The problem with supplements

You, the person reading this: maybe you heard somewhere that a supplement – say fish oil – might be good for your health. Hopefully, you’ve gone to the doctor as supplements can have side effects as bad as prescription medicines. For example, fish oil can have blood-thinning effects. If you are on blood thinners, you should talk to your doctor.

So, if you’re OK with that warning, and cleared by your doc, and/or know the hazards because you’ve read real information from established medical sites that have professionally reviewed articles that tell you about the studies done, the possible benefits, as well as the potential risks, then you’ve done the required ‘adulting’ to self-administer drugs, because that’s what a lot of supplements are. To me, this is a requirement for any supplement I take. It is going into my body, and I should know what it might do – and potential side effects that might occur I wouldn’t associate it with unless I did the research, or interactions that could occur. Jeez – the blood pressure medication I take warns against eating grapefruit because the combination makes the skin susceptible to sunburn! How would you know that unless you did research? Oh – and Tagamet (the stomach medicine) can cause men to grow breasts so if you’re a guy and want to chance a pair of man-boobs, go ahead. (Ladies, apparently it can effect you as well: this article entitled ‘Woman Bothered by Bigger Breasts‘ mentions Tagamet.) It also might help cure certain cancers. In certain situations, maybe bigger breasts are ok.

Then which one to buy?

In the US, supplements are unregulated. They go through no testing by the FDA and their claims are not verified by the FDA. While occasionally companies are shut down and products taken off the market, the vast majority that line supermarket shelves and Amazon are ‘buyer beware’. Counterfeits abound. Years ago someone tested multiple large chain store brands of ginko biloba and found they contained zero ginko biloba – they were filled with ground up dried weeds or something like that. Many fly-by-night supplement companies that have screaming labels that claim they are ‘fat-burning’ have been taken off the market after someone – not the government necessarily – tested them and found actual regulated pharmaceuticals in them.

Folks, this is why we regulate a lot of things. We say we hate regulations and don’t want them, but then people expect unregulated supplement companies to do the ‘right thing’ in a culture where now it seems we hold in high esteem the people who can get away with the cleverest scams.

Supplements are an example of an unregulated market and shows how we need to accept responsibility as part of that freedom. A lot of people forget they go hand-in-hand. That freedom from regulation keeps the product inexpensive compared to regulated products, but this freedom comes with the responsibility of knowing the risks before you start ingesting substances that supposedly have a health benefit.

I don’t want to have to ask my doctor for a prescription for supplements. I like this freedom – but I don’t pretend there’s no downside.

Since I don’t have a lab, I try to buy ‘USP Verified‘ supplements. They actually test the products 3 ways: does it contain what it says it does? Does it contain the right dose? Can it be absorbed, or does it pass through your body intact (usually pills are tested this way). They do not verify the claims.

The problem here is this testing is very expensive and few companies think it makes business sense, I guess, to go through this verification. Or they have something to hide. Again, you don’t have a lab, nor can afford to send products to labs for testing.

That leaves you with only trust to go on.

When I buy a supplement, I ask myself a few questions:

  1. How easy is this supplement to obtain? Simple minerals that are pretty cheap are more likely legit than obscure plants that might be in supplements that charge an arm and a leg.
  2. Is one particular brand way cheaper than all the others? Competitors should be more or less the same price. If you find one outlier way lower in price, it might indicate that the quality differs.
  3. Is the product from an established company that’s been around for a while. Carlsons, for example, has been around since 1965. While I buy their Fish Oil, I’m not recommending them, nor do I make a penny if you choose to buy something from them, but the point I’m making is they have a reputation – and that reputation could be damaged if it turns out that they are misrepresenting their products. I would think they have more to lose than some fly-by-night named ‘Doctor’s Preferred Choice Original Nature Quality Products’ (I just made that name up).
  4. Be extra wary of weird concoctions with loud labels that blurt out in large letters some miracle effect. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

I’ll leave you with this: many years ago, I heard a story about a person who ran a supplement division of a large pharmaceutical company. Their company acquired a vitamin company. When they audited the company’s processes, the products marked kosher sometimes weren’t kosher and the products marked organic sometimes weren’t organic. His advice was to only buy supplements from companies that also produce pharmaceuticals because they are used to strict standards, and you are more likely to get quality products – note I did not say guaranteed – just more likely.

Can binging on carbs while on a keto diet kill you? Maybe?

So this Sunday finds me exploring the rabbit hole that is anti-keto blogs, videos, subreddits, and science papers. Why? I don’t know. I am just a dumb keto dieter and I really doubt that something like *science* will convince me to try something else. For me though, I find this tidbit a motivator as I’ve been in ketosis for nearly a month and the holidays are coming.

So anyway, reading one comment, the poster said that sudden introduction of carbs on a low carb, high fat diet can cause heart damage.

Had to look that one up.

The paper has the catchy name: Short-Term Low-Carbohydrate High-Fat Diet in Healthy Young Males Renders the Endothelium Susceptible to Hyperglycemia-Induced Damage, An Exploratory Analysis

From the abstract:

Postprandial hyperglycemia has been linked to elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. Endothelial dysfunction and/or damage may be one of the mechanisms through which this occurs. In this exploratory study, we determined whether acute glucose ingestion would increase markers of endothelial damage/activation and impair endothelial function before and after a short-term low-carbohydrate high-fat diet (HFD) designed to induce relative glucose intolerance.

then some blah blah blah – and then the conclusion.

One week of low-carbohydrate high-fat feeding that leads to a relative impairment in glucose homeostasis in healthy young adults may predispose the endothelium to hyperglycemia-induced damage.

So it seems these nice folks are saying that your body kinda forgets how to regulate glucose once you are off them for a week and one high carb spluurge can make you blood sugar zoom, whereas if you were a sensible person and ate carbs like normal people do your body wouldn’t allow the blood sugar to go that high – and that blood sugar spike because of that stupid keto diet could cause heart damage.

Want an excuse not to go off your diet for those relatives who tell you that you MUST have a piece of grandma’s pie?

Tell them it might give you heart damage. Bet that’ll stop them in their tracks.

Also – a good reminder when you feel like cheating.

Keto is like the famous song lyric from ‘Hotel California’: You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.

What brings you here?

Welcome weary web traveler! If you didn’t subscribe to my posts some time ago and still haven’t opted out, I don’t know how you found this place.

Like Menudo, Route 66, CB Radio, floppy disks, dittos, webrings, website guest books, avocado green appliances, Dippity Do, hula hoops, Carrot Top, chrome bumpers on cars, and 8-track tapes, ‘blogs’ are a part of the past.

And yet you have bypassed all the obstacles and landed here. I’m sorry to say there will be little reward beyond maybe few gems hidden within mostly mediocre-to-awful contents with plenty of link rot scattered within.

So why am I here? I would say I’m a drinker with a writing problem but I don’t drink anymore. So now I’m just an old fuck who likes stringing words together, hiding in plain sight, writing whatever my fingers type, for reasons that aren’t clear. I don’t care if anyone reads this stuff and oftimes I’m glad you don’t – some of the things feel very personal and I don’t know why I post my thoughts for strangers to see. I’m not making money, I’m not trying to be an ‘influencer’. I don’t have some larger plan to launch an ambitious website on the topic of low carb/keto. It’s been done over and over already by people far more devoted than I, with quality standards and good content. I would have figured you’d have gone to any one of them before coming here.

I do tend to focus my posts on dieting and low carb / keto diets. I haven’t had the greatest results in the past 10 years since my appendix came out. I gained 70 pounds in about 9 months after that and my stupid doctor’s explanation was ‘lack of exercise’. He was one of those people who had to have an answer for everything, even if wrong. Hey doc – I didn’t exercise *before* the surgery. At least my new doc will shrug and say ‘I dunno’, which is the best answer I’ve gotten so far and I can respect that answer.

I used to really be interested in the science but not so much anymore. Nutrition science is so hard to do right, and so many people have an emotional (and possibly financial) interest in certain nutrition ‘facts’ being true, that the cherry-picking in the field of nutrition is beyond belief.

And people argue so much! The topic of what a ‘right diet’ is has been a blood sport for way longer than US politics.

And what to you call a low carb / keto dieter that can’t seem to actually lose weight on the low carb / keto diet?

The most charitable label I’ve come up with for myself is: ‘Stunt Dieter’.

I get some motivation and I try stuff. I write about it. I give up. And then, since I have nothing to write on the topic – I don’t write here. I journal a lot and keep most of my thoughts there – it’s only the diet-related stuff that gets posted, though sometimes the line blurs.

Months or years pass until I come up with another angle and give the ‘ole diet another try. Then I write here again.

If / when my current attempt crashes and burns then I won’t write anything until I try yet again or I exit this mortal coil.

And then this blog will just disappear the first time my credit card is rejected. It will be gone like much of the old internet already has – and that’s OK.

So – no obligation – but if you have stumbled over this fossil and you feel like it, leave a comment as to just what wrong turn you took on the Internet Superhighway to end up on this dead-end dirt road with a junkyard dog barking in the distance amid boarded up buildings, and a car on blocks on the front lawn of the abandoned house with a hole in the roof. This place across the street from the house still has a neon ‘Open’ sign flickering in the dirty window and while the front door is open there’s little activity going on. Yet you still came in.

What’s your story, stranger?

I lost 10lbs. on keto in a rather weird way

So back on November 28 I was 291.1. Today I am 281.7. So 10 lbs lost. So what are some of the things – to sum up pages and pages of word-vomit in my personal journal – that I did?

I tried eating nothing but bacon. This did not work, but trying to do so reset my way of thinking about going on a diet. On day 2 of nothing but bacon, I needed something else. I reached for celery we had and – hey – I enjoyed it. If Bacon made me enjoy celery more then maybe it can get me to enjoy other veggies more. That mindset led to me eating a lot of vegetables. 

I began reducing my ‘flavor palette’. This isn’t a new idea to me, nor is it a new idea at all – I remember watching a documentary where a miserable test subject was kept in a chamber – probably to measure temperature and gases to try and learn about metabolism – and this person could eat all they wanted – except all they could eat looked like baby food that was sucked through a clear plastic tube in the wall. The voice-over said they lost weight. I’ll bet! Trying to eat just bacon wasn’t cutting it for me but I thought: what if instead of one flavor I give myself 5? 10? I didn’t know what the magic number was but I started to explore this. 

I don’t eat until noon. I am attempting an 18:6 intermittent fast routine and I guess you can say I’m close. It does vary and is sometimes more a 16:8 but trying too hard is a good way to fuck up a diet. Trying to be perfect has screwed me up more times than I can count 

I began eating veggies. The first thing I added was celery, chia seed pudding, and cucumbers. I also added ground beef and slathered it in sugar free ketchup. The chia seeds were loaded with MiO and man, my pleasure neurons lit up from that sweetness! I also had some cheese and mayo, and sausage with mustard, and Atkins Shakes.

I narrowed my flavor palette more. By December 4th I had:

  • Stopped getting takeout
  • Stopped eating bread or any grains
  • Stopped eating sugar
  • Started tracking my food
  • Got into ketosis

But then I got the crazy notion of narrowing my flavor palette even more. So I gave up artificial sweeteners, and cheese, and mayo and tried sticking to the following foods:

BaconButterPorkEggsGround BeefBacon Grease
Olive oilHearts of PalmChia seedsSeasoningsMushroomsCucumber
CeleryGreen beansZucchiniMustardNutritional YeastChicken thighs
Cooked broccoliCooked cauliflowerTomato paste (small amounts)Brazil nuts (selenium supplement)Lettuce / mixed greensLemon juice

Nearly a week later, I did pretty good. This really did mess with my head however. Hunger became a very different creature. I didn’t deviate much from this list and the only items not on the list that I had were a dozen cherry tomatoes, 1/2 dozen raspberries, and maybe 10 blueberries. I also use apple cider vinegar (ACV). I purposely tried to avoid foods that lit up my pleasure centers in the brain effortlessly – like MiO. That sweet hit like heroin. And it struck me that most people lived in an environment where that kind of pleasure hit a dozen times a day. I was going for zero hits like that. Two things happened: I began getting these dopamine hits from the mustard and lemon juice. And plain chia seed pudding, which I found gross on my first serving, improved on my second serving. Still not an orgy of flavor, mind you, but it was ok.

Tracking helps. I use Cronometer and with a combination of weighing, eyeballing (so I don’t weigh everything all the time), and a reduced set of foods, This way tracking doesn’t drive me up the wall. But is it accurate? Seems accurate enough.

It seems getting the right amount of calories is important. There have been days where I ate less than my targets – and other days more, but I stuck to the script. It seems that getting adequate calories is important. Even if it was healthy I can’t starve myself thin. It’s a matter of the right food choices, more or less around the proper number of calories and macros, and it seems I’ve found a working combination.   

I feel weird. My ketones have been as high as 2.5, and removing cheese, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and bread – and replacing them with green veggies – must be having a profound impact on my body chemistry. Keto by itself changes the fuel your brain runs on, and without carb reserves, most of your body had to change over to this different fuel source. But then I take it an extra step and remove all sorts of interactions that dairy, even small amounts of grains, and both real and artificial sugars have in this walking chemistry experiment that is me. The bacteria in my gut has no choice but to change. Some thrive, some die off, some minorities take a larger role – and all of this impacts your brain in ways we don’t really understand because the gut is in constant communication with the brain through the vagus nerve. Of course I feel weird – how could I not?

I write a lot. And this is a summary and might feel incomplete. Sorry ‘bout that. 

So what’s next? I’m thinking of continuing this reduced flavor palette experiment. I’ve had no broccoli or cauliflower so I’m thinking I’ll pick that up – and maybe some other vegetables. I have plenty of bacon and will continue (I’ve perfected the laziest technique for perfect bacon and will share eventually). I’ll also take a hard look for something new. I did have seasoned roast beef from Trader Joe’s – perhaps I’ll pick more up. Maybe some ham? I might want to reduce or eliminate the lemon juice and mustard. They both give a little hedonistic hit to foods and I am trying to lessen those. Lemon juice is also bad for your tooth enamel. 

So you might be a little confused about my eliminating flavors from my diet. It’s worked well for me in that I’ve lost 10 lbs – but why so extreme? 

Because I’m not doing it just because I’m trying to lose weight – I’m also doing it so I can learn a new programming language. 

More confused? The explanation is a different post for another day. There is a LOT not mentioned in this update that will need to wait for another post (if I get around to it). 

So TL;DR: I lost 10 lbs so far and am going to try to stay the course for the upcoming week.

Chicken thighs baked in bacon fat

Just a reminder that the original purpose of this blog when I started it in 2007 was to collect my personal recipes so that I could refer to it at work to get meal ideas for that evening. I’m not recommending this to anyone and apologies if this feels like a waste of your inbox space. It is part of a much larger and wacky experiment I am trying that I *won’t* go into at present but will eventually. Maybe.

So I’ve been cooking bacon for almost 2 weeks now and I keep pouring off the fat and putting it in a jar to do I dunno with. I was baconed out today, however, and did have like 8 chicken thighs that needed to be cooked lest they become a biohazard. They weren’t old by any means but I wanted to make sure they got used during their useful lifespan without playing some game of chicken (pardon the pun) with the expiry date.

So caveman brain here looked at the chicken, then the bacon fat still in the pan on the stove from the bacon I cooked the day before, and got an idea so lacking in effort I should get some sort of prize. So…

  • 8 chicken thighs with skin and bone in
  • 1 pan of bacon grease with all the drippings and crumbly bits from the previous day

I set the oven for 350 and plopped the thighs into the grease-filled pan. Then shoved it in the oven without even preheating because I don’t care. I set a timer for 20 minutes then came back, took the pan out of the oven and turned the thighs over. Crumbly bits had stuck to the bottom, which did not seem a bad thing. Put it back in the oven and it got another 20 minutes. I tested the temp and in some places it was 190 degrees F so it was certainly cooked. Then I had the bright idea to turn them upright again and try to crispy up the top part. I set the oven to broil and the time for 10 minutes.

It got to 5 minutes when the fire alarm went off and I put on the exhaust fan as the alarm screamed ‘Fire! Fire! and the dog barked. Note to self: in the future, turn on the vent fan and broil for 5 minutes.

They came out looking like this:

They came out juicy and had some crunchy parts on the skin, the crumbly bits from the bacon added a nice flavor, as did the bacon fat, and the grease contained enough salt that adding additional salt was unnecessary.

The kid texted she was hungry and I told her about these. She seemed excited. When she came home she didn’t go near them. Didn’t tell me why, just ate leftover pasta.

Would I make it again? Yeah. Except for the fire alarm part it was a pretty darn easy recipe to make. I did have to pour off some of the bacon grease/chicken juice when I turned it over because it was too high for the shallow pan.

But is it keto? Trick question. Of course. The is zero carbs – I had three today and my ketones are at 2.1 mmol/L right now and I had the last one an hour ago.

EOM

Quick update for anyone that cares (Bacon is mentioned)

First: not dead yet. I *do* have a cardiologist that sees this fat old fuck walk into his office and he is *sure* there has to be something wrong with my ticker. I had bloodwork not too long ago which – except for my cholesterol being out of whack from my crappy eating at the time, everything was normal. Not having any alcohol for the 2 months prior to the bloodwork seemed to correct the wonky liver enzymes from the last bloodwork so it seems my liver is happy about my decision to quit drinking.

I’m ok with it too. It was just a way of passing time that I tended to be over enthusiastic for.

I’m guessing if the liver enzymes fixed themselves my liver is not too far gone – I guess. I’ve read that ALD (Alcoholic Liver Disease) can have a pretty quick onset. From the first time you go to the doc for the symptoms you’re having, you could have a month to live.

And now past 90 days I still feel gradual improvements. I don’t act nor feel as old as I did – even eating junk – when drinking.

So anywho, as I’ve entered my 7th decade and turned 60, this is when you’re well past warranty and parts start to wear out – especially if you didn’t maintain the vehicle like you were supposed to. So when my doc gave me an EKG he found a ‘Right Branch Bundle Block’ and that’s why I’m seeing the cardiologist.

I looked up the RBBB and it said it’s harmless sometimes. The LEFT Branch Bundle Block is the really worrysome one and I ain’t got that. So my cardiologist – a nice guy who go from room to room with his laptop balanced on one arm why he rolls his mouse around on his belly – wanted to give me a nuclear stress test. I didn’t know much about them, shrugged and said sure, then went home to read up on it. Apparently the radiation is about the same as getting 400 chest x-rays.

I gave that a big ol’ nope. I also had an echocardiogram and it was normal. I also had a stress test which showed the RBBB, naturally, but the heart doc wanted that nuclear stress test I gave the hard nope to. He countered with a ‘Stress Echo’: first, a relaxing echocardiogram – imagine a sonogram of a baby that’s growing in your chest as you’ve probably seen a sonogram. Then they make you do a stress test with, for me, is not pretty. Then they rush you back to the echocardiogram room and check out your stressed heart.

I was supposed to have that next week but I’m stalling – I canceled. I’ll get it, though. Just too many doc visits on top of one another.

This past week after Thanksgiving I just sorta decided to go on a hardcore keto diet because it’s all I know, really – I can’t be more honest. They have been failing me for the past decade since I had my appendix out, but this time I’m not attempting to drink at the same time. That makes it easier.

I’m really lazy and late Sunday I found the first keto calculator I could find, got my macros, and then – just for the fun of it – looked up bacon. I remembered ‘Dan the Bacon Man’ who ate bacon for 30-days straight and lost weight.

I looked up bacon and the nutrition profile almost matched my macros perfectly.

So I ran to the store and bought 6 packages of bacon – you have to eat 2 pounds (or what left after cooking) of bacon to get near the correct calories. I figured I’d do this until I gave meal planning more thought.

So the week has been somewhat chaotic. First off, I couldn’t eat just bacon for more than ONE day and I found myself eating some celery. So I figured I can riff on the bacon by adding low carb above ground veggies. This sorta worked, While I had bacon every day, I have some leftover cheese, some hot dogs, and some other old keto faves – but that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I wanted to try to eat a very minimal diet of bacon, other meats, and veggies – and that’s it. I was also trying an 18:6 fast which worked sometimes.

So some days my calories were over, sometimes under, and I lost an unimpressive 5 lbs. during a chaotic week of winging it.

In the meantime I accomplished 3 goals I was too distracted to notice until now:

  • I had no takeout for a week – that’s big for me
  • I had no grains for a week – another biggie
  • I had no sugar – not a sugar fiend but I do like sweets on occasion
  • I got into ketosis and got up to 1.5 mmol/ml or whatever the measurement is

Ok – that 4 – I’m not going back and changing it.

So you know I spend Sundays working on my goals for the next week – right? Last week it was to get into a keto diet and eating less. Well, I did one, sometimes did the other, and did the 4 bullets above without thinking. The most interesting observation was the monotony of bacon made me crave green healthy things. I had no cravings for bread or takeout. That’s usually the first roadblock. Something abut the bacon, maybe.

But it made me think that if I was able to quit bread and takeout so easily, maybe I can do the same for MiO and dairy this coming week. I was lactose intolerant as a baby and maybe milk still causes issues I don’t know about because it doesn’t give me the trots?

And sucrolose – the ingredient in MiO that makes it sweet – seems to have a reputation for mucking up your gut biome.

So I had neither today.

I only had a spring mix salad with about 4oz. of cooked bacon, olive oil, apple cider vinegar (ACV), and nutritional yeast that you can shake on stuff like canned parm cheese leftover from a very brief fling with a no cheese attempt from a while ago.

I’ve been up since 5am, had only that salad, am under 1,000 calories, and now it’s nearly 7pm and I’m not hungry.

I enjoyed the salad, by the way.

I have typed this without editing as it’s been a long day, I’ve been pretty productive and busy, and it’s just a blog post…

I wonder what the coming week will be like. I am leaving out some other details just because I’m tired of typing and tired in general.

Signing off.

Instant Pot Hearty Beef and Tomato and Mushroom and Radish Soup

Hey Peeps. Last time I posted I was deep into ketosis. I screwed that up but I’m back at it with a new plan with some big changes. Not ready to get into all that yet, but I *did* slap together a decent recipe I’d like to add to my collection.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Lbs. stew meat
  • 4 – 14.5 oz. cans Hunt’s Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 16 oz. dry weight canned mushrooms – pieces and stems
  • 3 bunches of red radishes
  • 1 teaspoon of ‘Better than Bouillon’ beef flavored
  • 6 shakes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6 shakes of salt
  • A glug or two of olive oil

This took maybe 10 minutes to prep. Open cans, open meat packages, drain mushrooms, chop radishes from their stems – a lot of work. I tossed all of this into my Instant Pot, added the salt, Lea & Perrins, the bouillon paste then put the top on the pot, made sure the little lever was set to pressurize, then pressed the ‘meat/stew’ button on the pot and walked away. Didn’t bother to vent when it beeped it was done – just let it depressurize naturally.

An hour later I was left with a ‘hearty soup’ as the kid characterized it. I thought it tasted pretty good. Then came the kid test. She added some additional spices to it though I didn’t feel the need, and had it with some crusty toasted bread with butter on it. Said she enjoyed it, mentioned how tender the meat was, and went back for more, then used the bread to mop up the final bit of soup.

The only thing I would change is next time I’d add another 1.5 Lb. package of stew meat.

Fun fact: did you know that red radishes turn white in the pressure cooker? I didn’t. Told the kid they were potatoes as she might have put her nose up to radishes.

Trader Joe’s Hearts of Palm Pasta is the low carb noodle I thought could never be

When I do the mental math that goes into my food choices, a number of variables are analyzed:

Keto-friendly – I am not so strict as I only go for 1 gram carb or less per serving foods. I’ll live a little and have found that eating things with way more carbs can keep me in ketosis while stuff with fewer carbs can knock me out. Red wine, for example, is keto-friendly for me. It screws with weight loss but doesn’t knock me out of ketosis.

Cost – Pretty important these days. I’ll probably die poor but then again there’s real benefit in dying before the money runs out. I don’t require much in the way of ‘things’. I’ve dined in Paris and had gourmet meals in the Caribbean, but I can still appreciate a good bologna sandwich on white bread. This makes me a pretty cheap date. I DO still live bathed in the echoes of my parent’s stories of growing up in the Depression and I tend to be choosy about where I spend my money.

But then I remember ‘don’t postpone joy’ and ‘the richest man in the graveyard’. These opposing ideas battle one another and sometimes it’s no contest and other times there is a grudging cold war that lingers everytime I buy some stuff.

Flavor – I rank this third because – as I said – I like bologna sandwiches on white bread. Perhaps you could say I have an ‘eclectic palate’ – or that I lack discrimination or have the palate of a dog. Mentioning I like bologna sandwiches made a friend of mine the same age as me go: ‘ewwwwww’. Another aspect of this is I am accepting of ‘variations in flavor/texture profile’ that throw other folk. Some people operate in a world where food has a name, a flavor/texture profile, and a look that must remain consistent or they will avoid that food. Me? Not so much.

The ILF (Inherent Laziness Factor) – How much time, effort, and cognitive burden must be put into prepping this? This is a scale of 1 through 10 with the highest number being better. Recipes that contain the line ‘…in a separate bowl…’ are a 5 or less just for that. A great recipe to me leaves little or nothing to wash. The phrase ‘…in one pot/pan…’ can be high as an 8.5 but no higher because it involves actual cooking.

A 10 would be ‘eating the food nearest to me’ which right now is Trader Joe’s Macadamia Nuts which would actually be less than a 10 because I have to find and open a new bag.

I made a chili early in the week, ordered all the ingredients online, browned the beef in the pot that I threw all my ingredients in, even using the chili mix instead of the spices we have, and let simmer for an hour. It was an 8.5 because there WAS a pot to clean, and a few cans to be opened and disposed of.

You might be wondering why you just read all that (and if you got this far, me, too) but it is my subconscious (up until now) scoring system for low carb food substitutions.

So let’s analyze the IHF of the Trader Joe’s Hearts of Palm Pasta (Linguine-shaped).

My heart be still…

The stuff is shelf-stable, next to the regular pastas in the store, and is essentially already cooked pasta that doesn’t need to be washed nor drained. It doesn’t clump or stick. The biggest hassle might be finding a knife to open the bag and maybe untangling a portion with a fork.

Compare this to the shiritaki noodles that come floating in water and need to be washed – only to provide a paltry amount of slightly slimy and chewy noodles. I’ve had access to them but they need to be refrigerated and, really, they weren’t worth the hassle.

Then there’s zoodles – zucchini sliced into a noodly shape with various gadgets – all of which work poorly and can even draw blood. I have used the ‘Sweeny Todd’ of the kitchen – a mandoline – an insidious kitchen tool designed from the get-go to ensure all motions with the gadget include you moving your fingers toward the sharpened blades.

With a combo of bloody experience, even if you navigate the device without blood-letting you are left with a some extra bits that tempt you to risk blood by pushing them through the gadget, and a pile of noodle-shaped zucks that you can’t use just quite yet. To use them to their best effect you want to pat them dry on some clean dishtowels and let them dry out for an afternoon. Then, you can create some tasty dishes with the stuff.

For this Hearts of Palm ‘pasta’ I cut the bag open and microwaved for 2 minutes, then dressed the top with pasta sauce, olive oil, and butter, then gave it another 2-minute or so go-round in the nuke.

Mixed afterward and covered liberally in the grated cheese in a can, I had a pasta dinner in 5 minutes – faster than if I made actual pasta. This stuff rates the rarest of the rare ILF of 10. Now Chef Boyardee canned ravioli also rates a 10 but it’s not low carb.

But the ILF is not the only thing that matters or I’d be eating the canned ravioli. Is it keto-friendly?

It sure is. The entire 9 oz. package has only 8g net carbs for goodness’ sake! It’s also filling in that I was ready to eat the entire 9oz. but only ate half last night. I think other than coffee, cream, and wine, it was the only caloric intake for the day as I’ve drifted into a one or two meal a day routine. Again – not paying too much attention to what I eat as long as it’s keto in my book – and measuring ketones and blood glucose today show blood glucose at about 106 and ketones at 1.0 – which is better than a number of days I’ve had prior.

The cost is pricy for pasta – $4 per 9oz. – but it’s not ‘pasta’, first of all, and it’s not meant to be an everyday meal. So is it worth $4? I guess this is where the flavor of it comes in.

And for flavor, it does pretty good. It is not the perfect pasta replacement but it’s damn near the closest I’ve come across. It has an almost al dente texture to it, and with pasta sauce and the other stuff you top pasta with, it is close enough.

Oh – and it’s supposedly healthy for you. Vegan, gluten-free, high-fiber. It’s even harvested in such a way that the plant that provides the noodles somehow survives the extraction, I guess like maple trees and their syrup, bees and their honey, and fruit trees. Note that I do not include ‘healthy’ in my ranking system because I find it so tiresome. Someone, somewhere, will turn up an obscure fact that a molecule found in Hearts of Palm can do something to something that can cause some people to have some reaction some time over some number of years.

Ugh! Get over it. We’re all gonna die. Life is full of bad decisions and we’ll gleefully make them willingly and unwillingly. Have some pasta and relax.

Since I don’t have a plan I’ll ask you

So I’m about 3 weeks into ketosis and at one point had probably lost about 15 lbs. from my worst to where I’m close to 10 lbs now. I lost the weight not really paying attention to what I ate, except that it came from a long list of what can be considered ‘low carb’. This can be an Atkins shake, some sliced salami, hot dogs with cheese, beef chili, and bologna.

A vegetable or two did creep in. A kid’s party resulted in 2 side salads that I ate the other day but it was just to prevent food waste mostly. Nothing really carby on these two – mostly iceberg lettuce. I haven’t really left the low carb ranch at all.

But here I am at day 21 or something like that and I have a decision to make. But I’m NOT on day 21 of anything! If you’ve read some of my recent previous posts, I didn’t intend to start a keto diet – it just sort of happened.

Since I don’t want to ask this question of myself, dear reader, I ask you: I have come to a fork in the road.

Do I keep using the keto blood tests instead of the scale as my guide? Do I let my ketones guide me – scale be damned – or do I expend the effort to ‘dial in my macros’ – and start to follow my eating so that every gram of carbs is tracked and their origin is also tracked so that I can define my low carb food triggers and accelerate weight loss? Do I monitor it it so that I determine that carbs from bologna are worse than those from olives? Or vice versa for me?

Or do I just tell myself: ‘meh – you can’t fake ketosis – if you’re in it and you’re not stressed out, don’t worry about weight. It might take 5 years – you don’t care. It isn’t the scale you’re bound to – it’s the ketones.

And even if you never lose the weight, it’s OK. It’s all about the ketones.

Which one?

Somethin’s happenin’ here

Here’s where I’m at. Since I last wrote I got COVID-19, and I got Paxlovid.

And I’m still in ketosis.

And my weight went from like 308 or 309 to about 293. Now I don’t know how long I’ve been on a diet – heck – like I said, it’s not as if I started a diet but rather fell into a diet. I could probably dig up the exact numbers but the thought bores me.

I’m also not really tracking what I eat. Mostly meat and cheese. Some veggies and sausages, burgers and cheese, some eggs, an Atkins shake here and there, and of course coffee and cream. There’s also been some wine – not too much as the Paxlovid can hammer on the liver and I would like to keep it running for at another decade at least.

As to the rest of my life I haven’t changed routines much – more that my routines have changed in the way I respond to them. As I mentioned, I was a doom-scroller, going from link to link, watching the end of the World unfold in 20 different ways at the same time in between Ads for shoes and odd industrial equipment that the ad-bots think I might purchase for some reason (no thank you, I do not need a manometer).

But I am numb to it. I read the news. I understand it. But it doesn’t touch me anymore. I have some intense pressure in work, but there I am also calm. Or numb. Despite some catcalls from the crowd at the moment, I’m performing. I’m present (at least now that I am over the worst of the COVID that is), I have to make things happen, I have to have ideas, and have the passion to convey them to others, but it’s almost as if I am doing it by remote control.

Going back to the food, while I have been surrounded by things I can’t eat, there’s not much of an impact on my psyche. I was eating a lot of takeout and I just…stopped. I’ve even gotten the kid takeout and it really didn’t register.

This all feels, well, unusual. This total noncommittment – a lack of investment in things I felt invested in just recently – makes me wonder: is this the beginning of Mild Cognitive Decline? The first steps on the slippery slope to vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s? Am I beginning ‘the long goodbye’?

Then I think to myself: gee, this seems a deep look at the notion that one might be losing one’s mind – losing one’s grasp on what a diet is supposed to be, what is going on in the world, and in my job, and in the rest of my life – is this the type of thinking that comes along with a cognitive decline? Do people in decline have such thoughts?

Or could this be some transition I am going through where I shed some of my Ego and ease into my 60s leaving behind some of the earnestness – or something else I can’t put my finger on – and just stop fighting some things? Like the diet. Like turning 60 soon. Like the world going to Hell.

Being in Ketosis for a few weeks isn’t it – I’ve found it can lead to personality change before – certainly a calmness from stable blood sugar at least – but I felt this way prior to starting the diet.

Might, despite my overthinking, it be the beginning of somthing as simple as spending a lifetime overthinking only to actually finish?

As simple as the answer to the old joke: why did the chicken cross the road? Or is even that not really as simple as it appears?