Supermarket stupor

Well, it’s been a pretty big few weeks, I’ve got to say.  Firstly, I dissed the machine that is Pete Evans – and survived to tell the tale.  Secondly, I donned my invisible cape of assertiveness and pimped the story to a parenting website (at the risk of being descended on by activated nut-jobs around the country).  And thirdly, I joined twitter.

The freakish spike in my stats since last week’s post appears to confirm three things:

  1. Love him or loath him, Pete Evans and his ‘Paleo Way’ are very hot right now
  2. I’m not the only one who has completely cracked the sads with fad diets, food wankery and the people getting rich off the back of it all
  3. Secretly, we all have a little bit of Alf Stewart in us.
My (surprisingly real) Alf Stewart impersonation

My (surprisingly real) Alf Stewart impersonation

Happily, all of these factors seem to be working in my favour, and have brought about more than one spontaneous expression of joy through dance in my kitchen, and a record number of new subscribers.   So to the newbies, I’d like to introduce myself:

Hello. I’m Marnie.  And in real life, I’m not nearly as authoritative as I sounded in my last post (just ask my children, who never listen to me).

In a previous life (B.C.), I lived with my husband in cosmopolitan St Kilda, dined in the hottest restaurants, and worked with one of Australia’s most talented chefs (he was scary as hell in the kitchen, but a teddy bear outside of it).   But these days, I spend a lot more time reading Lego instructions than articles about the hottest new fad diet on the scene. And (quite dull I’m afraid), I spend a large chunk of my life teaching clients about basic nutrition, and preparing meals that my kids will actually eat.

I don’t usually make a habit of poking my nose into the business of celebrity chefs, or blogging about their peculiar food choices – but I’ve made an exception in Pete Evans’ case.  And that’s because he’s decided he knows a crap-load more than anyone trained in nutrition or public health, and has quite a penchant for dietitian-bashing.

The recent argy-bargy between Pete’s disciples and dietitian Susie Burrell is proof that many members of the public prefer to take dietary advice from a tanned celebrity, than an experienced health professional.  It’s also been a stark reminder of how downright revolting people can be, from behind the anonymity of a computer screen.

And that’s what was on my mind, last Friday afternoon when i-village parenting site published an edited, (somewhat less entertaining version) of my Pete Evans rebuttal.  As I quietly closed my laptop, and bundled the kids into the car for the shopping trip I’d be putting off all day, I realised I had just put myself out there amongst the trolls.

And it was in the supermarket, under that horrible flurescent lighting (my shopping list predictably forgotten) that I experienced a severe case of Supermarket Stupor.

super stupor

It went something like this:

‘Okay kids let’s think about what we came here for THINK Goddammit. Visualise the list and stop pulling the trolley – it makes it hard to steer’ Oh God… have they started slagging me off yet?!  

‘I think we’re out of juice [toxic cocktail] Who said that?!?  and cheese sticks’  Oh no – excess packaging = bad.  Will get 1kg block and cut into cheese sticks.. [probably from miserable grain-fed cows] Excuse me? What are you doing in my head?!  Hmm.. maybe should buy organic cheese – is that a thing? Quick! What would Rosemary Stanton do?

‘You wanted granny smith apples?  There – grab that bulk pack. Oh FRIG the packaging thing again –  must send message to evil supermarkets re: obsession with wrapping everything  No – get the loose ones and put them in a bag I’ll reuse the bag for dog poo and Arlo STOP pulling.  It makes it VERY. HARD. TO. STEER.’  Ommmmm… Breathing… breathing is good….

‘Mummy!! You said we could choose one thing – can we have CLIX?! Yeah CLIX! CLIX!’ here we go – this is my fault for letting them have Clix last week

‘No. We’re not getting Clix.’ stop frowning – people think you’re a grumpy cow


‘NO!’ because I’ve just published a post professing we all need to eat less processed food and more plants, and I’m pretty sure Clix biscuits don’t fit into the second category there, and ? is that guy looking at me strange ?  Is he going for his..?!  No of course he’s not. Don’t be silly.  He’s just looking at his phone.  

‘Mumma can we have Shapes then?’  Maybe he’s waiting to snap a picture of your kids with Clix and Shapes so he can post it to Pete’s Facebook page with the caption:

Just encountered outspoken paleo ridiculer and brainwashed brand-slave dietitian Marnie buying her kids processed crap in the stupor market this evening #slavetothefoodindustry #dietaryguidelinesfail #badastherestofthem


*   *   *

You’ll be glad to know that I eventually pulled myself together and escaped the supermarket without appearing obviously unhinged.   I also stopped worrying about my potential death by social media suicide, and enjoyed an extremely delicious Thai takeaway with a friend while we watched Dead Poets Society and toasted the life of Robin Williams.

But the point of this post (I think) is that being a parent is a tough gig.  Sometimes, all of the noise and clamouring and expert advice out there about what we should and shouldn’t eat drives me a little batty – to the point where I just want to pack up, go home, and cuddle the dog.

But when I take a breath and a step back from it all –  I realise this:  Rather than freaking out and reinventing our way of eating, I just need a reminder, every now and then, to get back to basics.  And so my aims this week are simply to say no to the pester power of packaged rubbish, and to pack good, simple food in their lunches.

I’m also working on my new book I know stuff Pete Evans doesn’t – which I’m writing in the hope it will convince my husband and children that I actually do know what I’m talking about.  Wish me luck.

i know stuff pete evans doesn't

The upside to Gastro

Viral gastro.  It spreads like wildfire and takes no prisoners.  And if you have school-aged children, you’re a sitting duck.  Before you know someone in your fold is incubating, you’ve already been sneezed on (and spat on, and shared bathwater, towels and eating utensils with them). The chances of escape are slim to none.

I don’t think I need go into gross detail here.  Most of us have been there and bought the t-shirt.  And if you have children, buying the t-shirt means being spewed (and possibly pooed) on.

But this weekend, while we waited-out our quarantine period at home, I’ve been considering the upside to gastro.  I’m a glass half full kinda girl (with a blog to write).

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Let’s face it.  The kids’ bedding really did need a wash, and sometimes it just takes fate (in the form of a projectile vomit) to step in and force your hand.  On the upside, while you’re scraping the slimy chunks off the sheets in the wee hours, you can also give next week’s ‘to do’ list a pre-emptive tick.

And that awkward spot behind the toilet cistern?  God knows when you’d’ve found time to crawl in and clean around there, without the vomit splatter to guide you.

washing line

If we look on the bright side, gastro is a timely wake-up call for the distracted housekeeper (image: Ian Rees)

Strength and agility training

If you’re a parent, you’ll be aware of the universal fact that children seldom know when they’re about to vomit.  We all know the scenario:

Parent:   Do you feel sick sweetie?

Child:     No… (squirming uncomfortably)

Parent:   Hmm.. Should we get the bowl to the just in case?

Child:    I’m not sick. (turning green) I just want a biscuit.

Parent:  Hmmm.. (eyeing child suspiciously)

Child:    I don’t feel g….. euaaggchch! Bleurgh! (SPLAT)   Waahhhhhhh!

But with practice, you can make up for this deficit by developing superhuman vomit detection senses.  Given enough training, you’ll snap to attention at the slightest moan.

Before you’re even awake, you’ll be streaking to their side, deftly dodging obstacles like an elite athlete.  You’ll impress yourself with what you can use to intercept those surprise projectile offerings!  An old bowl is good, but if you don’t have one handy, your cupped hands (or your nightdress held aloft) are perfectly good alternatives.

It’s better to take one for the team, than be faced with the lingering smell of it on the rug ’til to the ends of time.

You’ve heard the stories of mothers who lift cars to rescue trapped children?  Well the speed at which I can appear at my child’s side – bowl in hand, in the middle of the night – is eerily similar.  If the vomit-dash was an olympic sport, I’d’ve smashed a few WRs this weekend.

Book of vomit?

Why do I vomit? Great subject for a take home reader.

No more boring shopping trips

Going to the supermarket is so boring and expensive – but in the case of gastro, you need only duck out once to stock the house with icypoles, rehydration fluids, antiseptic paraphernalia and paper towel.  After that you can board up the windows, pop on the tele, and wait for the next man to fall.

And while I’m on the subject, who are you kidding with the Glen 20 anyway?  You can cover every surface of the house in that stuff, but you’ll never escape.  Haven’t you watched zombie movies?  A splash in the eye is all it takes (and although the result isn’t quite as immediate, if can often be just as dramatic).

zombie child

Remarkably similar to my experience late Friday night (image Oscar Ocelotl Aguirre)

A Licence to be lazy

When you have gastro, and you’ve splashed the news all over Facebook, you can be assured no-one’s going to be dropping by.  Your friends don’t want to know you (and those who have visited over the last week are wishing to sweet Jesus they hadn’t).

The upside here is that whole family can stay in pyjamas indefinitely.  There’s no need to make the beds or vacuum.  You certainly won’t be welcome at swimming lessons (that’s one weekly argument eliminated).  And come to think of it, there’s no need for makeup or hair washing either  – it’s only going to get vomited on again!

Finally, because you need all the distractions you can get, usual television rules are suspended.  Leave it on all day.

Revel in the snuggle time

Although we love them, children are generally exhausting.  They talk a lot, make a mother-load of mess and ask for food constantly.  They also rarely sit still, which means limited snuggling opportunities.

Gastro brings out the vulnerable side in any child, and for a brief while, you are once again the centre of their universe.  You get to ask sweetly: Can I get you anything possum? or Are you okay little fella? You get to sit up all night and watch Rage, smoothing a little one’s silky hair and uttering sweet nothings to soothe them

Go you earth mother you.

Mealtimes are a breeze with gastro



It sounds like a ridiculous 1950’s ad line, but gastro gives you a rare pardon from one of the most relentless constants in life – mealtimes.  It’s truly amazing the time you find on your hands when no-one wants to eat.

In the land of gastro, dry biscuits or bananas are perfectly acceptable meal offerings (or you can get fancy and take it up a notch with vegemite toast).  This eliminates any need for the usual bargaining and cajoling over vegetables, and puts you permanently in the good books.

Let me share one of my most treasured moments this weekend:  It was the look on my child’s face when they asked for dinner, and I suggested an icy pole.  For an instant, as I tenderly peeled back the paper, and shuffled them back toward the television, I was the coolest mum on earth.

Muffin-top begone

As a dietitian, I’m often asked for quick fix weight loss ideas.  And although I’m loathe to jump on the fasting is so hot right now bandwagon, I’ve got to say:  When it’s unavoidable (and hopefully infrequent) it’s amazing what a few days without food can do for you.

Just think of all the fundraising chocolates you’d’ve scoffed if you weren’t busy mopping up vomit.  Your weary abdominal muscles haven’t seen such a workout since you made that one, ridiculous attempt at body pump.  And ask yourself: when was the last time you went this long without alcohol, coffee or salty food?

Your body loves you right now.  Your liver loves you right now.  And when you finally turn the corner, and sum up the energy to get out of pyjamas and into your jeans again, you’ll notice a bit of extra breathing room.  Well enjoy this gift to you from gastro (you’ve worked hard for it, after all).

And seriously, imagine how good that first glass of wine will taste, when you’re back in ruddy good health…