Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When your "health practitioner" is anti vax

Recently I made the decision to go and see a chiropractor. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly because I’ve read so many things about them being quacks. But in my readings I found that they could actually be good for back pain, which is what I was seeking to resolve. I didn’t want it to miraculously change my fertility, or cure my asthma, or any pseudoscience bullshit, I just wanted my back to not keep me awake at night.

I've had a few appointments now and I was really intrigued with how it was all done, and my back was actually feeling a tad better. I went to my appointment the other day and my usual guy wasn't there, so I saw the head honcho of the centre. His treatment room has three beds; he’ll tell you that’s because the treatment isn’t secretive and so that we can all learn from each other. It didn’t bother me at all. I’ve birthed two babes, it takes a lot for me to be embarrassed these days.

So I lay down on the centre bed as indicated, my head through the hole, and listened as the Chiropractor went to work on the lady to my left.

She tells him she’s achy all over because she’d had a flu vax yesterday, but other than that, just her usual pain.

"Well if you get the flu vax you're guaranteed to get the flu, if you don't get the flu vax, there is only a chance" he said.

My head was down, so no one saw me roll my eyes.

The lady went on to tell him she has diminished lung function and that therefore, the flu is really dangerous for her. She continued, saying she got the flu every year until she started getting the jab. She explained that the theory is you get a small dose so that your immune system is trained with how to deal with it, hopefully meaning you'll be able to fight it off better if you do get it.

Quick as a flash he replied "I'm glad you called it a theory, because that's all it is. There's no proof anywhere that it actually works". Those were his exact words.

I’m so glad I was laying down for that, because I might have fallen over.

I didn’t know what to do. Do I get up and storm out? Do I start a huge argument with him? Do I stand up for this woman with diminished lung function who is being told to not have a flu vax in the future?

I was angry but I decided to stay put to hear what he had to say for himself when it was my turn.

After saying his goodbyes to Lung Lady, he walked over to my bed and asked how I was. I said fine. He said he didn’t believe me. What can I say? I suck at lying and it was obvious from my voice that I was not happy.

“I’m just a little upset from the conversation I just heard” I said.

“Ah, yes, vaccination can be an emotive topic. Can I ask why you are upset?”

“Because science” I replied.

He went to work on my back, making strange breathing noises, rubbing my temples, placing glass vials on my throat, a finger in my mouth; a whole heap of weird stuff and dude, I just want my back to stop hurting, thanks. As he worked, he talked.

He told me how he’d never been vaccinated, that his lifelong chiropractic treatments had kept him safe from viruses and diseases. It was really hard to not scream out that actually herd immunity had kept him safe all this time, and now that the herd immunity is lowering we’re seeing an increase in vaccine preventable diseases and deaths.

But I just listened. In fact I stayed, for the most part anyway, completely silent. He took my silence to mean I was agreeing with him, so he kept talking. Digging a little hole for himself.

He told me that food allergies are caused by vaccines. He stopped just short of pulling out the autism link (you know, the one that has been debunked about three million times now), but mentioned that vaccine can cause delays, social problems and behavioural issues.

At this point I was so angry that I had tears in my eyes and he saw me wipe them away. Again, he took this as passionate agreement.

“Has one of your children had a vaccine reaction?” he queried, with genuine concern.

“No.” I spluttered.

I couldn’t say any more. I was dumbfounded. I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out.

I have met people who don’t vaccinate before, but they weren’t standing in an office, as a ‘medical professional’ proclaiming that there is no evidence behind immunisations. Interestingly, by the way, there is a heap of studies on how there is no scientific evidence behind chiropractic work helping with anything but back pain.

He talked at length about how the government is taking away the choices of parents by removing Centrelink payments from those who choose to take care of their kids; claimed that pharmaceutical companies only introduced vaccines to make money; and said his mother was brave to make the right decision not to vaccinate him. Spoken like a true conspiracy theorist.

All of this in the space of ten minutes while he manipulated my spine and made me move my legs, open my jaw and put my hands here and there; a game of Twister on myself.

I collected my belongings, paid my fee and walked out the door. I promptly wrote down everything that had happened, not wanting my emotions to cloud my memory, and when I was done, I burst in to tears.

They were angry tears. Embarrassed tears. It took so long for me to come to chiropractic, to embrace a little bit more of the alternative side of life. I ignored all the evidence, all the science, and had treatment anyway, based on anecdotes. In my head I was thinking “what does it say about me if I choose this method?” and at the time my answer was that I was, quite obviously, a dickhead. But I’ve changed my mind since then.

I’m just a person looking for answers. A person with an insanely sore, previously broken back, that just wants to be pain free. I’m desperate, to be honest, and willing to give anything a go, even “alternative medicine”.

Because anything Tim Minchin says is true. Especially if it's on the internet
I had been liking the treatments. My back was actually feeling better, but now I’m just so conflicted. The next day I rang up and cancelled all my future appointments. Then I rang my health fund and told them he should not be on their preferred provider list.

I cannot support a business or practitioner who can advocate to a woman with diminished lung function to not get a flu vaccine, in odds with all medical advice.

I cannot support a business that tells me vaccines are only about making money, particularly when he wasn’t cracking my back for free.

I cannot support a business that says vaccines are not proven; that it is just a “theory”.

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to search for a new Chiropractor that only tries to fix backs and doesn't claim he or she can cure addictions and diseases. Once bitten, twice shy, fool me once, and all that shebang.

As I sit here, contemplating what to do next, I'm staring at an Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency complaint form that my health fund has provided for me to fill out. Because if you use your position as a "health practitioner" to spout bullshit about vaccines being unproven, when there is a plethora of scientific evidence that they do work, and recommend people don't get them when there are people who can't get the jab and babies too young to be immunized DYING, you can bet your arse I'm going to make an official complaint about you.

Friday, April 24, 2015

5 Lazy Lunchbox Tips (say organised, it sounds better)

This is a S1 post for Healthy Active Kids
For full details please see my disclosure policy


I have a confession to make: I love packing school lunches.

There. I said it.

I know, I know. I'm a freak. 

I'm a tad obsessed with providing healthy food for my kids, not just because of the nutrition value and fuel for their growing bodies, but because I have such a wacky relationship with food. If it was a Facebook relationship, we'd be "it's complicated". So I strive to create a life where they won't have this; where they won't be screwed up like me. Which is what all my parenting is about, really. Not screwing them up too much. Just enough to be funny.

Naturally, packing a lunchbox lets my little inner, obsessive compulsive health nut come out to play. She's my shoulder angel and tells me to "use more quinoa" and "chia seeds would make an excellent addition to this dish!".

On the opposite side, we have my shoulder devil. The one who says "dude, canteen is open today, have a sleep in and he can order a sausage roll... don't forget the sauce". It is an eternal battle because, well, I'm bone lazy

So how is it someone like me can enjoy packing lunches and actually manage to pack a healthy lunchbox every day? By nurturing my lazy side and getting organized. Because I value my sleep ins. 



1. Pack it the night before
After the dishes are done, I immediately dirty some more by making the next day's lunches and popping them in the fridge. Mornings are for rushing around, bleary eyed and telling children to put their shoes on for the FIFTIETH TIME. We use those fancy pants reusable wrappers and have no problem with wraps or bread going stale over night. 
Added bonus: The lunchbox contents stay colder longer because the whole thing has been cold over night.

2. Sandwiches are FABULOUS
I love a good themed lunch, I truly do. And the creations I see all over Instagram? CUUUUTE! I've even been known to attempt a few myself on special occasions. But for school? Every. Single. Day? Nup. Ain't nobody got time fo' that. OK, so some people do have time for that, but if you don't, don't panic! The humble sandwich is the bomb diggety, yo. Or bring out the big guns and put the filling in a wrap. 

3. Fruit is your friend
Bung in a banana or add an apple. If you've got a liquid proof lunchbox and wanna get a bit more fancy, cut up a fruit salad, squeeze some lemon juice over it, and it will keep in the fridge for a few days or anywhere up to a week. Ladle it out in to your containers the night before and off you go. Kid not got a sweet tooth? Cubes of cheese, cherry tomatoes and chunks of cucumber go great with a couple crackers. Takes two minutes and it's colourful, delicious and healthy. 

4. Batch & Freeze
Cook up a storm on the weekend of muffins, healthy brownies, muesli bars, whatever takes your fancy and then freeze them. Just before you walk out the door, grab one of the frozen morning tea treats and chuck it in - it will defrost by 10am on most days, unless you live in Tassie. I pack two lunches a day, so one batch of muffins gets me almost two weeks worth of healthy, homemade recess noms. If you're super lazy/organised, you can pre-make a week's worth of sandwiches (depending on the filling) and freeze them.
Added bonus: Frozen food doubles as a cold pack! Woot! 

5. Wash lunchboxes the minute you get home
On walking through the door, Tricky knows his first job is to take his lunchbox and drink bottle out of his bag and place them on the bench, then hang his bag up on his hook. Look at that, half the job mentioned and I haven't lifted a finger yet. BOOYAH! Empty out any crumbs, rinse it under the tap and wipe down any reusable wrappers. Don't even get a teatowel out, let that sucker drip dry on the dish drainer. 

It's all well and good to be super organized *coughlazycough*, but if your kids won't eat what you have provided you're in a bit of a pickle. Wait, do your kids eat pickles?

The Healthy Active Kids resource, established in 1999 (though it sounds cooler if I say last century) is designed, as the name suggests, to encourage kids to eat healthy and be active. It's a resource for families, with games and recipes, plus lesson plans and worksheets for teachers. In an effort to promote a fit lifestyle, the site has indoor and outdoor game suggestions, as well as ideas for family activities that aren't just sport. Which, phew, because I don't do sport. 

My favourite part is the video section, with segments on how to read a nutrition panel, why we eat what we eat, interviews with athletes from the Australian Institute of Sport, and many more. 

And it's all completely free. Hurrah. 

I'd love to see the site expanded to include a few more recipes (there are only nine), particularly in terms of healthy snacks (for 3:45pm when Tricky swears he is about to starve to death) and, of course, more lunchbox options. Maybe even some colouring in pages and matching activities for the littler kids. As it stands though, it's been incredibly successful with schools reporting 90% of students changed their eating habits for the better after participating. So kudos to them. 

I've got some Healthy Active Kids prize packs to give away, consisting of portion plates, lunchbox stickers and aprons. To win a pack, tell me what you do to encourage your children to be Healthy Active Kids.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

The 2015 #GlowHoliday has been decided


MapGuy is itching to go on holiday.

Every day he checks out the discount websites, the deals, travel blogs and more. He has racked up long service leave, so there are all these luscious paid weeks of holidays hanging tantalizingly over his head saying "Go on a little trip. You've worked hard. Go on, mate, you've earned it".

I'm a little less eager, purely because I'm a bit anxious about flying right now. I know statistically it's safer than driving my car, but with all the stuff in the news lately; hijackings, missing planes, crashes, homicidal co-pilots and what not, I'm a bit nervous. I'm not usually afraid to fly, so this is a bit of a foreign feeling for me. I keep telling myself that if we die, well, we all cark it together. Strangely, there is comfort in that for me.

Despite the anxiety (hello, Valium), It's a great time for us to go on a trip, because we don't have to pay for Bobbin's flights or accommodation. Score. We did the same thing when Tricks was just about to turn two. Related: um, my baby is almost two. Whut?

We considered going two weeks in the snow, because MG's never seen snow before, but that idea was quickly quashed thanks to fabulous advice (along the lines of COLD, WET, WHINGEY CHILDREN AND HOLIDAYS NO NOT MIX), and very helpful tips on the WMG Facebook page. Thanks, people!

I wasn't fussed on the destination, because wherever we go will be fun, so I left him to book it and surprise me. He almost booked a trip to Bali. Then he almost booked a trip to Canberra with a day trip to the snow (because I could handle the cold/wet/whingey trifecta for a few hours). Then he almost booked a fly drive holiday up the East coast.

But after much to and fro, a decision was made and MapGuy woke me at midnight to tell me the news. There are only a few instances where waking me is acceptable: If the house is on fire, if someone is dying, if we're being robbed, or if it's to tell me we're going on an INTERNATIONAL HOLIDAY in July.

Destination: Malaysia!

We are going to Kuala Lumpur for ten days, hitting up all the tourist things and then making the journey here:


OMFG LEGOLAND! I don't know who is more excited. Me, Tricky or Map Guy. Bobbin has no clue but keeps clapping and shouting hooray whenever Tricks does. Only one day of the trip will be spent there (because it's a four hour bus ride away), but already I'm pegging it as the highlight of the trip. Because LEGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you have any suggestions of things we should see or do in KL in July, hit me up! Now, to get a passport for the little one and reread those flying safety statistics.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lost: One Mojo


Um, help?

A few weeks ago I had motivation in spades. Instead of doing 20 minutes of exercise, I'd do 60, and I felt brilliant for it. My rest days were "active rest" and I was making awesome choices when it came to food.

I was smashing my goals. 

It was hurting, but it was "I've exercised" pain, not "My body is fucked" pain. But then it switched and I entered a pain flare. In the scheme of things it wasn't even a bad one. Then, I got a little bit sick.

Every time I ate something, I'd spend hours wanting to bring it back up. Major nausea, all long weekend. In addition to that, I was bone tired, and heading to bed at 8:30pm even after TWO naps a day. Map Guy said I was acting like I was pregnant, so I spent 24 hours freaking out and religiously researching the chances of getting preggers with an Implanon implant (extremely low, phew!).

I'm in a funk. And not a cool, treadmill dancing up town funky wunk.

A proper, why bother, this is stupid, I'm worthless, might as well eat a whole damn cheesecake to myself, FUNK. 

My old coping mechanisms have come rushing back. Secret binge eating, being the top one. 

I haven't exercised in a week, and yeah, I get how pathetic that sounds, "oh a week? get over yourself, arsehole", but in that week I have completely lost my mojo. There is no desire there at all. When people wondered why I wasn't having a full rest day, THIS IS WHY. If I stop, I won't start again. I'm such an all or nothing person.

Yesterday I got in to my workout gear. Felt stupid. Looked fat. Got back in to jeans and stole one of Bobbin's Easter eggs. Because on top of being unhealthy and unfit, I'm mother of the year, obviously. 

I'm pissed off at myself. I've just hit the half way mark of Get Commando Fit and I've gone from doing so well, to being a couch potato in the space of seven days... and I don't know how to turn it around. I've been looking up inspirational women on Instagram and YouTube; mamas who have worked hard to get fit and I want to be like them so much... but there is something stopping me. I'm using the Commando forums, but only to read because I feel like a dick for even thinking this way. I'm at a loss, and I just don't know how to get my mojo back.

Help? Please? 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Five reasons I love my Cuisine Companion - plus healthy brownies recipe!

This is a S3 post - I received a Cuisine Companion for review purposes
For full details please see my disclosure policy

I've been playing with Tefal's new Cuisine Companion non stop since I got my paws on one last month. It's been an interesting ride, seeing what it can do, checking out new recipes and adapting old ones. Mostly I've made one meal at a time, but I did do a bit of bulk cooking, whipping up some freezer meals for a friend who is about to welcome twins in to her family, and some yummy "I can't believe they're healthy" brownies for her older kids lunchboxes.

I've been trying to think of the five things I love about it the most, and narrowing it down to five is actually bloody hard. Akin to choosing your favourite child, if your child was a kitchen wonder machine. But I'm being ruthless and capping it, otherwise I'd be here all weekend, sounding like I was writing a brochure.

1. Clear Lid
You know how little kids sit and stare at the washing machine? Well, I stand and stare at Cosette. Oh, you don't name your appliances? This is awkward. French machine, French name, a nod to Les Mis, it had to be. But I digress. The clear lid is just so freakin' handy! If you're cooking and the condensation stops you seeing in, the centre does pop out so you can have a peek through. The lid comes apart for easy cleaning if needed - but I've only needed to do that if I've been milling my own flour or crushing up nuts and the teeny particles get everywhere.

2. Big Bowl
A whopping 2.5L capacity bowl means making large batches a breeze. But it's not just big, the mouth and base are wide enough to get in to with your spatula without turning yourself in to a contortionist.

3. Easy Blade Swap
Slide blade in. Mix things. Slide blade out. Pick up new blade, slide in. Repeat. There is no locking and mucking about, it goes in and stays in. When it's time to pour out the mixture, slide out the blade and away you go. It makes it sooooo easy to get every last drop of soup or sorbet out when you don't have to be dodging blades. Although you may want to leave a few traces of cake batter for bowl licking purposes. Let's not ruin childhoods, OK?

4. High Display
My eyes are not the best, even with contacts, so I have been known to bend down close to appliances to find out what the remaining time is, what setting I've got it set to, or even if it's turned on. Not any more. Hurrah! It seems so simple to have the display higher and angled up. Clever.

5. One Touch
A heap of the recipes in the Million Meals book are one touch recipes. Chuck in the ingredients and select the pre-set function and off you go. So say you're cooking a soup, it goes slowly at first, stirring it all together, then when it's all cooked through, it changes speed and temperature by itself to whizz it all up in to a creamy deliciousness. It even changes temperature again to keep it warm when it's finished, so you don't have to worry about it either burning or going cold.

Grating cheese, finely dicing garlic, blending chickpeas to hummus,
cooking bolognaise, perfecting "cauli rice", and mixing cakes and loafs
I could have mentioned so many other things (it's quiet, the temperature increments are great, the adjustable steam vent, the stay cool handle on the steam basket, and heaps more), but I'm trying to restrain myself.

I've had a few questions thrown my way from readers about what I don't like about it, and so far I can't find anything - I was originally saying I didn't like that the lid didn't come apart for cleaning, but then I realized it does and I was just a bit daft. Others have asked if the fact that it doesn't have in built scales is annoying, and for me, it isn't an issue - I rarely used the inbuilt scale in my competitor product because my pouring skills suck. Instead of gradually adding 30g of flour I would add 5g, 10g, 15g, 20g, 80g. SHIT. Then the next five minutes are spent trying to fish out excess flour or whatever or adding more liquid and OMG TOO HARD!

So let's get to the best bit:

Healthy Chocolate Brownies Recipe


Because I can never just leave something be, this recipe has come about from experiments with a few different recipes and is most heavily influenced by a Get Commando Fit brownie that has been all over the internet for a while now. I have to play  with recipes until it suits me, my budget and my taste buds! And duuuuuude, these are gooooood.

You'll need:
250g sweet potato, peeled & roughly cut in to large cubes
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup of evoo
1/2 cup of rice malt syrup (use honey if you want it to be sweeter and don't mind adding sugar)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarb
2 tablespoons of protein powder (if you don't have this, you can use flour but it won't be as high in protein obviously)
1 cup of cocoa
2 tablespoons of plain flour

Grab Cosette, or your own Cuisine Companion then:
  • Preheat your oven to 180C
  • Place sweet potato in to Cuisine Companion bowl, using the Ultrablade*, set to pulse for 30 seconds (the machine automatically selects speed 12 for pulse)
  • Add in your eggs, vanilla, evoo and rice malt syrup** and mix on speed 6 for 10 seconds then scrape down the sides
  • Add protein powder if using, cocoa and flour and mix on speed 6 for 20 seconds, scrape down the sides and mix again for 10 seconds if necessary
  • Pour in to a lined lamington tray and bake for 20-22 minutes DO NOT OVER COOK!
  • Allow to cool slightly before cutting - I usually get 20 brownies from this
These are so rich, moist and utterly delish! You won't feel bad for eating one (two? three?) because they're full of the good stuff.

To serve in lunchboxes, cut them in to your desired size and freeze in an airtight container with a layer of baking paper or similar between so they don't stick together. Grab one out, wrap it in an eco wrapper and put it straight in to the lunchbox frozen and they'll thaw by recess.

*HOT TIP: If your sweet potato is super hard, maybe use the Crushing blade for the first step.

**HOT TIP: Measure your evoo first, pour it in, then use the same measuring cup without washing it to measure the rice malt syrup - the oil coating will mean the syrup comes out easily and you don't waste any.

If you have any specific questions about the Cuisine Companion or a recipe you'd like me to make in it, please let me know in a comment below as I'll be doing a full twelve month review.

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