The Chemist Con

Believe it or not, there used to be a time when young children were allowed to walk to school by themselves. Thank goodness all the parents of the world came to their senses and stopped this highly dangerous activity.

When I say ‘highly dangerous’, I’m not talking about the risk that a child might be snatched while dawdling through the local park. I’m not even talking about the fact the poor kid might be flattened by a semi-trailer. No, there is something far more sinister that lurks in the local community: it’s called the ice cream shop.

It’s not just any ice cream shop either. Just like a kidnapper pretends to be your friend before they club you over the head, this ice cream shop tricks you into thinking that it is good for you, that it is healthier than all the other ice cream sellers. It pretends to be a chemist.

When I was little, a chemist was the place I went to get well. It was the place where things were made better. Whether it was scratches, punches or a brother’s bite to the neck, the chemist was the wonderful giant medicine cabinet that made all those ouchies go away. So it was only natural that when feeling sad, I would stop there on my way to school and scoff a triple choc sundae.

The problem is that whilst vitamins, medicines and Band-Aids do help you feel better, daily ice creams make your teeth rot. But when you are seven-years-old and losing a tooth is a daily occurrence, the last thing you're worried about are cavities.

My poor mum probably thought she was doing me a favour by encouraging me to walk to school. “Go out into the sunshine, get some fresh air,” she’d say. Little did she know that once outside, I’d make a beeline straight for the cavernous chemist, which had poor ventilation and smelt of old hand cream.

I’m sure that if the health experts tracked the obesity epidemic on a chart, they would find a sharp increase in numbers around the time doctors were encouraging families to walk more for their hearts.

Luckily, society has gone into overprotective mode since then, so that children don’t stand a chance at making themselves ill, the way I did. But still, it’s important to know that just because a chemist sells ice cream, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.


Text © Jessica Rosman 2015


Grade A Idiot

It’s a wonder I have any teeth at all, considering I snacked my way through primary school. You might be wondering how I was able to do this, considering there were thirty or more children just waiting to snitch on me in class.

The answer is pockets, lots and lots of pockets.

It’s no coincidence that most candy bars and lolly bags are the exact size of a child’s pocket. It would have only taken one marketing executive with the brain the size of an M&M to work out that the most profitable product placement for any confectionary item was inside a child’s school uniform.

I may sound cynical now but trust me, as a child, I was blissfully unaware that by storing half-melted treats in my pocket, I was buying into one of the oldest confectionary scams in the book.

I crunched and crackled my way through every class, thinking I must be extra bright to have tricked my teachers for so long. I assumed they just thought I was the quiet, contemplative type; little did they know that I was unable to speak due to the fact I was harbouring a small platoon of chocolate soldiers inside my mouth.

Perhaps it was because I was only six-years-old at the time, or perhaps the sugar had already eroded large chunks of my brain, whatever the case, I had somehow convinced myself of this completely unfounded fact: if my mouth was closed when I was crunching lollies, no one would be able to hear me eating.

In any case, my little candy-munching scheme was brought to an end one afternoon when the teacher put down her book and said, “Could Miss Jessica Thompson please spit out whatever she is eating so that we might have a chance at hearing the words in this book.”

I’d been caught out and completely humiliated in front of the whole class! My cheeks, stuffed to the flaps with sugary cough drops, burned with shame.

I don’t remember snacking on so much candy during class after that, which is probably the reason I don’t have dentures now.

Anyway, it’s just another reason why being a sugar fiend can ruin your life, or at the very least, your dignity.

Text © Jessica Rosman 2015

Bag Head

Have you ever seen those little mounds that soldier crabs make on the beach at low tide? Well, if you can imagine them making those same gritty globules all over my face, you will have a good idea of how I looked at fourteen.

The most distressing part of having horrendously ugly skin was not the fact that my face resembled something that had just come out of a Dominoes’ pizza oven, or that I was forced to sleep with fifteen blackhead strips plastered to my face every night. It was the fact that, in the eyes of the opposite sex, my head was the equivalent of a badly battered apple; I was destined to be left on the shelf to rot.

Fast forward a few years of wearing a paper bag over my head to every house party, and we get to a moment in class that changed my life. Instead of receiving a lesson on periodic tables, I had a lesson on pimple-free skin.

It happened when a new school friend leaned over my desk and keenly inspected the many lumps and bumps on my face. She concluded that the only way I could ever confidently step out in public was if I took a tissue salt supplement known as Comb D. (She also suggested I reduce my daily intake of jelly frogs.)

Two weeks later, much to the shock of close friends and family, I had a face again. A frog-free diet combined with those miraculous Comb D tablets worked! I still had pimples, but they came and went like a shooting star, as opposed to a heavily clustered galaxy that just spiralled out of control.

The thing about having terrible pimples is that you kind of let the rest of your body go too. I mean, why make an effort if your skin refuses to come to the party? So once my skin flattened out like a freshly paved road, I decided there were some other ways to improve my appearance.

Here’s what I did:

  • I stopped viewing my daily walk to the front door as the perfect form of exercise.
  • I realised that two blueberry Pop-Tarts each morning would not give me my RDI of fruit.
  • I reduced my daily quota of hair spray, so that my locks no longer sat glued to my head like a tightly fitted swim cap.

With those simple changes I felt I was on my way to great things! And the only need I had for a paper bag was as a place to store my multi-grain sandwiches.


Text © Jessica Rosman 2015

Donut Queen

When I was thirteen I wanted nothing more than to fit in and be accepted by my fellow peers. This proved kind of challenging, since I was a head taller than most of the girls in my grade. Luckily, there were other ways to fit in, like cramming my gob with junk food.

So given I had just changed homes, schools and friendship groups, I did what every teenager does when they need to buy a few friends: I took a job at Donut King.

It felt good to be the centre of attention. After school I would change into a bright pink hat and pink and white uniform and stand under hypnotic spotlights in the middle of the shopping mall, serving up processed snacks and deep-fried lard.

I made friends overnight.

Even my big brother paid more attention to me. Instead of looking at me like I was some kind of deformed kitten, he started to embrace my presence of an afternoon, especially when my schoolbag was loaded up with the day’s unsold donuts.

For once in my life I was popular and I didn’t care in the slightest that I had just sold my soul to the junk food devil.

Fortunately for my soul, I was completely inept at the job and it wasn’t long before the manager discovered I had no cashier skills whatsoever. The Donut Queen had no choice but to hand in her crown.

Funnily enough I didn’t care about the money or the job, I cared about losing friends because I was no longer ‘that girl with the free donuts’. I was just ‘that girl who used to have free donuts’.

When you are a teenager, there’s a lot of pressure to eat crap. Cooking up some mung beans and vegetables is not the way to improve your social status. Little do you know that by eating processed garbage in an attempt to make new friends, means you are inadvertently making enemies with your gut and by the time you reach ‘adulthood’ you will be forced to go on a decade long fast if you want any hope of making it up to your tired, swollen body.

The best thing you can do is take a leaf out of my book and quit while you are ahead.  There are worse problems in life than trying to find new friends - try and find a new pancreas for example.

Text © Jessica Rosman 2015

Divorcing Junk Food

You want the ugly truth? I wasn’t always the model of health that I am today. I didn’t fly out of my mother’s womb wearing a giant fruit hat and a pink and green apron. I never pranced around my living room as an over-active four-year-old shouting that every child should eat more fruit and vegetables. I’m sure that even as a teenager I couldn’t name many types of apples.

The simple fact is that when I was about eight, my parents divorced and my two brothers and I took to drowning our sorrows in junk food. It was the early nineties and the ‘all you can eat’ buffet was a booming business for most family restaurants. Every weekend and some weeknights, my dad would scoop us up like we were a couple of wet rags left on the carpet, and take us to a colourful restaurant that had loud music and an endless supply of soft serve ice cream. This was how I got through the huge anxiety associated with a family break-up. The sugar was there for me and I was there for it.

Little did I know that I was creating a nasty addiction that would only lead to suffering and ill-health. But it gave me comfort at an extremely vulnerable period in my life. The creepiest part is that I began to associate junk food with healing.

The problem with emotional food binging is that it gives you a very short-lived high. You feel really good for a very short time and then you feel really crappy. Whenever I felt the urge to tear my hair out in life, I immediately binged on the bad food.

Here are some of those tearing-hair-out moments:

  • Parents sit me down and tell me that we will no longer all be living in the same house.
  • Dad announces he is moving to the other side of the country and I can choose to live with either him or mum (the distance being around 4,000 kilometres).
  • Both parents re-marry. 

By the time I reached my mid-twenties, I had experienced a lot more tearing-hair-out moments and it’s safe to say I didn’t cope well with them. As a result, I had done a lot of binging and I was an emotional wreck. I was also a little overweight and constantly tired because my poor little adrenals were burnt out.

Instead of continuing the cycle, I starting doing something that I love to do: I started to read. I read day and night about health, squeezing as much information into my head as possible. One of the books that changed my life was The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford. Reading this book made me realise that a healthy diet coupled with a good amount of exercise, equips you with the tools you need for all those tearing-hair-out moments. You may even end up with more hair.

So I gave my pantry an overhaul, banishing biscuits, lollies and sugared snacks from my home as if they were troublemakers looking to start a fight.

Within a matter of weeks I was waking up with so much clarity and focus that people wondered if I had undergone a brain transplant.

My only regret is that I didn’t binge on healthy eating books sooner.

Text © Jessica Rosman 2015

The Laughing Maniac

Hi, I’m Jess and I am a recovering sugarholic.

That’s what I would say if there ever was a Sugarholics Anonymous. Perhaps in the future there will be. Perhaps in the future there will be pale, sickly individuals who congregate in the basement of their local health-food shop to talk about their highly unwise dietary choices, the way I am going to do now.

I guess I knew that I first had a problem when the Creative Director of an advertising agency I worked at, told me that in the two years he’d known me, he had never understood a word I’d said. Instead of talking clearly like a normal human being, I had laughed and giggled my way through presentations, spluttering out the odd word here and there.

On reflection I’d say that was partly due to nerves. “So you (ha ha) want some (ha ha ha) award-winning ideas (ha)?”

It goes without saying that I was retrenched shortly after. But like all big changes in life, this one came with a wonderful silver lining: I finally had time to sort out my health.

The first thing I did was give up refined sugar. Why sugar specifically? With all the free time on my hands, it was just me, myself and I and it became clear to all of us, that I was a moody cow.

So I started reading books and discovered that too much refined sugar in the diet can put huge stress on the body (cross to intelligent chart on the right), leading to many of the emotional and physical symptoms that I suffered from.

There were tears. There was denial. There were times when I needed a straitjacket to stop me from picking up sugar-laden favourites in the supermarket. But I pulled through and overtime the cravings stopped. The incessant laughing stopped too.

Other happy extras (which you won't find on a chart):

  • I stopped needing nanna naps.
  • I discovered my boyfriend was not a nasty evil man after all.
  • I lost my muffin-top.
  • I stopped housing the kind of bacteria that throw loud and boisterous parties inside my gut.

Oh and there was another wonderful thing that happened as a result of cleaning up my diet. I wrote some books that encourage children to eat more fruit and vegetables. And after years of only ever wanting to be a published author, I became one.

A nice ending to a horrible diet.

text (c) jessica rosman 2015