Author Archives: julielane

Is it just me, or is it practically impossible to keep the weight off during the holidays?

October 31, 2017

The million dollar question.

The answer is simple. Make good choices. Everything in life has to be about balance and moderation. You must exercise self-control. There is no fast track or quick fix here. Yes, I can give you tips on how to drop a dress size in two weeks, but the reality is…you’ll put that weight back on, and possibly even a couple of extra pounds on top of that. Your mindset really has to change. Can you commit to getting, and staying, fit? It’s your choice. It is up to you. With Halloween now just behind us and December quickly approaching, here come all of the delicious temptations…at office parties and school concerts that are filled with mulled wine and mince pies a-plenty, you have to choose. If you choose to indulge in a lovely little treat, then treat yourself to long walk the next day. The point is to move more in the winter as it can feel harder to do. You don’t have to go to the gym every day, and most especially if you feel like you over-indulged on mince pies the day before. Don’t punish yourself in the gym for falling off of your programme – that’s exactly when you fall out of love with exercise. Instead, try to do something you wouldn’t normally do, like a hot yoga class, or a barre class that has a speciality element like HIIT or sculpting. Barre classes seem harmless whilst you are taking them, but you’ll feel the burn over the next 48 hours as they work similarly to Pilates utilising very precise isolated moves used to engage the smallest inner muscles deep within your butt, thighs and tum that help focus on core stability which we love as it helps increase our overall balance.

How to enjoy the parties and stay fit at the same time.

December is the ideal month to socialise, so why not throw a party? That way, you can manage all of the ingredients yourself and ensure they are super healthy as well as tasty and festive. It’s not always about weight or fat loss. December is a great month to keep the status quo. You can enjoy really healthy, amazing dishes as long as you exercise portion control and use a little imagination. One of my favourite brain boosting super antioxidants is resveratrol. It also happens to tie in nicely with the Christmas season as it is found in red wine and cranberries! It is sparsely available in our diets since it is in so few foods, but surely we can whip something up with these amazing ingredients?  See my post from earlier this year on how to throw a fabulous resveratrol party.  I have some recipes I regularly make, so tweet me if you are interested in more.

Enjoy!

 

Is it just me, or is Resveratrol really the ‘Fountain of Youth’?

March 7, 2017

During our winter health and fitness craze, my husband and I have done a few fun dinner parties with healthy-ish themes. Seriously, we will try anything to keep it creative. Our latest: a red wine resveratrol dinner party. And, of course, don’t forget to keep moderation in moderation.

Why resveratrol? Well, it’s the often hyped yet completely under-looked super antioxidant. Here’s why. Thoughts are trans-resveratrol found in the skins of red grapes, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, peanuts, pistachios and even dark chocolate, acts as a major blood flow booster which in turn provides protective support to one’s cardiovascular health – keeping your heart pumping nice and strong. Resveratrol also lowers LDL (low density lipoproteins), the bad type of cholesterol. It is also responsible for cell replication, and being a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, it helps slow down the ageing process. Some have even called it the ‘Fountain of Youth’. We’ll have a cup (or two!) of that.

Here’s how to host your own resveratrol dinner party with maximum resveratrol consumption.

Serve this:

Pre-dinner snacks: Skin on peanuts

Dinner: Lean lamb steaks cooked in a blackberry, blueberry and cranberry sauce served with steamed green beans and toasted sliced pistachios. One of my favourite green bean recipes is from Dr. David Perlmutter’s book GRAIN BRAIN (in the back recipe section with almonds, so just substitute those with pistachios to hit your resveratrol quota). Serve the lamb on a bed of mashed cauliflower and celeriac instead of mashed potatoes, but only if you’re going carb free (as I do being a Type 1 diabetic).  Otherwise, eat the potatoes!

Dessert: Crushed chunks of dark Valrhona chocolate served drizzled with fresh raspberries and crème fraiche.

Drink: Pinot Noir or wine from the St. Laurent region, as both of these varietals are thought to have the highest amounts of resveratrol available.

The entire menu is simple to prepare and utterly delicious. Yum!

Is it just me, or is walking the ultimate secret to getting and staying fit?

March 4, 2017

Oddly, my husband and I generally spend all winter dieting and shedding all the weight we’ve put on during the warmer months. Reverse of what most people do, I think.

Last time, I talked about cold exposure in winter as it actually helps to increase your brown fat stores – the kind of fat you actually want more of on your body as it enables you to burn more fat.  Just like eating avocados!

Weather permitting, winter changing into spring can be a great time to take up long, brisk walks which can also help increase your ‘cold exposure’ and build more brown fat. Try walking to and from work or walking the kids to school. With our smart phones and Fitbits able to track our moves and steps, we can easily clock how far we walk, run, jump or cycle at any point in the day. The 10,000 steps a day recommendation on most tracking devices was esoterically assigned based on the Japanese company who made the pedometer in the 1960s. Recent research has since shown that walking this much every day is a lofty goal for most, but if it gets you up and moving more (which helps get your heart pumping and lowers blood pressure), then why not give it a try? Some folks think anything around 7 to 8 thousand steps a day is sufficient.

Walking is also an easy way to increase your daily activity in small amounts regardless of your fitness level. We spend so much time sedentary in front of our computers each day now that getting in a one hour workout 5 days a week no longer qualifies as an ‘active lifestyle’. If you walk to and from your daily appointments, you can up your activity levels significantly and be considered less sedentary. And, see more of what’s going on in the world around you.

Time to get to know the neighbours a little better and maybe even just commit to getting fit!

Is it just me, or…is leptin a serious player in the overall equation of type 1 diabetes?

January 29 2017

January…thankfully nearly over! The long, dark nights and cold, dark mornings are almost unbearable. But there is a small way to capitalise on this cold, bitter weather to get fitter. As a health conscious t1d (Type 1 diabetic), I am always on the lookout for ways to stay healthy, eat well and keep my body moving.

Loads of new studies are telling us that being cold is actually good for us. Why? Because it enables our brown fat (yes, the other, good kind of fat in our bodies!) to help burn up our unwanted white fat. How do we do this? There are several ways. When we are cold, our brown fat kicks into action and heats up our white fat, essentially burning it off to keep our bodies warm. The colder it is outside, the more calories we will ultimately burn to stay warm. If we can stay outdoors a bit more in this bitterly cold time of year, even if only for a few extra minutes (try walking instead of taking the bus, plus it will warm you up even more), we can increase our fat-burning potential by essentially resetting our leptin resistance. Too good to be true? Maybe yes for the t1d.

Leptin is a blood-borne protein that is now seen as a revolutionary factor in a multitude of ways: most importantly for reducing food intake as it acts as an on/off switch for feeling satiated after eating. It is also critical for activating a second, back-up method to stop overeating. It sends a signal from the liver stimulated by insulin which is then sent to the brain to turn on the ‘off switch’.

However, it doesn’t work in t1ds because they don’t have the insulin to trigger the stimulus. For Type 2 diabetes, the overeating behaviour leading to diabetes can be modified through both motivational and behavioural change models, as it can be controlled by diet and lifestyle changes (however in extreme cases or frequently when people can’t commit to these, medication can be administered to control it). But as a Type 1 diabetic (not behaviourally related), I am curious to see where research might head on this ‘stimulated off switch’ issue as I am always hungry, but have been told for years it’s because I am on insulin (which makes a person hungrier). One might surmise that the insulin I am injecting should trigger the ‘off switch’, but in fact, the more insulin I take, the hungrier I feel.  Or is this problem due to the fact when I take insulin, I regularly hypo and then feel the need to ‘panic eat’ to correct the hypo? I’m not sure I recognise the difference anymore.

Could unlocking the key to leptin be revolutionary for Type 1 diabetics in a multitude of ways? Maybe in time with more research leptin will prove to be the new ‘off switch’ allowing Type 1s the ability to finally feel satiated.

Is it just me, or…press people, can we please specify which type when talking about Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes?

September 13, 2016

Dear Times Editor,

I cringe as I read articles written by Katie Gibbons coming out of the Times about type 2 diabetes lately. In the last 6 weeks there have been 2 articles that have an attention grabbing headline about the ‘fear of getting diabetes’. But what your journalist really means is: ‘getting type 2 diabetes’.

Please would you be so kind as to specify in all future articles that the fear is real for sedentary people with poor diet and exercise regimes, or those from certain ethnic groups, of getting type 2. And what strain the obesity epidemic is putting on the NHS – but not type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes UK has a press guide for distinguishing how to discuss the two very different diseases here: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Documents/News/0399B_Journalists_GuidanceA5_V2_2016.pdf

It’s worth noting those of us living with the autoimmune disorder of type 1 shouldn’t be lumped into the fear mongering – we’re already managing what will be a lifetime with our chronic immune disorder and don’t need any additional stress to raise our cortisol levels. Type 1 is not, nor will it ever be, reversible through ‘diet or exercise’. When Katie Gibbons wrote this morning: “One in ten will have diabetes within 20 years”, what she really meant is 1 in 10 will have type 2 diabetes within 20 years. The underlying message in the article is clearly the problem with sedentary lifestyles and the rising obesity problem due to a hefty dietary reliance on sugar – both in the UK and globally.

But still, the headline should have read: 3.6 million people have type 2 diabetes to clarify the huge difference between the two diseases. The clarity is: #t1d is an autoimmune disease and should be discussed as such in the press when writing about #t2d. It is imperative that the press and general public understand the difference between the two. And that the strain on the NHS Katie references is most likely not coming from the ten percent (roughly 400,000) type 1s. In fact, many type1s I’m in communication with fund many of their own supplies, including the very expensive glucose monitoring flash systems (like the Abbot Freestyle Libre) so we can simply and constantly monitor our blood glucose levels because we’re tired of pricking our fingers 10 times a day and don’t appreciate the bulk of the CGM systems.

Katie’s sentence “People with type 1 diabetes usually develop the condition in childhood and it is not linked to diet, weight or lifestyle habits” really should have read: “People who have type 1 diabetes tend to develop this autoimmune disorder early in life, but very little is known about what environmental factors end up triggering the disease and one can develop it at any time”.

There are still too many unknown factors with regards to what causes a person’s immune system to turn on itself and kill those precious beta cells we need to stay alive. Some current thinking in the science is that antibiotics in our food and those taken for medical reasons directly influence t1d coming on which means to some degree one’s ‘diet’ could be an environmental influencer, obviously not in the same sense as a sedentary path, but specifically from eating meat, milk and eggs that are raised using antibiotics. General thinking still believes that a virus caught at some point brings out the type 1 in a person. The truth is no one knows.

I think we all appreciate the press diabetes is getting, as both types are killers, but and also now with our new PM coping every day with this constant disorder, it would be nice to make sure we’re getting the facts straight and not lumping the two together. Can’t imagine the same mistake would be made about cancer, for example, when discussing prostate versus breast cancer. While there may be similarities amongst the two, they are not the same thing at all.

 

 

Is it just me, or…does T1D need a makeover?

August 21, 2016

So, our new PM has Type 1. As I’ve tweeted before, that’s no body’s business but her own. But, selfishly, I’m kind of glad we’re getting some media attention. Channel 4 did a decent tribute to T1D a few weeks ago. The older I get and the longer I live with Type 1, I’m astounded as to how many people think ALL diabetes is the same.

It’s not the same.

My auto-immune disorder resembles your Type 2 or MODY, but it’s not anything like it in its needs and requirements. It’s Type 1. It requires more testing.  It requires a life-long plan on how to cope with the constant inflammation.

Plus, and for me, a defining differentiator: I didn’t do this to myself.  I was born this way, and then something in the environment, at some point in my life, triggered the Type 1. I’ll never know what exactly it was, but I have several hunches. I took Accutane three times between ages 15-20.  I also had a terrible virus in my early twenties, was it that? My diabetes began presenting around aged 27. But, I was young and presumably healthy, I had no idea that the blurry vision and constant thirst wasn’t just from my marathon training or poor diet and lifestyle. It wasn’t until I was 30 that a doctor called me back in for ‘a touch of sugar’ in my blood.

Recently, at my annual NHS diabetic examination, the nurse asked me to come round to his side of the desk so I could see ‘just how much’ I was costing the NHS annually. After pointing out to this nimrod that I am a taxpayer and also Type 1, I then had to point out that many of the items on my pharmacy refills list were actually REQUIRED to keep me alive, something, frankly, for which I would gladly pay. I was horribly offended, of course, by his sheer ignorance especially being ‘in the business’. My first GP in London kept asking me why I needed so many test strips as he was a Type 2 and didn’t test so frequently. I told him that I tried to conserve, but I generally only tested 5 times a day.  “5 times a day?” was his shocked reply. Yes, that’s right. Every time I eat, I actually need to test to see HOW MUCH insulin is physically required to cover what I am about to eat.

My thoughts on diabetes run long and deep. For the first 5 years of my diagnosis, I was miscast as Type 2. Anyone with half a brain can look back now and see that couldn’t be right. I weighed about 64 kilos and was all muscle. There was no way I had Type 2. But I only know that now based on life experience and all my ‘hands on’ with this disease. I also know that Type 2 is not always caused by being overweight, so please don’t think I’m judging. But, when I walked into the most amazing endocrinologist’s office ever – when I first moved to London – he actually laughed out loud and said: “Julie, it’s so nice to meet you, but you are a Type 1”.  How do you know, I asked? Because I just do, he said looking at my then 60 kilo frame. I never blame anyone for any misdiagnosis or uncertainty here. Back 16 years ago when I got this, adult Type 1 was still pretty rare. But it’s sadly increasing as each year passes. A recent school of thought believes there are microbes we are exposed to that may trigger it. For example, in Finland, their cases of Type 1 are globally off the charts. What’s microbally going on up there that’s not happening in the rest of the world? Others think it’s gut borne and from all the antibiotics we’re getting medically and in our food. Genes also play a large role. For example, if someone in your family has Type 1, you go from a 1/300 chance of getting Type 1 to a 6/100 chance. Big difference.

As far as the numbers go, I hope every day my child doesn’t get this cursed disease. It’s not that it’s a total bother all the time, because you do just learn to get on with it and manage it as best you can. But, that’s so easy for me to say since I got it at age 30 and had lived a pretty crazy and raucous lifestyle before then. I consider myself really lucky. I can’t imagine getting it at the age of 8, like my newly diagnosed niece. That’s your whole childhood high jacked by moderation. And whilst I do believe in moderation and balance, I’m also always the first person to say “everything in moderation, including moderation”.

We recently brought home a hypoglycaemic dog and the stress of worrying whether or not he had diabetes over the next few weeks almost toppled me. What would I do if he hypoed? How would I know? There was even the teensiest part of me that wanted to send him back to the breeder (maybe more than teensy). Just based on the personal stress I know his possible diabetes would cause me and my family. Obviously, I didn’t do that simply because I am diabetic and if anyone can handle it, I can, right? But, man…there was a moment of sheer terror.

With my niece’s diagnosis I realise how much more seriously I have to take my healthcare. Funny, right? Because I have a kid of my own, but it wasn’t until her diagnosis that I totally had a wake up call. I think the remaining part of 2016 for me might look like a crusade to educate the world on Type 1 and to see if we can’t make just a tiny bit more progress toward finding a cure. Diabetes.co.uk recently posted that the average Type 1 requires 1462 shots a year, just to stay alive. I was originally semi-offended about the post, because, as a Type 1, you just have to get on with it. But I later realised they were actually doing their bit to help the rest of you understand just how constant it is to live with diabetes.

As with all things me, let’s throw some money at this problem. I love the JDRF society. No child should have their childhood taken over by constant finger pricking and insulin injections. Btw, if I sound ungrateful about the constant finger pricking and insulin injections that are keeping me alive – I’m not.

It’s just exhausting.

When my niece was diagnosed, I bought an Abbot Lab’s FreeStyle Libre glucose monitor that in nearly 15 days has practically changed my life. In this short amount of time, the meter has clocked so much data, I have a good handle on what my current A1C reading is as well as realising I have been taking too much glargine every night which in hindsight has clearly been causing my super low mornings.

Fellow diabetics, can we please campaign to get the Libre covered under the NHS for Type 1s who have completely higher checking requirements? And, can we also campaign to get the FDA in the USA to even clock this device on its radar so my newly diagnosed 8 year old niece can have some libre – freedom – in her new diabetes lifestyle?

Change is hard. And I personally resist change. But these times, they are a’changing. There is a cure for T1D in my niece’s future. Most people can only change if they want to. But Type 1s have no choice. The only thing we can do is change how the rest of the world perceives this disease.

Fight on!

 

Loving my LIBRE

Loving my LIBRE

 For CJ.

Takers

May 20, 2016

hatecancer

Takers should be considered as bad as haters. Yet, we can hate haters. Let’s also hate takers. Takers, you know, those who make it all about them.
So good, so smooth, so selfish. Take, take, take. Take until there’s nothing left.

And the takers keep taking.
It doesn’t matter how much money you make. What kind of car you drive, how big your house is, what kind of clothes you wear. Whether you are stylish, have a million Instagram followers or use the best face cream known to humankind.
It doesn’t matter if you eat clean, are vegan and don’t Botox.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t smoke, don’t drink or don’t swear.
It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, brown or organic.
It doesn’t matter how much sun cream you’ve applied.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken all of your vitamins.
It doesn’t matter if you are the best parent or child.
It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if you have tried at all.
Because it’s not about you, not at all.

Cancer, the worst goddamnmotherfuckingsonofabitch taker.

It will take over your life and consume you in ways you never thought possible.
It will take your tears and your laughter.
It will take your youth; your golden years.
It will take your sanity, your strength, your will to live.
It will make near strangers bring you casseroles and baked goods.
It will take your poise and your self-esteem.
It will make you want, panic and try.
It will make you hate.
It will turn your life upside down with guilt, sadness, shame, desperation.
It will try to take you, your wife, your husband, your son, your daughter.

Don’t let it. Take it back. Take the taker.
Focus on survival, not destruction.
Let it give you something it can’t take: hope.

For Alice, Bee, Mick, Ty, Suzanne, and Travis. Sometimes problems need money thrown at them. Cancer is one of those problems. Whatever institute or charity you support, throw more money at it. Help my friends. Help yours. There are people in your life right now who have cancer and don’t even know it yet. Help them. Let’s take it back. Get rid of cancer. Find a cure. Help hope survive.   @macmilliancancer, @CR_UK

Is it just me, or…do atheists get a bum rap?

May 3, 2016

It’s hard to say how many people globally do not believe in any sort of deity, but the recent Pew numbers on China claiming over 60% of its population to be atheists seems like substantial support toward more ‘non-believers’ than believers. Also, the lack of practicing devout subjects in this country alone is staggering. When I took my Life in the UK test a few years ago, Brits who actually go to church each week was at an alarmingly low 17%, and at the same time, the BBC reported that atheism or UK citizens who declared themselves ‘of no religion’ was teetering at a high of over 14 million, a number that had more than doubled in the previous ten years.

I do not begrudge any religion or religious person. I am a huge fan of the Dali Lama ( = no choice, born into the role). And yet I can’t say I understand it, because I just don’t understand faith. But some of the people I love and respect the most are seriously devout. More than anything, I love to question them and also, to argue and debate. It’s the stuff of life that is engaging, exploratory and educational.

However, I’ve noted a few disturbing episodes of discrimination against my child lately (‘Mini Me’ is currently self-proclaimed). Both occurred at what is meant to be a non-denom school. Firstly, in a recent classroom lesson, the teacher asked the kids to raise hands if they were Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, etc. When two of the kids didn’t raise hands (one being my daughter), the teacher inquired and they reported they were atheists. My daughter said her teacher looked at her strangely, and then looked ‘disappointed’. For my 6 year old to clock disappointment means the teacher didn’t do much to veil it.

The second instance was during the recent Passover where they served only matzo sandwiches to ALL of the children during the week. When I inquired as to why there was no choice, the reply from the school was it was easier to accommodate the children observing Passover. Fine, but please provide an alternative. Do not literally shove an organised religion’s practices down my kid’s throat. It’s a violation of her civil rights, and probably against several Department for Education codes. But I said nothing. It was one of those “choose your battles” moments and this one seemed, well, unwinnable. God (!) forbid I even go anywhere near it (we have enough problems fitting in being half-American).

Minor as it might seem, the point is a larger one: there was no choice. I don’t want my daughter practicing your traditions – however harmless they may be, unless she chooses to. We are trying to start our own traditions as atheists, whatever that even really means, which is admittedly hard considering I was reared Catholic and my whole family celebrates Easter, Christmas, First Communions, etc. And yes, I want her to be open to new things and explore different foods, cultures, and theories, but…give her the choice however small it may seem.

There are many parts of organized religion I admire. I respect the intent of good deeds and good will, and I admire the structure it can provide to children, families and communities, especially in times of crisis and even more so in the digital age with the intense loneliness it is creating. But there’s also a lot of hypocrisy around religion and the current problem with people actually confusing the second largest religion in the world for something broken (by Western believers?) and sinister. Also, religious holidays seem to cause people more stress than happiness with all the relatives, food and money wasted on things nobody really seems to need (can you imagine how quickly we could end global poverty if we all diverted our Christmas/Hanukkah/Diwali budgets to end hunger?).

These are some of the reasons why starting our own traditions has been difficult. What does Christmas mean if you don’t believe in Christ, is it hypocritical to celebrate it? Easter just becomes a completely pagan, chocolate guzzling holiday. I’m not one of those atheists who does not support religion, even after 12 years of Catholic school. My Dad self-baptized my daughter when she was born and I have no problem with that if it makes him happy. So with our child, my husband (agnostic) and I decided we would take her to church when she was around 2 years old. She loved it, but mostly we think it was for the biscuits at the end. We had a really good pastor at our local C of E and he did a special family mass that was truly inspirational. But then he left and we lost interest. I’ve also made my step-kids go to this same mass because I think teenagers these days need good lessons in managing boredom, and mass is very boring for a teenager. But it also provides a great opportunity to unplug and organise one’s thoughts as well as meet people from the community (not easy to do in London). And in most cases, it also provides the chance to embrace positivity, of which I am a true believer. The power of positive thinking and the whole #PMA movement are right up my alley.

Whilst I do want my daughter to embrace all religions, I want whatever route she chooses to be her choice, not mine, nor anyone else’s and certainly not her school’s.

May the peace be with you.

 

Is it just me, or… do all modern pop songs have to use the F*** word?

April 27, 2016

Whatever happened to decency and intellectualism? As far as I’m aware, Spotify doesn’t ‘do’ parental controls. I’m not a prude, and I’m also not the first parent to complain about this problem, but I am trying to rear my kid with a sense of decency and decorum. Don’t get me wrong, I swear like the granddaughter of a general contractor, but not regularly in front of my child. And I don’t consider it hypocrisy; I consider it maintaining a certain level of appropriateness and setting a good example. Girls still have so few competent role models these days who aren’t taking pretty pictures of themselves on Instagram, as the mom, I have to set the bar as high as possible.

Sure I could hand pick bespoke playlists for my 6 year old, but it seems like a huge waste of my time, especially how quickly songs go up and down the charts. We like to listen to the UK Top 50 chart on Spotify but there are only a handful of current songs we can listen to without me jumping up to fast forward to hopefully the next song that isn’t about making that b**** famous and his N****** in the hood. Trust me, Kayne, you are so gangster already based on your delusions of grandeur.

In some chart songs the edited ‘radio’ version is just as good, if not better than the F-word one. For example, our current favourite song is ‘Cake by the Ocean’ by DNCE. The clean edit is just as good with “let’s go crazy, crazy!” but I can’t find it on Spotify even to download separately. However, after just seeing the video, they are no longer my favourite.  Girls in bikinis having a cake fight, really (is it just me, or is this 2016, seriously guys)?

It almost seems like a requirement for these 20-somethings to use f***-ing in their songs (Zayn comes to mind). Is there no other way to show your desire to have sex with someone? I’ve had my concerns for years about the internet and social media completely affecting the, shall we say, normalcy of today’s teens and twenty-somethings current sexual reference points or realistic sexual understandings, and my fears are realised as sex is directly referenced in so many of these lyrics like that’s all they spend their time doing. Maybe they are so lucky, but when I was in my 20s, I had to complete Uni and then get a job. We had to fit the f***-ing in with the rest of normal life. These kids make it seem like f***-ing all day is their normal life.

And sure, with the F-word being just about every part of speech, of course it’s not always used to reference sex. Wouldn’t it be a lark NOT to use swear words in your pop songs and try to put out both an enjoyable and decent album? Like it or not, as artists, you are role models to adults and children. A friend of mine took her 7 year old (who is totally in love with 1D) to a 1D concert and spent the night covering her little girl’s ears because one member spent the entire concert swearing at the audience. Classy. My daughter saw this same pop star on a talk show and said, “Mommy, why does that boy touch his hair so much?” My guess is he thinks he’ll score that much more by doing it. He has no other obvious talents.

I’m sure a lot of moms would thank you big, creative pop stars for considering your youngest fans, and ensuring that your music is properly represented –edited and not – across all the channels to which you license it. It’s time to make Spotify clean up its act.

 

Is it just me, or…are the British strangely in denial of how gross head lice really are?

April 19, 2016

OK, call me an American snob, but I do NOT think it is ‘normal’ for kids to run around with bugs in their hair. I’m from California and much more of a crunchy tree hugger than most, but even I didn’t grow up thinking it was okay to have bugs running amok on my head. The one kid I ever knew who did have lice was literally shamed out of most social circles. Not kidding. I’d like to think the stigma for head lice has evolved a bit, but I’m not sure it has and whilst I, myself, am no longer afraid of head lice, I do harbour resentment toward those who aren’t educated about how to treat the problem and continue to let their kids spread it around.

When my daughter started nursery three and a half years ago about a month in there was a notice, very nonchalantly, put up outside the door stating simply: ‘Nits in the Nursery’. I’d never heard this term before, so I had to ask the headmaster what it meant and he, incorrectly, told me that nits were head lice and that I needed to check my daughter’s head that night. I had her coat in my hand which I was just about to put on the shared coat peg and asked him if they transmitted via coats. He also incorrectly told me ‘no’.

Well, I’ve never made that mistake again. The majority of British adults I speak with about head lice call them ‘nits’ and appear either ill informed or disinterested about head lice facts, their life cycles, and how they spread. What happened from our first exposure to head lice I since perceive as years of hell trying to prevent catching them whilst talking to other parents about how to treat them when their kids were the culprit spreaders. We made it nearly 2 more years before I was doing our weekly routine head check (except I had mistakenly skipped a week when there had been a case of lice in the class, and admittedly I had no idea what to look for) when I found the ever dreaded moving needle in the haystack. But by then I was actually prepared. A like-minded good friend of mine had just suffered through an extreme head lice outbreak with her kid and I had helped her prepare a mini brochure (see a theme going on here) for her daughter’s class. I then found Hairforce – lice assassins! and treated the whole family to a professional head check. Well worth the money spent, plus the owner Dee, is a wealth of information on how to treat and prevent one from ever getting lice again. She’s also a believer in the emotional damage that having lice causes – much more so than most adults suspect.

When any of my American friends with primary aged children move to London, they cannot get their heads around the lack of local concern for the head lice problem. Whilst I no longer need a pint glass of G&T when we have kids in the house with lice (I can spot them a mile away – it’s mostly the double-fisted scratching of the head that tips me off), I still don’t understand why British people seem un-phased by this problem not to mention total time suck. I’ve had some of the school moms call me neurotic. Yes, I guess I am neurotic if that means I don’t want a communicable disease. Have you ever heard of scabies? Some call them body lice, but they are body mites and classified as a STD. Shouldn’t head lice be classified in a similar, noteworthy vein as they, too, are highly communicable? Policy says you have to keep your kid at home until it is treated, and by that they mean a dose of chemicals and wham, back into the classroom. We wouldn’t put up with a scabies outbreak in our kids’ classrooms, or even fleas on on our pets, so why is it okay to return your kid back (often same day) with a potential 7-11 day egg cycle festering on his head? Another British mom I know says when she finds them in her kids’ hair, she just flicks them onto the floor. Sounds pretty hygienic, doesn’t it?

And please don’t try to tell me ‘lice prefer clean hair’. Whoever made that one up clearly had a bad case of lice and then passed around this tid bit out of embarrassment and for some weird reason all the rest of us have held onto it as the new urban legend. Scientifically, lice do not PREFER clean hair. They prefer ANY hair. And if you are regularly involved in say washing and bathing your child, then you would spot a head lice problem. They are not that small. One boy we know has an ongoing problem and it’s easy to see why. He has what can only be described as unkempt and unwashed tresses. No way that the lice comb is going through his hair twice weekly or even once a term. To manage them in British preschools, you have to comb out the hair, comb it out and comb it out again.

Needless to say, we haven’t had lice again. Oh sure, I’ve combed out a random bug here and there, but I check twice a week now – religiously – because it only takes one female. This particular primary school seemed to have a wide spread problem with repeat offenders (my experience says it’s generally the same families who either don’t believe lice is preventable or don’t comb out that exacerbate the problem) so in tandem with one of my British girlfriends (interestingly, she was reared abroad!), we crafted a detailed pamphlet on how to manage, treat and prevent head lice. We also found a pharmaceutical company who was in the process of creating a ‘better than Hedrin’ topical treatment (which incidentally, I don’t necessarily support since combing with a metal comb is all that is needed) boasting 30 minutes on the head, rather than the standard 8 hour overnight treatment. This company was ever-so-willing to come into the school and educate the students, staff and parents on the ‘what’s and how’s’ of head lice management. My daughter still talks about it as they brought in a terrarium filled with hair that was infested with lice! Too cool in a disgusting way for a 5 year old, and just the right amount of memorable to know you don’t want those on your head!

However, I still get discouraged when we have play dates or classmates who seem to have ongoing head lice especially when the parents insist that ‘there’s just nothing you can do’ and that it’s not their fault that little ‘so and so’ at school always has them, so it’s inevitable that their kid will as well. Not True. Lice is in fact treatable. It just takes time. If you know of someone at school who has continuous lice, then it’s your responsibility to tell the headmaster/mistress because lice can also be a problem of parental neglect. When my daughter had her lice outbreak, I combed out just over 20 bugs. Dee at the Hairforce said that was a lot, but some people come in with 250 live bugs in their hair. So, if your kid has double digit live bugs in his hair, consider how much time you’ve been giving your kid lately, or consider that your combing technique is really bad. You can see this many bugs with the naked eye. Another friend of mine is a GP and her daughter got an ongoing case that she didn’t notice until she finally saw nits (the hatched and abandoned egg sacks – and NOT the technical term for a head lice outbreak) growing out half way down her very long Rapunzel-esque tresses. She herself admitted neglect as she was going through a very bitter divorce at the time and had not in fact been paying enough attention to her child. If you haven’t been neglectful and are super fastidious and just can’t seem to fight the lice problem, it’s because you aren’t combing correctly with a metal nit comb. There are many great ‘how to’ videos out there on YouTube, linked here to a particularly well explained combing method. And there’s no shame in admitting defeat and calling The Hairforce, they do this for a living and guarantee 100% results.

I know this rant seems judgmental, because it is. And because every time you fail to comb out your kid’s lice infested hair and then send them to school or my house, you create a 72 hour lock down at our house and a total laundry nightmare. Everything soft has to be bagged so the lice will suffocate and everything washable has to go in at 60 degrees or above. We are not interested in losing 3 days of our lives because you can’t take the time to comb out your kid’s head. Just comb it out folks, twice a week. That’s all I’m asking.

For a copy of my detailed ‘treat and prevent head lice’ brochure, email me. And, Nitty Gritty sells a lovely metal lice comb for around £9.