as normal and that it’s the way we should look. The advertising in magazines specifically targets our insecurities about how we look, and promise quick fixes. They love to make us feel bad about the way we are, because the aim of these ads is to get us to buy their products, it’s  the magazine’s job is to make us  think we do. And if it doesn’t work for us – well – next month they’ll tell us about something else that’ll be THE ONE.

When these things don’t work, we tend blame ourselves, to think we’re not disciplined enough, didn’t use it right, or don’t deserve to be thin or beautiful or whatever. All this pressure makes us want to shape our body into the figure they persuade us it should be – and if we can’t, we often beat up on ourselves for being weak and lacking in willpower. It’s no wonder so many women, and men too, find it difficult to be always positive and maintain a healthy body image in the face of all this persuasive advertising.

So what can you do.? Check how your body rates on a BMI Calculator, you’ll find one easily enough on the web, and try to accept that these figures are what you should aim for, not what the advertising gurus feed us!

One of the sad things about all this is that teenagers and even children are affected by this hype. When we hit our teenage years, our bodies start to change shape. This is when teen eating disorders are a danger. Hips change shape, breasts appear, shoulders may widen. So we worry about what we eat and feel embarrassed when anyone looks at us. At this time we easily develop a negative body image. Anorexia is an eating disorder which is now becoming more and more common. In it sufferers have an obsessive fear of gaining weight. They commonly control their body weight by starvation diets, purging, vomiting, excessive exercise, or other weight control measures, such as diet pills or diuretic drugs. It mainly affects teenage females, however it is now being seen in children in their pre-teens. And not just females, approximately 10% of sufferers are male. It is important that children are set an example of accepting themselaves from an early age, and it is up to parents to help them do this by setting a good example.So try to see yourself as the beautiful person you are, no matter what your size or shape, and make sure your children realise that good health, and the beauty it brings, is  the only worthwhile goal.


Can family eating help weight loss?

I wonder how many families manage to eat their meals together these days, it often seems that it’s a lost way of life. But it’s a habit that leads to better nutrition, and lessens the risk of weight gain and substance abuse. Family eating not only strengthens family ties and helps keep you in touch with what’s happening in your children’s lives, it can lead to better physical and mental health for both you and your children.

If you can make mealtimes a pleasant experience, when you all come together as a family, you will all benefit. Turn off the television, the video games and the computer. Encourage your children to join in the conversation at the dinner table – but don’t let them take over! It should be a time when parents and children can all share the happenings of their day, an opportunity for togetherness. It’s a positive experience for your children that leads to happier and well adjusted children. Encourage your children to help prepare meals, set the table and help with dishes.

Taking meals with friends and family also helps your children form positive attitudes about food and eating, and creates happy family memories they will remember all their lives. I well remember mealtimes when I was a child, as part of a large family, when we all sat down together. Children tend to copy their parents’ attitudes to foods. They won’t see healthy eating as important if it isn’t something they see you do. Meals can be simple. You don’t need to have gourmet foods. Simple, tasty, but healthy meals are best for families. Use positive messages when talking to your children about food. Let them know that most foods fit into a healthy diet, but all in moderation. Positive messages help to avoid the stress and guilt that can lead to eating disorders and poorer eating patterns as children get older.

It’s important for children to adopt a healthy lifestyle starting at a young age. Parents play an important role in helping to shape children’s eating habits. Of course you must use common sense; a two year old who doesn’t want to sit still for more than five minutes can’t be expected to sit for half an hour at a dinner table. But by the time they’re five, children should be able to sit at the table and start to learn good table manners. They should then be able to take their place in family mealtimes. It’s a habit that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Researchers have found that teenage girls who eat five or more family meals per week are less likely to resort to extreme dieting measures like using diet pills or laxatives, binge eating, and vomiting to control their weight. The results suggest that encouraging family eating may be an effective way to combat the growing problem of eating disorders and overweight in teenage girls and children.

Sometimes parent’s working hours make this impractical for every day, but surely it’s worth while making an effort to eat together as often as possible. You will all benefit.

One thing leads to another

Unless an author is writing about a subject that he/she knows absolutely everything about, then a certain amount of research is necessary.

When I started my first novel, Inheritance, I wanted to write a story about a young city woman who inherits a cattle station in Far North Queensland, and the problems she encounters as she struggles to make a success of her inheritance.  I also wanted to portray something of the country’s beauty – and the hidden danger that lurks in this amazing place, which I had grown to love.

As I began to write I realized that I actually knew very little about cattle stations, except that they have heaps of land and hundreds of cattle, so I went online to find out more. Just what is involved in running a cattle station? It was the same with rodeos – how are all those buck-jumpers judged? And exactly what does a crocodile do when it takes a victim? All fascinating  stuff! The danger is that it’s easy to become side-tracked, and to spend hours reading all the interesting peripheral bits instead of writing.

Sometimes research itself ends up providing the inspiration for a story. On moving to the mid-north coast of New South Wales, I became interested in the history of a small near-by town called Bulahdelah. It was settled early in the 1800’s, when timber cutters discovered large tracts of the much prized red cedar trees there. I began to wonder about the women who came with their men. How did they fare in those early days? My research found that, for many, not very well. This set me on the road to research the situation of all women at that time, and I discovered that women had little say in their own lives. Considered by law and custom to be inferior to men in all respects they were often treated as chattels.  Dependent on men for their emotional and material sustenance, they were expected to be dutiful homemakers, and bedwarmers for their husbands without expecting sexual pleasure themselves in return. Many suffered physical abuse, but had no redress under the laws of the time.

It was in a state of indignation at what this research had revealed that I commenced writing An Independent Woman, the first book in the Redwoods series, about a woman who bucks the system, and how she finally manages to make a life for herself in spite of male prejudice.

Prior to all this, my first research was many years ago when, as a young mother, I found my weight was creeping up. Never having been thin, and having what is politely described as an hourglass figure, I was very conscious of the extra kilos. So I began to search for a diet that would slim me down. What I found was that while they many of them work in the short term, none of them had lasting results. As soon as I started eating normally again, up crept the weight, so I tried to find a better way. Exercise helped, but not enough, and I continued to seek a better way. It was not until I went back to school a few years later and studied to receive a diploma as a natural beauty therapist, which involved the research and study of nutrition, in which I found many factors contribute to permanent weight control and good health. Over the years I have helped many clients to normalize their weight and, although now retired, I still keep up with the latest research on the subject. In response to many requests, I am now compiling a book to help others gain the knowledge they need to control their weight permanently and achieve the good health they deserve.

Yes, research is absorbing, enlightening and addictive. And you never know where it will lead you!

We are what we Eat

While grabbing a quick cup of coffee today in the food hall of one of our larger shopping centres, I happened to glance at the tray of a rather large woman who took her seat at the next table. It had on it a plate of deep fried food with chips, a big slice of chocolate cake, and a Coke. This brought to mind the many articles I have been reading recently about the increasing obesity and deteriorating health in our society today. Maybe this is part of the problem?
What really concerns me is that our children are now heading down this road. I think the problem is aggravated because many people today don’t know how to cook; more importantly, they simply don’t know how to cook a nutritious meal in a short time. They finish work after a long day and it is so much easier to stop and pick up a take-away on the way home than to go home and cook. The meal may be full of fat and of dubious nutritional value, but it is easy and the kids like it! And you know what they say- YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. A very true saying!