When you look back on it, being a child in the Seventies was not a bad thing. Obesity is of epidemic proportions if you believe the press, but in reality children in the 70s should have been in a worse state then today.
My diet was hardly a stable diet of 5 fruit or vegetables a day. I lived on packed lunches whilst at school, from what I remember consisting in the early days of sandwiches (normally paste), an apple, a bag of crisps, and a Roughneck flask of Orange Squash (the only drink of any 70s child). In later school life I still had packed lunch, but becoming more extravagant I started to eat delights like pickled onion sandwiches or jam and cheese sandwiches.
The home was a different kettle of fish. Well, it would if been, if we’d eaten fish. I seem to remember most meals having chips, but not of the frozen variety. My mum used to peel potatoes and chop them into chunks as opposed to normal chips during the day, and then leave them to soak in water in a large bowl in the fridge to remove the starch. Using a large pan with hot oil and the usual wire basket was the only way to deep fry back then. This would normally have typical child fare of things like fish fingers, sausages, or some other shallow fried factory manufactured product full of E-numbers. Oh yes additives, the one thing the 70s child remembers well. Be it colour enhancer (some food dye made to turn fish fingers bright orange) or some flavour enhancer (salt to you and me), it was all there. Things changed in about 1983 when the book “E is for Additives” came out and people found that the product in their favourite chicken pie was made from monkey brains or squid kidneys.
Every Sunday would be a roast. We would have to be home before 12 so as to be ready to eat. We would always play out until that, because for some reason my mum would play her favourite music on the stereo music centre in the lounge, and there’s only so much Jean Michel Jarre or Richard Harris we could put up with. The Sunday lunch would be a right royal affair, with every variety of vegetable available on the table. Be it peas, carrots, runner beans (yuck), broad beans, cauliflower (double yuck) and the obligatory roast potatoes and boiled potatoes, it would all be there for us to chomp into. The meat would be ready served on the plate, and if it was beef it would also have a high topped Yorkshire pudding. Being your typical child, I would pile everything into this Yorkshire so to make the food more palatable. Something you can now buy in all supermarkets.
Take aways would be limited to a local Wimpy’s. Even though the local Wimpy Bar changed hands after a couple of years of opening, it still did standard Wimpy fare. My personal favourite would always be the “Bender.” A smoked sausage sliced so as to sit in a bun, with a grilled tomato in the middle. I wasn’t keen on the tomato, so mum would always have that! As my neighbourhood moved into the 80s a McDonald’s opened, and every Friday night would be McDonalds night. This was invariably time for “Big Mac and Big Chips” and if we were lucky a thermonuclear heat Apple Pie.
Now, with children eating more healthily, with far more choice, and palates to suit, you’d think we’d have become a healthier nation. The science would say this isn’t the case because children don’t play as much as they did outdoors. Lack of exercise is turning us into a younger and younger nation of couch potatoes. I feel that the child is particularly susceptible to becoming overweight now not because they eat more. Not also because they exercise less, but because of some mystery factor. Maybe it’s genetic, and as Darwin’s theory of evolution points out, genetic improvements are carried over to the stronger species. Maybe it’s lack of chemicals, or peer pressure. In the meantime, lets not nag the fat kid. As a registered “fat kid,” I don’t need reminding every day.
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