Thursday, 29 September 2011


the ups and the downs of ozzie life

g'day folks! or i should say, good morning - because i am now back in the UK ♥

i thought i'd let you all know that i am back safe from my travels, and will be resuming some semblance of 'regular' posting forthwith... including updates on my new book and new videos also.

i'm so excited to be back and to get into a regular routine. my sugar levels did eventually settle down in australia, thank goodness, but it was so tough going. i ended up having to change my set every 2 days, and increasing my basal rates heaps in order to manage my levels ok. i also went on a 30min walk twice a day most days, which was super beneficial.

the biggest shock for me, was losing control over my eating, and dealing with people's limited understanding of what type 1 diabetes really means.

i guess the difficulty really lies with the fact that i do change my diet kinda frequently - my understanding of how best to manage my diabetes is still in progress. it's a constant learning curve, and that's hard for other people to understand. especially with the amount of books about health and diabetes i'm devouring at present.

since february i've been eating 'low carb', starting out with just 30g a day, and then gradually increasing it to my sweet spot of about 100g, which is where i'll probably stay for a long time. i'm also eating low gi, and i love trying out health foods like chia and flax and coconut flour - so you can see where confusion might come in to all other people.

it's hard for someone to comprehend how a melon is actually really high GI, but an apple isn't. or, how i'd rather eat natural local honey, than Splenda. or how i love to bake with buckwheat, rye and spelt instead of wheat.

the hardest points for me where when someone had gone out of their way to make me something special to eat, and then i had a horrendous evening feeling rough because it wasn't actually low GI or low carb or a small enough portion size.

i must put my hands up and admit that i have often sabotaged myself, by agreeing to a small portion of something bad out of politeness. thinking it's ok to have a small bite now, because it's early morning and i've just been on a walk, or i'm spending a day wandering around a city - and then the person thinks that it's ok all of the time... do you know what i mean?

sometimes on holiday it's ok to have a slice of banana bread or an ice cream or a glass of Milo - but only once, and only in exceptional circumstances, not every day. deprivation on holiday isn't cool with me.

the other thing is that there's so much confusion between diabetics, and between type 1 and type 2. i found this a LOT. most people have a vague idea of diabetes, but don't know that there's such a HUGE difference between the two, and the way they get managed. or that the guidelines aren't at all strict for what you should or shouldn't eat to manage your levels. one diabetic might eat a vegan diet, another low carb, another low gi - there's so many recommendations, and different things work for different people.

i met up with a lovely diabetic in Armidale, NSW, called Beck, and she was a vegan that ate quite a lot of wholegrains, but no dairy. whereas at the time, i was eating a lot of meat and dairy but very few wholegrains. this was very confusing for my aunt and cousin to understand - how can you both have type 1 diabetes, but eat completely different diets?

i was continually eyed with suspicion and often treated like a fool when my sugar level rose up - i've had diabetes for 13 years now (almost exactly), and people reckon i ought to know how to deal with it so i never have highs any more. but, we all know that an infusion set can fail, you can forget to bolus or there can be a bubble in your tubing that affects absorption...

but diabetes is invisible. when you are high and feel horrible, it's not obvious to anyone else. they can't know how concerned you are that this one high level might be the thing that causes your sight to fail in 10 years, or your nerves to go funny as you age.

another thing i found out in Australia was how a high protein, high fat, low carb diet is not right for me. it lead to bloating and overeating, which consequently made my sets stop working and my sugar levels to fly up high. i'm currently in the process of working out what other options there are out there, before embarking on any radical new diet change. though i know it won't include heaps of cheese, chicken, nuts or bacon.

so. lessons learnt...
  1. it is never ok to eat a little bit of very tempting and delicious high GI foods whilst anyone else is watching...
  2. educating other people about diabetes, and the differences between type 1 and type 2 is paramount.
  3. being clear about why and what you choose to eat differently, and the importance of it for your future health.
  4. science is continually changing, and you always need to be open to learn.
  5. you can't expect a country to magically straighten out your sugar levels - it's a continual effort each moment to decide to do the best thing for your body to ensure it's future health
  6. 100g carbs is perfection for me, but i have yet to understand how much protein and fat my body thrives on (and of what type too - is it animal or vegetable?)

growing veggies and keeping chickens

to those of you who have been reading the blog for a while now, it won't come as much of a surprise to you that i have a keen interest in self sufficient living. i love things from scratch, rather than quick convenience - and i've chosen a lifestyle that nurtures that passion. it allows me time to make my own butter, grow my own veggies, sprout my own alfalfa, and spy out local fresh produce at the market every week.

now that my time in Australia has come to an end, i've had time to reflect on my experience there, and some of the things i learnt.

it was a sincere joy to hang out with a young family in Armidale, who grew muc of their own food and kept their own chickens for eggs. they ate vegetarian food, had no dishwasher or microwave, lit a woodburner each day, homeschooled their kids and they even had a ceramic countertop water filter. they've spent years living this way, and so they've come to know how best to do it - it's no longer a dream way of life, it's reality.

their veggie patch was tended constantly each day, and we ate from it at most evening meals. it was winter, but in Australia that is quite a flexible term, as they were still growing chilis and tomatoes indoors, as well as herbs and leaves outside.  

chopping your own firewood is a pretty tough but rewarding thing... quite different from switching on the electric or gas central heating.

the chickens were very happy little birds, laying quite frequently, and keeping the family pretty well stocked in eggs. i'd love to own my own chickens one day, when i've got more garden space out back (or the ideal 1 acre plot - a girl can dream!)

so, we already do quite a lot of eco-friendly food shopping, growing and cooking. and i think doing a little more each day is the way forward - simply spending more time at the allotment and picking wild produce, buying and cooking in bulk, eating less meat and dairy, are all choices that we make every day. and it's often cheaper as well to do things the healthy, eco way... or it should be.

i guess for most people it's the time issue that gets in the way - it is after all far more convenient and quick to go down to the store and buy apple puree instead of picking, peeling, coring, dicing and boiling your own isn't it?

so, i wonder, what things do you do to be more sustainable and eco friendly?

do you use chemical free dishwashing solution? do you dry your clothes outside rather than in the tumble dryer? have you picked any wild produce this year? do you grow your own herbs or sprouts?

currently reading: Dr Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes - very interesting! not totally sure i agree with all he says, but he advocates a low fat vegan diet, which is brilliant! for my regular readers, you know i'm currently sort of low carb primal, sorta. well, i might just try veganism, and see how my diabetes copes... what do you think?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

say hello to the love vitamin!

during my time in Australia, i was fortunate to get to meet up with the lovely Tracy, otherwise known as The Love Vitamin. it just so happened, by pure coincidence, that she and I were living about 10 minutes away from each other - which is exceptionally odd, given that we've both been watching each other's YT channels for ages now.

it was super surreal to meet her, and to realise how petite a woman she is - such a surprise! we were like little and large! haha.

she'll be in Oz for another few months, and i was gutted that i couldn't stay out in australia a bit longer, so we could've hung out more - she's a very lovely and interesting person, and we talked for ages about skin, food, health and life in general. it was awesome. anyway, here's a little intro to her if you've never heard of her before, or you want to see what she's up to...


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

how to deal with homesickness

hello lovely readers! i hope you are having a beautiful day :)

i've been very remiss at actually posting on this blog, getting thoroughly disctracted by video making, writing my beauty book and my food blog. so i apologise for that - thanks for sticking with me... and i hope i can bring you some interesting and good quality articles for you to read in the future.

today, instead of a beauty tip, i want to share something a little more personal: my battle with homesickness. now, this won't be relevant for all of you, but i reckon every one of you will come across someone with homesickness at some point in your lives, so it's sort of handy to find out how to deal with it, isn't it?

anyway, start by watching this video, and then keep reading for a more in depth chat:

i did have tremendously horrible homesickness from the ages of 8-16, that manifested itself in very physical ways (sort of a cross between a nervous breakdown and food poisoning - not very nice).

there were many occasions in which the only solution was for my mum to come pick me up - i even threw up at my dad's wedding and one christmas at my grandparents too. there was no logical explanation to why i felt so awful - and it was quite embarrassing to admit to anyone how i felt.

it has been a miracle being able to travel by myself to other side of the world - and i can definitely say that homesickness is behind me... so i wanted to share my tips with you all, and tell you how i get past my fears and anxieties and became a globetrotter!

1. physical vs mental strength
our brain is a very complex and powerful thing - it should never be underestimated, and ought to be respected and nurtured. BUT, it's not just your brain that suffers with homesickness, it can actually be a purely physical reaction to your new surroundings and lifestyle. be aware that your body might take a while to adjust to a new place, and let it ease into it.

2. take responsibility and get busy!
one of the best methods for getting over homesickness is to distract yourself by taking on responsibility for an event or person in your new destination. if all you have to worry about is yourself, then that's a really dangerous place to be in - it's not good to have too much time with your thoughts, especially those based on fear or anxiety.

3. know your route home and make a conscious decision to stay
when you're young, this is a hard one to get to grips with, as you can't always just leave (because it's not safe, you don't have the money, or the knowledge to travel on public transport). as you get older and can drive, etc, then it becomes easier, i have found. if you're the parent or guardian of someone who suffers from homesickness, then making sure that they've chosen to go on trips and travel is paramount!

4. the power of voice
most times i couldn't get to sleep when i was away from home, the only thing that would help soothe me was to have someone read to me, or listen to a storybook tape or music or watch Friends. familiarity and rhythm combined to create something truly calming, and i was always lulled to sleep rather quickly.

5. get into a routine
keep busy, keep distracting yourself. set your body back into a rhythm of routine.

6. emergency comforts
i like to wear a comfy hooded sweater, and bring with me plasters, lavender oil, ibuprofen and a few other things, in case of emergencies. that way, i won't worry about the unknowns.

7. prayer
i truly believe that it's only been through prayer that i've seen a way out of homesickness, given it burdened and restricted me for so long. by being able to pass my worries onwards, i knew i had someone else to lean on. i wasn't alone.

8. don't let fear stop you from acheiving your dreams!
please, please, don't assign yourself to living with homesickness forever, even though it can feel like that at the time. living with fear and anxiety of any kind is not healthy, and isn't really 'living'. keep going onwards and do things that scare you, until you come to realise that life goes on the same everywhere always.

i should have added also, that talking to other people about it is very important. don't be afraid to look childish or stupid - because it's much worse to keep it to yourself, trust me, that's how it festers and goes out of control. allow other people to help, and guide them to let them know how they can help you.

if you are a teacher or camp co-ordinator, be mindful of just how fragile someone with homesickness is, they are usually teetering on the emotional verge, so love and patience is important. please don't yell at them. let them have a really good cry, and let them speak to their parents. do try to distract them, and ask them if they'd regret not staying. be aware that sometimes it's really difficult to think anything outside of worry, so perhaps asking them to run an event or look after someone else can be helpful.

Friday, 16 September 2011

chorizo baked eggs and great cappucino

hey everyone! well, with only a few precious days down under, i'm trying to squeeze in as many experiences as i can, as well as getting out into the sunshine as much as possible - tomorrow i'm going to a gig in katoomba with a few friends, and then i'll be learning the art of excellent meringues on sunday with a lovely lady called Betty.

i've been treated out a few times since i've been here, and one particular occasion, that i've been waiting to share with you is the delicious Neram cafe experience - which was just so wonderful!

my great aunt and her daughter took me out to this pretty, wholefoods cafe in an art gallery in Armidale for breakfast - my favorite meal of the day. needless to say, i dressed up for the occasion - it's not everyday you get to eat really expensive food in the morning, is it? and it was so worth it.

spicy baked eggs with tomato, chorizo and onion, and a side of fresh toasted sourdough. so so good!

afterwards, i had my first proper coffee... now, i've never liked coffee. i always thought it was bitter and unpleasurable. but, in Armidale, everyone was into coffee in a big way - and i was so intrigued! i figured it was worth trying out, just in case it tasted different, and goodness gracious, it was good!

it turns out that all i've ever drunk is bad quality, burnt or off coffee. freshly ground coffee with perfect temperature frothy milk on top is amazing! granted i won't be drinking it all the time, given that it keeps me awake (this is a new and rather unpleasant discovery) but it's so nice to know that i actually do like it when it's good :)

me, my great aunt and her daughter - waiting patiently for our delicious brekkies. they both had a full fry-up with all the trimmings...

so, i hope you are all well and happy! i've still got so much to share with you guys - i guess that's what happens when you've got limited internet, and i apologise for the delay in posting these last few months. i've got so many exciting plans for things to do when i return to the uk, in terms of the blog, so stay tuned!

currently reading: the moon seems upside down edited by jim mitchell - it's a beautiful collection of love letters, written between two australians during the second world war. i love love stories.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

a day out in mosman with scandi foodie

g'day everyone! the sun decided not to shine this morning, most unusual, instead it tipped it down with rain... perhaps it's getting me ready for going back to England? no matter, i got on with some very serious work, before i head out this afternoon for coffee with a friend in the local organic cafe.

last friday i had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with Maria of Scandi Foodie - if you haven't checked out her blog, then do make sure to have a look, it's full of beautiful and delicious Scandinavian inspired recipes and baked goodies :)

i've been following her blog for ages, and pretty much as soon as i knew i'd be visiting Sydney, i got in touch and we arranged to meet up in Mosman. i had a really fantastic afternoon - we talked about the amazingness of fresh yeast, my new book (which she loves, yey!) and the importance of enjoying your life to the full! she's such an encouraging woman, and so interesting too :)

here's a few photos of our day together:

we walked along the beachfront... very picturesque.

i went into David Jones to check out the spring floral display - it was incredibly beautiful, and i'm so glad i got to see it  :)

♥ i came into Mosman on the ferry, before catching bus 230 up to Spit Junction for out meeting - the area is outstanding, with gorgeous houses and lots of boats. in some way it feels very european. 

we stopped off at a cafe for coffee and a little lunch, there were so many places to choose from, i'm glad i was with a local who knew where was the best!

i got the mediteranean salad, which was no longer on the menu, but they were happy to do it on request, as Maria has so enjoyed it before. falafel, tahini, aubergine, sundried tomatoes and very crisp leaves. it was massive, and downright delicious!

on our way back from the beach, we stopped in at a few tasty places to check out the local produce - you can always find amazing food in cities. i picked up some date and walnut cake for my train home in The Cheese Shop, and then went to foodie heaven, aka Fourth Village Providore. it blew my mind - they have an incredible cheese room, and deli counter, and a little cafe/restaurant too, as well as loads of european goods. i was so tempted to buy everything, but restrained myself as best i could!

it was so wonderful to meet up with her, and i'm so glad we got the chance! i look forward to more blogger meetups in the future :)

currently loving: walden by henry david thoreau - i just can't get enough of his philosophy, it's mindblowing.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

coconut lamingtons and bunless burgers

so, by now you probably all know via Twitter that i met up with Scandi Foodie in Mosman Bay last week!! it was an awesome afternoon - she's such a wonderful lady, and it was a pleasure to meet her. i haven't been able to upload photos yet due to travelling up north again, but they are on the way...

i'm currently exploring the coastline between Sydney and Port Macquarie with a friend of mine called Barbara, who is an absolute legend of a lady at 73 years old :)

anyway, onto some of my latest eats and treats:

homemade meatballs with basil crumbed green beans and roasted red pepper - most delicious. it was a very welcome lunch for my cousin's student border... he had the biggest smile on his face!

my first proper lamington. no jam - no siree! this was from Moxon's Bakery in Armidale, as light as a feather and perfectly coconutty. i shared it with my new friend Sara, who enjoyed hers heaps too.

a deconstructed burger. if you ever go to Neville's in Armidale and ask for a Works Burger, but with no bun, this is what happens!! it was truly yum, and i'm so grateful to the fab chef who was kind enough to do this for me.

well, that's all folks! another installment from my adventures down under... stay tuned :)

currently loving: writing to my mum - we've been writing proper handwritten letters each week whilst i've been over here. it's as lovely to write and send them as it is to find one in the letterbox!