Celebration Food: Reimagining “Junk” Food

I mentioned last week that I want to work on prioritising my sleep in an effort to make it easier for me to reclaim my health; the past few years have wreaked havoc on my body (highlights include two pregnancies, the second of which totally warped my body’s response to hormones, a hyperactive thyroid nodule, and a gangrenous gallbladder…) and the past fourteen months in particular have eaten my sleep. When I’m tired, I don’t *do* any less, I just eat more to compensate for my lack of energy – which in turn means I have *less* energy, because I’m usually snacking on chocolate and processed sugar, not healthy food >.<

Part of the problem is that back in 2010-2012, I had to avoid processed sugar entirely, as well as yeast. It was intense, extreme, and done for health reasons, not by choice – and it utterly destroyed any willpower I had regarding junk food. It’s taken nearly five years of being allowed to eat sugar again to get to the point where I won’t compulsively eat it when it’s in front of me, regardless of whether I want it or not. Add to this the fact that I’m a sucker for a good guilt trip and the fact that it’s at least 50/50 that work will be equally as insane this year (though I’m strongly hoping not), and the prospect of trying to clean up my food intake doesn’t exactly thrill me.

But! I have discovered from a variety of experiences that I am particularly susceptible to verbal framing. Psychologies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy suggest that fundamentally, everyone is, so I’m sharing this in case it might be useful to anyone else. I’ve blogged before about removing the word (and consequently the concept of) ‘should’ from my vocabulary, so it occurred to me that I might try a similar trick with ‘junk’ food. There are a billion articles out there about why we shouldn’t call it junk food, but the suggested alternatives are always lackluster: Special food. Sometimes food. Occasional food.

The problem for me is that these terms, while avoiding the guilt trip inherent in the terminology ‘junk food’, aren’t really any more specific. How often is occasional or sometimes? (Hint: I can probably trick myself into thinking it’s every day, especially during marking season.) What constitutes ‘special’? Hard to say for sure. So I came up with an alternative: Celebration food.

Straight away you can see the flip from negative to positive, which hammers that lurking guilt away hard. Great. However, is ‘celebration’ really any more specific than ‘sometimes’ or ‘special’? Well, maybe. I mean, I can see people easily making the excuse that every day is a celebration, or that there’s something to celebrate in every day, etc etc etc, but I grew up in what I affectionately call a ‘Pinterest family’, long before the days of Pinterest itself. Which is to say, 1) my family knows how to party in style, and 2) celebrations such as birthdays and Christmas are very *clearly* demarcated from more regular, ‘ordinary’ celebrations. In my head, ‘celebration’ means a very particular thing, and to cheapen the concept simply for the sake of consuming food that, really, isn’t doing any wonders for me beyond my taste buds… It introduces almost a moral angle to the whole issue, and I’m unlikely to contravene it. I’ve already caught myself a couple of times, reaching for the sugary food, and gone – Wait, is this *really* what you consider to be a celebration? – and have left the sugar where it was. I mean, of course, I’ve failed quite a few times, too, but on the whole, as a concept, it seems to be a positive thing. And it means I don’t have to forego entirely, which, when I was, led to awkward birthday party situations and such like. And I mean, come on. You’ve seen my cakes. Don’t tell me I have to utterly forego tasting them!! 😀

So. My rationale for the reimagining of ‘junk’ food into ‘celebration’ food. Leave a comment and let me know: What do you think? Does it resonate with you? Do you have any similar psychological tricks you’ve used to break yourself of bad habits?


New Year’s Resolutions: Love This Radical Approach To Weight Loss!

I read this fantastic article the other day by Jane Caro about weight loss and dieting. It’s not a topic I usually do a lot of reading on, but the link was part of a conversation on Twitter that was passingly intriguing, and I rather like Caro’s commentary on life (not that I realised she was the author until I read the byline at the end of the article!). I really do need to get myself back to a healthy weight this year, or at the very least a healthy level of musculature, because at the moment my 4-yr-old can literally whip my arse in a run around the block, and my lack of core strength means my loose joints fall out of place a LOT. And joints falling out of place HURTS. Just FYI.

So anyway, I clicked and read, and what I discovered was, actually, a radical approach to weight loss that, instead of advocating dieting and willpower, was actually advocating a social revolution: what if, the article supposes, we all changed our societal expectations of working 12-hour days, of getting home exhausted and dialling for a pizza, of high-stress, low-sleep lives, and instead focused on reducing social pressure? What if we tried to change society so it was acceptable to get the right amount of sleep, to take time off for family, to get home at 4pm so we had time to cook a healthy and nutritious meal?

You guys, I LOVE this. Stress and lack of sleep are, as the article notes, major causes of over-eating, especially for me–and over-focussing on what we eat can lead to all sorts of psychological and emotional drains, and even damage. So, this year, I’m going to choose to prioritise my sleep, not just because I know that I overeat most when I’m overtired, but also for the other flow-on benefits that better/more sleep will allow. 2017: the Year of Good Sleep. Because sometimes, you can’t change the world, but you can at least ensure that you’re equipped to cope.


Best Ad of 2016

So this is totally random, but I was browsing back through my YouTube lists thinking about school (I have a bunch of things saved on there in lists for various classes I teach) and I found this TV commercial, which is up there with my favourite for 2016. I found it to be super body-positive and inspiring, so I thought I’d share :3

What commercials have you seen in 2016 that you actually enjoyed? Please share in the comments!! 🙂

Oils, Oils, Magical Oils

The last couple of weeks have been a haze and a blur of pain, aches, and snuffed-up noses. I mananged to contract a pretty decent cold on top of recovering from surgery, WELL DONE ME. To make things even more fun, the Boyo had it last week when he was home baby-wrangling while I was still only semi-conscious, and then Small Person got it on the weekend, and now I have it too, and SP still has it and Boyo has just departed for the long weekend >.<

Suffice to say, I love all the parentals, who have been/are dropping in and out to keep me sane and help with the dinner/bath/bed routine.

ANYWAY, despite all this I’ve been feeling like I’m neglecting the blog, and I figured that I could at least manage a simple copy and paste tonight (though apparently I have also managed a Whinge, Class 1): the research I’ve done into the various usefulnesses of various oils. Variously. And yes, that first one is true – some vegetable/fruit oils actually have an SPF value, though it’s not allowed to be avertised as such without lab testing blah blah blah – but raspberry seed oil, well, estimates have it at at least 30+. Woot. I gots to get me some of that.

Raspberry Seed for sunscreen
Rosehip Seed Oil for face
Grape Seed for body generally (this is what we are bathing the SP in – even better because I don’t have to worry when he drinks half the bath liquid)
Tamanu for eyes, dry/damaged skin, hair shiner
Coconut RDB for (liquid) soap
Sweet Almond for massage base
Blueberry Seed for face serums + everything; berry seed oils are pretty much just magical
Coconut oil for moisture by itself or in stuff (fractionate version as an essential oil carrier for massage etc)
Cranberry Seed as an emollient, for skin, hair, lip, baby – often used for itchy/scaly/irritated skin conditions (again with the magical berries)
Cucumber oil for skin-tightening
Coffee for anything damaged (coffee OIL, people; just to clarify)
Camellia for dry/sundamaged skin/hair (also hand, nail, face)
Borage is anti-aging
Pomegranate for menopause & post-menopause everything
Pine nuts are an appetite suppressant, both the oil and the nuts themselves
Peach/apricot kernel penetrates quickly, so is good to combine with other oils
Macadamia nut oil absorbed very easily also
Castor oil for soaps and cleansing – mix it with another oil for face cleanser (more castor for oily skin, less castor for dry)
Meadowfoam Seed oil for shampoo (especially for dry scalp), soaps and lip balm

So there you have it: the wondrous properties of a bunch of vegetable, fruit and seed oils. For an AWESOME and DEAD EASY example of something you can make with oils (other than my body scrub), Steph over at My Kitchen Crowd just posted a recipe for the most amazing body butter in the world. (Bonus: it smells like chocolate, AND it’s edible. Body butter you can also use to butter your toast, that tastes and smells like chocolate. I told you: MOST. AMAZING. BODY BUTTER. EVER.)

What. The Hell.

So, here’s some terrifying information for you. Randomly, I was doing a click-read-click spree again tonight and stumbled across a Nov-2001 article where Johnson&Johnson were promising to remove a known carcinogen from their baby products. UM, I THINK THAT WOULD BE A REALLY GOOD IDEA, JOHNSON&JOHNSON. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

It prompted me to go grab Small Person’s shampoo and examine the ingredients. The carginogenic compound is not listed, but of course, I had no clue what most of the listed ingredients were. Usually, the solution is to ignore these ingredients – but tonight I was struck by curiosity.

Here are the terrifying results. Some ingredients fell under more than one category, so despite what the numbers add up to, this is out of 15 ingredients.

8 safe (sigh of relief)

1 known skin irritant
1 known immune system irritant
5 known skin toxicants
1 not safe for use on damaged or irritated skin
1 toxic or harmful for organs; not for products used on the mouth (lipstick etc) – dude, this is BABY WASH/SHAMPOO. OF COURSE IT’S GOING IN THE MOUTH.
1 potential neuro-toxicant

What. The hell.

Seriously. From now on, we are all bathing in olive oil with sugar. (Actually, I totally bought some grape seed oil from Costco on the weekend for the Small Person – it’s supposed to be one of the best oils for the skin ;)).

If you’re interested in checking out any of the complicated products on your ingredient lists, google, or use this awesome site here.

My Favourite Face Scrub Ever

Totally random, but I have to share, because I’ve just made up a new batch and it really is awesome. I always intend to use this stuff 2-3 times a week, and in reality end up using it about once a fortnight, if that – but whenever I do, my skin practically glows the next day (I’m a night showerer), so you know.

Also, bonus: it’s DEAD SIMPLE.

Wanna know what’s in my super favouritest face cleanser/scrub ever? Sure, I’ll tell you.


Olive oil.

That’s it. Though sometimes I throw in a spoonful of dried lavendar from the garden, because it smells pretty. And yes, I know, cleaning my face with oil sounds counterintuitive – but it works, and apparently I’m not the only one who does it.

So there you go. Favouritest scrub ever, and all you do it mix the two ingredients together until they form a goopy paste. Good for all skin, not just your face.