Tuesday, June 30, 2015

eating like a lumberjack

During the "quiet time" we've been having recently, while so many bloggers are busy LIVING instead of writing, I started reading Dana Carpender's blog archive.

I have NO IDEA why I didn't do this before:  she is, after all, my favorite living cookbook-author!  Since I started reading blogs so much (which started while my husband worked out-of-town, and I had gobs of time to call my own) and ultimately discovered her work, she hasn't been as prolific a writer as she was six or seven years ago, and I didn't have a chance to get hooked on her "voice." 

I'm making up for it, now.  :-)  Enjoying it, too!  I became acquainted with her in real life, on the low-carb cruises, and I really like her and her husband both.  My daughter observed that Dana reminded her of my eldest sister, and she's right -- D and S have similar personalities which I find entertaining and stimulating.

Some of her blog-posts recount what she eats on a daily basis -- well, she creates and publishes recipes, so she has a lot of "experiments" to "dispose of" and is too frugal a person to want to let any food go to waste.  If her mother was like mine, who grew up during the Great Depression, she comes by it naturally....

Once when she asked for reader input, someone "accused" her of having a small appetite, saying that some days she seemed to eat not much more than a chicken-thigh during the course of half a day;  Dana responded that on the contrary, her reader had been mistaken, and elaborated on the sort of meal and its preparation, which the reader had misinterpreted.  Further, in the comments, another reader agreed with Dana having a decent-sized appetite -- she herself ate similarly and had been accused of "eating like a lumberjack."

This is what spurred me to write today.  It aggrieves me to hear people passing judgement on not only WHAT other people choose to eat but HOW MUCH ... especially right in their faces ... and most especially to women.  And as we see daily, online, much waspishness goes on and much conclusion-jumping too.  So-and-so MUST eat less (or more) than they claim to, because they're losing (or gaining) weight on what a NORMAL PERSON would not!  Or -- and this is the perennial annoyance -- SHE eats like a lumberjack ... with the underlying, unspoken condemnation that such a woman is gross and unfeminine.

For millennia, "Neolithic" culture has been up-in-arms about anybody having a good time, and it's a particular crime for women.  Women should be delicate and pure, abstemious, chaste and sober, and "eat like a bird."  For a woman to enjoy her food (or, god forbid! SEX) has long been considered just appalling.  All a woman SHOULD enjoy is service to others.  :-P

Though this attitude began to relax a bit during the 20th century, it is still going strong now.  Want to cast aspersions on some woman?  Say things like she's strong as an ox (implying "fat cow"), or flaunts herself (dresses for warm weather and exhibits joye de vivre), or EATS LIKE A LUMBERJACK (the shameless hedonist!)....

Appetite is driven by powerful biochemical processes.  Anybody with experience of the world sees that repressing appetite for food (ie, on a calorie-deficient diet) can only last so long before one's hormones take charge and Nature's protective directives MAKE them give up and EAT.  If we are burning a good deal of energy, a symphony of biochemicals is turned loose within us, demanding that we replenish our resources.  If, thanks to insulin, we can't access our stored resources and we have to take in nourishment though we're still over-weight, the howling chorus screams "lumberjack."

It is STILL Nature's Way that we enjoy food ... despite the puritanical forces which condemn hedonism for purely unhealthy (psychopathic) reasons.  It is Nature's Way that we have a drive to remain alive, even if our hormonal balance as been thrown off by our unnatural modern foods and lifestyles.  We're wired to obey Nature in a way that puritanical entities (religions and cultural mores) find infuriatingly enviable.  They WANT us to obey them as we must obey Nature, and Nature says NO because those puritanical forces are antithetical to Life Success.

Nature seems to have made women's biology to evolve during our lifetimes, so we can more effectively shape society for the better.  When we're young we're more prey to our female hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin -- we're softer and more placating.  When we reach midlife, we're less estrogenic on the one hand, and more dopamine-motivated on the other -- we care less about how others like us, and are more driven to do something about conditions we find intolerable.  As I say -- female humans are different from other mammals which do not lose their reproductive capabilities two-thirds of the way through life as we do.

WE need to be a driving force for improving the world ... and one of the easiest ways we can do this is to stop supporting the kind of culture that thinks it's okay to backhandedly insult those who are only obeying Nature.  She's eating like a lumberjack, is she?  ... Gee, I wonder why -- must be something about her biology.  Flaunting herself?  Maybe something about the summer weather, her energy level, her youth and vibrancy....  Cattiness and eating like a bird SHOULD have gone out of fashion a LOOOONG time ago!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday confessional

It's been pressuring me for some time, so I need to get something off my chest.

I really don't much like erythritol.

Having tried several of the recipes I've found at All Day I Dream About Food, I DO really like this woman's creative skills.  She creates some of her recipes specifically to showcase what you can do with Swerve, and the basic recipes are very good, but i'm left with that bitter, over-sweetened feeling when I use it ... and I ALWAYS use less than her recipes call for.  That latter trick I learned decades ago when substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar in conventional recipes.

Yes, there are times when the powdered Swerve will definitely come in handy, because the other things on the market don't have a very good texture for certain applications.  I can even see using the granulated version as PART of the sweetening in recipes.


Veronica Atkins is absolutely right.  She's a proper CHEF, and no doubt it was on her advice that the dear doctor (NOT "the good doctor" whose advice I wouldn't take on ANYTHING) advocated using a mixture of different artificial sweeteners, for their synergistic and aesthetic advantage.  When you take one packet of sucralose and one packet of saccharine-blend, it comes off tasting sweeter and more sugar-like than two packets of either one alone.

So this is not a "forgive me, readers, for I have sinned" sort of confession, just one of those "I wanted to like it but I just DON'T" situations.  I'm going back to considering bulk sucralose my go-to choice, to be augmented by erythritol (plus others) for the synergy.

The only sweetener on my never-never list remains XYLITOL -- I can't repeat often enough, how toxic it is for dogs!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"moderation in everything"

Occasionally, I like to take time out from our more specialized approach to health and weight control, to write something a little more basic to share with friends who would LOVE to improve both, but who don't have my opportunities to really immerse themselves.  Such people tend to be targeted by all those businesses who KNOW they're interested in health but have very little technical knowledge of it.

Advertising is an insidious process.  When print media bolster television commercial messages, it gives consumers the impression that all of them are telling you the same truths ... which couldn't be FURTHER from what actually IS true. 

The same people who are trying to sell you their processed foods are financing the diet-advice industry (dieticians and nutritionists) AND all those "health charities" which I rant against.  It is in their best interests (NOT YOURS) to convince you that moderation is the cornerstone of good nutrition, and that if you fail using their faulty paradigm, it's YOUR fault, not theirs.

It's what mainstream America believes in, but every woman over the age of 35 (and men over about 50) should have realized by now that it's just plain LIES.  Who benefits when you eat moderate quantities of three kinds of junk food?  Certainly not you.

The trick is, you KNOW that Doritos and ice cream and pizza are junk foods, but what they're trying to hide from you is that these foodstuffs are, too:
  • breakfast cereals;
  • most yogurt;
  • breads and crackers (yes, even the whole-grain kind);
  • low-fat dairy products;
  • pasta;
  • juices, both fruit and vegetables such as carrot;
  • mashed potatoes and other flavored potato preparations;
  • modern fruits, especially "tropical" ones;
  • coffee and tea drinks which are essentially milkshakes;
  • "vegetable oils" and everything cooked or served with them;
  • ...and many more items which won't occur to me till after I hit the "publish" button.
How can this be?  I'm sure, having read my list, you'll be inclined to write me off as an extremist, but I entreat you to read to the end. 

The study of nutrition has used a lot of very unscientific methods, to begin with.  Do you know why "everybody" says that fiber is good for you?  Because fiber makes big poops, and a medical-missionary in Africa HAD A NOTION that big poops protect against the "diseases of civilization."  THAT'S ALL.  Further studies that looked at "people who eat a lot of fiber" and decided that they were healthier than people who don't, were considered proof of this.  The problem is that people who eat a lot of vegetables are careful about their health in other ways as well.  When scientists finally tested that hypothesis properly, by taking two "identical" groups of people and telling one to go on eating the way they usually do, and telling the other group to eat X-number of vegetables per day, that "healthy-user bias" disappeared. 

More fiber did NOT protect against breast cancer in a series of prospective studies (the kind I described above), but you'll STILL find "responsible" medical authorities claiming it does.  It's a LIE.

More fiber did NOT protect against cancer of the "eliminative organs" ... in fact, it INCREASED IT by a small amount.  You'll still find people who claim that fiber is protective.  That's ANOTHER LIE.

Why do doctors tell patients lies like these?  Why do the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics LIE about this stuff???

Unless a physician has special interest in the science of nutrition, s/he knows nothing more than you do, from reading magazines and watching television.  They get virtually no education on nutrition in medical school -- as a matter of fact they are explicitly TAUGHT that WHAT you eat doesn't affect your health, merely how much.  In the real world, we ALL know that THAT is just another lie.

Who promulgates ideas like these?  As with everything else in modern society, all you have to do to find out is "follow the money."

When you've been convinced that moderation is all that's necessary, the people who benefit are those who are selling you moderate quantities of junk foods.  When moderate quantities of junk foods make you moderately overweight, WeightWatchers, Nutrasystems, JennyCraig and the fitness industry start getting their cut.  Moderate quantities of gym memberships encourage IMmoderate quantities of exercise because "everyone knows" that exercise will burn those calories right off ... except that it doesn't.* 

When the moderation of unhealthy foodstuffs AND exercise has left you with damaged knees and plantar fasciitis and moderate obesity and diabetes, the medical and pharmaceutical industries step in for their piece of the pie. 

See, when people are convinced they can be moderate when they SHOULD be abstemious with their treats, everybody wins ... except YOU.  Our society has been telling us for a very long time that we can have it all, but we can't.  We've been brainwashed to think that medicine can cure almost everything, but IT can't.  Experience shows that when we over-do anything there is a price to be paid.  And we need to remember, that nobody cares about our quality of life, except our own selves. 

WE have to take care of ourselves -- no one else can or will.  WE need to do the prudent thing.  It's like when our childhood rivals used to dare us to do stupid things, and call us cowards if we used our brains and refused.  "C'mon, it's only a cookie!" is our adult version of this phenomenon.  Of course, the cookie was on top of the sugary cocktail to start, and the huge plate-full which made up the main course, etc.

The only thing to moderate is moderation itself, if I may paraphrase FDR. 

Industrial farming has changed everything we eat, so that the nutrients which used to be in foods aren't there anymore, but our fruits and vegetables DO have significantly more sugar bred into them than they used to.  Take onions as a prime example -- remember when we used to have to carefully choose them so as to get milder rather than "hotter" specimens?  Nowadays it's not easy to find one that isn't sweet, like the Vidalias and 1015s.  When was the last time your eyes stung when you diced one?

You have to remember that when you eat any carbohydrate food, even those "healthy fruits and vegetables," any starch in them is broken down to sugar by the digestive processes.  What we were told decades ago about "complex carbohydrates" was very inaccurate -- sure, the cellulose in them slows down the conversion of starch-to-sugar, but with little exception every single molecule of sugar WILL be processed by your body in the end.  And the more ground-up they are, the more easily the last little morsel of yumminess adds to our waistlines....

If you care about your health, you HAVE to draw a line in the sand.  You CAN'T have it all, unless "all" includes heart disease, diabetes and cancer, in your definition.  You may have to be very hard-line if your well-being has fallen a long way already, to get back up to a place where you can indulge a little bit.  Because most of what you've learned about what's healthy, through newspaper, magazine, television, and even modern book-publishing, isn't presented as a public service, to help you feel better.  It's designed to make somebody money.

By telling everyone they can have everything in moderation, they're giving people permission to indulge themselves.  They're telling people what they want to hear.  Do YOU want to hear that you'll have to control your diet for the rest of your life, in order to maintain a safe weight and stave off cancer and dementia? 

No, I didn't think you did.  But it's IMPORTANT.  I sure as hell don't want to end my life in a diaper, doped to the eyebrows with psych drugs, and weighing 300 pounds.  Nor do I want to die a pathetic skeleton on a hospice bed.  If i'm lucky, i'll go like that 90-something-year-old, who took a spill while surfing, got cracked on the head by his board, and drowned -- in an accident while enjoying an adventure!
*  Exercise has benefits, but is inadequate for regaining your figure.  More on that later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

gelatin-use update

It's been over eight months now, that I've been adding a tablespoon of gelatin (mostly) or hydrolyzed collagen (occasionally) to my first cup of coffee every morning.  There have only been two or three out-of-town times that I've missed it, and I planned ahead for the LCCruise by getting some beef-cartilage in capsule form, which I have appended to the gelatin dose often since we've been back.

It's working.  This extra step in the morning ritual is DEFINITELY worth continuing.  Considering how often I've gotten accidental or intentional cheat-doses of gluten over the last month, my bad knee has given me pain SIGNIFICANTLY less than usual, and the other one has twinged not at all. 


The only trouble is how long one has to wait for indisputable results -- a lot of people would probably give up the practice before it has a chance to really work for them.  As reported before, unless I had some extraordinary stress, I AM convinced that I have fewer grey hairs than I "should" (at one point last month, stress really got to me, and I believed I saw a big new crop of silver up there).  But I was only reminded of the knee situation a few days ago....

You see, as I reported right before the Cruise, I had doubled my daily dose of glutathione on the prompting of Dr. Kharrazian in "Why Isn't My Brain Working?"  According to him, it's supposed to be intrinsic to strengthening the gut wall AND the blood-brain barrier.  I had been observing my reactions to the various occasions since then, when I've allowed myself some wheat products.  I noticed that although the knee is significantly better, the trace of psoriasis that appears on my elbows when i'm not careful is definitely THERE.  Huh?

Gelatin.  (And maybe a little collagen and cartilage, but I've definitely used a LOT more of the gelatin.)  It's possible that i'm seeing a little less wrinkling in my face, too, but that could be influenced by lighting;  if it helps, i'll see more improvement with more time.  No matter, though -- these substances are definitely worth continuing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

move over, fat-bombs!

...Cuz I made a batch of something yesterday that outclasses you like a big dog.  ;-)

Not that I actually INVENTED it;  Wooo has spoken for a long time about her inositol candy.  I merely interpreted it my way.

Decades and decades ago, back when Scouts sold their own home-confected goodies to raise money for their troops, I was making cream-cheese-based mints by the hundreds.  Our leader had bought sheets of proto-silicone molds (rubber? plastic?) shaped like roses and leaves, cut them into individual bits and gave us one of each.  We were given the recipe and some basic instructions, and turned loose.

I might have made some after my Girl Scout years -- I don't remember clearly -- but I certainly didn't make any during the low-fat era, nor when fat became exonerated and sugar vilified.  Once I experimented with sucralose in place of the original powdered sugar, but it was a spectacular failure.

Fast forward to the past winter when I decided to experiment with inositol.  And what does powdered inositol closely resemble in both texture and taste?  You guessed it!

I tried it:  softened some cream cheese, measured some powder and flavoring, beat them together, and tasted.  Eh, not quite.  Added a little powdered erythritol and tasted again.  STILL not quite.  Added a little melted butter and it seemed pretty close.  Made a ball of it and put it in the fridge to firm up.  Tasted again today.  Not bad at all.

Now I just need to find those molds -- I know they're here someplace!


2 oz. softened cream cheese
1 c. inositol powder
1/4 t. extract-type flavoring
2 T. powdered erythritol
1 T. salted butter, melted

Beat together, add a drop of coloring if you so desire.  Form with molds or create little patties or balls -- the mixture has a texture reminiscent of PlayDoh.  :-)  I used lemon extract because that's what I have that sounded best;  I used to be very partial to wintergreen flavoring when I first used to make these things, so when I next visit the grocer I think i'll get some of that and also some peppermint. 

One of the tedious things about taking supplements is usually swallowing all the damn pills, so this makes a pleasant change.  A piece of it after dinner will probably make for a nice light dessert.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

that first morning at sea...

Diabetes and obesity being the acute problem it is, world-wide, half the first morning of the low-carb cruise was devoted to discussions of treatment.  Doctors Keith Runyan and Eric Westman spoke on "Management of Diabetes with a Ketogenic Diet," and "HEAL Diabetes Medical and Weight Loss Clinics," respectively.  They were followed by Dr. Justin Marchiagiani with "Hormonal Imbalances and the Blood Sugar Connection," which I would say is a decidedly-related subject.  After lunch, Westman returned with "A Brief History of the Treatment of Diabetes." 

Runyan is an MD in practice, whose specialty is nephrology;  he came across very positively in my opinion.  He pointed out how problematic it is to try to manage diabetes via injected insulin, because of issues like the error rate of 50% in calculating the glucose-producing properties of one's diet, and the error rate of 30% for insulin itself!  Experience has demonstrated to him that Type Ones CANNOT satisfactorily get along on medication alone.

Conveniently, low-carbing for diabetes has been around since 1796 -- officially, that is.  Lord knows how long it was used before someone actually wrote about it....

You see, quite separate from the *problem* of high blood sugar is the ***PROBLEM*** of glucose that is life-threateningly low.  That's where relying-on-insulin leads you, on an ad-libitum-carb diet. 

The brain requires about 600 calories of energy per day, independent of bodily activity.  Outdated sources STILL insist that the brain only functions on glucose, but insisting on this only highlights the BLOODY IGNORANCE of the one who does the insisting.  In fact, 60% of the brain's energy needs CAN be supplied by ketone bodies and amino acids.  Merely 1-1.5 g/kg-body-weight of protein plus <50 g/day carb should result in enough ketosis to protect the brain from hypoglycemia.

Ketones block the body's autonomic responses to hypoglycemia -- experimentally, all the way down to 18 mg/dl -- EIGHTEEN!!!  Wooo reports her own BG values as low as 40 without symptoms of hypo, and that's "free-living" "in the real world" stuff.  A lot of things are seen in labs which don't pan out IRL.... 

And this, again, is ONLY what you get via carb-restriction:  add MCT oil -- which works in the presence of the hyperinsulinemia one often sees in Type 2s -- and sick patients can get improved cognitive function even without keto-adaptation.  Runyan reports that even non-LC doctors are getting on the bandwagon.

When his presentation is "up" on the lowcarbcruiseinfo.com site, I heartily recommend it!

I made very few notes from Westman's talks -- I guess i'd heard most of it before.  The HEAL Clinics seem to have a very good website, so for more info you have an option to get it first-hand!

...Oh, and see the movie "Fed Up"....  ;-)

Marchiagiani impressed me favorably, as well -- looks like I need to go check out his youtube videos!  Here's where you separate the actual SCIENCE from broscience, when it comes to the broader hormonal responses to dietary carbohydrates and blood sugar.

He stressed the extensive feedback systems our bodies use to regulate themselves -- only his own slides can describe this adequately!  One simple cascade made it to my notes, though: 
cholesterol -> pregnenolone -> progesterone or DHEA
Thyroid hormone is crucial to this process to break down cholesterol so it can cascade into the "good path" of other hormones.  "Then they all feed back into each other, back and forth," I wrote.

Stressors raise cortisol and blood sugar, and turn hormones into inactive forms.  And out-of-range blood sugar is the biggest stressor.

The thyroid system actually performs best at medium BG levels -- too high is horrible, and too low is no good, either.  NOTE:  I didn't say medium CARBOHYDRATE, I said medium BLOOD GLUCOSE.  (...and how do we moderate blood glucose, kids...?)  System performance declines with higher BG and insulin.  The inflammation that goes along with insulin resistance can cause hypothyroidism, and autoimmunity too.  Interestingly, the use of metformin results in a reduction in thyroid nodule size -- is that significant or what?

For his patients, Marchiagiani recommends not fasting if they're stressed -- it just increases cortisol production in those individuals.  For them, he suggests eating (low-carb of course) every 4-5 waking hours.

He also pointed out, as I have long hypothesized, that if your ancestry implies evolving in a colder climate, a lower-carb diet is indicated.  And continuing research is implying that the greater your toxic load, the more you should be reducing dietary carbohydrates too.

Marchiagiani cites a Volek study as a clear indication that low-carbing does not cause pathological lowering of thyroid performance.  [your authoress' interjection -- FU, Colpo!]  I've said for YEARS that the lower levels seen in LCers is a result of not NEEDING as much to process the diet, and the anti-aging camp agrees that low-normal is a superior state to be in.

He had a lot more interesting information -- i'm sure he had a hard time condensing everything he wanted to say into 45 minutes.  I liked his beachball-baseball analogy of total-levels of hormones as opposed to the free state (necessary to fit into the baseball-glove-like receptors).  I was also impressed by his offer to be a go-between to acquire lab-tests, when one's own doctor refuses to oblige.

Despite my only-academic interest in the observation of blood glucose, I found a great deal in these presentations to hold my attention.  And these three speakers were only the beginning!

Monday, June 8, 2015

back from the ... LIVING?

Well, i certainly can't say "back from the dead," as the expression goes!  :-D  I've been busy and having a good time!

The break from the usual grind has been good for both of us.  It's been about three weeks since we started preparing to go on vacation -- first taking Spense and Pip to our daughter's house (with our back yard torn up, getting our pet-sitters to visit wasn't really feasible), then the trip to Florida and the cruise, then back to Texas.  Whew!  It was quite a ride!

I took some good notes during the cruise presentations, so i'll have some highlights for you this week.  The talks ranged from VERY informational all the way down to tepid, but there were a couple which were really outstanding.  The last two years, though recordings were made of most talks, "something happened" and were not posted online in their entirety -- i HOPE they learned their lessons and did better this year, and that you'll actually be able to see the full presentations instead of the slides of a few....

But anyway, i'm back:  a bit tired but happy and spiritually rested, ready to tackle the "real world" again!