Tag Archives: nutrition

Clearing the road on the way to clarity

Four months or so, have passed since I committed to declutter. I have been chipping away at drawers, piles of paper, cupboards and shelves.  There is a renewed feeling that the battle waged is being won incrementally.

Before you start envisaging me, trapped in a room between towers of newspapers, empty food containers and a collection of memorabilia of a life lived without restraint, I don’t own that much.

I have, I admit only tiptoed around my bookshelves. A new shelf of books for ‘library loan’ to close friends is now available. Here collected are great examples of storytelling, escapism and hope.

I have also shredded a lot of paper.  I have learned that lining the chicken coop is problematic. It only takes one enthusiastic fowl, or a ill-timed gust of wind for snippets of useless information to fly into the air.  Like we aren’t already waist deep in information?

While I do save to the ‘Cloud’, let’s get real,  if your vocation is education or training, you may as well roll up the recycle bin to your front door and shovel it in! Staying current is an educator’s nightmare.

I have relinquished the salad spinner. I implore you, please do not under any misguided need to inform me of my error, now offer me reasons that I should have kept it! It has taken years to let it go!

I have also noted some odd disturbing idiosyncratic behaviours.

As a researcher and one plagued with the voices of my pro-green parents, ‘Kumbayaing’ in my ears, I have over the years, acquired a selection of approved water bottles. No bisphenol.A’s for me!

To those of you, who missed that lesson – BPA or bisphenol.A is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics. BPA is believed to ‘leech’ into the fluids kept in containers made with the chemical, especially when heated. No I’m not guzzling hot water, but many of the bottles of water are stored in warehouses for long periods and even in the sun.

It is with some irony that I admit to struggling with dehydration for years and have resoundingly underestimated the impact of it. I have, like millions of others, instead of drinking water, substituted ‘fluids’ for….tea, coffee, alcohol and the occasional soft drink.

Over the past three months, I have embraced a clear water container,  no BPA’s of course.

I throughly enjoy watching litre after litre of water disappear. Seriously….how did I miss that?

Last week a GP, advised me to ‘keep up the fluids’.   My advice – keep it simple – replace the word ‘fluids’ with WATER!

I think that nutritionist and celebrity chef,  Zoe Bingley-Pullen would agree. I have already learned how to boost my metabolism through water consumption, in the first week of her ‘Falling In Love with Food’ program.

See more here:http://www.fallinginlovewithfood.com

I look forward to more ‘sage’ advice over the next seven weeks.

Clearing the clutter, has challenged the ‘ghosts of my childhood’, leaving me a little rattled.

From my collection of stationery, it appears I have a deep affection for the stuff. I have collected a ‘shipload’ of it. This is despite sharing my addiction with children from third world countries.

Sure I could argue, it is an educator’s tool…blah….blah….blah….and if you work for government as an executive, you’ll naturally end up with stationery….well you do…..right?

If I unpack this conundrum a little more, and take this frayed piece of string and rewind it through my life, I would find myself at any early age, watching my father guard his art materials as if there were jewels cat-burgled from the Louvre.

There is also the case of the ‘recurring missing pen’….

Child (me) has new pens – fine-nibbed and expensive

One parent has undiagnosed stationery addiction

Child (me again) leaves the room…….

You get the rest…….it ends in denial and tears…..

Parent without addiction (Mum) retrieves pen…


Is it any wonder that I have anxiety around knowing where my pencil case is?

Saying this, it hasn’t prevented me from stamping my own brand of genetic madness, which I like to call ’empathy based parenting’ onto the psyche of my sons.

I raised my two sons mostly singlehandedly, though I had a small community of wonderful friends that assisted at times.  When I think back to that time, I was like an hamster on steroids, trying to reach the end of the wheel. I worked hard for every cent, with little regular maintenance, running a personal development program for children and working in after school care programs.

This did not prevent me from losing the plot, to what is referred to as the afternoon, that ‘Mum stole our bikes’.

I had bought the boys each a new shiny bike for their birthdays (a month apart). The boys had left them abandoned at the front of friend’s house on the street where we lived. They probably just lost track of time but when I saw the two bikes forlornly dumped on the grass, I spun out of my ‘wheel’ and out of control.

They returned home, mildly hysterical, weeping, shoulders hunched.  I  listened with mock concern, as they tried to explain the ‘terrible thing that happened, that wasn’t their fault’.


Did that ever happen again? No! Are they avid bike riders?

No… probably too traumatised….

Is this admission of less than perfect parenting, a form of clearing the clutter?

If so, I a feel a tad lighter….




Solariscare – a step in the right direction

The iconic image of a wolf on top of a mountain howling at the moon, comes to mind when I recall my posts regarding my experience with the medical model and their current orthodox treatments for cancer. I have been critical of the dominance and control of pharmaceutical multi-nationalists and the fact that cancer research is mostly funded by self-interested petro-chemical conglomerates.

I have made reference to the poor service, of a few individual specialists, surgeons and some less than attentive nursing staff.  There have however been wonderful dedicated health professionals who have assisted me through the hideous orthodox cancer treatments that I have reluctantly and regretfully undertaken. There has been limited support for the benefit and use of complementary therapies, the role and value of nutrition or indeed the balance of mind and body in the healing equation. There has been no space for faith, although it has been my faith tested, that continues to keep me centred in healing.

Frankly, I have accepted along the way that as long as the medical professionals that are caring for me are not dyslexic, can identify left from right, off from on, can correctly read charts and bed signs and are experts in their field of wizardry,  some will have personalities akin to a torn paper bag. Perhaps they are simply burnt out from peddling the same ‘spin’, while keeping silent as they watch over 40% of people with cancer die from malnutrition brought on by chemotherapy and radiation.

I have been outraged at throw away comments loaded with carelessness, arrogance, sexism, elitism and ignorance. I have ignored the raised eyebrows and questions regarding my capacity to comprehend the copies of medical reports that I have requested. I have been grateful for a few general practitioners who have provided copies of results without question. They perhaps felt compassion, or perceived me as the ‘walking dead’ who needed a break!

Recently I was asked if I had a medical person in the family when requesting a copy of a report. I assume to assist me to comprehend medical terminology. The much maligned Dr Google is always available as a simplifier, though I don’t recommend using it as a diagnostic tool. You may just diagnose yourself into clinical depression. The general practitioner omitted the descriptor of ‘living’ when he asked about my access to assistance, so I answered in the affirmative. It wasn’t a lie, my mother who died in 2003 was a nurse, who had her own medical dictionaries. She earned her scepticism of surgeons firsthand from the battlefront in World War II and continued to ‘self heal’ as much as possible, using complementary medicine.

Complementary medicine (CM) – is defined by Professor Jon Adams, from the University of Technology Sydney as a range of products, practices and technologies not traditionally associated with the conventional medical profession nor traditionally included in medical curricula. These include acupuncture, naturopathy, chiropractic, reflexology and massage therapy. Cited – http://www.phaa.net.au/documents/October 2011.pdf.

Ouch, I can hear the collective crunch of knuckles from less than impressive chiropractors! I also recognise the systematic desecration of naturopathic practices, from the denial of homeopathy and indigenous healing to the mockery of lack of double bind clinical trials of scientific merit. Another conspiracy theorist? No a pragmatic realist who has experienced the baptism of fire of interventionist medicine and who has been considered dispensable fodder for the consumption of expensive toxic chemicals.

Back in the early 2000’s a study conducted in Perth, by Katherine Hall and Billie-Ciles-Corti, through the Department of Public Health identified over 60 % of GP’s wanted more training in complementary medicine.  In 2014, there are sparse general practitioners who would openly admit to referring patients to complementary therapy practitioners. The recent Labor Government provided subsided access for people with chronic health conditions to enable access to dieticians, physiotherapists and psychologists. How much further have we come to recognising the role of naturopathic and complementary therapies and the rights of health consumers to be informed of all options that are available? Is the medical profession dedicated to the continuation of disease by the prescription of drugs, that will be as effective as a bandaid on a bullet hole?

After being advised to not apply a naturopathic approach or be too concerned with nutrition, I decided not to share my thoughts with my oncologist nor seek approval for my choices.  I did the exact opposite and applied a range of strategies to improve my immune system, lower gut and blood glucose so that chemotherapy would selectively target cancer cells and to reduce the war waged against my lymphatic system. I explored the connection between mind and body, reduced stress and abandoned alcohol. I am not alone in this space. It does not mean that current orthodox medicine is always eschewed. I would not repeat these treatments, regardless of the fact that I was included in the 2% of people for whom chemotherapy is more effective.

It is hard to perceive of light when you are in a deep dark hole with ‘experts’ forecasting a perpetual eclipse. People undertake naturopathic and complementary therapies in order to make themselves feel better, regain control over their health and to sustain hope. It is a work in progress and for those of us that have experienced cancer, an ongoing commitment to change. In the murky waters of cancer treatments, Dr David Joske a widely respected haematologist and cancer specialist was brave enough to explore the use of complementary therapies alongside current orthodox treatment responses of what I call , ‘the unholy trinity of cut, burn and poison’.

It was Dr Joske’s vision and his commitment in 2002 that led to the establishment of a centre for complementary treatments at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Today SolarisCare operates in four locations, two in the metropolitan Perth suburbs of Nedlands, Subiaco, and two in regional centres of Bunbury and Albany. SolarisCare identifies its organisational aims as improving the quality-of-life of cancer patients and their carers by providing the support to cope with the emotional and physical side effects of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. SolarisCare offers free complementary therapies, support and information to people dealing with cancer and their carers, at all of their Cancer Support Centres.  Such therapies are like an oasis in a landscape of relentless wind storms and blistering hot sand. The underpinning philosophy is that complementary therapies harnesses an individual’s energy to assist their own healing and recovery.

Reflexology has soothed the neuropathy and burning sensation of the nerve damage in my feet left over from chemotherapy.  Massage has relaxed a tense and pin-cushioned body with the healing of touch.  Bowen has re-calibrated my fascia releasing tension in my hips and lower back and increased movement in my shoulder. The melodic strings of the harp has transported me to a place devoid of pain or fear where my mind can escape the trauma of the cancer experience.

Like all therapies, it is the complementary meshing of therapist and client. Not all therapies will resonate with each individual. It is important to be open to the possibility of healing, some what as one does when responding in faith. There are many earth angels and miracle workers who volunteer at SolarisCare through the four centres that operate in West Australia.

In the words of Dr Joske, ‘It is about empowerment and nurturing, as opposed to medical science. There is an awful lot we don’t understand. For doctors (to ignore the possibility of benefits) is disrespectful and arrogant. We must respect the right of patients when they ask for complementary therapies and set up research to try and find answers’. This is a slow train on the tracks that are owned by orthodox medicine and the pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Joske openly admits that many doctors struggle with the concept of human energy that can be channelled towards healing. There are increasing lines of evidence linking mood and immune function with successful eradication of cancer cells.  There is evidence that survival rates of cancer sufferers is influenced by psychological factors, and people with a higher score on the anxiety and depression scale, are at a significantly higher risk of death and relapse.

Is modernity – the real source of exhaustion and ill health?

Does anybody else feel enraged that scientists are only now discovering the link between nutrition and health? A recent ABC Catalyst episode – Gut Reaction (Part 1 & 2 ) explored the interaction between food and bacteria in the gut. My English born father has been espousing this link for the majority of his life. He has applied a new energy to this topic over the past 11 years to extend his life after bowel cancer. He is 99 in November.

My father - Reginald

The program’s premises was that diet of high fat, high sugar and highly processed foods even in someone young and fit, results in the production of colonies of bad bacteria that destroy the body’s capacity to process and eliminate such foods. This results in the need for the production of additional insulin. A sure bet for a life time of poor eating choices is either Type II diabetes and/or one or more of the various auto-immune disorders. You will no doubt have increased your body’s inflammatory responses and have a higher risk for life threatening health conditions, such as cancer.

You may be worse off if studies into mice births are confirmed in humans, with caesarian births failing to supply much needed gut and e-coli bacteria. This early introduction to destructive bacteria helps us to build immunity, which is absent when we enter via the ziplock womb. Just a little more added guilt to mothers who choose caesarian birth and those that have no choice in the matter. Sure women should have earlier, less invasive births, and so should there be equal pay, adequate child care facilities and support for women to contribute to society in ways other than by their vaginas or wombs!

A life worth examining, is my father’s. At 99, my father is without medication and any serious ageing conditions other than a little stiffness in his joints at the point of first movement and a little eczema. He admits that he should probably remove eggs from his diet to eliminate the eczema however he concedes he should ‘live a little’. He has no Alzheimer’s but a little forgetfulness and tends to miss other people’s birthdays though he is acutely aware of his own.

He is from an era where additives and preservatives were few or non existent. His mother, who birthed him naturally, grew vegetables in a small patch of rented earth, during the lean war years and afterwards. When he immigrated with my mother, to Australia and purchased his first parcel of land, he converted much of that residential plot in Aspley, Queensland to the growing of organic fruit and vegetables. He made wonderful contraptions, like the netted snail confuser, which was essentially a basket that lowered over the lettuces with a copper trim. Copper carries an inherent electical charge which will ‘shock’ a slug or snail if they try to travel across the surface. Ever the pacifist, it was a gentle reminder to the humble house-back snail, that sharing was not an option.

My father was never a smoker or a regular drinker. I have vivid childhood memories of him enjoying the very occasional shandy on a blistering hot Queensland afternoon after moving the lawn in his knee high socks! He has not messed with his hormonal regulatory system and while he may have fallen victim to adrenal gland exhaustion during his brutal experiences in the Second World War, he spent his days in peace, correcting this imbalance.

The Second World War, taught him to appreciate the gift of survival and he dedicated his life to his pursuit of artist endeavours, his wife Molly, the peace of his organic garden, an unshakeable faith in God, the discourse of ideas and learning, community engagement and quiet contemplation. The war had robbed him of his hearing but had given him restful sleep as no sound disturbed his slumber.

Scan 3

Wind the clock forward to the era that promised freedom in capitalism and free market commerce, and where do we find ourselves? – but in the midst of a global health crisis. The feminist liberation manifesto/ propaganda did not include the impact of raised cortisol levels through chronic sustained stress experienced by some heroic women who attempt to juggle a demanding career and still parent effectively despite the lens of societal guilt. The burden of economic sustainability and the pursuit of consumer goods, has driven adult men and women into a frenzy of employment, with reduced life/work balance (this is the correct way around, I believe) and an ever eroding work conditions that conflict with family, rest and healthy living.

I don’t need to conduct a survey to know that most of us have no idea what our adrenal glands do or where in the body to find them. I had no idea when a naturopath commented over 10 years ago, that she thought I had ‘adrenal exhaustion’. I thought , ‘no problem – you bounce back from exhaustion easily, right?’. Wrong!!  All of us will experienced stress, though some of us, have been under chronic sustained stress for long periods of time or have experienced emotional/mental and/or physical trauma throughout their lives. Chronic stress exhausts the adrenal gland and it becomes too fatigued to meet the needs of the body. If you have symptoms of fatigue, sugar or salt cravings, low blood sugar, depression, anxiety, skin rashes, poor sleep and allergies, you may have low cortisol levels.

So where is that unobtrusive overworked adrenal gland? It actually a pair and one resides on top of each of your kidneys. It is the wallflower at the hormone producing gland dance. So to put in in perspective, you can lose your ovaries or your testes and live, but if your remove your adrenal glands then you will die shortly after. The adrenal glands produce cortisol and too much cortisone can cause symptoms of weight gain around the waist, poor sleep, fatigue, elevated blood sugars, menstrual irregularities, increased thirst, higher blood pressure and even more frequent infections. (http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/endorcrine/the-adrenal-gland.htm).

Enter the age of the antibiotic. Anyone woman who has taken antibiotics can relate to the annihilation of good gut flora and the stealth of the opportunistic Candida. The merry-go-round of discomfort can last for weeks. The management of thrush during chemotherapy is high on the agenda for those undertaking cancer treatments, as the cellular structure of the lining of the alimentary canal is destroyed. Often you are instructed or advised (depending on your self advocacy) to not undertake an organic diet /alkaline diet during chemo, as it may interfere with the efficacy of the chemotherapy drugs. You read between those lines!

Nutritionists, naturopaths and other radicals of the complimentary health movement have endured ridicule for stating what was well founded in logic and in the basic understanding of the human body system. These include, that the gut influences health, alkalinity is incompatible with cancer as it restores the body to full fighting capacity, and chronic stress robs the body of its ability to balance cortisol levels. The body is at its optimum operating level, at homeostasis, where the human body’s internal environment in stable in response to changes in external conditions.

So what can you do. You can eat a balanced diet primarily of organic vegetables, a small serve of fruit (too much sugar is the enemy in all forms), organic chicken and fish, alkaline water, wheat-free grains, nuts and seeds. I am not tolerant of dairy so I give it a wide berth. Some practitioners believe both soy and cow’s milk, leach the calcium from your bones, the direct opposite advice of the dairy industry marketeers. One could ask, why do we need to take calcium supplements after a life long love affair with the cow?

In addition to maintaining a diet that enables good flora to live abundantly and within balance in your stomach, is the need to make time daily for daily exercise and mediation, or if you prefer quiet contemplation, sound sleep and reasonable expectations upon your available time. I made a commitment to myself in recovery to change my life and to restructure my priorities. I have been blessed to have a supportive partner without whom I would not have had the opportunity to reconnect with this essential knowledge that I share on this blog.  You can improve your health through nutrition and you can rebuild your sense of well being through complimentary therapies and by slowing down in a world that is addicted to speed and the renouncing  of personal responsibility for health outcomes.

In defence of the symbol of household oppression

I like kitchen couture and I truly appreciate a fine uniform. Form definitely follows function in the design of a good apron, however beyond the bounds of practicality lays a world of beauty and artistic expression.

There has been of late, a renaissance of the apron under the auspices of retro-chic fashion. True satisfaction, for me, however lies not in the purchase, but in the making of an apron.  The door to apron couture is barely ajar, but the apron fascinates me.

People all over the world continue to don protective aprons of various materials. Rubber aprons for those working with dangerous chemicals, leather for carpenters or blacksmiths, lead aprons to avoid excessive radiation or others made from waterproof materials to keep dry. Then there are those other types of aprons, which are located at adult XXX shops. For now let’s keep our minds above the kitchen sink.

There is no substantiated proof that wearing an apron enables you to do any task better. I would however argue, that dressing the part often helps to focus the mind upon the intent of the activity. Perhaps an apron may have saved Jamie Oliver from burning his meat and two potatoes, while preparing a romantic celebration feast for his wife, Jules. I desperately need a shield against the splashing of great passata and I have saved several blouses in the process.

We can thank art history for recording the inception and adoption of the apron. We can thank the French for the word, which originated from Old French spelling ‘naperon’. Frankly, I haven’t stopped thanking the French for ‘amuse bouche’, a complimentary bite-size appetizer, which means ‘ fun for your mouth’.

The list of French influence has become accessible through reality television cooking competitions like My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef. Thank you from the bottom of my reserved Anglophile heart, for cream anglaise, the aperitif, au naturel, béarnaise, hors d’oeuvre, julienne, nicoise, remoulade, soufflé, and the fabulous ramekin. Cheers to you, Julie Child!

Back to the matter at hand, the humble apron. The apron first appeared in text, in the Smithfield Decretals (1300- 1340) and in visual reproduction in the Holkham Bible Picture Book (1327-1335). Aprons were little more than squares or rectangles of linen cloth tied around worker’s waists. Fabric was a precious commodity as it was hand woven on looms and each piece was used uncut. A similar apron style has been reborn in black and worn by wait staff in many cafes today.

This simple style is well illustrated in Bernardino Licinio’s ‘Portrait of the Artist’s Sister-In-Law’ (1525-1530), where modesty and practicality are melded together in several metres of cloth. In medieval and renaissance art, both genders of the working classes are depicted as wearing linen cloth to protect their clothing.


In this 15th Century German painting (below), oddly titled,  ‘The Birth of Mary’ (1460-1465), aprons appeared with ‘strings’.









Anglican bishops and archdeacons historically wore an apron, black and purple respectively. It was a short cassock reaching just above the knee, worn with black breeches and knee length gaiters. It was originally designed to enable bishops and archdeacons to ride their horses across the diocese or archdeaconry. Is this evidence of the Anglican clergy attending to their flock in a far more practical manner than their ‘heathen’ Catholic cousins?

The simple apron were standard fare until the late 1500’s, when elaborately decorated aprons became the style of women. These were not ‘work clobber’ but status aprons decorated with expensive lace and embroidery. These were often handed down to favoured members of a family. Pleatwork embroidery was the fashion on necklines and cuffs prior to the 17th century and made its way onto the not so humble now, apron.

Europeans immigrating to the New World, brought the functional apron, with Pilgram wearing predictably plain, long white ones and the Quakers, God Bless them, wearing aprons made of coloured silk.

The 1920’s brought the fashionable ‘housecoat’ or  full length house apron with criss-cross straps.









In the 1950’s, busty blondes with small waists, in impossible red stilettos waited diligently wearing frilly aprons for their returning hero’s. Or so Lucy and Marion would have us believe. There were some less than ‘happy days’ in the boredom of the kitchen.

As nutrition is a key component to health and well being, especially after cancer treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, wearing an apron brings a note of determination to the plate.

These aprons are my contribution to kitchen couture. IMG_0157IMG_0579IMG_0798IMG_0969IMG_1188

It is a work in progress with a series of retro inspired aprons to come.