CHANGING HABITS, CHANGING LIVES COOKBOOK
EAT THE HEALTHY STUFF
By Carol Middleton
Direct, down-to-earth, attractive and inspirational. That description fits both Cyndi O'Meara and her writing. I met her in Melbourne during her tour of Australia to promote her second book and warmed to her natural, caring attitude and enthusiasm for life. I was inspired to go straight from her hotel to Myer’s, to buy a juicer and get some vitality back into my life!
Her first book “Changing Habits, Changing Lives” has become a best seller. It has sold 37,000 copies in Australia, is available in New Zealand and South Africa, and has been translated into Korean and Greek. It has helped thousands of people turn their lives around, by changing one habit at a time, starting off with breakfast, until they discovered a healthier way of eating and living.
Cyndi’s readers wanted more. She told me how hundreds of them sent her letters and emails, telling her how great they felt now and how they now needed recipes that would help them put into practice the nutritional advice they had taken on board. So Cyndi has published her second book, "Changing Habits, Changing Lives Cookbook" (Penguin). After 15 years of experimenting on her family, Cyndi had plenty of tried and tested ideas ready to be included in the recipe book.
For a healthy cookbook, this is refreshing. It is certainly not about depriving yourself, more about enjoying the bounty of nature. She adheres to the philosophy “God makes all the healthy stuff and everything else is junk”! Healthy eating means using natural foods, foods that are closest to their natural state, rather than those that are refined or processed. Low-fat and low-calorie are dirty words in Cyndi’s language. Butter is good for you. Cholesterol and salt all play their part in a healthy diet. You can find recipes for chocolate ice-cream, peanut sauce, sticky date pudding and pizza as well as soups, drinks, snacks and main dishes.
Cyndi’s philosophy is based on her understanding as a nutritionist and her own experience. Although she has scientific training, she is dubious about scientists’ contribution to health and nutrition. She has never taken an antibiotic, pain-killer or any other form of medication. Neither have her children, aged 8,10 and 12. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Science, postgraduate studies in human anatomy, and diplomas in diagnosis and management of health issues.
Her career as a writer started after the birth of her first baby. Returning to her job as a nutritionist would have meant leaving the baby during the day, so she decided to sell the business in Armadale, Melbourne, and move with her family to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. She started writing a column in the local newspaper, before embarking on the first book, which was rejected by publishers for two years. She finally decided to self-publish and sold 20,000 copies of “Changing Habits Changing Lives” before Penguin finally took it up in 1998.
Many people who have changed their eating habits, after reading Cyndi’s first book, have said they have incidentally lost all their excess weight, even though their only aim was to become healthy. One woman went from size 22 to size 12! The idea is to get all the nutrients you need, so that the body does not crave more food and the energy levels and mood stay high. In this way, the body does its own healing and regulates its own weight.
She encourages her readers to experiment with food and recipes to find tastes they like and meals that make them feel good. Variety is a keynote in her approach to nutrition. Instead of relying on wheat flour for baking, she uses every possible grain to vary the taste sensations and introduce other vitamins and minerals into the diet. Her recipes include a huge range of ingredients, including a variety of nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, to give us all the nutrients necessary for a healthy body and immune system.
The cookbook is a great reference for the kitchen and gives you plenty of ideas for varying your diet and trying new recipes, as well as lots of tips and information on nutrition along the way. She includes some of the ideas from her first book, but I would recommend reading “Changing Habits, Changing Lives” to get you on the right track before buying the cookbook. Check out her website <changinghabits.com.au> for samples of the books, which you can order online.
The family still lives on the Sunshine Coast and Cyndi, as well as writing, giving talks and touring the country, takes time to teach her three kids at home, rather than send them to school. The whole family spent 18 months recently traveling round Australia, to fulfill a goal she and her husband, Howard, had set themselves some years ago. During their travels, Cyndi started writing two more books. One of them, a more personal book about family relationships, is already finished. The other, about 100 habits to change your life, will be ready by 2003.
back to homepage
© copyright 2003