Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

The furry creature living in our house

In August 2016 on August 27, 2016 at 10:39 am

up close

Sarah: It took more than a year of cajoling, pleading and gathering of evidence from my tween daughter to convince me that our family needed a dog RIGHT NOW.

Don’t get me wrong: dogs were always a part of my life growing up, and I knew we’d get one eventually.

But having survived 10-plus years of night wakings, food messes and various secretions and projectiles from the bodily orifices of 3 children, the thought of another creature to care for in the immediate future was a very slow burn on my behalf.

The fact that my third child was inclined towards wheezing and itching in the company of my parents’ labrador was another stumbling block.

There was a lot of research. There was a lot of lifestyle examination. There was a lot of self reflection.

There were tears and teeth grinding.

Still, in December 2015, we took the plunge.

A chocolate labradoodle (with tight curls that did not shed) arrived, and we called him Raffy.

To say that our house is 100 percent more chaotic with Raffy in it would be an understatement.

He’s loud, he’s demanding, he is inclined to anxiety, he needs a lot of exercise, and he hassles my youngest son to play with him for every living minute that both are inside the house. If I focussed on these aspects alone, I would regret the decision to own a dog.

And yet there’s so much more.

Of course, my daughter is infatuated with him. She’s still blown away by his presence:

“I just can’t believe we have this little furry creature living in our house!”

She’s grown in her already considerable kindness and patience, teaching him many tricks and putting up with his thieving tendencies. He also provides a companion for her walks to seek hot chocolate from the local bakery. For her, he is pure joy.

Once fearful of dogs, both my boys are also obsessed with Raffy and indeed most other puppies we meet whilst out and about. They truely delight in the different breeds and personalities that we encounter.

To be greeted by Raffy after a school is the best part of their day.

When the puppy has sleepovers with grandparents, they miss him terribly.

My husband and I have started walking the dog together every morning, a great opportunity to chew the fat and catch up on each other’s work issues and other adult matters that can’t be aired during dinnertime family discussions.

Working from home, I walk him several additional times each day. It sounds like such a time-waster, but I plug in my headphones and make phone-calls and listen to podcasts whilst out and about. The perfect opportunity to lose my inner smart-arse.

We’ve all learnt that Raffy has his own personality, that there things he does not like and that actually it’s not within our power to change him. Raffy is Raffy: all we can do is teach him basic manners, love him and live as a family.

In our family, we love our humans because that’s our destiny. It’s the way it is.

But Raffy we choose to love. And that’s been a big step for us. A valuable step.




On International Women’s Day, free me from ‘should’

In March 2016 on March 8, 2016 at 1:03 pm


Sarah: ‘Should’. What a terrible word, huh.

You should be eating more greens.

You should get more sleep.

You should exercise more.

All these ‘shoulds’ haunt me! And maybe you as well. Many of us aim to live a life shaped by evidence and best practise.

Research tells us that a healthy body needs regular exercise, plenty of vegetables and fruit, minimal processed carbohydrates and 8 hours sleep a night.

Psychological and pedagogical studies report on best approaches for guiding literacy, optimal amounts of exercise and screen time for children, improving resilience, and managing homework and chores.

Mental health resources compile evidence on juggling the demands of family, work and other commitments, and the need for downtime.

All up, sometimes life feels like a constant battle between all the shoulds.

It would actually be a hell of a lot easier to eat fish and chips every night. To have the TV on from sun-up ’til sun-down. To dump gym memberships and early morning sports practises. To let the kids order their lunch every day.

We all know that’s not ideal. But for goodness sake, let’s also feel OK about offloading a few ‘shoulds’ every now and again.

So today is International Woman’s Day. To celebrate, I’m having a break from a few ‘shoulds’.

You should too.

[image thanks to]

The real reason paleo irks me

In March 2015 on March 16, 2015 at 9:53 pm


Sarah: You know, I’ve just worked out the real reason Pete Evan’s paleo movement irks me.

It’s not the failed release of his book which apparently recommends bone broth as a formula-substitute for babies who aren’t able to breast-feed. It’s not the endless stories of reformed lives and diet-induced rescue from every manner of illness that appear on his Facebook page. It’s not his switch to eating and raving about sugary desserts with each new well-paid season of MKR.

What really bugs me is that it’s making me feel inadequate.

Inadequate because on the odd occasion that I cook Italian, I don’t make almond pizza dough. Inadequate because I’d rather eat a piece of French brie every fortnight or so, as opposed to cheese made from macadamia, lemon juice and Himalayan sea salt. Inadequate because I don’t skip gleefully down a sun-drenched beach and revel in ‘moving my body everyday’. Inadequate because I actually enjoy eating raw, hand-ground organic grains for breakfast. They’re raw and hand-ground and organic, for goodness sake!

I eat lots of veges. I avoid junk food most of the time. I do lots of exercise. I know sugar is bad for me, but I still eat it occasionally. I’m happy with that.

So bugger off Pete. You can have your paleo. I’ll just stick with eating and living like a well-informed and slightly flawed 21st century Homo sapien.

From rotten teeth to fatty liver

In November 2013 on November 10, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Kristi soft drink

Kirsti: During my invasive ant research in the Pacific islands, I lived and worked in a country called Tokelau. It’s an external territory of New Zealand, but essentially a self-governing Polynesian nation. It is literally the smallest nation in the world by land area, the population living on small atoll islets in some cases only 80m wide.

In this nation, there were certainly some fascinating and rather nasty ants that compromised the fabulous outdoor Polynesian lifestyle. But I also noticed other stuff. Like the fact that the mouths of many kids were full of little black spikes for teeth. Seriously. Seven year olds who had been given soft drinks since the age of 1 or 2 had nothing but rotted remains of baby teeth.

It made me think about soft drinks in our diet and I vowed from that day forth that if I were ever to have kids, soft drink was OFF the menu.

Rotting teeth are not the only disastrous outcome of soft drink consumption. From around the 1970’s, sweetened drinks – especially softies – have contained high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as the sweetener of choice (it’s cheaper than glucose alone). The syrup typically contains either 42% or 55% fructose, the remainder made up of glucose. And the proportion of fructose has increased slowly over time.

Now fructose has enjoyed media attention in the past few years because of the rising number of people with fructose malabsorption issues and hereditary fructose intolerances. Irritable bowel syndrome (often thought of as the equivalent of colic for adults!) is also sometimes diagnosed as fructose malabsorption because of such similar symptoms. Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar! website and associated books as well as the rethink sugary drink campaign have labelled sugar as poison. More recently, Dr Kieron Rooney at University of Sydney has declared that Big Sugar is having its tobacco moment.

Even if you don’t have any real problem absorbing or metabolising fructose, it’s clear that if you do drink a lot of soft drink, you are at risk of a suite of lifestyle diseases. Obesity, type II diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and more.

Fructose is metabolised differently to glucose. Where metabolism of glucose is regulated by insulin, the metabolism of fructose in the liver is essentially unregulated, progressing through a number of steps to a point where carbon atoms can be converted to fatty acids in your liver. More fatty acids means increased risk of liver disease and then risk factors for all of the diseases mentioned above. Healthy levels of fructose are beneficial in that they can assist in the disposal of glucose in the liver.

Here’s where I will emphasise that it’s only when you drink A LOT of soft drinks and eat artificially sweetened food that you are at risk. But we know that this is happening for more and more people in Australia. Current estimates of obesity in Australia suggest that 28% of Australian adults over 18 are obese and that, including these obese adults, 63% are overweight.

It seems ironic and incredibly wasteful that the wealth present in Western societies is associated with inducing these lifestyle diseases, and then even more wealth is required to manage and treat those affected. Yes, we should learn more about treating diabetes. I agree it’s a good idea. But surely we can do more with prevention? Can’t we all talk about this, and start to help each other avoid these situations?

Please do it now. Whether it be family, friend or colleague. Give them a buzz and go for a water and a carrot stick. Let me know how it goes.

[image thanks to Elsie esq. on Flickr]