The Purple Fig Tue, 19 Apr 2016 17:20:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Nobody Chooses To Have A Mental Disorder Tue, 19 Apr 2016 17:20:00 +0000 Three months is all it takes to walk from the realm of the living up onto the doorstep of death. Those months become blurred, out of focus. Hard to recall. Three months living on the bare minimum food intake is all it takes to become a skeleton.

Three months is all it takes to ruin everything you have worked towards in your life.

The correct phrase is ‘body dysmorphic disorder’ [noun – a psychological disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with imaginary defects in their appearance].

A person. Psychological disorders should be contained to inside your very own skull. The bones thick enough to keep any of the black substance from leaking out and leaching onto those you care about.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. And I didn’t realize this until it was almost too late.

If you were to ask me what my view on myself is, my answer would be ‘I don’t know.’

I don’t.

I avoid looking in mirrors in fear of finding a reflection staring back that has a quality to it I can pick apart. Every reflection provides my brain with another opportunity to play a trick on me. It keeps images of past, dissatisfied looks, and replaces what I really see with the flawed image. I haven’t been able to feel comfortable in my skin for the longest time.

The stories you hear of mental disorders, never relay the truth of everything. The disorder does not just affect those who are stuck with it in their heads. The disorder is not a choice.

Three months is all it takes to bring a dad who would stand against a bullet for you to be brought to his knees in tears. In the fear of losing yet another baby.

The media advertises it all. Thigh gaps. Jutting Collarbones. Flat stomach.

What about the sallow look of death that hides around your eyes. The inability to walk because you have wandered into a world that is constantly spinning. Not being able to stand up for long because spots dance across your eyes. The dizziness. The fainting.

I just want guys to like me.

But no one wants to like the look of death. The girl in discomfort because she can’t leave her stomach unguarded. The hip bones that jut out so far hitting them on the edge of the counter is enough to bring you to tears.

I have lost three months of my life to anorexia nervosa. I have lost more months of my life than I want to count to a disorder that causes me to see imperfections in places that don’t really exist.

But three months of looking like a model must have felt amazing.

I couldn’t feel anything. The constant claw in my stomach combined with the critical voice that had wrapped itself around my head and whispered in my ear every time my face appeared on a reflective surface is not ‘amazing.’ It is death. It was a disease that was slowing killing me one skipped meal at a time.

But everyone knows that about the disease. We all know it. No food will lead to lack of control, lack of memory. The real damage is done to those around you. Your body will eventually heal itself. The people around you don’t.

I threw away every meal that came before 6:00PM. Control. I hid it in every place you could think of – and every morsel eventually ended up in the trash. My mom knew. Moms have a way of knowing things. The battle that went on in my head as I tried to coax myself to eat an apple is nothing compared to the look of pain I had to see in my mother’s eyes every time I came home. Daily threats of hospitalization glazed over, as I didn’t see anything wrong. I didn’t see anything wrong with plowing headfirst to the floor when getting blood drawn. I didn’t see anything wrong with my vision suddenly clouding over, and waking up on the floor. Her first child died at birth. Watching another one slowly slip away, and become nothing but skin pulled taunt over bones, and spewing automated messages out of her mouth was enough to make her depressed.

I was the one with the disease. I was the one who pushed my mother into depression.

The most important things in my life were slipping through my grasp for 2o pounds. I was losing control because the little weight I tried to lose was inhibiting my ability to function as a human being.

My dad broke down and cried. My brother concerned. He came up to me, hugged me, and whispered to me how he didn’t really want to be an only child.

Friends dragged their zombie-like friend class to class. Concerned, but too proper to say anything. We are raised on lies that skinny is good.

I had the disease. But it was the cocky, sly retorts from others that triggered it. I was the one with the disease, but it was those around me who were the ones who were really suffering.

  • anorexicwoman
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Yogurt Breakfast Bowls: An Angel And A Devil Side Mon, 11 Apr 2016 15:00:36 +0000 In our household, there is a lot of talk about junky food and healthy food–without healthy food, there is no junk food. At least, that’s what I try to implement.

When I was a kid we didn’t have pop or chips in the house and “junky” food was reserved for very special occasions. So, every time I went to my friend’s house, where there were always goodies, I’d go straight for her fridge.

Opening that door unleashed a fervor that led me to the pantry, and then to the cupboard where all the cookies and chips lived. I’d known this family since birth so I was very comfortable. My friend couldn’t care less about all the packages of Shark Bites and Smurf cereal, but I was immediately plagued with hunger pangs the moment I caught a whiff.

When I left home and entered the world of working and rent payments, I was able to choose my own groceries and fill my own cupboards. Unfortunately I made a lot of bad decisions to make up for the years of being held captive in the land of chipless wonder.

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand what was unhealthy and what wasn’t—it’s just that making the healthier choice seemed so boring and mundane. The sound of a bag of chips popping and that first hand-full crackling inside the bag was so much more of a rush.

Now, with the good old days of my twenties behind me, my body doesn’t allow me to eat like that anymore. And I don’t want my kids to eat like that either. Because I have assumed the position of grocery purchaser and meal-maker in my own home, I have a choice and often I make the healthy one. There is just the tricky business about how to convey to little ones how they too should make a healthier choice. I do believe that self-restraint and control comes from a deep understanding of moderation. Have some junk, but balance it out with the good stuff.

This is why yogurt is so popular in our house. We consume a lot of yogurt. And I mean, a lot. I cannot keep up with the amount. With a baby and two other growing boys, the demand is high. Every single morning we make smoothies, and yogurt specials and just recently I have created the ultimate yogurt breakfast bowls. These recipes were made with iogo Probio Yogurt, which now comes in a convenient resealable pouch.

In light of moderation and balance, we have one angel bowl, which we have in the mornings before school or before a big sporting event, and one devil bowl, reserved for weekends and holidays.


Angel Bowl

Angel Bowl
A delicious breakfast yogurt bowl filled with goodness.
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  1. 1/2 Avocado
  2. 1/4 cup IOGO yogurt
  3. 1 banana, frozen or add ice at the end
  4. 1/3 cup almond milk
  5. 1/3 cup strawberries, frozen
  6. Bran buds
  1. Add ingredients to blender and blend. In a bowl, layer blended mixture, bran buds, yogurt (repeat if a large bowl).
The Purple Fig




Devil Bowl
A devilish breakfast bowl that your kids will beg for every weekend!
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  1. 1/3 cup peanut butter
  2. 1/3 cup cream cheese
  3. 1/3 icing sugar
  4. 1/3 IOGO yogurt (I used strawberry/banana flavour)
  1. Blend ingredients, layer blended mixture, add a layer of your favourite cereal, add a layer of IOGO yogurt
The Purple Fig


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Women’s Rights: The Tangled Mess Of Legislation, Faith And Belief Thu, 07 Apr 2016 18:11:39 +0000 Once in while we must all look back and wonder if that offer of a job, of a relationship or a social step-up was one we should have taken.

Opportunity is a strange beast. So much of it is whimsical and based on “what if”, which is why I find the use of this word so hard to comprehend when used in the case of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist from Galway, Ireland.
This case is huge–its implications wide. It asks us questions of equality, right to life and of religious belief versus moral duty.

Ms Halappanavar’s case is so far beyond tragic, it’s almost impossible to understand. In black and white terms a woman died, despite begging for the abortion of a miscarrying foetus which was very quickly killing her. In a hospital. Surrounded by competent and trained staff. In a well resourced facility. In a developed country.


Stark isn’t it? Ms Halappanavar wasn’t just fighting for her life, she was fighting the whole establishment. She was fighting a system which legislated her death.

Naturally, there were investigations. Ireland’s Health Service Executive published its own report which cited the country’s controversial abortion laws as a contributing factor.

The investigation team is satisfied that concern about the law, whether clear or not, impacted on the exercise of clinical professional judgment.

– the report stated.

I’m not debating the rights or wrongs of abortion law in Ireland. It’s an exhausting, emotional and thankless task. In truth, I’m not even sure there’s enough legislation in the world that could even begin clarifying where the rights of the unborn child end and those of the mother begin.

And still there it is, this troubling case where opportunities to save a life were missed, not once but more than a dozen times, where a medical team, out of fear of the consequences, dragged its feet. Where the law allowed an otherwise healthy young woman to die. Or at the very least removed her chance of fighting the sepsis which had invaded her body.

A year after the case came to light the Irish Parliament passed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. This act provides the option of abortion for a woman or girl whose life is at risk during pregnancy. And yet the confusion still remains.

It reminded me in many ways of the Church of England debates on gay marriage. Tying itself up in knots over which areas of a homosexual lifestyle were acceptable and which, they believed, were totally incompatible with living a life of faith.

These “grey areas” continue to put patients at risk and frustrate the medical community. It’s not acceptable. How could we expect anyone to work to their best of their ability if the fear of prosecution lurks behind them like a malevolent shadow?

Earlier this year Ms Halappanavar’s family settled out of court with the hospital. And four years after her death, life has moved on. And yet this isn’t going anywhere, this tangled mess of legislation, faith and belief.
I, for one, am not brave enough to suggest any kind of answer but I do believe we are heading in the right direction. We must seize the opportunities to debate how best to protect all life, to bring equality into medical practice and into the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society.

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Unapologetic Parent on The Huffington Post Tue, 29 Mar 2016 19:16:53 +0000 Trish Bentley, editor of The Purple Fig, has started writing a column for The Huffington Post, called Unapologetic Parent. Informative and relatable articles on parenting hot topics, “Unapologetic Parent” will examine the pressures and scrutiny parents often face when making personal choices on how to parent.



Stop Shaming Moms Who Bottle Feed


The Big Business of Baby Sleep Training


This Practice Will Help You Keep Your Cool With Your Kids

C-Section Stigma: Things People Have Actually Said To Cesarean Moms


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We Are All Ordinary People In Extraordinary Times Wed, 23 Mar 2016 15:48:51 +0000 For the first time since forever, the sun is shining and warm on our faces. There’s a lull in hostilities and my girls are playing well together, absorbed in hunting down monsters and running away from foxes in “stinky houses” (nope, no idea). I’m sitting in a large, grassy park watching them act out their dramas, battling with sticks, attempting a tree climb, zooming down a slide or two. Normal, ordinary life – all is right with the world. Except of course it’s not. Two country borders away from where I sit hundreds of family and friends are grieving; trying to make sense of another atrocity. Reassuring children, comforting their communities. Being ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. Brussels is suffering.

I’m well aware that in Syria, in Palestine, in Mali, in Pakistan and Armenia there are thousands, thousands, thousands of people facing this kind of shit on a daily basis and yet only when Paris burnt, when Brussels fell to its knees did I no longer feel immune to terrorism or perhaps more accurately: the fear of terrorism. That kind of disconnect isn’t right and I’m not seeking to justify it. It’s just how it is for all of us.

And how do we worldwide community of “ordinary people” go on functioning day to day with this fear? How do we live in this climate of surprise attack and paranoia. After all, we’re not governments, we have no secret intel or survival skills. I, for, one would have no idea what to do if Geneva’s famous sirens went off for real.

Sitting in the warmth of this spring day, I’m reminded of the 9 February, 1996. The Docklands bomb rattled the windows of my East London home. I was sick. My Irish flatmate gave me a withering look and promptly took me down to the pub. The truth is we’ve lived through it before and we’ll live through it again. Regimes come and go, terrorists terrorise, bombs destroy, guns tear down. A new generation of suicide bombers will murder and maim. As a race we may have moved on from mustard gas and canons but we haven’t evolved far from the selfish, misguided and downright evil motivations that drive us to create even more imaginative ways of killing ourselves.

We ordinary people must keep on being just that: ordinary. Living out our lives despite everything, praying for the safety of our families, teaching our children how to climb trees and putting band aids on knees when they fall. Enjoying the sun and celebrating friendship. If it sounds trite then maybe it is but I for one will not stop being an ordinary human being in extraordinary times.

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Post Baby Incontinence Doesn’t Have To Be ‘Normal’ Fri, 26 Feb 2016 18:52:29 +0000 First off, let’s clarify that LBL, or “Light Bladder Leakage” is a nice way to say urinary incontinence. LBL is a term you might hear from marketing people, but you’ll never hear it pass the lips of a continence health professional. LBL is a less scary way of discussing an uncomfortable topic. Some might say that calling incontinence “LBL” also (dangerously) normalizes peeing your pants, even just a little bit. Folks, LBL isn’t normal. Sneeze, jumping, running and coughing leaks are NOT a rite of passage for moms. They are examples of stress urinary incontinence and are a sign of a dysfunctional deep core system that begs to be addressed.

SO, we’re going to call a spade a spade. Let’s talk about urinary incontinence. It’s a big deal. It’s very common. It most often can be prevented and treated through lifestyle changes, pelvic floor and alignment exercise.

Here are some not-so-sexy stats on the issue:
• One in four women over the age of 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntarily.
• On average, women wait 6.5 years from the first time they experience symptoms until they obtain a diagnosis for their bladder control problem(s).
• Stress urinary incontinence, the most prevalent form of incontinence among women, affects an estimated 15 million adult women in the U.S.
• According to the Canadian Urinary Bladder Survey, 16% of men and 33% of women over the age of 40 have symptoms of urinary incontinence.
• Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are major reasons of the increased prevalence of incontinence in women as compared to men.
• In 1998 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that bladder control problems affect more than 200 million people worldwide.
• The WHO also said that incontinence is a largely preventable and treatable condition and that it’s “certainly not an inevitable consequence of aging.

seizepoiseI was recently invited to an event hosted by Poise, a brand of Kimberly-Clark that offers a variety of products to help women live with bladder leakage. A group of two dozen or so fitness professionals and wellness bloggers participated in a fantastic yoga class, enjoyed some healthy organic smoothies and heard from celebrity Brooke Burke-Charvet talk about “seizing her Poise moment.” Brooke is a mom of 4, fitness enthusiast and an all around inspirational woman. The two of us chatted for a quite a while in the corner of the room (I think the media people were curious what the heck we were yapping about for so long). I expressed how brave I think she is for using her celebrity to open up the conversation about a somewhat taboo but critical topic. I love Brooke.Brooke-Burke-2-397x397

I also admitted that as a fitness professional and pelvic health expert, I was a bit anti Poise. Bladder pads and insertable “Impressa” bladder supports designed to stop leaks before they start are not getting to the root of the problem. #BandaidSolution was my rant. Poor Brooke. She was really a fantastic listener!
What about pelvic floor physiotherapy? Coaching on neurological bladder re-training? Alignment based exercise to stack posture and reclaim a neutral pelvis that will properly support your bladder, uterus and bowels? SO many ways to both prevent and treat incontinence instead of mask it.
But you know what, Brooke gets it. Poise gets that too (at first I didn’t think that they did). Their products are a step on the road to recovery. They acknowledge that pads and “bladder tampons” are NOT the solution to incontinence. If you visit their site, you’ll see they’ve created a great Advice and Support section, including a podcast interview with a pelvic health physiotherapist. Would I like to see more mention of how to naturally prevent and treat incontinence on their site? Heck yes. But you know what, it’s a start.
The conversation has started. Poise is doing a decent job in that department. Women are starting to open up about their experiences and are realizing they are not alone. There is so much power in community and in sharing. The next step is to realize that something can actually be done to fix it, and to take action.
So, if you’re reading this and leaking even a dribble (yes, that counts as incontinence) please see a pelvic physiotherapist . It’s also important not to exacerbate the problem by doing activities that increase abdominal pressure (like sit ups, crunches) or exert downward pressure on the pelvic floor (running, jumping, skipping, high-impact exercises). Using a Poise product to manage the issue while getting physiotherapy and restoring your pelvic floor and core strength, is a fantastic option. Just please, don’t throw on a liner or insert an Impressa “bladder tampon” and go for a run. True empowerment comes not from relying on a product to cope with an embarrassing issue; empowerment comes from learning how to reclaim your body and restoring your continence, and confidence.

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New Social Network Just10 Aims To Make Your Social Media Life More Private Tue, 16 Feb 2016 15:11:39 +0000 While we’ve all seen the numerous social media posts from excited new moms and newly married couples, one has to wonder just how private your social media network is. Sure, you may have only added your family and closest friends (with the exception of that one nosy aunt or those click-happy ladies from high school who never quite grew up), but the key word here is social. As we all know, your networks on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may be shockingly public. Unless you want the entire world to watch your life just like a movie, it’s probably a smart idea to ensure that your privacy settings are up to par.

However, a newly launched Toronto-based initiative called Just10 is attempting to turn social media into a more intimate space, where users can share information with just ten selected friends. Founded by Iran-born technology entrepreneur Frederick Ghahramani (who is also known as a privacy advocate), Just10 claims to offer stricter privacy regulations. It states that it will not sell its users’ personal information or use data for advertising purposes, and also claims that it will delete all data after ten days. As well, this platform aims to keep things playful with a series of Meactions (or special emoticons designed for commenting). 

If you’re striving to cut back on social media oversharing, this may be the solution to your digital woes. After all, there’s probably a select few people who should have the opportunity to see those adorable family vacation snaps or baby photos.

Will Just10 eventually make a splash, in the face of larger social media giants like Facebook? Although it may be too early to tell, we certainly like the idea of maintaining a smaller, more curated social circle in today’s increasingly digital universe.

On a less serious note, here’s a hilarious yet thought-provoking video which was created by the Just10 team. The next time you upload a photo of your baby bump or precious little one taking her first few steps, you may want to consider your online audience.

Photo: Just10

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Our Modern War: A Look At Hate Preachers Wed, 10 Feb 2016 15:20:12 +0000 Dumbledore is gay?

Yes, you heard. You thought he was a kindly old wizard, dedicated to the education of magical muggles didn’t you? Well it seems that his wand bends the other way.

That was probably my favourite accusation from American pastor Kevin Swanson at the National Religious Liberties Conference, which re-emerged on social media earlier this month. A conference attended, incidentally, by three Republican presidential candidates. See Rachel Maddow’s interpretation of events

For the rest of the world, of course, what caught our eye was Swanson’s call to have gay people murdered and not even in a nice way. Death by being pushed off a cliff or stoned in the street. Tough choice. Glad I’m straight.

Hate preachers, because this is what Swanson is, force us to ask tough questions of ourselves and how we deal with them as a democratic society.

Do we carry out a virtual game of whack-a-mole, where we bring down our mallet on every conference, leaflet or website we don’t approve of or do we uphold our ideals of freedom of speech and expression. As a confused liberal I’m somewhere in the middle ((helpful)).

Earlier this year, a charming gentleman known as Daryush Valizadeh or Roosh V attempted to organise a series of seminars in more than 100 cities across the world, including the UK, Canada and the US. I’m guessing you’ve heard of him. If not, let me tell you he advocates legalising rape on private property, writes articles on the benefits of dating women with eating disorders all from the ivory tower of his website. His seminars encourage men to stop asking and start taking, to stop letting women have all the power and to take the power back. Except his mum, he lives with his mum. She’s different. Yada yada. To be honest, I haven’t even got the energy to spare for a proper dose of outrage. His belief system is so warped, so fundamentally wrong, that is he really worth sparing a second thought over?

Well Canada, you did. And good on you. In Toronto, a women’s boxing club basically said: Yep, you go ahead and have your little event but we’ll probably be joining you. We have to tell you, we’re not really big supporters. See The Huffington Post’s report.
Petitions sprung up to have him and his followers banned by getting travel visas overturned. We said a big, fat NO to the Roosh. Incidentally, he’s not a fan of big, fat anything and lists fat shaming among his hobbies. In the end he cancelled most of his gigs as he didn’t feel safe. Try not to trip over that big hulk of irony I dropped just there.

And yet, despite the push back, despite the rallying, despite the overwhelming “no”, there’s something that grates on me about restricting people’s freedoms, even Valizadeh and Swanson’s. In the UK thousands signed an online petition to ban a visit from Donald Trump. It was funny, kind of. It made a point. I guess my concern is that we end up with ‘people like us’ silo communities. The worst thing I can think of is living in a place where everyone thinks like me. Sure, we’d have nice wine but would anyone be able to make a decision about anything? Looting and anarchy within hours.

I suppose it comes down to a fine line. The side of the line which allows our young and vulnerable to be dragged down and at worse, act on hate preaching and the opposite side which effectively builds a huge wall, blocking out anything we don’t want to hear or see. Neither side appeals to me, which again is when being a confused liberal has its downsides.

What’s the answer? Well, we are. We don’t have to shut people out, we just have to show them how to behave in a way that’s socially and morally acceptable. We have toddlers, we know how to do this.

I leave you with the wise words of Dumbledore (sorry Kevin), “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

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Wasting Time Watching Funny Videos Tue, 09 Feb 2016 18:38:45 +0000 Sometimes you need a good laugh, right? And other times we could really use that guttural giggle that forces us to grab our pants and cross our legs. TPF has curated some videos ranging from ‘a pleasant watch’ to ‘downright piss worthy’. Enjoy.

Please, email with videos you think should be showcased here.  


Bad Lip Syncing

Mashup of NFL players talking about birthday parties and sleepovers

 Part 2 NFL Lip Syncing


Another Bad Lip Syncing covering the Republican Debate 2015

Finnish Booze Day For Parents

Top 10 Superbowl Ads from 2016


McCain Farts, Hilary Confused

I’m So Pregnant – Izzy Azalea Parody


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Write Because You Love It. Mon, 08 Feb 2016 16:31:07 +0000 When I was in school I endured many writing workshops (public mental beatings) where I had to showcase my work and listen to what each of the students thought about it. I was to sit there quietly and nod my head as if to say, wow, you’re making a really prolific point right now and I completely appreciate it. Most of the time I did appreciate the critique. Other times it seemed that some of the people in class felt they had to say something negative because the guy next to them did. It’s happens online too.

If a weird smell travels slowly through a room and the first person to comment has a scowl on their face as they cover their nose in disgust and the second and third person follow, you may feel like an utter douche saying, “I quite like the smell actually.” Because somehow by acknowledging this questionable scent as good, you have now implicated yourself as being a weirdo. But me, I like weirdos. They make life interesting. Weirdos are usually good writers. Why? Because they don’t care what anyone thinks. They want their reader to be engaged, of course, but they’re not consumed by that.

The problem is, writers (artists in general) usually carry the burden of a stubborn ego. It can get in the way. We like to feel good about what we put out into the world, even though some of us may say we don’t care. We do. We are people. But we mustn’t be distracted by the need for a response. We live in a terrible time for people who need constant back patting and attention–they spend the only hours they have to be productive on thinking and trolling. 

I have less of an ego about my art than I ever did. I’ve known rejection and I have experienced what it’s like to put things out to the world that never amount to much. These raw, vulnerable times have changed me. I now don’t spend much time wondering what people think or if it will ever be something bigger than it is. Do I sometimes wake up in the middle of night and think, man I suck. Sure. Don’t we all?

But the next day, if I am productive and I do what it is that I say I’m going to do, the little fire inside flickers and any self-criticism is fanned away from the flame. It is beautiful to write because I love writing. Am I rich from it? Hell no. But as one workshop professor once said, “Most of you will never make any money doing what you love.”

So, if you have ever questioned whether you could be a writer or not, think about this: Do you write without intention, without an endgame, and with blind sincerity and passion? If so, then you, my friend, are a writer.


  • iwanttobeawriter
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