The perils of the checkout

As I sit to write the boys are in the bath, happily playing after a pretty big day. They attended a seven-year-old birthday party where the weather was sunny and beautiful and they ran around with all their mates at the nature playground. When we departed the boys were given their token party bag, which they clutched with glee despite my repeated words that they were not to open it until we were in the car. The minute they were locked and loaded in their car seats, they began to devour the mix of lollies and sweets in their bag, wrestling with wrappers and trading for their favourites. Needless to say, that afternoon they were sugar-crazed and rambunctious. I was exhausted. It was only when they were tucked into bed that they finally began to come out of the sugar haze that had ruled the day.
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In general, the boys are healthy eaters. Their school lunches are filled with corn, carrots, apples, and watermelon. They do eat biscuits and cakes, but in moderation. We talk about ‘always’ foods like fruit and veg, ‘sometimes’ foods like chocolate and lollies and those ‘rarely’ foods like Twisties! I am not the mother who makes them green smoothies and spirulina shakes, but I can whip up a pretty mean beetroot cake and zucchini slice. We eat dinner together as a family most evenings, something that numerous researchers and academics say is a predictor of kids staying out of trouble and succeeding later in life.

I will say one activity that can be challenging is getting in and out of the grocery store without a heap of rubbish making it into the trolley. I love that many of the larger shops have now placed baskets of free fruit, like apples and bananas, at the entrance and I admit when my four-year-old Jack and I enter we often take two or three! I go in with a list and a plan. I try to linger in the fresh produce section, exploring the various types of fruit and veg, trying samples, and pointing out new and unique vegetables that we have never seen before. I also try to skip the aisles with chocolate, chips, and cookies and divert the gaze of the children when passing packages of tiny teddies and other confectionary items. It’s not easy, but the greatest challenge lies before us at the checkout.

Shop fruit and vege

When we have finally crossed everything off our list and we approach the checkout I pray that we whiz on through without having to linger there for long. When we do get caught there is often a chorus of “may I have this?” and “can we get that?” as the boys are faced with lollies, sweets, and soft drinks. Of course, all of these items are strategically placed perfectly at their eye level.

Rather than letting this stress me out, I use it as an opportunity to talk about the importance of healthy eating, things that are naturally sweet, and the ingredients in food and non-food (those things filled with numbers and emulsifiers). We talk about how tempting it can be but how we really don’t need any of the things that we see. I can see other adults or parents giggling or even listening, but I know they too have been faced with these perils. It’s a challenge, but one that we often rise to and I celebrate every time we make it through without something extra.

I have seen that there is a new wave of stores that are lining the checkout with fresh fruit and veg or basics for cooking that we often forget as we wander through the aisles of the grocery store. How wonderful this is, and could be, to have your children ask for an apple or some grapes as you wait to pay rather than a chocolate bar or fruit tingles. It’s slowly catching on and hopefully, will become the norm someday. Until then, I will continue to have some strategies in place every time we go to the shops and keep the faith that we can make it out alive!

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WA diabetes advocate on the world stage.

From humble beginnings to WA Young Leader for Diabetes, this is Tammy’s story.

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Diabetes WA ambassador Tammy Moran.

“I grew up on a sheep and grain farm with my parents and three older sisters in a small country town called Dumbleyung. My diagnosis was a game changer; my parents had minimal knowledge of the condition and my sisters and I had never heard of it. The nearest large hospital was in Narrogin, an hour drive away, and I only had access to rural diabetes clinics once every three months. As a child, I didn’t make close friends with the other children at the diabetes clinics because they were older than me and I started to feel quite alone.

My involvement with the diabetes community occurred three years ago when I started my Preventive Health degree at The University of Notre Dame. I started practicum work with Diabetes WA by attending camps and attending any relevant seminars being held so I could learn more and place my name out there in the diabetes world. I attended two camps, sailed on the Leeuwin sailing ship, participated in the HBF Fun Run, Fremantle Half Marathon & 5km Fun Run and spoke at a diabetes and mental health awareness seminar. My involvement led to my successful nomination as the WA Young Leader for Diabetes and, from this, I automatically became a part of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Young Leaders Program and was given the opportunity to attend the Young Leaders Training and IDF’s World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver.

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Tammy is a passionate advocate for people with diabetes!

My first week consisted of the IDF’s Young Leader training. We were taught who everyone was, their countries, their regions, their burdens, their achievements, the type of diabetes they have, their story and how the government in their home country handles diabetes. Unfortunately, I learnt that there are systemic hardships placed on individuals living with diabetes in many nations around the world.

In regards to the Australian government, they are doing an incredible job but there are still some sectors that need to be worked on. However I have now come to realise that if a problem occurs or, in particular cases such as a death, the public is very quick to act and bring it to the attention of people who need to change policies. The Australian diabetes community is extremely fortunate that most of the diabetes supplies are heavily subsidised with the exception of Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM), which at present is going through parliament to be re-evaluated. The technology and research here is some of the best in the world and we must remember how incredibly privileged we are to live in a country that goes above and beyond in keeping us alive. Another sector which needs to be looked into is that of new glucose monitors. There are a vast amount of monitors accessible throughout the UK and Europe and we do not have them.

Through my participation in the Young Leader training I learnt about incredible organisations and campaigns like insulin4all, t1international, Spare a Rose campaign, Diathlete, DASH and Life for a Child. The work is being delivered by normal everyday people who work exceptionally hard to improve the lives of children, adolescents and adults with this condition. More awareness is required for these organisations.

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The International Diabetes Federation Young Leaders in Diabetes council!

I met young leaders that work in their country’s parliament – young people who, at their age, have more energy and passion than an entire room full of government officials wanting a pay increase. There were leaders with Facebook pages that I have been following for years and have now had the surreal opportunity to meet, and others who have developed their own forums, blogs, organisations, companies, camps, seminars and safe meeting zones. These young leaders, aged 18 – 30, have overcome so many obstacles in their lives while encumbered with this condition and are pushing the boundaries in a really positive way.

The Congress, for me, was incredible! It was amazing to have thousands of people in one venue who are so passionate and knowledgeable about this one cause. I attended numerous seminars and also sat in on the closing speech of past IDF President Sir Michael Hirst and the opening speech of the new IDF President Dr Shaukat Sadikot.

The best part for me was having the opportunity to meet people such as Greg Johnson, Diabetes Australia CEO, The Hon Judi Moylan, Independent President and Board Chair of Diabetes Australia, and Guy Barnett, Liberal Party member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly. I also spoke to Tom Boyer, the USA Director of Government Affairs. Other highlights included delivering a speech at the Partners Dinner in front of 200 people, being part of the Opening Ceremony for IDF World Congress and being elected the Regional Chair Elect for the Western Pacific Region.

I have come from humble beginnings and am now the WA Young Leader for Diabetes, the Regional Chair Elect for the Western Pacific Region, as well working in the diabetes field every day. Life can change, and it can take some time but it will happen – you just have to put in the hard work and commitment.”

Learn more:

Check out Tammy’s World Diabetes Day ‘I wish people knew…’ video. Click here.

Hear more from Tammy in the upcoming edition of our member magazine Diabetes Matters. Become a Diabetes WA member.

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Tammy is a Diabetes Project Officer at One Healthy Community.