A Tale of Traveling

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Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

–Mark Twain

I must start with an apology for the very long silence. The Roommate had a crisis in her family that necessitated her absence for a while, and after that I had so much writing to do that the thought of writing more here was dismaying. Besides, I have to limit the exposure of the world to what's in my head. There are many reasons. Don't ask about them. It just sounded good to say that.

So now I am out of Asia and back in America, and I would like to report on the continued success of the Anti-Jet Lag Diet.

I think I should call my regular consumption of food by this name.

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Results

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Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. ― Clive James

I’m sorry for the long quiet. A few personal things got in the way of writing. But I would like to explain to you today the results of my personal test of the Resistant Starch Craze.

I wrote about what this starch is in this post, which also contains links to both pro- and con- arguments about the stuff. I’ll very briefly summarize here. The craze is largely in the Paleo world, and what everyone is saying is that resistant starch is starch that doesn’t get digested, thus will not spike your blood sugar, found in potatoes, rice, green plantains and bananas and a few other things, that will feed your gut biome and result in better energy, blood sugar control, sleep, digestion, weight loss, etc. I believe the gut biome will also volunteer to babysit your children if you feed them enough. I also believe doctors have known about this for ages, and call it indigestible starch.

So this has been a really hot topic, but is much disputed. One of the things that struck me was the incredible variety in responses people reported having to it. Some people were claiming that resistant starch was a miracle drug. Other people complained that it made them bloated, achy, whatever. Or that it just did nothing. So naturally I decided to try it and see what happened. I promised to keep you all apprised. Now, bear in mind that this was my experience. Yours may be quite different.

It has been six weeks now, four of them with unmodified potato starch, and the two weeks previous with small green bananas with breakfast and the occasional bowl of cool rice or a cooled potato. My overall impression is…..

…..

…..

I like to keep you waiting.

Meh

I’m not impressed.

For one thing, I almost immediately put on about 7 pounds that will not go away, most of it around my stomach. Now resistant starch advocates are very quick (and loud) to tell you that most people gain some weight at first, while their good gut bacteria start to multiply. But then if you give it two or three weeks you’ll start to lose weight. Well, six weeks in I’m still hanging on to these 7 pounds for dear life.

For another, I’ve noticed not particularly anything. My sleep has not improved. Neither has my energy or my digestion. I’ve had very little problem with gas, which apparently everyone complains about when they first start out with resistant starch. According to the Resistant Starch Faithful (RSF), that means my gut is in pretty good shape. I think. Frankly, I just don’t care that much.

Because I’ve been doing well without it. I stopped losing weight really fast after the first 100 pounds or so, but it keeps slowly dropping at it’s own pace. I don’t think resistant starch is going to be some kind of miracle to change that, and frankly it’s perfectly fine this way. I digest things fine, I sleep fine. I don’t have blood sugar issues. I eat grass-fed beef, grass-fed lamb, eggs, coconut milk, coconut oil, butter, hard cheeses, thick yogurt, 65+% fat cream, chicken, some bacon and once in a while some sausage. Sometimes I eat some fruit. Every other day or so. I eat some olive oil, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, homemade vanilla and I have pure peppermint oil hard candies to suck on once in a while. I make frozen yogurt and ice cream with maple syrup and coconut sugar. According to the RSF, I should be in bad shape because I only eat some vegetables occasionally and I rarely eat any with the magic starch. But I’m doing just fine.

You know what I worry about?

Spending way too much time worrying about what I eat.

Spending way too much time worry about what how I feel.

You know what happens to people who are always trying to analyze how they feel? They start imagining things.

If the way you feel is so intrusive that you notice it naturally in the course of a busy day with things to do, then do something to try and fix it. But if you sit around all day waiting to see how you’ll feel now after eating that then you’ll like feel whatever it is you’re afraid of feeling.

No one can tell you exactly what you should eat. Everyone responds differently. Clearly some people really benefit from resistant starch, so that might also be you. It’s just not me. And I’ve said it before: just because it’s true that everyone is different doesn’t mean we’re so different that you could be thriving off enormous amounts of cereal grains and vegetables with low-fat foods. Eat by the principles your ancestors knew and cherished:

1. Animal foods are strengthening and healthy.

2. Vegetables and fruits are delightful garnishes and sides. Don’t overeat them, but they probably have some good stuff in them. At least they did. There’s some worry that we’ve mostly bred the nutrition right out of our modern vegetables anyway, so soon I’ll be doing another post to update you on my 18+months of virtually vegetable-free living. I’ll give you a hint: nothing bad is happening.

3. Grains are filler for when you have to stretch the real food, or to keep you from starving.

4. Sugar is unhealthy and fattening and should be an occasional treat.

To that, add a couple modern caveats:

1. Since dairy is no longer consumed raw, make sure you’re ok with it. If you aren’t, try raw or try none.

2. The wheat you eat is totally different from the wheat your great-grandparents ate. So avoid it completely. “Grains” for you might mean rice or something. Even then, be careful if you’ve been or are a really fat person. You might be metabolically broken to the extent that you will never respond well to grains of any type.

3. Eat grass-fed or pastured whenever possible, because the cows don’t eat what their ancestors ate, either. Whatever the cow eats, YOU eat. So make sure the cow’s eating what’s good for him as much as possible. Here’s another hint: enormous quantities of corn, wheat, molasses and ground up other-cow parts isn’t good.

And with those things in mind, strike out and eat what makes you feel truly good (not temporarily buzzed) and what you can afford. Then you don’t have to obsess about what micro nutrient you might be low on. Your great-great grandfather never did, and he turned out fine.

I was going to try the starch for two more weeks, but I just don’t feel like it. I’d rather get off the 7 pounds, and I have no fear that I’ll suddenly be unable to sleep.

 

Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine

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The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.
― Voltaire

I was going to write about salt today. But before I could sit down and do so, I found an interesting article. Two actually. One is from the New York Times and I’ll talk about it later; the other from the LATimes. We’ll start on the West Coast since that’s closer to me.

You’ll be thrilled, excited and basically all-around adrenalized to see the headline: “FDA Approves a New Artificial Sweetener.” I know I’m beside myself.

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Aww, Nuts

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Worldly riches are like nuts; many a tooth is broke in cracking them, but never is the stomach filled with eating them.

–Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

If you putter around the low carb world for very long, you’ll see that we have a strange relationship to nuts. On the one hand, you’ve got people using pounds of nut flours every day in their cake-that-aren’t-cakes recipes. On the other hand, you’ve got spear-throwing Paleo types talking about them like they’re almost as bad for you as grain. So what’s the truth?

Well, if you think I can tell you, you’re nuts.

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More Stuff To Read

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Thus it appears to be the necessary duty, and the interest of every person living, to improve his understanding, to inform his judgment, to treasure up useful knowledge, and to acquire the skill of good reasoning, as far as his station, capacity, and circumstances furnish him with proper means for it.

–Isaac Watts

There’s always things to read. Keeping up with it all is impossible, but keeping up with some of it is good for you! An educated mind is not as easily coerced, enslaved or deceived as an uneducated one, and by “educated” I don’t mean “got a degree in business administration” or “went to plumbing school.”  I mean a mind that seeks to know what it can about everything it can. Yale sums it up well, though they are not what they once were in this respect:

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Where Angels Fear to Tread

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Experience never errs; it is only your judgments that err by promising themselves effects such as are not caused by your experiments.

–Leonardo DaVinci

If you read any news from the low-carb/Paleo sort of world, you can’t help but have been assaulted recently by all the screaming about resistant starch. It’s the New Big Thing.

Now, don’t let my sarcasm fool you. There might really be something to it. The theory seems sound. It’s just that a lot of stuff remains unproven and is down to personal experience. That doesn’t mean everyone promoting it won’t be proven correct in the next few years. It just means a lot remains unknown. Plus, I’m always leery of the New Big Thing. So let’s talk very briefly about what it is and what’s going on. I’m just going to do a basic rundown because there are far better, in-depth analyses of this that have been done by others. If you want to really get into this, I recommend these:

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Ask Fatty Felicity

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Welcome to Ask Fatty Felicity, the write-in column where you get to ask all your burning questions about Fat, Diet and the Meaning of Life! Let’s get right to today’s burning questions, shall we?

Fatty Felicity, what a lovely name. Is it in reference to your personal tonnage statistics? 

–Jenny

Thank you, Jenny. In fact, I’ve taken this name in reference to my favorite food group, fat. Contrary to popular expectation, increasing my daily fat intake from around 30g a day to 200 and switching from “heart-healthy” oils to saturated fats like coconut oil and butter has been very good for me. It has helped me lose 130 pounds, put on muscle and improve all my markers for good health–from cholesterol levels to blood pressure.

Fatty Felicity, I’m in a quandry. I’ve been invited to a friend’s party and I think the only things to eat will be nachos and pizza. Should I take up a life of monasticism?

–Artimus

Artimus, Artimus. Let’s leave the extremes for the vegans, shall we? There’s no reason to avoid people or parties. Here’s some handy tips for you, though:

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Don’t Give Up The Fat!

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The rate of cardiovascular disease suffered by both rural and urban Chinese males is almost indistinguishable from the rate experienced by American males, while the rates…for both rural and urban Chinese women is significantly higher than those suffered by American females….The notion that the Chinese don’t have disease of the heart…is what we like to call a vampire myth–it simply refuses to die.

–Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades

They go on to explain that part of the issue leading to confusion is that heart disease normally manifests as stroke in the Chinese but as heart attack in the Americans. A city-dwelling Chinese man only has half the heart attack risk of his American comrade–but six times the stroke risk. The underlying cause is exactly the same: coronary heart disease.

That’s what you get when you eat a diet based on grain first, then vegetables, then fruit, then meat and fat. Either because you’re too poor or even too cheap (rural and many urban Chinese) to afford anything but cheap industrial seed oils, rice and vegetables, or too misguided (nearly all educated urban Chinese) to buy animal meat and fat.

Existing is tough sometimes. Because it is, there are times when you just can’t afford to eat the way you might want, even if you have the all the knowledge in the world. Sometimes, we can’t see a way to afford anything but grain. We have to ingest some calories and those are by far the cheapest.

You know what? That’s ok. Sometimes life happens. I’m here to encourage you, though: Don’t Give Up the Fat. Maybe you can’t afford the meat. Ok. Maybe right now all you can afford is day-old bread that’s on sale. Ok. However, the temptation is to also give up on the animal fat. This might be price, it might be lingering innate fear of fat, it might be the opiate effect of carbohydrates making you want more and more carbohydrates. It might be that your carb sources are processed and stuffed full of toxic vegetable oils. I just want to give you some good reasons to never give up on the animal fat.
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The Hamster Wheel–Specifics

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When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no “I’ll start tomorrow.” Tomorrow is disease.

– V.L. Allinear

In the last post we talked about the book Body by Science. If you read it, you might have been left with one last question:

“That all sounds great, and in an ideal world, sure, I’d like to have plenty of protective muscle. But come on. I have this thing. It’s called a life. I have a/three job/s, kids, church, PTA. EVERYONE knows that exercising is good, but in the real world there’s just no time.”

I had that same thought early on in the book. I mean, “everyone knows” that to gain much of any muscle you’re going to have to spend time at the gym and spend money and really,…good grief. I’ve got more urgent things I need to do.

But that’s not at all necessary.
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