My Dear Readers,
In the spirit of Christmas, I have chosen to write a little story about how I was inspired to become a Dietitian; my relationship with food and how I have been raising my kids to view food. I hope this abridged version of my journey into the Nutrition and Dietetics world and my relationship with food will motivate you to not give up on your dreams and goals in the darkest of times. Life always has its way of working out so when times are tough, stay positive and treasure the people who make life a little less gloomy and keep working towards reaching your goals.
I was oblivious to the world of nutrition and the idea of healthy eating. In fact, my earliest memory of anything food related was 'eat your veggies' 'drink your milk' and there was no talk about eating 'healthy foods', 'better options' or reducing portion sizes.
I remember when I was 5 or 6 years old. I would wake up to the aroma of cake baking in an old-fashioned oven my mum couldn’t seem to let go off. Mum loved baking from sweet biscuits to Swiss rolls she could bake almost everything. I would sometimes watch her mix in the egg and sugar by hand with a wooden spoon for what seem like hours and fold in the flour and pour the batter into a cake pan to bake. I remember thinking to myself that when I grow up I will make my own cakes and I did; but not the way I imagined it would be as nothing can ever beat mum’s cakes.
Our pantry was always filled with snacks such as biscuits both homemade and bought ones too. My favourite cakes were the extra creamy cakes from the local bakery in the neighbourhood. Mum used to cook a fresh meal everyday just enough that there were hardly ever any leftovers. Mum’s dinners were fantastic from a variety of curries to Chinese style noodles she was amazing and worked magic in the kitchen.
My sister and I were not big eaters but we loved the aroma of spicy food being prepared. The only dishes I absolutely enjoyed eating were ‘popiah’, ‘chicken rice’ and ‘rojak’ from our local hawker centre in Singapore. I guess I should mention that I was born and raised in Singapore. Singapore is a small island country in Southeast Asia and I grew up eating foods from a variety of cultures due to its cultural diversity.
Body image was a huge thing at school and I would always hear my friends being teased at school for being ‘chubby’ or ‘fat ‘or related words that simply emphasised weight. My amazing mum brought me up to love myself any shape or form. As such, I would often ignore weight related insults directed at me as I was growing up.
When I was at the crossroads of life after dropping out of pre-university (equivalent to VCE) due to peer pressure, I got a job at a hotel as a 'front desk officer' and 'mail and message girl'. Then, out of the blue a girlfriend from church told me about a Home Economics Teaching Diploma Course (Tina Francis if you are reading this thank you) and I decided to send in my application as the hotel job didn’t seem to be the right fit for me.
Fast forwarding to when I was a newlywed to a fellow foodie and had started teaching Home Economics at a local Secondary School in Singapore I always enjoyed teaching the topics related to nutrition and decided that if I get to go to university, Nutrition would be the degree program of my choice. I applied to Deakin University in Australia and my whole world changed when I got accepted. As a shy newbie sitting at the back of the room waiting to soak in everything I was about to learn, I was absolutely motivated by the 2nd year Nutrition Professor Dr Tim Crowe. I had only heard him speak briefly about Nutrition and Dietetics on orientation day. In that few seconds, I felt that Dietetics might be my future. This was confirmed when I attended my very first nutrition tutorial with Dr Crowe. He made the funniest jokes and made tutorial an absolute breeze. My nutrition basics is strong because my tutor was very good at his job. For those of you who have had the privilege of being taught by Dr Tim Crowe, you would know I speak the truth; no exaggeration here.
However, after graduating from Deakin University, my amazingly loving, patient and kind husband Josh and I had two beautiful kids Jeremy and Jacinth Silvanus and my dream of being a Dietitian was temporarily shelved. Things took a turn when my second child turned two. With the blessings and, support of Josh, mum and my wonderful extended family, I applied and got accepted into Monash University into the Nutrition and Dietetics Program. The educators in the nutrition department of Monash University are the absolute best team of lecturers. They were very compassionate and incredibly excellent at teaching and thanks to my Heavenly Father (sorry I cannot deny this), family and Monash University educators I could complete my degree while being a mum to two school aged kids.
Today, I am thankful for being able to own a private practice which works for my current lifestyle being a full-time mum and working part-time. Life is challenging but ‘when there is a will there is always a way’. I raise my children to enjoy food. I do not deprive them of lollies, chocolate and fast-foods but set reasonable limits and I always educated them on the nutritional value of eating food from all food groups over the ‘sometime’ discretionary options. I teach my kids to love their bodies any shape or form and when my daughter gets teased I always tell her that there is so much to life then how her body is shaped. As a family, we actively participate in sports during the week and weekends to keep a healthy lifestyle.
My dear readers, life is full of ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ and ‘bumps’ and ‘kinks’. That’s what makes it so colourful. We learn and grow from our mistakes. Do not let those negative moments get you down. Focus on the few positives of life or be friends with people who view life in a positive light. Set goals that promote good health and try to leave habits that don’t. Do not say I cannot but say I’ll try.
Have a Blessed Christmas !!