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Showing posts from September, 2011

Food Reward: My Thoughts and Experiences

The latest debate in nutrition is food reward vs. low carb. The argument goes something like this: low carb works in practice, but Gary Taubes et al have the science of it wrong. A cause of obesity is getting a reward from eating certain foods, and overeating them. At least, that's how I understand it. And I find it puzzling.

Do people hit their mid-30s and suddenly start finding food more rewarding? That's when most people start putting on weight. 
How is it that the French and Swiss, whose diets are well known for their wonderful taste, are thinner than Midwestern Americans, whose food is as bland as the Kansas prairie? And if food reward isn't about palatability, how do you know it's rewarding--because the subjects ate more of it? If they ate more of it because it's rewarding, then the argument is a tautology. Maybe I don't understand this part.
It seems that most of the "high-reward foods" are the ones that spike blood sugar--even in people witho…

Why You Can't Cure a Sugar Problem with Starch

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The Low-Methamphetamine Lifestyle

From Breaking Bad, a TV show about two men who cook meth:

Jesse: "I've been thinking lately that I'd lay off of [the meth] for awhile, 'cause lately it's been making me paranoid, so, for, like, healthwise I'd just lay off." I guess we all have to start somewhere on our quest for a healthy lifestyle.

Curing your Sugar Problem with Sugar?

If you've been trying to solve a sugar problem by eating starch, "complex carbohydrates," or "healthy whole grains" and failing, it isn't your fault. Did the doctors who recommend this sleep through high school chemistry and get their MDs from a correspondence school in the Bahamas? Watch these two videos and you'll know more about carbohydrates than they do.

In this video (sorry, embedding has been disabled) what the teacher is talking about is that starches (or complex carbohydrates) are long chains of sugars.  Or as Dana Carpender puts it, complex carbohydr…

A Mystery, A Warning, and a Solution

If this were a short story, it would be full of foreshadowing. But like a good mystery, it's hard to connect the dots until the end. If you can't, don't worry--I'll tie it together at the end.


I follow a mostly lacto-paleo diet and live pretty cleanly. But I've had a sinus infection for a month, and it's survived one and a half rounds of antibiotics. I normally eat liver once a week, but haven't had the stomach for it lately. (Even when I'm well, I'm not a liver lover.)A few months ago, I started buying those big, dark chocolate bars--the 70% cocoa ones--and eating one per weekend. (I know what I said last night about hating sweets. It seems to be fruity sweets that I hate; maybe they remind me of medicine.)I started dreading my breakfast smoothie of butter, hot water, pumpkin pie spice and vitamins, even though I like the taste. I sometimes skipped it on the weekend. The vitamins included large doses of zinc and magnesium, a middling dose of potass…

Infantilization of our Taste Buds

There's a lot I like about my employer, but its contributions to America's declining health ought to be scuttled. An email arrived at work calling for dessert and holiday treat recipes for the company magazine's December issue. I replied that I'd like to submit instructions for an appetizer tray sans sugary treats. "There are folks who need to limit their sugar intake, as well as those of us who'd rather avoid the stomach aches, blood sugar crashes and holiday weight gain." The marketing director liked the idea and wants to get approval for it. Today, a recipe for pate; tomorrow, how to properly roast a turkey. Someday, mince meat pie might involve meat again.

Why not submit a recipe for a low-carb dessert instead of pushing for savory appetizers? Maybe my sinus infection has changed my taste for the better. Between the sweet Umcka tablets for congestion, the elderberry syrup, and honey for my throat, I'd almost rather put up with my symptoms than ga…

The Bug is Back

I was *this close* to being over my sinus infection. I was well enough to spend an afternoon at a fair and go out dancing. The next day, though, when the antibiotics were out of my system, my energy left and my cough came back.

Again: good diet does not conquer all; we can't heal ourselves against every bug. Consider how many Native Americans died of diseases when Europeans reached North America. Consider how much faster bacteria and viruses mutate than we do. This is a clever bug I have: it's held on through a course of antibiotics, yet it isn't strong enough to kill its host. Why me? Long ago, a scan showed I have only seven sinuses: they have to do the work of eight. And I've had some unhappiness at work. All my sinus infections have come when I was especially stressed at work or school.

What to do? My nurse suggested giving myself a chance to heal using nasal washes. I already tried that. As much as I believe a good diet helps make you healthy, my observation was …

Knockout! Right in the Bread Basket

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Lennox Lewis is gonna win that fight. Nobody's gonna get in the ring with Mike Tyson unless they know they can knock him out. -Bud Miller, my father

It was the most hyped boxing match of 2002: Mike Tyson, the boxer who once bit off an opponent's ear in the ring, finagled a boxing license in Tennessee and took on Lennox Lewis. My father called that fight: Mr. Lewis looked serene when he knocked out Mr. Tyson in the eighth round. Mr. Lewis knew both himself and his opponent, something that hardly anyone interested in the fight seemed to consider.

And so it's been lately with contenders who spout the healthy whole grains/eat less move more/low fat dogma on the internet in forums that allow responses. The priests of nutrition don't seem to anticipate a bunch of Lennox Lewises, who know every move of their game, climbing into the ring and pounding them.

Apparently, the nutritional priests don't talk to each other or pay attention to each other's work, either. Awhile…

A High Principle Diet

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

I spent a pleasant afternoon last Labor Day weekend at a fair canoodling with someone I'd just met. It ended awkwardly when I wouldn't go to his house, and he didn't offer any other suggestions. I don't go home with people I've just met, period, no exceptions. It's a first principle of mine.

This, and a post by Dr. Richard Feinman about portion control really meaning self control made me think about sticking to a healthy diet.  "Most people know not to eat too much," Dr. Feinman says in the comments. "The question is how?" Tactics like eating a small portion and waiting to see if you're hungry for more, filling up on good food before going to a party, and taking healthy snacks with you all help. So does getting moral support from other low-carbers. But there will be times when you're hungry, surrounded by carbs, and without snacks or a nagging spouse. Or worse, you&#…

My Sinus Infection has Lost its Bite

A wooden stake won't kill a vampire. Flamethrower, would kill a vampire. Or we can lose our head. I mean, literally. Other than that we heal. -Mick St. John from the TV show Moonlight
How would you feel if an illness that had previously left you cold, tired and slogging through the day for months, could suddenly be 95% beaten in 17 days? Like you'd gained superpowers?
I came down with a sinus infection August 16, and aside from a little coughing, I'm well again. Let me tell you about other sinus infections I've had. I spent a week in the hospital with one when I was nine. I spent a whole summer dragging myself around classes and work in a thick sweater in my early 20s in a nasty bout with staphylococcus aureus. Another sinus infection struck again in 2001, a few years after the septoplasty surgery I had was supposed to have prevented them.
What's different about this one? Vampire Mick St. John (see quote above) told a blind friend from his past that he'd stayed we…