Until Next Time…

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals,
we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia

until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

– Robert Heinlein, American Novelist

As regular readers know, the ‘ol diet thing has not been going particularly well. I’ve decided that it’s something bigger that needs to change in order to make the diet work.

As part of that change I am taking an extended vacation from the blog.

I’m not giving up on low carb, but I want to experiment in a different direction – and part of that experiment is giving up the care and feeding of this blog.

I will continue to write, but I’ll be keeping it to myself for the time being.

I am going dark for at least 6 months. Check back then.

Good luck to you all.

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Recipe: Tuna and Salmon Salad

I love tuna salad made with Wild Planet Tuna. It’s about the highest-quality canned tuna I can find. I also bought their canned salmon but am a bit challenged as to what to do with it. In a rush the other morning I was going to make a tuna salad for work and grabbed two cans of what I thought were tuna, but one was salmon.

Why not?

Tuna & Salmon Salad

  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1 can salmon, drained
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 6 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 firm avocado

I mixed the tuna and salmon with the mayo and sour cream. I’ve found an approximate 1:1 mix of both provides the tanginess of the mayo with the creaminess desired without overdoing it on the mayo. The Worcestershire sauce is unexpectedly good in this.
Once mixed, I add chunks of avocado and folded it in carefully – I wanted a little texture from the avocado and didn’t want it mashed into a goo.

Total time: 5 minutes tops.

This really came out quite well – much better than expected. I ate this on pork rinds and this was my lunch two days in a row. I *might* add a few more shakes of the Worcestershire sauce next time – or not.

The April Fool Day 8: 225.0

The April Fool Day 8: 225.0

Down almost 5 pounds from one day of restraint. Blood glucose 101 without medication (I always forget that pill). Black coffee in the AM, though I had some Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee instead of my organic stuff and my stomach rebelled. I used to live on the stuff and now I can only handle the organic stuff? I’m such a wuss nowadays.

I had to eat to deal with the stomach-ache so had the usual Fage Yogurt and EZ-Sweetz, then the last of the burgers I cooked over the weekend with American cheese and LC ketchup. Felt better after that.

The rest of the day was NOT one of restraint – but it WAS low carb. Circumstances led me to eat almost a bag of pork rinds during the car ride home, as well as some of the cheese I had bought to work. As my wife had an evening meeting at work, I took the kids to that American institution found in abundance in the area surrounding New York City: a Greek Diner. They are typically run by Greek emigrants and their extended families and while each is independent, the families are tight and know each other. There’s a good example not far from my home and the kids love it. It is a quintessential American regional thing. The food is not Greek but rather a large variety of fare for all tastes, though you can find Mousaka – which is a casserole that kind of reminds me of lasagna, but with eggplant, potatoes and sometimes nutmeg. The exact recipe varies greatly depending on the cook, so it always a treat to try the different variations. I always think that the owners enjoy serving it because it’s a personal dish – one reflective of their culture – though I think my mousaka-sampling days are over. Like I said: while it’s a ‘Greek Diner’, unlike other ethnicities, they don’t serve a lot of food from their culture: they cater to their clientage and the menu is more typical American.

We all ordered breakfasts. The kids got pancakes and omelettes. I got eggs over easy with sausage and bacon. It always comes with ‘home fries’ – potatoes sliced thin and lightly fried – and toast. I gave these to the kids and just ate the eggs, bacon and sausage.

The portions are large and although the kids were hungry, they both ate themselves into a food coma, almost falling asleep, far from done. I was pretty much in the same situation. We wrapped up the extras and brought the rest home. The kids were soon asleep as so was Dad. I had tried reading but soon nodded off.

I had drunk a lot of coffee and water and had eaten a lot – but it was all high-fat, little carbs. Unlike the other day where I ate a lot, I slept like a baby WITHOUT waking up choking from my own gastric juices.

It was a clear personal demonstration that it wasn’t the quantity that caused the GERD – it was the food.

Perhaps I need to embrace the thinking that rather than low carb being a choice, it has become a non-negotiable aspect of my life – like the glasses I now need to be able to read. While it would be nice to eat whatever I want, if that’s not possible, low carb is a damn fine consolation prize. The food might be restricted and leave out a lot of goodies, but what you can have can be thought of as supremely decadent – at least by the likes of two generations of fat-phobic Americans.

The April Fool: Day 7 Continued

I got up late – most likely due to the fact that I woke up choking in the middle of the night. Ugh. I also felt like merde. My breakfast of black coffee didn’t seem to bother me much – my body is far too used to this to consider it abuse – in fact, I sometimes find black coffee *settles* my stomach – but I don’t know how THAT works.

Lunch was a Fage yogurt with EZ-Sweetz and by then I felt a heck of a lot better. Not 100%, but not like I did when I rolled into work. Mid afternoon I felt a slump coming on and treated myself to Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream – of course I always get the largest container they have.

Late afternoon was 3 pieces of American cheese and 2 hard-boiled eggs with ketchup.

At home we had a friend over and my wife had ordered pizza. I came in a bit late after having to detour to the high school to pick my daughter up from practice. I said my greetings, avoided the pizza and garlic knots with mariana dipping sauce and went for my oldest avocado. I mixed it up with some salsa and sour cream and sat down with them at the kitchen table next to a plate of my younger daughter’s half-eaten pizza and knots and ate my dip with chip.

My friend knows of my – ahem – peculiarities – in eating but it came into the forefront because I was sitting there eating like this in front of him for the first time.

“So what do you eat?”

“Well, I tend to eat a lot of fat. I feel better this way. I try to get 70% or more of my diet from fats.”

“You avoid saturated fat, right?” He smiled.

“Oh no – I eat plenty of saturated fat.”

His smile froze. He was born and raised in France and is one of the nicest and most gracious people I know, and he wasn’t going to be impolite and tell me that I was insane.

“Saturated fat isn’t actually all that bad for you, its seed oils like sunflower oil and peanut oil that you find in most processed foods that contain way too much Omega-6 that I believe is bad for you.”

“So I suppose you don’t eat a lot of nuts.” He offered.

“Well, some nuts are worse than others. I avoid peanuts but I eat macadamias. It depends on the nut. I drink almond milk, which isn’t that bad. I really can’t eat the way most people eat – I feel awful and get fat doing it.”

I then said: “I suppose you can call me a food faddist. Yes – my diet is a bit extreme. But before I ate this way I was 265 pounds. I ate this way and lost 80 pounds – and the only reason I’ve gained weight is because I DON’T always eat like this.”

“Look at me.” He said. “I eat whatever I want.”

“You are a product of a culture that always ate freshly prepared whole foods. You’ve always been athletic. You moderate your intake of sweets. this stuff was ingrained into you from childhood. I lived in a culture where you grab a box of processed crap, add water, microwave and you have Mac & Cheese. 30 years of you eating and living your way left you thin and fit. 30 years of eating my way left me metabolically-damaged.”

“I’m not telling you to eat the way I do.” I continued. “You’re fine. Me – I eat they way I eat and avoid a host of problems.” I then told him this story that I wrote but never became a blog post but now it is.

I go to the grocery store and the woman at the checkout asks if I’ve ever tried the grass-fed frozen beef I’m buying. I tell her no, and say that I sometimes buy the grain -fed organic. She answers: “I *only* eat grass-fed.” For the brief time it took for me to check out, we found common ground in keeping grains to a minimum, shared a laugh over one of her fat-phobic customers, but differed on whether low carb is ‘going too far’.

In work, a pair of perpetual dieters do the low-calorie, low-fat diet and exercise. Not being one of ‘them’, I diet alone. Lean Cuisines and low-fat yogurt populate the fridge at work, brought in by others who keep their dietary habits more mainstream.

On a business trip, at dinner, the person to the left of me told us they were a vegan raw foodie who ate whatever they wanted when they traveled, but at home lived on vegan paleo smoothies. A strapping, handsome guy – it apparently suits him well. The person across from me was into Crossfit, the exercise cult, and was being pressured to go full-blown Paleo but was only doing it part way, to the chagrin of her trainers.

To the right of me was a fellow who ‘ate meat only when offered’ and said he ate a lot of hummus.

My wife inundated me with daily diet tidbits from her social network, apparently filled with people beginning to feel their age and catching glimpses of the spectre of death for the first time: “if you avoid/eat X you’ll live 20 years longer.” She’ll say sagely.

On the phone with a colleague I noticed her speaking about 30% faster than normal. I didn’t recognize her voice initially and told her.

“Oh, I’m doing a cleanse and it must be the energy shake I take every morning.”

Maybe it’s me, but it seems like everybody is following – or trying to follow – a diet routine chosen somewhat haphazardly or even randomly – a friend recommended it, Dr. Oz recommended it, or they just cherry-picked a bunch of rules and rolled their own diet.

The French culture has a healthy relationship with food for the most part. My friend never *had* to think about these things because the habits he was raised with are by their nature healthy and come to him without much thought.

“You mentioned you have a blog – what is the name?”

Now I got uncomfortable.

“I keep it anonymous. This way I can write freely. I wouldn’t be able to write it if people I knew read it – it’s an experiment in authenticity. It’s really a sort of private diary that I should probably keep to myself but instead I post it.”

“It’s really quite boring.” My wife chimed in.

“It is.” I agreed. But people still come. There are a lot of little niches out there and some people – especially people trying a low carb diet – find this stuff interesting.”

“I think it is also somewhat voyeuristic.” My wife added. “People like to look into the lives of other people.”

“That’s true. People have admitted that to me. But I also get comments about how a particular post resonated with them, or how my blog keeps them going on their own diet. Because I post frequently, Google is very kind to my blog and people who are starting low carb stumble across mine. One post I dashed off years ago has gotten 70,000 hits – some famous authors haven’t gotten that many people to read their stuff in times past. This year I am on track to have 750,000 page views.”

Thankfully, the subject got dropped about this time and we moved on to other topics. As I might have mentioned before, my anonymity is important to me. If I know my friends were reading this I would censor myself – and there would be little point in continuing. Discussing my waking with GERD the other day is TMI for my circle of friends. Unlike most miscreants, I don’t use my anonymity to be an idiot to other people – I use it to express myself without the burden of my public persona. If you think about it, this is how it was for the vast majority of writers even 50 years ago. Few people would ever tie them to their work. Even using their real names, they had an expectation of anonymity for the most part.

Today with the Internet, maintaining an Internet presence becomes a part of your public persona. Before you go on a job interview, the HR person is going to Google you. I think this has led to a very great loss: the pursuit of unattractive authenticity. Honest, deep feelings get left on the cutting-room floor because we need to meet certain societal norms. To some extent we’ve become an Internet of ‘posers’ and are constantly warned through stories about people posting honest opinions that sometimes there is a price to pay for honesty.

It’s why I hate Facebook: my friends – who are my friends because I felt a deep connection to them – seem like cartoon cutouts of their real selves. There’s a community pressure to conform and breaking this means you can be forever typecast, labeled, and once labeled, discarded. Labels are a way of drawing conclusions and moving on. You become: ‘the lady ow always posts cat pictures’ or ‘the guy who posts bible quotes’. All the rich complexity that is ‘you’ disappears and you become as deep as a minor character in a bad sitcom.

All that aside, after our friend left I ate a bit of the cheese my daughter pulled off her pizza and went to bed to read.

It sucks not having pizza. It sucks not eating the raspberry ice cream my daughter left on my nightstand – but I felt a hell of a lot better by the end of the day than I did at the beginning.

And that truth would not be posted for those of you who find value in it without my anonymity.

The April Fool Day 7: Low Carb…or Else

Monday, April 7, 2014 – 229.4

A comment by a long-time reader misinterpreting my existential despair post from the other day made the following comment:

If you had an anaphylactic reaction to carbs and they were going to kill you….you’d find a way to stick to your diet.

Well, anaphylactic shock – which can be caused by a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting or nuts in sensitive individuals – doesn’t exist for eating cookies…or does it for me?

I won’t bore you with my transgressions, but it did involve carbs eaten late at night and the attendant thirst that I typically get when I eat too many carbs. In terms of overall eating for the day it wasn’t all that much of a transgression – given I didn’t eat a good part of the day a total tally would have probably landed me within the normal 200 grams of carbs and caloric intake that was high-normal.

The result of this venial sin was epic, however.

At about 12:30am I awoke choking. I’ve never been diagnosed with GERD, but I would imagine that a combo of eating carbs late at night caused my stomach contents to leak into my lungs. I have experienced this on occasion since my 20s when I was about as fat as I am now – my first experience being with an overindulgence in Eskimo pies late at night.

I never get this when eating low carb.

The feeling is what I would imagine drowning in hydrochloric acid might feel like. The burning in my throat was unbearable. No less than a baker’s dozen of Tums were needed to control the burning somewhat. Even after the fire got put out there was still gurgling in my lungs when I breathed.  I was choking and coughing for at least 20 minutes until I had cleared my lungs and the gurgling stopped. Each cough that cleared my lungs burned my throat again. Both my wife and my older daughter – who I woke from my coughing and came in to see what was going on asked: “Are you OK?”

I gave them a thumbs up, which really meant: mind your own business.

Maybe an hour later I was able to get back to sleep, but this time lying with my head up to prevent another incident.

I awoke exhausted.

It’s not anaphylactic shock, but it’s a damn good reminder as to *why* I can’t eat like a normal person. I’m not a big fan of negative reinforcement as motivation, but this is not something I’d like to experience again. Negative experiences do sometimes result in positive outcomes – a good health scare sometimes works wonders to change long-term behaviors.

I’m more the ‘carrot’ than the ‘stick’ kind of guy with myself and others, but the beating I took from this stick is worthy of remembering – and might just tip the scale towards me being more careful about my diet.

If my transgressions have such dire consequences, it might be prudent for me to remember this.

 

How To Make MILLIONS Selling Supplements

Here’s a million-dollar idea for you. Let’s invent a problem and then solve it with a brand new supplement.

It’s super easy and pretty cheap, too. Watch.

I read this article on salt. The article says it frays your telomeres and speeds up the aging process.

(http://www.businessinsider.com/eating-too-much-salt-speeds-up-the-aging-process-2014-3)

Wait a sec – what are ‘telomeres’? They little protective caps on the end of your chromosomes.

Oh. What’s a chromosome? Well, duh – everybody know that its “a threadlike linear strand of DNA and associated proteins in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells that carries the genes and functions in the transmission of hereditary information”.

You *knew* that, of course – right?

Now we’re beginning to go down the rabbit hole of stuff that makes people’s head’s sting. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. I can see it now as a great pitch for some new supplement: ‘protects chromosome damage that leads to aging by protecting and rebuilding your telomeres!’

I’ll pick a few random chemicals commonly found in supplements, put ‘em in a capsule, design a label, outsource it all to China or India using http://www.alibaba.com/, call it ‘Telorepair Magnum’ and make millions.

This article (http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/how_nutrition_makes_anti-aging_possible_secrets_of_your_telomeres/) shows exactly what to put in the capsules:

The important point to understand is that an adequate supply of methyl donors is needed for telomeres to work properly, just like a car needs gasoline. The primary methyl donor for this purpose is called SAMe, which uses nutrients like methionine, MSM sulfur, choline, and trimethylglycine as building blocks. Forming SAMe from these building blocks requires vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6. Folic acid and B12 actually play multiple roles in supporting telomeregenomic stability.

It doesn’t matter if the article is correct, of course: supplements in the US are not regulated:

On May 11, 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act became law. The act defined a supplement as “a product intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following ingredients: a vitamin, a mineral, an herb or other botanical, or an amino acid.” “Breathtaking in its dimensions,” wrote Dan Hurley, “[ the act] would end forever the simple legal dichotomy between ‘food’ and ‘drug’ to create a third, hermaphroditic category that was both yet neither: the dietary supplement. And beyond the usual suspects— vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids— the law would permit manufacturers to define a product as a ‘dietary supplement’ merely by saying so, no matter how artificially derived. Put lamb’s brain in a drug or food, and prepare to spend millions of dollars and a few years on studies showing that it is safe and effective; put it in a supplement and you’re good to go, no evidence necessary.” The New York Times called it the “Snake Oil Protection Act.”

Offit M.D., Paul A. (2013-06-18). Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (p. 87). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Here’s the products to buy:

Red beet extract trimethylglycine – $10-20/kilogram $20

MSM(Methyl Sulfonyl Methane) – $1-100/kilogram – $100

Choline – $1-2/kilogram – $2

B12 – $10-100/kilogram – $100

Folic acid – $1-99/kilogram – $99

Buy a kilogram of each, mix, and put them in capsules ($0.0019 per capsule – $3800:

Then in pill bottles (No price, but imagine a 1000 bottle @ $0,50/bottle = $500)

And maybe a nice box ($250 bucks for 500)

So you’ve got all the ingredients to make 500 bottles of the stuff. Get some 5 gallon paint buckets, Mix batches, and have the kids fill the pills for a penny each – it’ll be fun and cost $150 bucks for tax-free labor. Sell them for $40 bucks a pop for a 30-day supply.

Set up a website to peddle the stuff on Godaddy.com for $10/month, then write over-the-top BS copy about how great the stuff is. Give it free to some bloggers to write about, maybe set up a free Twitter feed to promote it, and start posting about it on forums.

If you did it right, you make 40 grand off a $5000 investment – less, of course because you have to ship it, but you can always cover that cost with shipping and handling charges. Keep repeating this exercise and pretty soon you are buying yachts and lighting cigars with $100 bills.

Of course, you have to trust that the powders they are shipping from China and India aren’t contaminated with lead or mercury – or are something entirely different from what they say.

But wait – you don’t. you’re not taking this stuff – you’re going to sell it to other people.

Unrealistic you say? People who make supplements don’t mix them in 5 gallon buckets – this stuff has to be carefully measured…right?

Well, there’s this:

Because the dietary supplement industry is unregulated, only 170 (0.3 percent) of the 51,000 new products brought to market since the 1994 Supplement Act have documented safety tests. And it’s not just the supplements themselves that might be harmful, but what’s contaminating them. In 2004 , researchers at Harvard Medical School tested Indian (Ayurvedic) remedies obtained from shops near Boston’s City Hall. They found that 20 percent contained potentially harmful levels of lead, mercury, and arsenic. Between 1978 and 2004, herbal medicines caused fifty-five cases of severe or fatal heavy-metal poisoning.

Offit M.D., Paul A. (2013-06-18). Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (p. 91). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

And this:

In 2008, more than two hundred people— including a four-year- old— were poisoned by massive doses of selenium contained in Total Body Formula and Total Body Mega. The products were supposed to contain 200 micrograms of selenium per serving; instead they contained 40,800 micrograms.

Offit M.D., Paul A. (2013-06-18). Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (p. 91). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Oh. But you can’t mix this stuff in your kitchen…right?

In 2007 , as problems with the industry continued to mount, FDA regulators were finally granted permission to supervise the way supplements were made. Although they still couldn’t force manufacturers to prove that their products were safe or effective, at least they could make sure the product contained what the label said it contained. What the FDA found was appalling. Of the 450 supplement manufacturers inspected, at least half had significant problems. One, ATF Fitness, substituted ingredients without changing the product label. Others didn’t even have recipes for their products. And some manufactured products in buildings contaminated with rodent feces and urine— in one facility a rodent was found cut in half next to a scoop. “It’s downright scary,” said Daniel Fabricant, head of the FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs . “At least half of the industry is failing on its face.” Cara Welch, a vice president for the National Products Association, an industry trade group, called the findings “unfortunate.

Offit M.D., Paul A. (2013-06-18). Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (p. 92). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

At this point you might be wondering who this ‘Paul Offit’ character is (from Wikipedia):

Paul A. Offit is an American pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases and an expert on vaccinesimmunology, and virology. He is the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine that has been credited with saving hundreds of lives every day. Offit is the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He has been a member of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.[3] Offit is also a Founding Board Member of the Autism Science Foundation (ASF).[4]

Offit has published more than 130 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety,[3] and is the author or co-author of books on vaccines, vaccination, and antibiotics. He is one of the most public faces of the scientific consensus that vaccines have no association with autism, and has, as a result, attracted controversy and a substantial volume of hate mail and occasional death threats,[5][6] but also support for his position.[3][7]

Here he is on Colbert Report: http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/35ink0/paul-offit

You are certainly entitled to come to your own conclusion on this subject, but this little exercise is why I personally stay away from supplements.

 

 

Day 5: Saturday, April 5, 2014 – 224.5

It was only while cleaning up the kitchen that I realized my fall from low carb grace was worse than I recalled in yesterday’s post. I had hit the baked ziti hard – and some brioche also disappeared down my gullet.

Perhaps I’m doomed to remain this weight. Perhaps I am a victim of ‘False Hope Syndrome’:

People appear to behave paradoxically, by persisting in repeated self-change attempts despite previous failures. It is argued, though, that self-change attempts provide some initial rewards even when unsuccessful. Feelings of control and optimism often accompany the early stages of self-modification efforts. In addition, unrealistic expectations concerning the ease, speed, likely degree of change, and presumed benefits of changing may overwhelm the knowledge of one’s prior failures. It is thus important to learn to distinguish between potentially feasible and impossible self-change goals in order to avoid overconfidence and false hopes leading to eventual failure and distress.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11466595)

I don’t seem to get all that distressed over my failures, however. Is this a positive thing or a negative thing though? Am I I determined or just a fool? Is the success I’ve had in the past unattainable now? Do I simply lack the cohones I once had too pull it off again? Have I retired from the kind of effort needed to take off 40 pounds and am just too stupid to know it? Should I call it quits on a 10-year low carb run and find a new diet? Or maybe just walk away from the gaming table with my winnings: down 35 pounds for a decade is still an achievement. Buy new clothes that fit at this size, shut down this blog and maybe start a new one about Fasciest Homeowner’s associations? Mine just sent me 30 pages of regulations on how often I should mow my lawn, how often I should water it, as well as the maximum lawn height: 4.5 inches. The document gently warned: ‘inspections will be made.’

If somebody comes to my house with a ruler to measure the height of my lawn I am going to spray them with a hose.

I decided to say to hell with the diet for the day. I had a Panera souffle with some eggs and toast early afternoon after cleaning the kitchen. Herein lies a big problem with saying to Hell with the diet – even if I don’t lose weight: I feel the difference. Afterward I was real tired and ended up taking a nap.

I woke late afternoon and the wife wanted to go to The Bonefish Grill (she had a coupon). I had never been there, but decided I would order whatever I felt like. We had a great appetizer of shrimp and scallops in a gooey cheese sauce with flatbread, then they brought a nice loaf of hot bread with pesto sauces to the table – then a second because the table devoured it. My main course was a seafood-stuffed tiliapa with au gratin potatoes which was washed down with 2 martinis until I switched to water. My younger daughter had fallen asleep before her main course came – a tempura fish and chips and I must say the few bites stolen of this stuff proved this to be a very good take on the classic dish.

Full to bursting from the meal we all went home and went straight to sleep, though I was thirsty and had no less than 2 big tumblers of almond milk and another glass of water.

I paid for my wanton transgression with indigestion that woke me a couple of times. The fire could only be put out by a few Tums each time.

I can’t eat like most normal people – nor can I seem to stick to my diet. Checkmate.