Food'n'drink Health Toxic Custard newsletter

FebFast: No junk food for a month

I’ve just enjoyed my last takeaway pizza for a month, including leftovers for lunch today:

Last takeaway pizza before FebFast

I’ve signed up for FebFast, where participants are encouraged to refrain from something for the month of February.

They’ve got a few variations on it:

FebFast Smoking — no point in this, as I don’t smoke.

FebFast Social Media — Noooooooooooo.

FebFast Alcohol — I barely drink, so there’d be no challenge here.

FebFast Sugar — not convinced sugar intake is a problem for me, but I think it’d be difficult to do properly.

FebFast Junk Food — that’s the one for me!

Here’s an info-graphic on the benefits of staying off junk food:

FebFast: Junk food infographic

They’re ultimately leaving it up to the individual to decide what’s in and what’s out, though they do have some guidelines.

For me, I’ll be aiming to avoid: chips (both hot and crisps), chocolates (apparently “raw dark chocolate” is okay?), biscuits (a difficult ask in the office), milk shakes. Cakes? I’ll decline anything except a small slice for any birthday celebrations.

I’ll lay off soft drinks, but reserve the right to glug down a Coke if I need to, as I use them to fight off headaches occasionally. But I’ll try and avoid it.

I’ll avoid ice cream, but with one exception: I’m hoping to have one last Dairy Bell cone before they close in late February. I have fond memories of them from when I was a kid living near their Elsternwick shop — it’s a shame they’re going.

Non home-made pizza, burgers, and most other packaged/processed foods are also on the No Go list. I suspect I should also avoid muesli bars… they’re really just a glorified biscuit, aren’t they?

What else should I avoid?

I love my snacks between meals, so I’ll stick to fruit and nuts and other fresh stuff. Maybe I should pack some carrot sticks for morning tea?

Daniel's FebFast banner

So, who wants to sponsor me? Donations are tax deductible for Australians, and go towards supporting youth drug and alcohol addiction services.

Update: I was asked a good question on Twitter: How much junk food to I normally eat? I don’t binge on it all the time, but I do sometimes fall into the trap of a takeaway burger and chips as a lazy lunch or dinner, and I do eat far too many snacks such as biscuits at work, where we have a plentifully supplied biscuit jar.

Update FebFast Day 2: You should have SEEN the number of chocolate biscuits in the office biscuit jar today. Somehow I managed to resist them all!

Update FebFast Day 7: It’s been surprisingly easy to avoid chomping on office snacks such as biscuits. I did eat one muesli bar which I had in a desk drawer, and found it unsatisfying, so I doubt I’ll be having any more in a hurry. I have succumbed to a couple of (small) bottles of Coke as a pick-me-up (one day as I’ve developed a cold which has left me feeling pretty flat). I have been snacking on fruit and nuts, though I wonder what the overall kilojoule count is like on those.

Food'n'drink Retrospectives

Your guide to meat

M+J were clearing out some old cook books, and found this gem. It’s not dated, but it does have a decimal price, so it must be post-February 1966. Perhaps not far after though, judging from the style.

Much of it is in black and white, but here are a few choice colour pages…

Cover from a 60s meat industry cookbook

Food groups - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Cheese! From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Onions! From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Meat! - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Wiltshire knives ad - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

Golden Circle pineapple ad - From a 60s meat industry cookbook

And one mouth-watering recipe for you, from the “Economising with meat” section: Open wholemeal brain sandwiches. Yum!

Brain sandwich recipe - From a 60s meat industry cookbook


5 varieties of ham – all with identical nutritional values?

What is the likelihood that 5 varieties of sliced ham — including a supposedly “lite” version — all have precisely the same nutritional values, despite tasting and looking different?

Each one 112 kilojoules per serve, 0.7 grams of fat, and 204 milligrams of sodium.

Honey leg hamSpanish style leg ham
Triple smoked leg hamVirginia leg ham
Lite leg ham


Thankfully their sliced chicken breast product appears to have different attributes.

Food'n'drink transport

Lunch on the Restaurant Tram

It was actually a present from my last birthday: a lunch on the Restaurant Tram.

Boarding was at 1pm sharp near the casino. Presumably they don’t like to hold up service trams coming from St Kilda or Port Melbourne. It was a fleet of three out for lunch, and we were told to board the front car, number 4. (I can’t quite read the photo, but the records indicate it was MMTB 938, first in service in 1948.)

Restaurant tram arrives for boarding

Restaurant tram appetiser

On boarding we found the appetisers already on the table, and ordered the entrees and mains (a choice of two possibilities for each; all including meat — it seems you have to notify them in advance if you want the vegetarian option). Champagne and wine was forthcoming — I’m not much of a drinker, but whatever plonk they were serving was very nice.

Marita and I swapped the food around so we got to try everything. After the mains there was a cheese platter with tea or coffee (and an option of another after-lunch drinkie — we both chose Bailey’s) and a couple of little chocolates to polish it all off.

Restaurant tram passing Elizabeth Street

All the food was very tasty, and while perhaps on its own (eg in a conventional restaurant at this price) it wouldn’t win any awards, with the great service and the novelty of the experience it made for a very very satisfying meal.

And the route? From the Normanby Road starting point, the tram went north up Spencer Street, east along Bourke Street, along Spring/Nicholson Streets, then west down Latrobe Street, turning south down William Street, along Kingsway, then into St Kilda Road. From there we rolled down to St Kilda Junction, along Fitzroy Street and The Esplanade, and all the way down to the end of Acland Street.

Mohawks in a convertible, Acland Street St Kilda

From there we went back along The Esplanade, into Fitzroy Street, but then reversed into Park Street, following the 112 route back in towards the City. In Albert Road we manoeuvred out of the way to let a service tram overtake, then continued on north along Clarendon Street. We reversed again at the casino, and then headed a short way down the 109 light rail, just past Southbank depot where we once again reversed back to the pickup point again, arriving just on 3pm.

Daniel and Marita on the Restaurant Tram

We didn’t see the other trams in the pack until we arrived back, so I assume they must have taken other routes around the place. After all, on a tram network the size of ours, there’s plenty of possibilities.

The tourists and locals dispersed, and Marita and I strolled back to Southern Cross to catch our trains home, a little light-headed and very full.

I’ve got to say, it felt very civilised rolling along the street with all that good food on the tram. I’d definitely recommend it.

(No, they didn’t have Myki readers aboard, and no, the trams weren’t showing up on Tram Tracker. But the departure and arrival were dead on time.)


The police/doughnut cliché

Jeremy noticed that when there are stories on the TV news about the Simon Overland/Sir Ken Jones senior police controversy, often stock footage of the two of them in front of a doughnut shop seems to get used. It got a run again last night.

Sir Ken Jones and Simon Overland

It seems to have almost become the equivalent of the Myki machine falling apart footage.

This web site (which may or may not be authoritative) offers some interesting theories on how the cliché developed:

My understanding about the cops/donuts stereotype is that the donuts were largely incidental.

The bigger factor was that ‘back in the day’, donut shops were the only places open all night where the cops could get COFFEE.

PS. I also meant to say, the stereotype appears to have started in the USA and spread to elsewhere. After all, doughnut shops are not actually very common in most countries.


Spam-flavoured macadamias

My kids were in Hawaii over Christmas with their mum for a family get together.

They looked for something uniquely Hawaiian to bring me back, and settled on this.

Spam-flavoured macadamia nuts

I love getting a souvenir that is truly unique to a place.

It’s just as is labelled on the can. They’re macadamias, but they’re spam-flavoured.

Who knew?


Cheese slices

Kath Lockett found some old adverts, including this one:


We sometimes had these cheese slices when I was a kid.

It must have been my early computer-geek (binary) mind at work, but I would eat them by folding them in half, so one half broke off, eating that, then repeating with the half that was left… until the bit left in my hand was so microscopic it couldn’t be folded in half any more.

Was that just me?

I think eventually everybody figured out that the processed cheese was really not that healthy compared to other snacks.

Food'n'drink Health


In the comments of a previous post was mention of superfoods.

There appears to have been a recent reluctance from dieticians to use the term because of its manipulation by food marketeers, with the EU banning its use unless it can be proven.

However this page from Kraft Foods flags their top ten (none of which, I think, they make or sell):

  • Oats — I regularly have oats in my breakfast
  • Yoghurt — not regularly. I used to, but kind of went off it when I reduced my dairy intake last year. (Update: though come to think of it, we often have frozen yoghurt)
  • Blueberries — not regularly
  • Spinach — yep, it’s a green that the kids don’t mind eating, so it’s a staple in our house
  • Nuts — yep, I’ve been trying to snack on these a bit more recently
  • Soy beans — not really, though I have switched to soy milk on my breakfast cereal; does that count?
  • Tomato — certainly cooked into pasta sauces. Sometimes on sandwiches
  • Citrus fruits — not as often as I should
  • Sardines and oily fish — ditto
  • Rosemary and other herbs — not particularly often

What others are worth the bother?

Food'n'drink Health

Input and output

Some figures I need to keep in mind the next time I am tempted by one of Hungry Jacks’ evil Bacon Deluxe Value Meals (opting for the OJ):

Food Burger Reg fries Orange juice
Energy 3030 kJ 1601 kJ 695 kJ
Protein 43.3 g 5.9 g 1.6 g
Fat – total 47.5 g 19.0 g less than 1 g
– saturated 19.2 g 10.2 g less than 1 g
Carbohydrate 29.2 g 44.7 g 38.1 g
– sugars 5.9 g 0.6 g 36.1 g
Sodium 1226 mg 452 mg 8 mg

Source: Hungry Jacks

A total of 5326 kilojoules. Not exactly healthy.

According to this exercise chart, to burn off that much energy, I (weighing about 75 Kg) would need to walk at a brisk pace (6 km/h) for 231 minutes — or almost 4 hours.


Maybe today for lunch I’ll have a sandwich.

Consumerism Photos

I’m sharp and smart


Daniel's sharp and smart

(It’s a sharps disposal container at Monash Medical Centre.)

Also spotted just before Christmas, reindeer carrot in Safeway:


  • “The carrots preferred by reindeers.”
  • “Ingredients: Carrots, magic, love.”

I wonder if the ACCC would approve of those claims?