Friday, November 30, 2012

Fussy eaters: Confectionery confessions

I know I carry on about this a lot but it is the parenting issue that causes me the most distress: My almost four year old rascal Noo has no real interest in food. Fussy Eater should be his middle name!

Noo's tiny little 11 month old niece Mala, on the other hand, eats everything that is given to her and consumes twice the amount of food in a day than her older cousin does even though she does have real food issues.

Noo could, if he wanted to, eat anything. Mala on the other hand has serious food allergies to dairy, nuts, sesame seeds and eggs. Her current weight is also considered "off the chart" as far as what she should weigh for her age (according to those silly growth charts that cause a lot of parents mostly needless worry!).

My sister and her husband have always been careful about Mala's diet, not just in regards to the foods she is allergic too, but in limiting her sugar intake as well. Yo has always been vigilant with feeding times and patient, yet persistent when it come to the long, boring slog that feeding a little one can be.

Mala's parents have always fed their little girl the most delicious combos of mashed meat, veggies and grains, along with fresh fruit and soy and other non-dairy products suitable for kids her age. I am sure this why Mala has an awesome appetite!

YUM! I would eat this: Mala's lunch today.

When I picked Noo up from daycare last Thursday I noticed on the board outside the kitchen that the menu of the day included fish fingers, veggies and chips. I made a comment to the teacher standing by that he mustn't have eaten much that day. I made that assumption because I rarely see Noo eat vegetables. And fish fingers? Forget it.

The teacher went on to tell me that he ate everything off his plate, even the veggies with a little coaxing. I was gobsmacked, if a little sceptical... or maybe it was just defeat I felt.

Noo eats well at school but terribly with me.

I know I've discussed Noo's food issues in this blog several times over the years. I even admitted I felt responsible for his terrible eating habits when I wrote this post about my fussy eater and how I thought his consumption of sugar could possibly be to blame.

Confession time...

Noo has always been a terrible eater. From the moment he was born to this very day he has been a pain in the arse with food. As his mother, his only parent, I feel I am the one responsible for this and I have struggled with how to deal with it, especially considering my own sugar addiction.

Do you want to know my worst parenting secret?

On my mum's advice, I used condensed milk on Noo's dummy all his first year of life. There, I've said it. It was so effective in keeping him soothed and quiet I became addicted to it as much as Noo did. There was always a little pot of the sweet white syrup in the nappy bag along side the nappies and wipes.

My parents thought it was a completely normal practice to dip a dummy in condensed milk before popping it into an infant's mouth. They didn't do it to hurt their precious grandson and neither did I. We just wanted him to be happy... and soothed.

But think about that! (Actually, you probably don't have to think that hard to know that what we did was terrible.) Here was a baby that refused to attach to the breast, was bottle fed and also had a dummy dipped in condensed milk everyday, several times a day. Sugar was a dietary staple from the very beginning.

I know. Bad. Very bad. Go on. Judge me. I judge me! Call DOCS now. Actually, you better not, they have more serious cases of abuse to work on!

I knew in my heart it was wrong but it worked so well to keep him quiet and as I was living with my parents I went along with it. My parents are strong people and I can be heavily influenced by them. I cannot blame them though. I am the mother, I make the decisions and I should have put my foot down. That first year of Noo's life was so challenging. I just did what I thought worked. I couldn't look toward the future to see what the long term consequences might be. I was just surviving day to day.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mala is a mere 11 months old and eats twice as much as Noo does now at nearly four years old. Her mother never caved to the pressure from mum and dad to give her baby condensed milk (and yes, they did suggest she do it!). As I said earlier, Mala is allergic to dairy foods so it is so lucky Yolanda stayed strong!

YUM! Home made beef and vegetable stew then watermelon for lunch.
She also had half an avocado and some baby crackers.
Oh and some boob to top up.

Now I believe Noo's taste buds have been ruined by sugar in his first year but still I allow him to eat lollies and chocolate. Even when I gave it up. I am so weak at saying no to him. Over Halloween we had heaps of the crap laying around the house. Although I never let him sit there and binge he pretty much has a couple of chocolate or lollies everyday. Add that to the BBQ sauce on fish fingers (which he ate for me earlier in the week!), the Nutella on toast, the fruit flavoured yoghurt squeezies... The sugar load adds up!

Below is a little collage I did a little a couple of weeks ago for a confessional post like this. It has just taken a while to write it!

Check out the sugar hidden in nearly every corner of the kitchen!

The other vice I let Noo indulge in is what my skinny little redhead calls a "Warm Chocolate". It is a hangover from the days when he used to suck on a warm bottle of milk more than a few times a day. "Hot Bo!", "Hot Bo!", Noo would call after putting the sofa cushions in position for him to lay back and suck back the warm and comforting liquid that became a meal replacement for a fussy, lazy eater.

When I was certain Noo's milk addiction was keeping him from eating properly I threw out every bottle and teat in the house. Not long after "Mama", Noo's dummy, was disposed of too. But then came along Warm Chocolate in a sippy cup.

Transformer the cat, Noo and his warm chocolate, Peekaboo the bird
and Marco the dog in bed earlier this week.

"Please, Mummy, can I have a warm chocolate?" 

Do you know how many times a day I hear this request? Ah, probably between 4 and 100 times! He goes straight into position on the couch (or in bed), cushion in just the right spot behind him so he can balance his Warm Chocolate, Transformer and the iPad all at once.

I'll admit there have been plenty of times I've let him feast on chocolate milk because I haven't had the time or energy to fight him to eat proper food. This is where I take responsibility but we are finally making some changes.

2013: the year we finally give up milk as a meal substitute

Just like with Hot Bo and Mumma, we are giving up Warm Chocolate.

Here is my plan of attack:

  1. Throw out all but two sippy cups until Noo's 4th birthday on 22 December when remaining two sippy cups will be chucked (I can't make the kid go cold turkey!).
  2. Cut out night time Warm Chocolates immediately (started this on Monday this week). 
  3. Give Noo an awesome mug he can call his own for his 4th birthday so he can sit up at the dining table and have a warm drink in the morning like a grown up.

I'm hoping by taking away the comfort of laying down to suck back sweetened milk will reduce the attraction of the Warm Chocolate. 

By not letting him have any warm drinks at night means he will feel more hungry and therefore more compelled to eat the food I provide for him.

I will also stop buying chocolates and lollies... after his birthday and Christmas.

Fingers crossed this works with as few battles as possible. I've just got to take responsibility and get this little kid eating for me.

Do you have a fussy eater? Any tactics you'd like to share on how to get fussy eaters to, well, EAT?


Linking up with the ever awesome Grace from With Some Grace
to do a bit of floggin'

Monday, November 26, 2012

My week according to Instagram - 25 November

A day behind! But better late then never. Here's this week's Instagram collage:

From top left to right: Sunday - our Christmas tree is up; Saturday - my new Diesel watch, lunch at Ikea; Friday - whacky photo at The Rocks Bizarre, Noo and his caricature, the hoola hoop jam down at The Rocks, Noo and the bunny that looks like Transformer, bunny hurdle racing, Noo standing in his convict ancestor's chains, the Queen Victoria Building tree, The Willy Lead (the WTF of the month!), Transformer gets around with C-P30, Noo and the David Jones Christmas windows, the view from the Hyde Park Barracks, Noo and Transformer having a swing in the hammocks; Thursday - The cat that got the cream, Transformer and Peekaboo enjoy breakfast together; Wednesday - corn chowder for dinner, Noo falls asleep in Nanny and Pa's bed with Transformer; Tuesday - piccolo Palomino Espresso style, Yo in front of the MCA, stray nut (who could have done that I wonder?), Yo's silhouette, Miss Mala and her mum.  

Linking up with Tina at Tina Gray Dot Me. Check her out! She's rad.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My week according to Instagram

Another week passes through the lens of my iPhone:

From top left down each column: Visual Poetry word heart; Saturday people watching at our local markets; tourist who was obviously having a good time in Aus; highly filtered selfie; some entertaining police handing out directions and lollies to market goers in The Rocks; Spider-Man at yum cha; selfie on the way out of our building; Friday farewell party at preschool with Noo and his best friend; my superhero; rainy Friday morning having brekky in front of our screens, Thursday catching up with some old mates; Wednesday discovering my mum still uses her old adding machine; my gorgeous sister helping me celebrate my birthday on Tuesday; 38th birthday selfies breaking 7 week chocolate ban

Linking up with one of my favourite bloggers,
Tina Gray!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The BB sugar experiment: The emotional stages of addiction

It is three months since I first started thinking about dealing with my addiction to sugar. Yes, despite what some people say, my belief is that sugar is addictive. I have gone through the same emotional stages of addiction in my effort to get sober from sugar addiction as I did when I gave up my other vices.

Just thinking about quitting sugar was akin to me contemplating giving up cocaine and alcohol back in the mid 00s. At first it seemed like a ridiculous idea and likely impossible to achieve, but somewhere, deep in my heart, I knew I had to do something. Too many things in my life were not right and all the indicators pointed to that one substance: Sugar.

I started Googling "sugar", "quitting sugar", "is sugar bad"... Those types of search terms. I wanted to know the truth about sugar. I was looking for a way out. I was in denial about my addiction and I wanted someone somewhere to tell me it was ok to keep eating that delicious substance. Kind of like wanting to believe that a couple of glasses of red wine a day was good for me. Or a gram or two of cocaine on the weekend was just me being young and cool and having a good time when really it was destroying me, one line at a time.

My sister or my mum would make comments that maybe Noo's issues with food were because I allowed him to eat too much sugary crap. I got defensive and rebuked that I didn't give him that much crap food, and anyway, how could they know there would be a connection? Maybe Noo was just a fussy eater. Just born that way! The both of them pissed me off. Plus, I'd already had to give up so many of my coping methods (like drink, drugs and ciggies) and I was getting angry at the thought of having to give up chocolate too.

I bought Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar and David Gillespie's The Sweet Poison Quit Plan. I started thinking about just how much sugar Noo and I bought and ate. We weren't just eating the added sugar that is found in bottled pasta sauces and yoghurt, we were also eating a huge amount chocolate and lollies. My lapband had helped me lose nearly 20kg but I'd put 6kg back on which made me realise I needed to do more and I made the decision Noo and I would give up sugar together.

Three weeks into our sugar sobriety I relapsed. I just couldn't let go of my crutch. I started bargaining with myself that I didn't have to give up sugar, I could just get my lapband tightened up and start heavily restricting my portion sizes again, but still get chocolate though. Or I could just accept myself as a fat girl and learn to love myself the way I was. Both of these options, while plausible, still didn't address my feeling physically like shit and my failure yet again to start doing something about my health and my weight was making me feel depressed.

On Friday 21 September I received an email from a friend who had signed up to Droptober - Just lose 2kg. I looked into this program and thought this is something I could commit to. From that first day I found out about Droptober something clicked and I stopped eating chocolate and lollies. A couple of weeks went by and I was eating more fruit and vegetables and good healthy meat. Before I knew it I wasn't even craving the white stuff any more. I became more aware of my body's hunger signals which came around three times a day rather than having that constant need to put something in my gob which comes with sugar addiction.

By the end of Droptober, the penny dropped: Not only had I lost 3.5kgs, got my taste buds back for good food and my cooking mojo returning after a long absence, but the headaches I'd been suffering for years had disappeared too. I'd been to the doctor so many times about these headaches that the next step was going to be a referral for a CT scan.

Five weeks sober from sugar and my headaches were gone!

Then the final proof that my sugar addiction is toxic to me was the return of the dreaded headaches this week after I indulged in my birthday cake on Tuesday and Wednesday and last night. Seven weeks of feeling healthy, energetic, well slept, and craving free came to an end on my 38th birthday.

It is not all doom and gloom though. Oh no. In fact, I couldn't be happier! I have finally reached the acceptance phase of the emotional stages of addiction. I have accepted that sugar (that is all sugar, minus whole fruit) is toxic and the deliciousness of it does not outweigh the cost eating it has on my body. Just like alcohol, sugar does bad things to me, just like nuts might do to someone who is allergic to them. I am allergic to sugar: It makes me anxious, depressed, moody, affects my concentration, gives me dreadful headaches and makes me fat, lethargic and stops me from being the person I want to be.

So back on the wagon I go. Being in the acceptance phase doesn't mean that it is going to be easy from here on in, but it is better than when I was in the denial phase.

Sobriety, whether from booze or from sugar takes constant work and vigilance.

Are you on the quit sugar bandwagon too? How are you going with it? What consequences do you suffer from when you overdo it with the white stuff?


Linking up with the fabulous Grace at With Some Grace for FYBF.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday morning, easy like

It is 7.27 Sunday morning. Sun is streaming through our east facing apartment. The toy car world Noo abandoned last night is casting long shadows across the expensive sisal I spend every day trying to protect from the hands, feet and mouth of the three year old who rules this place.

I heart Sunday mornings

As I look over my laptop and through the wide balcony doors I can see a trickle of traffic heading north and on to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. All is quiet, except for the sound of my overly long bright pink gelled nails tapping across the keyboard, thanks to some much needed and appreciated double glazed windows.

Noo is sound asleep in his little room he loves to call his own but of course we share. Tucked under his arm is his new best mate: Transformer. A black and white cat that has become the first plush toy to gain his love. It was a gift from a woman my mum has called friend since the 1960s. A woman who's generosity with little gifts I have known since I was a child.

As I sit here I contemplate what to tell you over my first cup of black Campos Superior Blend. The guilt I feel about the time between posts is incredible. But why am I feeling guilty? Who do I answer to? This is my blog. My project. My love. I have some wonderful readers that I know regularly check in but they are not turning on every morning only to be disappointed by the fact The Babbling Bandit hasn't babbled again.

The guilt lays with me. Each post that I write is done with love and pure enjoyment and when I don't blog I miss it. I admonish myself constantly for the time I spend staring at this screen; writing, creating, reading, absorbing, organising and collating. Or just staring. Dreaming. Ideas flowing in and out, around and about. So many ideas of subjects to write about. To explore. To personalise. But I don't produce enough output. That's where the admonishment comes in.

I want to learn and I want to connect. I become overwhelmed with excitement when I find an issue  that resonates with me and I want to explore it, dissect it, disseminate it with my fingerprints all over it. But then it slips out of my head and I'm lost again. Where was I? Why did I feel so good a minute ago? What was that flash of brilliance? Where's the rewind button?

The doctors say I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I got my second opinion last week that agreed with the first. The medication I take is helping but I could use a higher dose because my mind still wanders, my ideas still dart around, my vagueness still renders me mute for moments at a time.

I cannot tolerate the higher dose. If you've been reading here a while, you'll remember what happened when I attempted to take more of the methylphenidate or Concerta as is its brand name. The anxiety it causes is too much for me.

So I have had a week away from I've not gone anywhere of course. My life rolls on whether I write about it or not. But despite my cocktail of medications I take every morning, despite my mood having benefited from me being almost completely sugar free, I've had an 'off' week. Off mood, off the computer. We all have them. And there's nothing wrong with that.

A new week begins. The sun is shining. We are heading to the Newtown Festival. Newtown: My spiritual home. Where I grew up. Where four generations of my family laid roots. Where so many memories of my past float around I can almost hear them speak to me. Near where my son was conceived and later born. More on Newtown another time.

Today life is good. Off and online.

What are you going to do on this beautiful Sunday? Even if the weather isn't good where you are?


Disclaimer: Campos Coffee did not sponsor this post. Although, should they ever want to work with me, one of their most loyal and long standing customers, I'm available!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Recipe: Harissa roasted veggies with chicken and brown rice

Lately I've been babbling a lot about the return of my cooking mojo (see here and here).  Rather than teasing you with just food photos on my Instagram feed, I thought I'd share with you some of my recipes of late. Some are original creations but some have been adapted from other sources.

This one has been adapted from which is probably my most used recipe source. I also love the Fairfax Cuisine website. On they call it Brown rice and harissa roasted vegetable salad. I have jazzed it up a bit and have christened it...

Harissa roasted veggies with chicken and brown rice

Harissa roast veggies with chicken and brown rice

What you need:

1 cup brown rice
1 medium zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 small red capsicum 
1 medium red onion
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of harissa powder
500 grams organic minced chicken
1-2 tablespoon pine nuts
Juice of half a lemon
Store bought hummus 
Handful of chopped coriander and mint

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2. Add brown rice to a pot of boiling water (around 3-4 cups), return to boil then turn down to medium heat and boil gently for 30 minutes. Strain. 

3. Chop veggies into small pieces, keeping onion separate.

4. Mix 1 tbsp of the olive oil with the harissa in a large bowl.

5. Add chopped veggies excluding the onion to bowl of harissa paste. Stir ensuring all the vegetables are coated in paste. Spread veggie mix on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for approximately 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

6. Meanwhile, add remaining olive oil to large frypan or wok and saute red onion on medium-low heat until onion has softened and gone translucent.

7. Add chicken mince to pan, stirring to break up chunks and mix together with onion.

8. While chicken is cooking, in a separate pan gently fry pine nuts to bring out the flavour. You can do this under the grill as long as you watch the nuts closely because they will burn easily. Also, probably not so easy if you've got your veggies still roasting away in the oven!

9. When chicken is cooked through stir cooked rice through the chicken and onion mix. Then combine roasted veggies to the mix, as well as the pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.

10. Remove chicken, veggie and rice mix from the heat. Stir through freshly squeezed lemon juice.

11. Serve with a dollop of store bought hummus, chopped coriander and mint and with either lemon or fig wedges.

Serves 4

I made this for my dad and me during the week and dad loved it! It is seriously yum bowl food that is sugar free, low in fat and is packed with flavour.

And obviously you can make this without the chicken if you're having a meat free night.