My Food-sensitive Life 1965 Age 19 DNFS November 3, 2022 by Joan Breakey Blog While completing my diploma I stayed at a wonderful hostel run by dedicated women who also ran many interesting adult education classes in the evenings. They were very bright women who took an interest in us ‘country girls’ and we shared meal times. The senior woman used to tease me unmercifully. One day I had the courage to ask her “Why do you tease me so much?” She replied, “Because you always react so beautifully!” It made me aware of this aspect of myself and I was watchful about reacting from then on. It also reminded me about how I was teased about the radio program kindergarten-of-the-air when I was four years old.Doing an applied science diploma meant I became experienced in both high-class cookery and in large quantity cookery. This helped me later as I was able to easily create recipes to help my patients with cooking for the completely new diet I would be trailblazing.I learned later, when I returned to the college as a lecturer myself, that I was seen as a bright student but my results were limited by my presumed very busy social life. It was another example of lecturers trying to explain why I was so seemingly bright but not delivering the results they expected. The reality was that my results were affected by my ADHD, which was not an acknowledged condition in the 1960s. At that time hyperactivity was the only condition seen as an issue. Problems with attention were supposed to be fixed by children ‘trying harder’.Each morning I prepared for my day by having a big bowl of oatmeal porridge. I used my holiday pay to buy Christmas presents for others and some perfume for myself. It took me a while to realise that the return of eczema on my neck was from the lovely ‘Tweed’ perfume, very fashionable at the time, probably enhanced with the increased intake of oatmeal. Years later I learned I was allergic to orris root which was used as a base for most perfumes. As well in those pre-diet days the skin on the front of my fingers was always somewhat cracked as part of my eczema.I was lucky to get the perfect holiday job for a student dietitian. I helped in the special diet kitchen of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne where all food was prepared from scratch with a large number of dedicated staff. We, in the special diet kitchen, even took the food we cooked up to our patients, which led to us forming wonderful relationships. It has always been a pleasure of mine to help individuals work around diet restrictions so meals are as pleasurable as possible.
How beautiful you prepared meals for people you actually met in hospitals ! These personal connectiosn are being lost in the name of “efficiency”. My father never once met the people prepping his food in palliative care at Robina hospital and relied on us to relay messages requests and thanks via the staff who delivered it.
Joan breakey says
Thanks Fiona, Nowadays we rely on having a system where desired food is able to be chosen, but important parts are often lost. Some people like to have their hot drink with their main meal and others want it at the end of the meal. These ideas are very important to the patient especially in long term care. Thank you for reminding people to be assertive about the needs of their loved ones.