Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blog Lineup Change

Bye-bye, Fathead. I've enjoyed the blog, but can't endorse the high-fat, high-carb Perfect Health Diet that somehow makes so much sense to some otherwise bright people. An astrophysicist makes some rookie mistakes on a LC diet, misdiagnoses them, makes up "glucose deficiency," and creates a diet that's been shown in intervention studies to increase small LDL, which can lead to heart disease. A computer programmer believes in the diet and doesn't seem eager to refute it because, perhaps, scientists are freakin' liars and while he's good at spotting logical inconsistencies, lacks some intermediate knowledge of human biology. To Tom's credit, he says it's not the right diet for everyone, but given the truckload of food that has to be prepared and eaten, impracticality of following it while traveling (or even not traveling), and unsuitability for FODMAPs sufferers, diabetics and anyone prone to heart disease (i.e., much of the population), I'm not sure who it's right for.

Hello, Hyperlipid. Much of what you say is over my head, but I'm learning. Anecdotes and n=1 experiments are good most of the time, but they've also given us the Twinkie diet (remember the nutritionist who lost weight on a calorie-restricted Twinkie diet?) and claims of LC diets ruining metabolism and blowing up people's previously healthy thyroids. Many people claimed to see the sun careening towards the earth on a day in 1930; do we re-write the laws of physics for this? Finding a balance between cases and textbooks is hard, but Peter has a good deal of both kinds of knowledge and admits what he doesn't know.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Eating a Ton of Vegetables Isn't a Good Idea

I love vegetables. There are so many foods that I can't eat that meals would be boring without them. In fact, I like them so much that I planted five kinds of lettuce and two kinds of tomatoes in my garden today. All the same, stuffing yourself with vegetables (or anything else) isn't good.

1. Fibrous vegetables can drive up your blood sugar if you eat enough of them. In one of his books, Dr. Richard Bernstein discussed a patient who ended up with a very high blood sugar after eating a head of lettuce. There are stretch receptors in your intestines that, when they sense you've eaten a big meal, release hormones that can end up raising your blood sugar. Bernstein calls this the Chinese Restaurant Effect.

2. All food is inflammatory. As Michael Eades put it,
Eating is an inflammatory process. A number of scientific studies have shown that eating a meal, regardless of the macronutrient composition, causes acute inflammation, which makes sense when you think about it. Food coming into the body is a foreign substance that fires up the innate immune system – but it does so briefly until the food is digested and the various fats, proteins and carbohydrates are broken down into their basic units and absorbed into the blood stream. (Although it might seem strange that food that we absolutely need to live could cause inflammatory problems, it makes sense when you realize that the very oxygen we breathe and that we would be dead in about four minutes without is slowly killing us also.) 

Caloric restriction is no fun, but is it worth it to stuff yourself with inflammatory brussels sprouts?

3. Certain vegetables can upset your stomach. Contrary to conventional wisdom, if you're in distress after eating certain vegetables (broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower and best known for this), the answer isn't to adapt to it, unless you're punishing yourself or the person who has to smell your gas. The answer is to eat less of them, or in some cases give them up. Given our digestive system is more like that of a carnivore than an herbivore, it's natural that some people have limited tolerance for vegetables and surprising that some people can eat so much of them.

4. Fibrous vegetables are calorie-poor. People have been so focused on cutting calories for so long that this might seem like a good thing. But many people have described problems on low-carb diets such as low energy, poor mood, hair loss and feeling cold--all things that are symptoms of low-calorie diets. Many report the symptoms go away when they add starch to their diet. You could also say they've added calories to their diet. This phenomenon seems to have come up at the same time that it became fashionable to gorge on fibrous vegetables. The low-carb diets of decades past called for a generous amount of fat, not fiber.

5. Finally, it's wasteful to gorge on anything. If you recycle your trash, compost your peelings, drive a Prius or take public transportation, eating pounds of vegetables every day (far in excess of what you need) doesn't make sense. Vegetables have to be irrigated, fertilized, sprayed for pests (even organic vegetables), and shipped to market. And they cost money! There's no need to give them up entirely, but there's no need to gorge on them, either.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Coconut Milk, Kale, Karate, and Macadamia Nuts: Fails and Wins

Coconut in a Can

This can of Natural Value coconut milk from Natural Grocers (fka Vitamin Cottage)...


...looked like this...


...and made a gloppy, eggy mess out of a custard dish I've made successfully many times. (I added 3T lime juice to the custard, which I hadn't tried before, but I don't think that would have ruined it.)

From now on, it's Thai Kitchen coconut milk or Sprouts premium organic.

Thai Kitchen coconut milk (full fat). Sprouts premium organic is similar.

Kale Chips

Today I ruined a bunch of lacinato kale making kale chips. 500 Paleo Recipes says to cook the chips at 375; some recipes on the web call for 300 degrees when using lacinato kale. They're probably right; at 375, the chips filled the kitchen with smoke and tasted exactly like you'd expect burnt leaves to taste. Red Russian kale has worked well at at the higher temperature, though. With some salt and dip made of mayonnaise, chives and lemon juice, they were way better than the kind from the grocery store.

Karate

I thought karate would be easier than it's been. I've used the taekwondo that I remember, but something I never expected has been a hindrance: dancing. Certain habits from dancing don't work in karate: turning clockwise on your right foot, following your partner, moving gracefully not forcefully, avoiding putting your hands at chest height to avoid accidental boob grabs (ABG--the class thought that was very funny), and cooperating with your partner. Grabbing your partner's clothes and hair are out. This is the way I've moved and dealt with partners for 11 years, and learning new habits has been hard.

Kicking out Macadamia Nuts

One thing that's been successful, though, has been getting rid of macadamia nuts. I feel better and have more energy without them, so much so that I actually need less sleep. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Adopt a Troll, Do Some Good

I've decided to adopt a troll. What does that mean? Every time the troll leaves some troll dung on a blog I read, I'll donate a dollar to charity. (I'll send a check at the end of the month.) Heifer International seems appropriate. HI provides livestock and other agricultural projects to needy people around the world for income, self-sufficiency and more protein in their diet. An example of their work:

One of Heifer International's biggest projects is EADD - the East Africa Dairy Development project. It was started in 2008 with a $42.8 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It's helping about 179,000 small-scale dairy farmers to double their incomes.
Now, we're happy to announce that we've received a one-year, $8.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation to continue that work. The grant will support existing projects in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda and explore possibilities for expansion in Ethiopia and Tanzania.

“We are excited for the opportunity to continue serving dairy farming families and grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their support,” says Elizabeth Bintliff, vice president of Heifer International’s Africa area program. 
So what, exactly does EADD do? The project helps small dairy farmers sustainably increase their milk productivity and efficiency. It also helps them sell more milk by connecting to markets and by creating and expanding infrastructure like collection hubs and chilling plants. 
EADD is now in its final year of the pilot phase. It has grown to be one of the leading market-oriented agro-livestock development initiatives in East Africa, earning the farming families more than $35 million. 
Heifer International is implementing the project, with help from partners TechnoServe, The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), World Agroforestry Research Institute and Africa Breeders Services. 
Source:  http://www.heifer.org/join-the-conversation/blog/2012/july/heifer-gets-8-5-million-from-gates-foundation-for-africa-dairy-work.html

Recently, the Gates Foundation donated another $25.6 million to the project.

Annoying trolls AND helping people get the money and food they need? I'm looking forward to it.

Maybe some low carb diabetics would like to adopt a troll whose initials are Charles Grashow.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Nuts: A Condiment, Not a Snack

Nuts seem like the perfect snack: they're portable, they keep well, they don't need to be cooked, and they're tasty. Problem: I don't feel good when I eat too many of them. Recently, I started snacking on macadamia nuts, which are high-fat, so I thought they wouldn't be a problem. But my stomach was upset, I got a bit of acid reflux and nosebleeds, and generally didn't feel up to par.

Nuts have phytates, which bind to zinc and other minerals. This might have caused my nosebleeds. And I don't know what it is about macadamia nuts, but they don't seem to digest well for me; they felt like they were sitting in my stomach causing bloating. I've felt pretty much the same way eating more than a little bit of nuts or goodies made with nut flour.

It could be that nuts are seeds and don't "want" to be eaten. Like grass seeds, they defend themselves by sickening those who ingest them. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Food Revulsion

After four years eating mostly real food, I'm having the opposite of junk food cravings. For awhile now, a lot of foods have no longer looked like food to me--noodles, pastry, cake, most snack foods that come in plastic bags. (Cookies and brownies still do.) Later, most fruit didn't smell good. I recently made the mistake of getting some shea butter liquid soap, not noticing "honey-citrus" on the label. It smells bad, but I'm too cheap to throw it out.

Pizza has long smelled like a wet dog, which is unpleasant but tolerable, but today the pizza in the break room smelled disgusting. So did the burnt toast. Has anyone else had this experience? I never imagined I'd prefer steak tartar to pizza, but steak tartar looks, smells and tastes great to me. A bonus: I've never eaten anything that sat so easily on my stomach. I get full, but it's like there's nothing in my stomach.

Steak tartar and salad with Doreen's dressing. Recipes from 500 Paleo Recipes and 500 Low-Carb Recipes, respectively, by Dana Carpender.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

We Hate the ADA; Why does the Perfect Health Diet Get a Pass?

Some people keep touting the Perfect Health Diet as low-carb, but carb levels that are mostly in the triple digits aren't generally regarded as low-carb; in fact, one of the authors says low-carb diets are unhealthy.

A lot of us hate the American Diabetes Association's advice for diabetics: start with 45g to 60g of carbohydrate per meal and go higher or lower from there. That's 135g to 180g of carb.

Perfect Health Diet advice for diabetics: eat 20% to 30% of your diet as carbohydrate. On 2,000 calories, that's 100g to 150g of carb. On 1,700 calories, that's 85 to 128g; on 2,200 calories, that's 112 to 168g. Depending on your carb and calorie intake, carbs would be 85g to 168g per day. That's not a mile off from the ADA's recommendations.

Paul Jaminet, one of the authors of the Perfect Health Diet, says, "the basic biology here is that the body's physiology is optimized for a carbohydrate intake of about 30%." He warns against a diet of 10% carbohydrate:

Among these are hormonal changes including low T3 thyroid hormone and high cortisol. This condition makes fasting problematic and diabetics tend to develop high blood glucose levels in the morning after the overnight fast. Due to high fasting glucose and severe insulin resistance, HbA1c may be elevated by this strategy compared to a 20% or 30% carb diet. Various pathologies, including hypoglycemic episodes, dysregulation of serum fatty acid levels, ketoacidosis, and adrenal dysfunction become more likely.

Ten percent sounds low, but it's a pretty average low-carb diet. On 2,000 calories a day, 10% carbohydrate would be 50g of carb; on 1700 calories, it's 43g; on 2200 calories, it's 55g. These numbers are around what some low-carb doctors recommend for their patients. Fifty grams isn't even a VLC diet, generally considered around 20g or less per day. Dr. Richard Bernstein, one of the foremost experts on diabetes, clinician, and a type 1 diabetic himself, recommends the 6-12-12 rule: six grams of carb at breakfast, 12 at lunch, and 12 at dinner (30g total) and a target blood sugar of 83. Dr. William Davis, another clinician, recommends keeping carbohydrate to 40-50 grams per day (30 for more carb-sensitive patients) to keep post-meal blood sugars below 100.

Jaminet's claims about the dangers of low-carb diets seem questionable. I admit I'm not up on all of the endocrinology Jaminet refers to, but according to what I've read, ketoacidosis, for the most part, occurs only in type 1 diabetics who are severely ill, and it's post-meal blood glucose spikes, not A1c, that are more important. HbA1c is an average blood glucose. Jenny Ruhl at the Diabetes Update Blog has a page devoted to debunking low-carb scare studies in general. (There's even more on the blog.) She addresses kidney disease and cholesterol; elsewhere, hypoglycemiaDr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution mentions many common causes of hypoglycemia; simply following a low-carb diet isn't among them. Most of the causes he mentions involve improperly taking insulin. As for thyroid, several clinicians have remarked that they don't see problems like hair loss and cold hands or unhealthy changes in thyroid levels in their patients; researchers and others have stated they hadn't seen studies showing low-carb diets harming thyroid function.

There have been intervention studies on low carb diets and diabetes showing improvements with those diets. One study by Eric Westman et al put type 2 diabetic volunteers on either a ketogenic (less than 20g carb per day) or a low GI, restricted calorie diet. The keto group ate, on average, 13% of calories from carb and saw more improvement in HDL, weight loss, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and medication reduction than the other group. There was no indication of any of the problems Jaminet warns against in the adverse effects section. Jenny Ruhl has summarized several similar studies, and gives a warning about high carb, high fat diets (the Perfect Health Diet among them):

Low carb diets are very healthy as long as they are really low carb. But the bad news is that if your carbohydrate intake starts to rise over 120 grams per day, your diets will become very unhealthy unless you cut back on fat. A high fat intake is only healthy with a truly low carb diet. The studies that convinced doctors in the 1970s that low carb diets were dangerous were all studies of people eating "low carb" diets of 150 grams of carbohydrate a day or more. And more recent research suggests that those diets are just as unhealthy now as they were then. If you can control your blood sugar with a diet that cuts carbs to a level nearer 150 grams a day, as opposed to 100 grams a day, keep your fats to 30% of all calories and you'll be fine....
In quite a few high profile studies published recently the "low carb" diet turns out to be one containing anywhere from 120 to 180 grams of carbohydrate a day. For most of us, this is far too much carbohydrate. It will raise our blood sugar dramatically and when that happens, we lose all the benefits of carb restriction.

In the comments of a blog post, Ruhl says,

Several of the research studies I reviewed when writing my new book found that as carbs rose over 110 g a day and certainly by the time they approached 150 g a day if people did not cut their fat down to no more than 30% of calories their cholesterol profile switched to the kind that suggests small atherogenic, rather than large, healthy LDL particles, which is not a healthy profile. Many people eating high fat intakes at that carb intake level ended up regaining lost weight at a swift rate.
The Perfect Health Diet recommends getting most of your calories from fat; however, this is bad idea in the context of a diet that can easily rise above 110g of carbohydrate a day.

Before Tom Naughton went off the rails with safe starches, his two adorable daughters made a video explaining why the combination of fat and sugar (or easily digested starch like potatoes) is bad for you: When your blood has too much glucose, it burns the glucose and stores the fat. Later, if the insulin makes your blood sugar go to low, you cannot, of course, burn any more sugar, but in the presence of insulin, your cells won't release fat. In other words, you're hungry again. Or as their father once put it, you're not getting fat because you're eating more, you're eating more because you're getting fat. Eat some more starch, with or without fat, and you might become fat and diabetic.

But I think Dr. Bernstein sums up the Perfect Health Diet best: "This sounds like BS to me!"

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Long-Term Experience Eating Safe (and Other) Starches

Years ago, before the Perfect Health Diet came out, I followed a program that involved eating quite a bit "safe starch." It was called Body for Life. It involved eating six small servings of carbohydrate along with six small servings of protein, plus two servings of fibrous vegetables per day. (A serving was the size of your fist or the palm of your hand.) There were six workouts a week (three weightlifting, three cardio) and one free day every week where you ate whatever you wanted and didn't exercise.

In all fairness, these two programs are different: BFL allows certain grains, legumes and low-fat dairy and discourages fat. It doesn't call for a wheelbarrow full of vegetation. Nevertheless, my experience eating lots of fruit and lots of starch is relevant to the PHD because the amount and type of digestible carbohydrates are similar, and for the first few years, I didn't eat wheat except on free days.

At first on BFL, I felt great. Before, I was continually hungry and thinking, "I just ate a few hours ago!" That's not a problem on BFL because you eat every few hours. I also lost two dress sizes within a few months--lifting weights puts that bolus of insulin to good use building muscle. All was well for a few years.

At some point, though, I started noticing a sour taste in the back of my mouth. It was worse if I bent over. I also had a sour stomach fairly often. It became hard to swallow and food got stuck in my throat, taking a good deal of hacking to spit it out. I even ended up at the hospital once. The doctor looked at me like she didn't believe me. I didn't want her treating me, so in a panic, I went to the sink, gave it all I had, and coughed up the food like Bill Grogan's goat.

Eventually, I went to see a gastroenterologist for my swallowing trouble. He sedated me and gave me an endoscopy. When it felt like there was a big black box that was going to tear my throat from the inside, I pulled out the tube. I told the nurse why, and she, too, looked at me like she didn't believe me. In reality, though, tearing was one of the dangers listed on the consent form I signed. Nevertheless, they got a few pictures. One of them showed an esophageal ulcer.

After a condescending phone call from the nurse, I hung up on her, hanged her in effigy and took my business to a different gastroenterologist, who diagnosed me with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). It means that your stomach acid ends up in your throat and mouth often enough to cause serious problems. Untreated, it can lead to esophageal cancer, which killed one of my grandfathers. The doctor prescribed acid blockers, and all was well again.

Well, not everything. I had one cavity when I started BFL. By the time I finished in 2009, I had several fillings, along with tender gums and sensitive, dingy teeth. I told my dentist I brushed twice a day and flossed often; I'm not sure if he believed me. And a visit with my doctor for a sore shoulder showed that I'd gained 20 pounds since I lost some weight when I started BFL. Part of the problem was that I'd started eating wheat more than occasionally in late 2006, but my chart showed a steady weight gain from before that time. The cavities--same pattern.

What does this have to do with starches and fruit? My GERD went away on a low-carb diet. When I found out how bad acid blockers can be long-term, I stopped taking them and ended up with acid rebound--i.e., hell in my stomach and throat. I found the suggestion that a low-carb diet cured GERD at the Protein Power website via Dr. Davis (back when he was a voice in the wilderness) and thought it was a crazy idea, but I was willing to try anything to put out the fire. It worked! Anytime I indulged in more than a little carb, my GERD returned to horsewhip me. Microbiologist Norm Robillard has a hypothesis that in some people, the gas created by bacteria that digest carbohydrate pushes their stomach acid up into their throat.

As to cavities, starch begins breaking down into glucose (a sugar) in your mouth, and sugar is well-known to cause cavities. Likewise, my blood sugar was probably higher eating carbohydrate throughout the day, and higher blood sugar is related to cavities, too.

I was also getting tired of preparing and eating six little meals every day. It took a fair amount of time and effort. It was inconvenient while traveling--it's not always easy to get fruit or rice or a baked potato on the road. Winter squash, sweet potatoes--forget it.

Why little meals throughout the day? Why not two or three regular meals? BFL says this is a paleolithic practice (it isn't) and that grazing animals are leaner than binge eating animals (absurd); I don't know PHD's reasons. I say it's because a big serving of carbohydrate turns into a big batch of glucose requiring a big bolus of insulin. If you have wonky blood sugar, the end of that cycle can make you feel tired and/or hungry when the insulin sends your blood sugar crashing down. I now know that I'm hypoglycemic--for much of my life, I had most of the symptoms Drs. Atkins and Richard Bernstein list in their respective books and I'm from a family full of diabetes. A few hours after a piece of fruit or half a baked potato or somesuch, I'm hungry enough to eat the wallpaper. If you're that hungry and don't have some "safe starch" or "authorized food" on you, you'll eat whatever you can get your hands on. Of course, not everybody has that reaction to digestible carbohydrate, but who's more likely to buy a diet book?

Again, in all fairness, there are some important differences between BFL and PHD, but they both call for a level of carbohydrate that's harmful for some people. Eating lots of carbohydrate gave me acid reflux, an esophageal ulcer, sensitive teeth and gums and a mouthful of cavities. And it took a lot of time and effort to get that way! PHD looks like it would take even more effort to do by the book. Cooking starchy tubers takes time; cooking the bone broth that PHD calls for can, I've read elsewhere, take hours to simmer. Most organ meats and exotic vegetables aren't available on the road or at the supermarket, and the organ meat recipes I've seen take a lot of preparation. Just eating a bucketful of vegetation would take me hours. I suspect that for most, PHD in practice will become a meat and potatoes diet with a salad.

A low-carb diet might not be for everyone, but four years on, I have nothing but praise for it. Since I quit BFL for a low-carb diet, I haven't had any new cavities or tooth decay. Even when I couldn't brush my teeth for a few months due to an accident a few years ago, my dentist said there was no decay. My surgeon remarked that I took two shots in the gums without flinching. (PHD is probably a better dental health diet than BFL since it has more fat-soluble vitamins your teeth need.) I spend a lot less time cooking, eating, exercising and grocery shopping. Most days, I have bacon or scrambled eggs for breakfast and broil a hamburger and fix a salad for dinner. If I'm still hungry, I might spend a few minutes making low-carb ice cream. I eat dark chocolate or nuts as a snack. I make a few other things that take some time, but they're not a big chore and they're not required. If I go out, I usually have a bunless hamburger or a naked burrito. Working on a project without stopping to eat every few hours is freedom--and frequent little meals aren't always possible. My GERD returned only when I had too much carb or anything fruit flavored or too much Sudafed (certain medications can cause acid reflux). The 20 pounds fell off, too. Haven't had the dry eyes, lack of mucus, cold hands or lethargy some people feel on a LC diet. If anything, I feel more energetic and less cold than I did in my twenties (I'm 45).

Even though I'm hypoglycemic, I don't find that I need much carbohydrate to feel well; I eat roughly 50g per day. If your blood sugar is normal, you have around one teaspoon of glucose in all the blood in your body. On PHD, you might eat 150g of carb per day, which is, or breaks down to, over two-thirds of a cup of  sugar. That doesn't include the glucose you make from stuffing yourself with a bale of fibrous vegetables. (Dr. Bernstein calls this the Chinese Restaurant Effect.) Yes, the fat in the PHD slows down digestion and blunts sugar spikes. But when there's too much insulin in your bloodstream, your body burns sugar and stores fat.

Of course, people should experiment if they're unhappy with their diet. But I, for one, don't have a reason to add any starches. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Vacation: Lots of Work, a Few Cookies

I'm on vacation, and it's wearing me out. Yesterday, I laid down insulation in my parents' attic, had a meeting with a Medicaid consultant, and fixed my toilet. My father may need to take out Medicaid, and I wanted an accurate picture of what the options were. Home care and a nursing home are viable; assisted living is not since the facility would take nearly all of my father's income. The Medicaid consultant said we may have to open yet another account to keep a minimal amount of money in my father's name. I'm still transferring direct pays from US Bank to the credit account that Mom opened a few months ago (since US Bank charged fees left, right and center).

As of today the insulation project at my parents' house is finally finished. I'm relieved that I never have to see that attic, feel its sharp little nails, or breath its dust again. My next project at my parents' house is to landscape an unirrigated hillside, but it'll have to be rototilled first. It hasn't been watered in over a year, and it's so hard that I couldn't get a shovel more than a few inches into the ground. Weeds are growing through the landscaping fabric that I told my father was a waste of time and money. Meantime, I fixed up a little bed near the front door and planted cosmos seeds, which should look good alongside the daylilies, hens and chicks, and dusty miller growing there. I squirted liquid dish soap in another hard, unwatered bed. After it rains this week, the soap should make it tillable.

Next, it was on to the post office to send back a book and bunch of stuff from Publisher's Clearinghouse my mother decided she didn't need, like a couple of bottles of handi-wipes for $20 plus shipping and a set of ten storage bowls (there's barely room in the kitchen for the stuff they already have). (Amazon.com sells a five-pack of Wet Ones for $18.) Publisher's Clearinghouse does not make it easy to return items (no return form or pre-printed shipping label) and there's no obvious way to tell them to end your membership in "clubs" so that they stop sending you packages.

Back at my house, the grass had grown so tall I couldn't ignore it anymore. I don't have a lawn in front--it was weeds. I've never had so many weeds before--usually, the flowers re-seed themselves and choke out most of the weeds. There were a couple of dead bushes, too. Maybe it was the cold winter--even my hardiest roses had a lot of dead wood to prune. I dug up about a third of the front yard, filling six lawn and leaf bags with weeds and dead bushes, so I could plant something else--and I hit paydirt. I found a gazillion little blue mist spirea seedlings, just the thing for my back yard, part of the front yard, and the hard bed by my parents' house. I've started some cuttings for my parents, but these will work, too. Another pleasant surprise: for all the dust I breathed today, it hasn't bothered me. I got a stronger dust mask for the attic (the front of it is grey now), but I knocked the dirt off the grass roots with a shovel. Yet no runny nose, stuffy nose or watering eyes.

My reward for finishing the insulation project was a box of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. I could have made myself brownies, but going to more trouble seemed like an odd way to reward myself. The cookies are wonderful, but I'm not going to make a habit of eating them. They're not low carb (first ingredient is some sort of sugar, and 25g of carb in two cookies), and I don't normally burn enough calories to justify eating so much carb or take on such an odious project to need a reward like that.

Tomorrow, if it's not too rainy, I'll clean up my back yard and prune my parents' rose bushes. Pruning isn't the hard part--bundling up the thorny canes is. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

In Defense of Fast Food

Another modern trend - healthy food should be expensive, not nutrients-dense and preferably exotic, or you would be eating like plebs who live on a dollar McD menu. --Galina L.

I don't try to jump over seven-foot hurdles, I look for one-foot hurdles I can step over. --Warren Buffett, pleb who eats at McDonald's

Despite all the talk about wild-caught v. farmed, grass-fed v. CAFO and the vilification of fast food, a lot of us plebs benefit simply from carbohydrate restriction. But even though diabetes and obesity are rampant, and carb restriction alone would help millions of people, the impression is out there that you need to eat in a very specific way, far beyond just watching the carbs. Following a low-carb diet is already a high hurdle for many people. If some people want or need to raise the bar for themselves, that's fine with me, but there's no need to turn low-carb into a hurdle that a lot of people can't jump over.

Organic produce and grass-fed or pastured animal products are ideal, but they're not required for controlling blood sugar, improving lipids, losing weight or making ketones. This is an important point for people without access to pristine food or the inclination to buy it. People on a budget, people living in dormitories or motels, people who travel or are exhausted or  can't cook due to a disability or just don't see what all the fuss is about shouldn't get the impression that they need to eat perfectly. 

If eating a bunless burger from a fast food joint is what fits into their lifestyle, and that's what gets their weight or diabetes in check and saves them from blindness or amputation, or saves them hundreds of dollars a month in medications (some of which cause serious side effects), how in the world is that not an epic win? 

And if we're being honest, the places that really ought to be considered no-man's land are bakeries, yogurt shops, and most Italian restaurants.