Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alzheimer's, Ketones and Coconut Oil: Why Not DIY?

Mary Newport M.D. discusses reversing her husband's Alzheimer's disease with coconut oil.



Meantime,
A team of biochemists at England's Oxford University have developed a ketone ester. It makes quite considerably higher levels. You can get whatever levels you want, depending on how much you drink. The problem is they need millions of dollars to mass produce it. It is very expensive, and so we can't make very much of it ourselves. What we would like is funding so we could actually scale up and make it. Of course, there is no real profit in manufacturing stuff like that.
Dr. Newport states that Alzheimer's is becoming known as diabetes 3--diabetes of the brain. Brain cells become insulin resistant and cannot accept glucose--one of their fuels. Without fuel, the brain cells die. Enter ketones, the brain cells' alternate fuel. You could spend millions of dollars researching a ketone ester, but why not make your own ketones? All you have to do is follow a low carb diet (around 50 g of carb per day or less) and wait a few weeks to become ketone adapted (meaning, your body changes from running on glucose to running on ketones--or in plain English, it goes from running on sugar to running on fat). Read a book like Protein Power, Escape the Diet Trap, or The New Atkins for a New You, and follow it to the letter for 30 days. If you don't like it, you can always go back to whatever you were doing before.

If you're unfamiliar with diabetes, a major part of managing the condition is avoiding fast-acting carbohydrates like oatmeal and other cereals. In other words, you're better off making an omelet with the coconut oil and using the oatmeal as wallpaper paste.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

School Lunch: Passing Inspection

I've been reading about kids' lunches having to pass inspection here in the U.S. Not lunches that the schools serve, but lunches that kids bring from home. Others have stated the stupidity of both the policy and the standards and have criticized the erosion of our freedoms better than I could put it. But I haven't seen anyone address the question of what to do if your kid can't drink milk or eat grains--commonly intolerated foods that the standards require.

You could put the foods in the lunch with instructions not to eat them. If your child has serious reactions to these foods, this could be a bad idea since kids don't always do as they're told. You could go to a doctor and get a waiver for your child, but I hate this idea. A grown man or woman shouldn't need a permission slip to pack a lunch without food that will make their child sick. A trip to the doctor costs money and for many parents, time off from work. And what if your kid doesn't have a diagnosis but just feels better on a certain diet?

One solution is passing: pack foods that only look grainy, milky, sugary or starchy. Let's start with milk: coconut milk or almond milk should easily pass for milk from a cow. (Almond milk is tan--it should pass for weak chocolate milk; you could heat it and add some cocoa or baking chocolate and a squirt of stevia extract to make it look like the sugary, defatted junk served at schools.)

For grains, check out these grain-free breads: oopsie bread (scroll halfway down), which can be made to look like hamburger buns, panini, rolls, braided bread, biscuits, pizza crust, and so on. This almond bread looks like heavy, dry nuts-and-twigs style bread that you should have in the car in the winter to put under the tires if you get stuck. But since it's made with almond flour and a lot of eggs, I imagine it's moist. One reader commented that she added some ripe bananas to the recipe, and the result was "terrific." Both of these recipes are low carb (assuming you exclude the bananas).

Some vegetables can pass for noodles, fulfilling the grain requirement. Spaghetti squash is tasty and easy to cook. This recipe for zucchini noodles has gotten good reviews (obviously, you'd peel the zucchini). If you go with the "noodles," just make sure you don't count it towards the fruit and vegetable requirement.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Paleo, Low Carb Ranch Dressing

Here's my tasty ranch dressing to go with fish cakes, salad, or raw vegetables.

1 c homemade mayonnaise
2 c coconut milk
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and pureed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T Dijon mustard
2 T lemon juice
1 t dried dill
1 t dried parsley
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well. Serve.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Almond Meal Chocolate Cookies

Edited to add: I made a mistake in counting the carbs in these cookies: they actually have 2.5 net grams of carb, not one, and five grams of protein. I apologize for the error.

By popular demand, my recipe for low carb almond meal chocolate cookies. (Recipe adapted from this one at The Naked Kitchen.) Each of these cookies has a scant 2.5g net carbohydrate and 5g of protein.

Why almond flour instead of wheat flour? Cardiologist William Davis wrote a whole book called Wheat Belly on wheat's being one of the worst foods you can put into your mouth. (Wheat elimination is part of his program for reversing heart disease.) Wheat is an appetite stimulant; it can send your blood sugar over the moon, leading to insulin resistance and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that, well, age you; it can cause autoimmune disorders. Even in you've had a negative test for celiac, you might be wheat sensitive.

I can attest to the last part. I'm not celiac, but once I eliminated wheat, having a cookie made of wheat quickly brought on sinus congestion, acid reflux and a stomach ache. Just reducing wheat made me start slowly losing weight two years ago. And I've had no seasonal allergies since eliminating wheat.

Why almond meal instead of other flours? Most other flours are mainly carbohydrate--and as Dana Carpender puts it, you know those wonderful complex carbohydrates are just sugar molecules holding hands, right? Since almond flour is mostly fat and protein, it doesn't shouldn't raise your blood sugar or insulin much or create AGEs. The fat makes it moist and filling.

Why stevia instead of sugar or agave? Using sugar adds an extra 19 calories and 5g of carbohydrate per cookie. Agave nectar (assuming a 2/3:1 conversion for sugar) adds 2.36g of carb per cookie. And it's mostly fructose, which your liver sends straight to fat. Stevia has no digestible carbs (i.e., no fructose or calories).

Enjoy as many of these cookies as you want. Three of these cookies have 15g of protein and a scant 7.5g of carbohydrate. Have three or four for breakfast (I do)--I predict you won't be hungry again until noon.

*****

3 c almond flour or meal
1/2 c olive oil (ETA: preferably extra light olive oil)
Equivalent of 1/2 c sugar (e.g., stevia)
2 eggs
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 t vanilla extract
5 squares baking chocolate (2.5 oz)

ETA: If using stevia, check the package to find out what the equivalent of 1/2 c of sugar is. Don't use 1/2 c of stevia!

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate at 50% heat in the microwave, or melt it over a low flame. In another small bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Pour the chocolate and other wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Put spoonful sized drops of the cookie dough on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Makes 20 cookies.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Highjacking the Lead

Highjack the lead: the follower in a partner dance taking over the leading.

Over the past year, I've read more and more about biased research, corrupt nutritional organizations, and doctors whose advice is, well, not very helpful. In my experience, a doctor is useful for knowing about illnesses going around, and which medicines (if any) will cure them. If you have concerns about a protocol you're doing against medical advice, a doctor can monitor you. I've had good and bad experiences with various doctors. I don't think most of them are corrupt, I think many of them--outside of when they're treating trauma and infection--just don't know what they're doing.

A few years ago, I had an online conversation with a doctor (an MD, not a doctor of funk) with a subspecialty in diabetes who recommended her American patients eat at least 130g (or so) of carb per day because the American Diabetes Association said so. But of course, she did her research as well: she skimmed the titles of medical journal articles that came out. According to what I've read from various bloggers and commenters, this is common. (Dr. Michael Eades himself says that doctors aren't trained to think.) First, blindly following authority and using the less than the equivalent of Cliff's Notes aren't marks of an intellectual giant. Second, laymen with an internet connection can do more homework than that on their own. And since they have more skin in the game, they may take due diligence more seriously.

Why not bypass the doctor, then, in certain cases? As an example, my mother said she had trouble swallowing and had a lump in her throat. Since her father died of esophageal cancer, she was worried. Her doctor examined her and referred her to a gastroenterologist. I told her to cancel the appointment because the gastroenterologist wouldn't know what was wrong with her: magnesium deficiency. Granted, I had some inside information: I knew she'd run out of magnesium pills, and I've had the same throat condition myself. And sure enough, she got more magnesium pills yesterday, and had no throat problems today. But the odds of a gastroenterologist knowing about magnesium deficiency or suggesting an inexpensive bottle of the mineral are around zero.

This is how I think nutritional orthodoxy will end: People suffering with an unusual GI problem consult Google Scholar or have a conversation with someone, solve their problem, and end up cancelling a medical appointment. Or they troubleshoot their low-carb diet problems on a forum and ignore their doctor's advice about eating a low-fat diet. Others learn about the inefficacy of medical screenings and, with their other niggling problems cleared up, go years without seeing a doctor. Eventually, standard nutritional and medical advice becomes the butt of jokes. In a future downturn, some shrewd politician will spearhead the dismantling of the USDA et al in the name of cutting the deficit and stamping out fraud, waste and abuse. The dreadful medical advice now offered will go out with a whimper, not a bang.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Avoiding Dairy, Losing Fat

Have you even been going along on your normal diet and suddenly started gaining weight? You're not alone: I was again in that position last week. I was getting a wheat belly without the wheat.

During my recent illness, I put on a few pounds, but didn't worry about it. Last week, though, I started gaining a pound a day. This was not good. I didn't want to think about what shape I'd be in after a year's time. But it was funny that conventional wisdom first came to mind: eat less, work out more.

No: after two years' blogging and research on low carb diets, I'm convinced of their healthfulness and effectiveness. Working out is great for fitness and well being, but unless you're a serious amateur or professional athlete or dancer (and maybe even if you are), it's not much use for losing fat.

My carb intake was under control. But carbohydrate isn't the only thing that spikes insulin: dairy does, too. Paleo researcher Dr. Loren Cordain writes in The Paleo Answer(1)


Shortly after the glycemic index was developed in the early 1980s, it was discovered that milk, yogurt, and most dairy foods had low glycemic responses. Presumably, these foods should be healthy and should help prevent the metabolic syndrome. About five to ten years ago, however, experiments from our laboratory and others unexpectedly revealed that low-glycemic dairy foods paradoxically caused huge rises in blood insulin levels. The table below(2) shows that despite their low glycemic indices, dairy foods maintain high insulin responses similar to white bread. 
This information posed a challenge to nutritional scientists. It was unclear whether milk's insulin-stimulating effect but low glycemic response was healthful or harmful. To date, only one human study conducted by Dr. Hoppe in 2005(3) has addressed this question; it put 24 eight-year-old boys on either a high-milk or a high-meat diet for seven days. The high-milk diet worsened the boys' insulin response almost 100%, and the entire group became insulin resistant in only a week's time. In contrast, the high-meat eating group's insulin levels did not change, and the boys' overall insulin metabolism remained healthy.

Really, the low-glycemic, high-insulin response to milk makes sense: the purpose of milk is to help make a baby grow. High blood sugar isn't good for that purpose, but insulin is. As most readers here may know, insulin is a growth hormone; it also lowers blood sugar and shuttles nutrients to cells. Cells can become insulin resistant; the muscle cells tend to do so before the fat cells. When that happens, nutrients are sent to the fat cells. In the presence of too much insulin (hyperinsulemia), fat isn't released from the fat cells. And if the insulin knocks your blood sugar too far, you get hungry. In plain English, you get fat, hungry and tired. (There are other more serious effects of hyperinsulemia that are beyond the scope of this post. All the more reason to get my problem under control.)

As a lover of cream, custard, cheese, low-carb ice cream and sour cream (aka heaven in a carton), I despaired as I read Cordain's chapter on dairy. (He was just getting warmed up with the two paragraphs quoted above.) Nevertheless, I cut way back on the dairy. No more cream or half-and-half in my coffee, no more low-carb ice cream, no more cheese sauce on my vegetables. Just a pat of butter on them, and a slice of cheese on my hamburger; non-dairy hot chocolate for dessert, and almond milk in my coffee or on its own. I gave the custard to my mom. She has to take insulin, so it shouldn't affect her much.

Results: I'm down three pounds since Friday. And for the first time since I started my low-carb diet two years ago, I ate only one meal a day (with some snacks) over the weekend. It was all I was hungry for. (Remember the part about dairy spiking insulin, which can knock down your blood sugar, which can cause hunger?) I had two meals today, with a snack, and I'm stuffed to the gills. I did drench my salad with ranch dressing today--and had a midafternoon slump a few hours later.

Cutting back on dairy has been easier than I thought. Besides the coconut milk hot chocolate, I've made healthy chocolate cookies (think almond flour and stevia) and gone back to tea in place of coffee at work. Others may not be willing to give up one food or another; I'm not willing to go through life fat and sick. And as I've said before: yogurt? You might as well eat chocolate pudding.

1. The Paleo Answer by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey. 2012.
2. "Glycemia and insulinemia in healthy subjects after lactose-equivalent meals of milk and other food proteins: the role of plasma amino acids and incretins" by Mikael Nilsson, Marianne Stenberg, Anders H Frid, Jens J Holst and Inger ME Björck, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2004.
3. "High intakes of milk, but not meat, increase s-insulin and insulin resistance in 8-year-old boys," European Journal of Clinical Nutrition by C Hoppe, C Mølgaard, A Vaag, V Barkholt, and KF Michaelsen(2005) 59, 393–398. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602086.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bored with your Low Carb Diet?

To those who are bored with low-carb fare, may I gently suggest getting out of your rut with some different styles of cooking.

Bacon-wrapped shrimp and salad of mustard and turnip greens, cucumber, bell peppers, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Prep time: about 20 minutes.

Roast beef in wine sauce with green beans and roasted peppers and mushrooms. Hands-on prep time: under half an hour.

These recipes are adapted from Firecracker Shrimp and Filletto di Bue alla Contadina in More Cooking Secrets of the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). The trout and pork chop recipes are among many other outstanding dishes in the book. It's only $4 on Amazon.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Sign of Progress

It looks like Big Sugar hasn't corrupted the local government around here. The Tri-County Health Dept. here has a public service message at a bus stop:
I don't agree with the message on the CDC's rethink your drink site that weight is all about the calories. But if you think it is, why not cut out the most nutritionally empty calories? Soda, juice, energy drinks--they're liquid candy bars. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Non-Dairy, Low Carb Hot Chocolate

My new favorite dessert: coconut milk hot chocolate.

1/2 c coconut milk
1 square (1/2 oz) baking chocolate
1 squirt (1/8 t) liquid stevia extract
hot water

In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk over a medium-low flame. Add the chocolate and stir it as it melts. Add the stevia, stir, and pour into a cup. Add hot water to fill the cup.

Net carbs: 6.3g. Don't tell your lipophobic loved ones there's 32g of fat (25g of it saturated). 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cooking with Blood

Pasta, potatoes and rice may be staples of the Mediterranean, northern Europe and Asia, but there's another, older food that's almost never mentioned in connection with these places: blood.

Before explorers brought potatoes to Europe from North America (that is, a few hundred years ago), people in harsh climates used blood for food: it's nutritious, and the animal doesn't have to be killed. Jennifer McLagan writes in Odd Bits,
In harsh northern climes where food was often scarce, both Scandinavians and the Irish survived on animal blood. The growing antlers of reindeer were a source for Laplanders, while in Ireland they turned blood into a national dish. The French writer Henri Misson de Valbourg wrote about his voyages through England, Scotland and Ireland in the late seventeenth century in Misson's Memoirs and Observations in his Travels over England (1690). In Ireland, he recalled eating 'one of their most delicious dishes' made from blood mixed with milk and butter and flavored with herbs. He was describing drisheen (see p. 222), a blood sausage very popular in County Cork. All over Ireland similar puddings were made: in Tipperary turkey or goose blood was the main ingredient, and in Tyrone and Derry they preserved blood by coagulating and layering it with salt.
All over Europe, McLagan adds, there are variations on the theme of blood sausages; in Italy, they make sweet dishes such as sanguinaccio alla napoletana with blood. In Scandinavia, "they make bread with blood, rye flour, and beer and season it with cloves, allspice and ginger."

Asia has a tradition of using blood for food as well. "In Asia, cooked blood is cut into cubes and sold as a snack or added to soup," writes McLagan. "A well-known Filipino dish, dinuguan (euphemistically called 'chocolate meat'), is a stew of pork and tripe cooked in blood with vinegar and hot peppers." She continues,
Marco Polo describes in detail the ability of Mongol warriors to traverse large distances quickly without being spotted. They didn't stop to make fire and cook their food, because firewood was scarce on the steppes and the smoke from a fire would reveal their location to enemies. Instead each man traveled with eighteen horses and survived by drinking their blood. 
With all this in mind, I've stopped pouring blood down the drain. You can't buy blood off the shelf here in the U.S., but a package of liver typically contains a good deal of blood. Using one of McLagan's suggestions, I substituted some blood and cream for milk in a soup recipe tonight. The blood really was a good thickener--certainly more nutritious than flour and a good substitute for eggs if you're allergic to them. It gave the soup (cream of celery) a hint of a flavor of liver and a reddish brown cast, and I found a bowl of it every bit as filling as a quarter pound of beef.

Source: Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan, Random House, New York, 2011, pp 216-226.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vitamin D Dosing

I recently wrote about my SWAMP hypothesis of curing a sinus (or upper respiratory) infection with Mucinex, salt and a large dose of vitamin D. In testing my hypothesis on my own infection, I may have overdosed a little on the vitamin D, so I've been doing some research on vitamin D dosing.

In several studies, subjects have been given a one-time dose of 100,000 IU of vitamin D. In one of those studies, the vitamin D levels were tested every few days and graphed. The vitamin D level peaked seven days after the dose, and the measured levels in the subjects didn't even come close to being toxic. (When you look at the graphs, keep in mind that the units are in nmol/L.) The maximum level in any subject was 48.1 ng/mL (ng/mL being the usual unit of measure for vitamin D levels).(1) This is a normal level of vitamin D.

In another study, subjects were given a one-time 100,000 IU dose:
A single dose in winter of 2.5 mg (100 000 IU) vitamin D has previously been shown to produce an elevation in 25-hydroxy vitamin D concentrations that lasts several months without any increase in serum calcium or other adverse side effects that occur only when such doses are given daily oven several months (29, 30); it is estimated equivalent to the decrease in amount of vitamin D made in the skin in winter compared with summer. Peak concentrations (about a threefold increase from baseline) occurred 2 weeks after ingestion of vitamin D (29).(2)
However, a letter to the British Medical Journal urges caution in taking a 100,000 IU dose:
We know from prior studies [eg 2] that some individuals will be harmed. Those with "a history of renal stones, sarcoidosis, or malignancy" were excluded from the cohort, presumably because they were thought to be at risk of harm.(3)
In a follow-up letter, the same letter writer mentioned undiagnosed vitamin D disregulation in people with "lesser immune dysfunction, such as Crohn's, Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis."(4) Further,
there are thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of folks for whom 100,000 IU of cholecalciferol [vitamin D3] would result in hospitalization or death.(5)
Vitamin D also interacts with some drugs. Here are the drugs with major, moderate and minor interactions with vitamin D3.(6)

For further reading, the Vitamin D Council has a page on vitamin D toxicity.

It looks like most people can safely take a 100,000 IU dose of vitamin D3, but there are people who should avoid it. Do some research and talk to your doctor if you think you might have a problem taking a large dose of vitamin D.

1. "Pharmacokinetics of a single, large dose of cholecalciferol1–3" by Marium Ilahi, Laura AG Armas, and Robert P Heaney. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008;87:688 –91.
2. "Single-dose cholecalciferol suppresses the winter increase in parathyroid hormone concentrations in healthy older men and women: a randomized trial"  by Kay-Tee Khaw, Robert Scragg, and Sean Murphy. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1994;59-1040-4.
3. "A Therapy is Only Safe if it 'Does No Harm'" by Trevor G. Marshall, PhD, March 3, 2003, rapid response to "Effect of four monthly oral vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplementation on fractures and mortality in men and women living in the community: randomised double blind controlled trial" in British Medical Journal, 2003;326:469.
4. "100,000 IU of Vitamin D is a Lethal Dose for Many in our Community" by Trevor G. Marshall, PhD, March 3, 2003, rapid response to "Effect of four monthly oral vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplementation on fractures and mortality in men and women living in the community: randomised double blind controlled trial" in British Medical Journal, 2003;326:469.
5. Ibid.
6. Drugs.com Interaction Checker.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Monkey Meat and Book Diet: Debunking Associations

The latest issue of The Wilson Quarterly has a the elements of a plan for losing weight: monkey meat and reading. Journalist Scott Wallace, on an assignment with National Geographic, trekked through the Amazon eating "nothing but monkey meat for days on end, losing 30 pounds on the journey."(1)

That's not all--the magazine adds that reading is associated with lower BMI (body mass index). "In particular, readers are less likely to be overweight than TV watchers. Indeed, regular book-reading seems to predict lower BMI about as reliably as regular exercise."(2) (The article cites a forthcoming paper by Fred C. Pampel  in Sociology of Health and Illness.) "Pampel found that education, employment, and other components of socioeconomic status correlate with body mass index (BMI)."

I'm going with reading because it's easier than raising your socioeconomic status. You'll have to source the monkey meat yourself, though. I can't solve all your problems for you.

Of course, I'm kidding. While nearly anyone would lose weight eating a very low carb diet of monkey meat while hiking the Amazon, you need a diet you can live with for the rest of your life. (And just because one person has success with a diet doesn't mean you will. Remember the Twinkie guy and the potato guy?)

As a public policy scholar, Mr. Wallace, who lost 30 pounds, must read a book now and then, yet he had 30 pounds available to lose. Obviously, reading doesn't cause weight loss, it's just associated with normal weight. Association isn't causation. A might cause B, B might cause A, or something else might cause both. What isn't so obvious is associations between diet and weight, exercise and weight, or drugs and health outcomes. It's commonly assumed that "healthy lifestyles" like exercising and eating right cause normal weight and good fitness. But do they? Or are healthier people more likely to exercise, health-minded people more likely to take their pills, and health buffs more likely to follow the latest advice on diet? We're all prone to seeing patterns even where there aren't any--and association is a type of pattern.

In the book Proofiness, Charles Seife writes,
Casuistry--without the extra "u"--is the art of making a misleading argument through seemingly sound principles. Causuistry is a specialized form of casuistry where the fault in the argument comes from implying that there is a causal relationship between two things when in fact there isn't any such linkage.
Causuistry is particularly common in health and nutrition research; you might have even altered your diet because of it.(3)
Seife goes on to debunk the link between Nutrasweet and brain tumors.
Sure, Nutrasweet consumption was going up at the same time brain tumor rates were, but a lot of other things were on the rise too, such as cable TV, Sony Walkmen, Tom Cruise's career.(4)
Comedian Tom Naughton gave a speech called "Science for Smart People"(5) that covered associations. Watch it, and you may never think about health and nutrition news the same way again. (ETA: I referenced the wrong video before.)


1. "Avoiding the Arrow People," The Wilson Quarterly, February 1, 2012.
2. "Paper Treadmills" by Stephen Bates, The Wilson Quarterly, February 1, 2012.
3. Proofiness by Charles Seife, p. 44. Penguin Books, 2010.
4. Ibid, p. 46.
5. "Science for Smart People" by Tom Naughton, 2011.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Vitamin D v. Illness Update

I ran a small, non-randomized, non-clinical, unscientific study where I took a megadose of vitamin D and Mucinex for a persistent sinus infection and counseled my parents to do the same if they were sick. Results:

Me: My sinus infection is long gone. The treatment succeeded where a course of antibiotics failed. The vitamin D toxicity side effects (fatigue, muscle weakness and constipation) are gone as well. (See my posts on SWAMP.)

Mother: She took 50,000 IU for three days when she felt a cold coming on. Then she started taking 7,000 IU per day. She didn't get sick. In addition, her fasting blood sugar, which had been around 140, started dropping. It was 98 this morning. It may not have been because of the vitamin D, but vitamin D reduces inflammation, which is part of metabolic syndrome.

Father: He won't take 50,000 IU of vitamin D at one time. He's taken 10,000 IU per day and Mucinex. He's still sick.

Permanently Limit Carbs

"...Telling a person that they can progressively add more and more dietary carbohydrate means that they don't need to make their peace with not having it. All they need to do is wait a few months..." -The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living

Does the lure of adding back carbs derail people from their diets? I don't have any other explanation for the stampede to safe starches or the drift of the potaleo (potato+paleo) movement. This isn't carb creep, where low-carbers get back on track after some weight gain or other problems, it's keeping watch for excuses to eat carbs.

At this writing, a Google search for the phrase "adding back carbs" yields 16,000 results. The phrase "permanently limit carbs"? This post will make four.

It's time for a different attitude towards high-carb living: it's over. No more pasta, bread, pie, cookies, beer, and so on, ever--unless you're having low-carb versions of those things. (Confession: I'm still trying to kick chocolate. The low-carb brownies are helping.) It sounds harsh, but I've actually found it easier to completely cut out certain foods like wheat than to cut back on them. It's like dealing with a bad relationship: better to stop calling, stop dropping by, stop thinking about it, and just end it and move on. I did the weekly "free day" for years on Body for Life, and cheat day foods ended up creeping into all the other days. Now, with no cheat day, cheating is infrequent. And a cheat day can damage your health. In an interview with Jimmy Moore, Dr. Cate Shanahan answered a question from a caller about having a binge now and then: on an inflammatory food binge, a stroke is possible, and a stroke is permanent. Dr. John Briffa cited a study showing raised triglycerides (which are fueled by carb) are associated with higher risk of stroke and research on carbs, inflammation and stroke. "While a fat indulgence (if there is such a thing) pushes large LDL up," says Dr. William Davis, cardiologist, "the effect is relatively short-lived. Have a carbohydrate indulgence, on the other hand, and small LDL particles persist for up to a week." (Small LDL contributes to atherosclerotic plaque.)

It's also time for a different attitude towards low-carb living: eat a good-enough LC diet. Or as Sean Croxton puts it, don't be weird. I recently read about a woman who, by her own blog account, was neurotic about her eating and ended up going on a sugar bender. She justified it by the fact that--wait for it--her temperature was steadier after her binge. A good-enough diet keeps me from acting like a sailor on shore leave. I get the best groceries I can, but if I feel like eating at McDonald's, I do. If all that's available is canola-soy oil salad dressing, I use it. I also have low-carb ice cream, stevia, Splenda, and diet Dr. Pepper. Not pristine, but they're not major parts of my diet, and for me, they're better than other food I might have if I were too strict or let myself go hungry.

Now that I haven't had a potato or fruit, or bread or pasta, or variety of other starchy, sugary foods in years, I can hardly remember what they taste like. And guess what: I don't crave them anymore--except for the chocolate.