Impromptu Pasta Sauce

Even after 7 years doing low carb, still sometimes stand in front of the fridge and ask myself: what the hell am I going to eat?

I threw this together with whatever I could find in the fridge last night. It came out quite good. The rest of the family had it over pasta – I ate it as a chili (though to be honest, I had a little bit of the linguine as well).

  • 1 large can pitted black olives, chopped
  • 1/2 jar Whole Foods Organic Mushroom Marinara sauce (cheap and pretty low carb)
  • 10 mini sweet peppers
  • 1/2 dozen artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked and chopped nitrate-free bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Brown the beef with the butter, add the veggies, let simmer for a half hour.

That’s it.

How Do You Shift a Weight-Loss Paradigm?

President James Garfield, Surrounded by his Inept Doctors

James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, was shot by some kook whose name should be forgotten in July of 1881. He died a few months later after suffering terribly – not because of his wound, but because of his doctors. From Wikipedia:

Most historians and medical experts now believe that Garfield probably would have survived his wound had the doctors attending him been more capable. Several inserted their unsterilized fingers into the wound to probe for the bullet, and one doctor punctured Garfield’s liver in doing so. This alone would not have caused death as the liver is one of the few organs in the human body that can regenerate itself. However, this physician probably introduced Streptococcus bacteria into the President’s body and that caused blood poisoning for which at that time there were no antibiotics.

It was 1881, and modern medicine was in it’s infancy…but here’s another article from Wikipedia:

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweiss…was a Hungarian physician described as the “savior of mothers”,who discovered by 1847 that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection (by means of hand washing with chlorinated lime solution) in obstetrical clinics.

Problem was – nobody listened to him.

Ironically, he died from an infection he probably wouldn’t have gotten if his physician had washed his hands.

34 years had passed between someone empirically demonstrating that washing your hands before you go sticking them in someone else’s guts might be a good idea – and the 20th President of the United States needlessly dying from this very act.


Semmelweiss’s discovery – and it’s complete and utter dismissal during his lifetime, despite the fact that he empirically proved it by reducing the death rate at the clinic where he worked – is one of the great face-palms of modern medicine.

The reason, as I am to understand it, was two-fold: US medicine and European medicine believed different things at the same time. The other reason is that doctors are, sometimes, a dogmatic and stubborn bunch.

When Semmelweiss told them to wash their hands after working on cadavers and before sticking them into lady parts, they didn’t want to, partly because it was a pain to do, and partly because they never did it before. Never mind that women were dying needlessly, and Semelweiss proved the hand-washing reduced the deaths – they dismissed him, his evidence, and only when Louis Pasteur detailed the germ theory of disease did these doctors begin to see it fit to at least scrape some of the corpse fluid off their hands before delivering children.

Perhaps if Garfield was in Europe rather than in the US, they might have washed their hands – I believe it was coming into vogue there first – partly because of the distance, and partly because research published in languages other than English took time to be translated – if ever. (I listened to a lecture about the history of medicine as told through the great doctors of history – or something like that. I’m too lazy (or busy) to source things  – do it yourself if you need solid facts – and please don’t use this as a reference for some other article!)

Along comes Gary Taubes. He writes an elegant, clear, concise debunking of 50 some-odd years of nutritional dogma. How do physicians and nutritionists – highly educated, sometimes brilliant individuals, admit that:

Oh, I see it now – Gary Taubes, you’re not even a doctor, you’re a ‘science writer’ – and you debunked a half-century of conclusions drawn by the finest minds in science. My bad. Oops – hey, fat guy – you remember I told you to eat low-calorie and exercise? I was wrong.

Yeah – right. Here’s the answer. Sorry it’s not the answer you might want to hear, but it’s the only answers for blog readers reading this post:

  • There are facts out there now (like maybe…just maybe, low carb is really the best diet advice we currently have) that might not be in fashion in medicine now that might be accepted only decades from now.
  • Do your own research – and make your own decisions. Don’t blame your doctor for your health.
  • Your doctor is a consultant you pay for. If you are not satisfied – find another doctor.
  • Don’t automatically dismiss doctors that don’t agree with you – YOU don’t want to be dogmatic here – nutrition is a very complex subject. Get their opinion. Listen.  Your doctor may be right. Gary Taubes may be wrong. Have a dialog and be a partner in your health.

Here’s the really cool thing about this: If you are honest with your doctor, and he sees you control your blood sugar, keep your cholesterol under control without meds, and lose weight – he will have empirical evidence sitting in front of him that perhaps low carb DOES work for some people. And he or she just might mention to another patient something along the lines of: ‘I have had patients who have been successful on a low carb diet long-term – you might want to try it.’

I think I’ve already done this with one doctor. I’m working on my second.

How do you shift a paradigm? One doctor at a time.

How I lost 10 Lbs.: Jan 2, 2011 to Feb 5, 2011

My Weight from Jan 1, 2010 to Feb 5, 2010

On Jan 3, I wrote this post, starting a new stab at peeling off the pounds. To spare the internet more pointless blogging, I stated that I’d write about it again only when I lost 10 lbs. It’s really only interesting then – most of us play around is a 5-pound range and it’s water weight a lot of time. But when you get to 10, some fat had to go.

This morning the scale read 222.0. I lost 10 lbs.

It took about 5 weeks to lose it. I did it in my usual half-assed way, but the weight did come off. That’s a respectable 2 pounds per week – the recommended rate. I actually chronicled many of the days, but it’s just so much blah, blah, blah that I’ll spare you and give you the short version:

The Good:

  • Ate lots of kale soup with locavore pork sausage, burgers from grass-fed beef with organic onions, Fage yogurt, nitrate-free hot dogs, organic eggs, organic butter, organic lettuce, high-end low mercury tuna, sardines, smoked oysters, broiled trout – among other things low carb, on my healthy list, and forgotten.
  • I’ve noticed a general lack of cravings for sweets (though I’ve had my moments)
  • Some days, my appetite goes dead – I have to remind myself to eat.
  • While I don’t check every day, I’ve been in ketosis on and off throughout the month.
  • I’m controlling my blood sugar. In the past, I’ve woken to blood sugar as high as 157, and averaged it the 130s. Now I’m seeing blood sugar in the 80s twice in a week and my average is staying below 120.
  • Indulged myself here and there. A cookie here, a Lindt chocolate ball there. Some Chinese food that probably contained carbs I could have avoided. Half a slice of pizza and the leftover pizza toppings my kids pull off. I lived a little, gave in to my cravings in moderation, and still took off 2 pounds per week. It adds a balance to my life to be able to do this and still lose weight. It’s not easy, but it seems to be getting easier.
  • There is a direct correlation between my weight and my happiness. Despite the bad and the ugly below, I feel better.
  • My clothes that I bought in the fall to fit me – before I put on even MORE weight – now fit again.

The Bad:

  • Probably drink too much coffee, though I’ve noticed my cravings for it decline in the past month.
  • Drank too much red wine, which I’m sure has slowed the rate of weight loss.
  • I’m seriously torn about vitamins because I’ve come to believe we can’t trust what’s in ’em. I have only had my vitamins a few days in the past 5 weeks. I don’t know what’s worse – taking them or not taking them.
  • I don’t eat consistently. No routine. Sometimes when the appetite goes dead, I don’t eat for extended periods, which I don’t feel is good for you.
  • While trying to avoid chemicals, I have indulged in the SodaStream soda mixes, nitrated deli meats, deli cheese and putting EZ-Sweetz on my Fage yogurt, though I am adapting to having the plain Fage yogurt without the sweetener – sometimes I do – sometimes I don’t.
  • I have been sick with a chest cold since December. I think I’m on the verge of shaking it – but I’ve been saying this for weeks now. I’ve been the victim of the Northeast snow and freezing rain, and I’m sure having to shovel snow for hours has not helped me get better (though it might have burned some calories – quite a workout).
  • I gave up the exercise when I got sick – figuring that I needed rest more than exercise – but I haven’t started up yet.
  • I probably don’t eat enough veggies, with the exception of the kale soup – I’ve simplified and refined the recipe and it’s awesome. Throw some shredded cheese on top and melt it into the soup and it’s even more awesome.

The Ugly:

  • The nicotine lozenges, which helped me kick the cigarette habit I briefly took up during my vacation, is now a habit.
  • Unusually high levels of stress from work have not made things ideal for cutting back on the wine or the lozenges – both have to go, but right now isn’t the time – I need to get through a crisis period at work and have a clear head to tackle these.

The Curious:

  • I noticed what could be coincidence – but maybe a correlation? On a number of nights after a very low carb day, I would splurge with a small high-carb treat – say 20 grams of nearly pure glucose – and in the morning my blood sugar would DROP. My unprofessional, amateur endocrinologist hypothesis is that insulin response needs periods of ‘exercise’ to keep in top shape when on a very low carb diet. Most people’s insulin response is like a chronic, obsessive exerciser – exhausted from too much working out. But on a very low carb diet, it gets time to relax and recover. The occasional Lindt chocolate ball is like moderate exercise and keeps the insulin response fit and trim – but what do I know?

So now on to the next 10 – see you at 212.