Tag Archives: animals

‘Avoid fruit and nuts. You are what you eat.’ Jim Davis.

Although I do still partake of the odd nut or two (love me some macadamias) I realised this week that it is almost a year now since I touched a piece of fruit.  I was never a big fruit eater to begin with (although I don’t recall ever turning down a slice of apple pie or a rhubarb tart) but since I started following a ketogenic lifestyle the world of fruit has become virtually non-existent for me.

But ‘why? why?’ you might ask.  ‘Fruit is good for us—right?’  Well, yes . . . and no . . .

For those of you who have never heard of ketogenics (which, for the record, excludes anyone within earshot of me) here’s my understanding of it (vastly oversimplified, and should NOT be considered medical advice).  The human body uses three energy sources to keep it moving: carbohydrates (sugars and starches), protein and fats.  We will also burn through those energy sources in that order.  (Your body will always burn the carbs first and the fat last.)  The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet which involves drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake while at the same time replacing it with foods high in fat.  This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.  When this happens, your body, having no sugar left to burn is forced to burn the fat.

(Eat fat to lose fat?  Sounds crazy right?  I thought so too.  But I gave it a go and a year later I’m fitter, healthier and slimmer than I have ever been.  All I can say is—don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it . . . )

How do you drastically cut down on carbs?  It’s surprisingly easy when you know the rules (click here for more info if you’re interested and hear from the real experts)—but the one thing that does seem to horrify people most (apart from telling people they should be eating MORE fat of course) is when I tell them they should be careful about their fruit intake.  Why?  Because most fruits contain a surprising amount of carbs, mostly in the form of sugar.   For instance, a medium-sized apple (150 grams) may contain as much as 18 grams of carbs, which is almost a full day’s allowance of carbs if you are eating strictly ketogenic (keeping under 20gms of carbs per day).

(Disclaimer:  Before I start to sound all holier-than-thou I am decidedly NOT strictly ketogenic!! I adhere to the ‘lazy-keto’ lifestyle and try to stay under 50gms of carbs a day.  One must always leave room for a little dark chocolate and a sneaky drop of red at the end of a long day.  Priorities, people—priorities!)

And I admit I feel slightly vindicated this week after reading a story which would seem to indicate that eating too much fruit is not only a problem for people.  An article in the Melbourne Age outlined the effect fruit-heavy diets were also having on some of the animals at Melbourne zoo.

Animals like fruit for the same reasons we do (it’s sweet and it tastes good) and so many animals (especially primates) will selectively choose to eat the fruit in the meals they are given and simply ignore the rest.  This has become such an issue that zookeepers have apparently had to wean their animals off fruit because it has been making them fat and rotting their teeth!   Dr Michael Lynch, the zoo’s head vet stated, “The issue is that cultivated fruits have been genetically modified to be much higher in sugar content than their natural, ancestral fruits.”  Because of this the zoo has now switched their animals’ diets towards leafy green vegetables and pellets packed with vitamins and minerals.  Zoo photos of meal times with monkeys enjoying bananas may soon be a thing of the past.

Now before all the fruit growers of the world (or any other avid fruit-lover for that matter) get ready to come after me with their big sticks, I am not saying that no-one (man or beast) should ever eat fruit again.  All I am saying is we should perhaps be slightly more selective about the type of fruit we eat—and how much of it we eat.  Sugar is a sneaky bastard.  He’ll get inside you anyway he can . . .


Posted by on October 12, 2018 in Uncategorized


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‘As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.’ Calvin.

drawing on wallI have recently taken up sketching again, and I find I’m really enjoying it.   Do I sound surprised?  Well, I am a bit, considering my history with it . . .

Sketching and drawing is something I have done on and off for years—but mostly off.  Oh, I have been full of good intentions. My ‘second bedroom/office/spare-room’ is jam-packed with drawers full of sketch pads, coloured pencils, water-colour pencils, pastel-pencils, pens, charcoals, paints, inks, and paintbrushes of every size and shape imaginable.  You name it—I have it.  Most of it in ‘mint’ condition.

I also have stacks of beautiful ‘arty’ books.  Books on ‘How To‘.  How to paint water colour flowers, how to draw dogs, how to make stained glass windows, how to make your own jewellery, how to use pastels / paints / charcoal . . .   Some of these books have barely been opened.

procrastinationEvery now and again I go into that room and start to wade through all the arty paraphernalia and I come over all excited about getting ‘creative’ again.  ‘I must have a go a that . . . oh wow, I’d forgotten that, that’s cool. . . ‘  And I’ll decide to start, and get everything out that I need and organise it all (because it really needs to be organised)—and then I’ll sit and look at it for a while . . . and a while longer . . .  and then I’ll think ‘Maybe I should just go and do that bit of hoovering before I forget’  . . . or ‘perhaps I’ll just clear away the weeds in that back corner of the garden’ . . . or ‘I might just go and make a cup of tea before I start’  . . .  and before I know it everything is back in its box again and several months will have gone by and I won’t even have looked in that room again. Sigh.

Of course, getting started is always the hardest part.  I mean really getting started—not just getting the stuff out and arranging it all neatly on the desk.  In that respect it’s the same as writing—it’s all about getting that first line down (pen hovering tremulously over that lovely clean white page . . . )

ArtistBut this time I have given myself a bit of a head start.  I have company.  I enrolled in an on-line class through a fabulous site (Sketchbook Skool) I came across, quite by accident when I was looking for something completely different (don’t you just love when that happens?)  The ‘Skool’ is run by Danny Gregory and it looked like a really fun place to play so, on a whim, I enrolled in the six-week ‘Beginning’ class.

The first week of the course was all introductory.  Introducing us to the artists and teachers and the other students on the course. The artists shared their own work with us and told us what ‘sketchbooking’ was all about, what materials we needed, what to buy and what not to buy etc. (‘what-not-to-buy’—who am I kidding?—just another reason to go out shopping as far as I am concerned, even though I already had everything I needed to start.)

Weeks 2 and 3 were all about ‘outdoor sketching’.  It was lovely to watch the videos of the artists/teachers ‘doing their thing’.  Sketching in a park in Holland.  Or along the banks of the river in Goa, India.  And they made it look so easy.  (That should have been my first warning.)

womanhikingMy ‘homework’ was to take myself and my sketchbook outdoors and spend some time drawing whatever took my fancy.  Really?  I suppose I should have guessed this was coming but I am not a very ‘outdoorsy’ person.  (My idea of spending time out of doors is sitting in an alfresco coffee shop, hopefully under an umbrella.)  But I signed up for this with the full intention of giving it a proper go, so okay then.  I packed up my little bag, with my sketchbook and pen and travel pack of watercolours, put my sunnies and hat on (not forgetting to slather myself in sunscreen and bug spray), and wandered over to the park (which is only at the bottom of my street, so it isn’t as if I had a long way to go).

Long story short—total crap out.  First I couldn’t find anything I wanted (or thought I could) draw. Then, when I finally found a spot, I realised it would have been handy to actually have brought my specs with me.  Up until now I have only ever used my glasses for computer work or reading, but although I could see what I was wanting to draw perfectly well—the page I was drawing on, not so much.  Mmmm.

too hotAnd it was so hot.  My sunnies kept sliding off my nose, which gave me the irrits. And the sun was supernova-bright so I found myself squinting so hard I gave myself a headache in no time at all.  And people kept stopping to chat to me. Normally I would be quite happy about that, but I was already proper-grumpy, and I wasn’t getting any drawing done, as it also appears I can’t draw and chat at the same time (not yet anyway).  Mutter.  Mutter.  %^*$#.  Eventually I just gave up and went home—all hot and bothered and in a huff.

(That same week several American students also had ‘outdoor’ issues, but for entirely different reasons—they couldn’t leave their homes at all because of blizzard conditions . . . and there was me, bitching about the sun shining . . .)

But I persevered with the course.  The next week we had classes on using mixed media in our sketchbooks which was a lot of fun (and, in my case, very messy).

Week 5 was about drawing animals.  ‘Beauty’, I thought.  I’d always fancied being able to draw my dogs. posing petsThe artist leading this class Roz Stendahl, is a graphic designer and illustrator, as well as a teacher.  Because most animals are constantly on the move and not inclined to sit and ‘pose’ for long periods of time, Roz suggested we go to our local ‘natural history museum’ to practice drawing stuffed and displayed animals before we started trying to draw live animals.  This would have been great except that I think the nearest natural history museum is probably about 500kms from where I live . . .

Failing that, she said, practise drawing your sleeping pets.  Sleeping pets—yes—I can do that.  My girls can always to be found sleeping somewhere about the house.  It’s a well-loved pastime. So I waited until we were all calm and tired after our walk, and the girls were all snoring happily in their favourite spots around the living room, and I very carefully (no sudden movements) sat in my comfy chair with my pen and pad at the ready, looked up and—there they all were—all three of them, wide awake and lined up in front of me—’ Watcha doing, mum?’  Seriously?

And all too soon it was the last week of the course, but, for me, it was the best week yet.  The artist/teacher was Tommy Kane and the whole week was about ‘slowing down’. Spending 3 hours on a sketch instead of 15 minutes. Really noticing what you were drawing.  It was all about the detail.  And I loved it.  This was much more my style, slow and steady.  And homework this week was to spend at least 3-4 hours sketching my kitchen.  (Yay—coffee at my elbow, fridge close by, air conditioner on . . . )  I could have spent all day drawing my kitchen.  In fact, I think I did.

drawingSo the last six weeks have gone by in a flash and this course is finishedbut it’s not all over.  I’ve enrolled in the next one (‘Stretching’) which starts tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to what I will learn next. Because In the last six weeks I’ve learned a lot.  Not just about drawing and sketching, but about myself too.

That in itself was worth the price of the course . . .


Posted by on February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized


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