Sunday, November 7, 2010

I need to reboot

Oh, man, I've had it up to *HERE*.

Halloween came and sent me into a consistent candy binge, which pretty much wrecks everything else.

I'd still have a healthy diet - egg and spinach omelette breakfast, large salad for lunch, nut and fruit snack, fish and veggies for dinner, for instance. But then, I'd go and eat 5 mini snickers bars. >.< I wouldn't feel too full but it started cravings.

Now, a week later, I'm having a hard time not eating even though I'm quite full. I just have such an urge to munch, even though my belly is distended to the max.

So, I've got an issue. Why? I know I'm full, why do I eat?

I guess partly it's because I don't have much to do and am in the house often. Solution part 1: go for walks instead of eating.

Another thing is that my easy snacks, i.e. nuts, are highly calorific and tend to make me want to eat more. Solution part 2: find less calorific snacks, such as veggies and beverages like herbal tisanes.

The third item is that I'll see the bread my dad bought, tell myself not to eat it, and then eat something like more of those nuts instead, even if I'm not hungry. Solution part 3: have a small bit of bread. Better to give in to curiosity than to binge eat. Sometimes you just need to be away from thoughts of diet and just eat what you want to eat.

All else fails, I'm going to carry around a pack of gum. Maybe that'll help.

I also plan to throw in some fasting and protein shakes, just to help me get back on track. No food-waste guilt.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My bone to pick with vegetarians

As far as I see it, there are two reasons to become a vegetarian: for health, and for ethics.

Reason number one is moot. The healthiest diet is one that has at least 3 servings of green stuff and 2 servings of colorful stuff per day, yes, but it is also one that includes animal fats and proteins. This can be achieved easily by lacto-ovo vegetarians, but the matter stands that cutting out meat for health purposes has no scientific finding.

Reason number two is what I find most fascinating. The goal is to reduce the suffering of others, and it is a very noble goal. To reduce suffering of animals, you must not increase demand for their deaths and mistreatment. A bird with ample food and space to roam seems happy to me, though others may define it differently, so I think organic, cage-free eggs should be a large part of anyone's diet - all the health, and none of the suffering. A justly run dairy farm gets excess milk from the cows - and does not remove the calf, so, again, much nutrition (for those who can digest it) for no suffering.

How else can you get increased nutriton for little suffering? How can you decrease demand while not causing your own suffering?

Enter, stage left: roadkill. This is an argument often brought up in debates. Why should the ethical vegetarian have anything against naturally-dead animals?

First, let me point out what would be wrong with this argument. First, it's not sustainable (or hygienic) to the whole population to wait until the animals die of natural causes to eat it. Second, it would increase demand indirectly because scavenger/hunter animals would have to hunt more.

However, in practice in our human culture, "roadkill" has some value. We try hard to get the message across that waste is worse than the killing - so why not reduce that waste? The scraps of meat on chicken bones that the more carnivorously minded would be dumped into the trash, which does no one any good. For a Vegetarian Who Picks at Bones, the leftover scraps provide nutrition without increasing demand. Further, taking those bones and making stock has an incredible amount of nutrition. Then the Picky Vegetarian can take the soaked bones, grind them up, and put them in raw dog food or use as fertilizer.

These are things society SHOULD do daily, naturally, as a part of course to reduce our impact on the creatures around us. Gathering up chicken bones may make you look a little crazy and desperate - but you are just making the most of your situation. How terrible it is to see those bones thrown away for naught! For the most devout ethical vegetarian, would it not be most ethical to take the bones and make stock, and provide the stock to the hungry? Or make soup for carnivorous friends in order to decrease their dependence upon factory produced meat based canned soups?

Maybe, eventually, you will find that there is no "roadkill" left, once you get non-ethical-vegetarians to adopt the practice of making stock, etc. At that point, that ideal point when society has found itself with an incredibly reduced amount of waste, I urge you to become strict vegetarian at your own discretion.

But, for now, what's stopping you from having making a little chicken soup from society's roadkill?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bone Marrow

I did cave, but with good cause. I found a local bison and pork producer at the farmer's market, so I have added in small amounts of organic meats to my diet.

The most interesting thing to me is that the healthiest parts of meat are the parts the general populace do not eat - bone marrow, organs, you know, the fatty stuff. So I'm trying to make this the focus of my experiment - eat the uneaten stuff because it's healthier and also less demand-generating. (I do not want to generate excessive increased demand for meat.)

If we actually ate the bones, too, we'd not be deficient in calcium and promoting milk as that false osteoporosis-preventer. If we ate liver from grass fed cows, we'd be getting tons of nutrients. Theoretically, a diet high in organ meat does not have as much need for vegetables. They are then more important in acid balance than in the obtaining of nutrients. I don't know the exact nutrient profile of bone marrow (can you believe the USDA data bank doesn't have it?) but it is, assuredly, one of the healthiest parts of an animal.

So I've made it a point to suck the marrow out of chicken bones, and hopefully I'll be making my own stock rather than that "chicken flavored" stuff. I got a tongue from the bison place last week - made beef stew, but the family wouldn't eat it, so it was on my menu for a whole week. To be honest, meat would squick me out too if it weren't so fascinating. Cutting apart a chicken is an experience. Skinning a tongue is an epic journey. I like to experience my food - to discover new foods, new flavors; to spend time on something and taste my hard work. I love change, and, luckily for me, the world never stops.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I noticed some weight gain

Weight gain is not on my list of goals! It was all in the abdominal area, it seems, so that makes in really a problem I do need to solve, thanks to the correlation between visceral fat and chronic illnesses.

There have been many changes in my lifestyle - from increased exercise to the reduction of carbs, and then some. I believe this made my body not know if it was hungry or not - it just decided to eat when there was food, because it no longer had immediate carbs and it never 'knows' when it's going to need to go for another run.

Because of this, I have found it necessary to account for calories in a new way.

I have taken to eating low-calorie high-water foods (i.e. vegetables) in extremely large amounts. These are accompanied by an "adequate" portion of protein and fat.

For instance, when I started this low-carb thing, I would do something like a 2-egg omelette with a handful or two of spinach for breakfast. This is often times just too much for me in one sitting. Contrast this to today - I shredded and squeezed the water out of 2 summer squash (yes, two whole summer squash), combined with an egg and some garlic, cooked in coconut oil, and served that with mustard. This provided a very satisfactory nutrition profile of just 200 calories with 18:28:55 protein:carb:fat as well as 30% of my daily vitamins and minerals. It left me full but not stuffed like the 2-egg ommelette.

So I was overeating because I wanted to ensure I got sufficient nutrition, but it turns out that less is more for protein, and more is less for vegetables, so just eat those veggies up. But another aspect of this overeating was because my body was adapting to the changes, leaving me occasionally tired when I ought not to have been. I thought it would be smart to fix this by eating before doing anything demanding - this was not the answer. Yes, I COULD eat a large lunch before going to work, but chances are someone will have made a large dinner by the time I get home, and that is too much food. I am much better off with a small lunch, an emergency bag of nuts, and eating my fill when I get home.

I've done this only for a few days and my weight has started to go down again. I hope that it will continue.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Organic or not? Grass fed, or what?

Now, I'm not saying that there's no point to the whole organic business, but take a gander at this:

The Omega 6:3 fatty acid ratio is often cited as a reason that grass-fed beef is healthier than grain fed. This analysis shows that there's so little omega-3 in any sort of beef that if you're truly relying on it for your omegas, you're going to get nowhere. Sea food may be more important when you're eating grain fed, but this isn't that great of a reason to choose grass fed.

It also strikes me as odd that I read somewhere else that a grass fed but grain finished (i.e. fed grain towards the last few weeks before slaughter) would revert to the omega ratio of grain fed. So, is that saying that all that time growing up on a healthier diet did not produce a healthier cow?

Well, not exactly. This analysis only proves that the omega ratio doesn't matter. What still seems irrefutable is that grass fed meats have more vitamins and minerals. Butter from pastured cows? High in all those essential fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K. If anything, it's more important to fry your eggs in pastured butter than eat pastured beef, but that's a personal decision. (There's also the decision as to whether you want to support the inhumane practices of family farms. But, in the great scheme of feeding the world, not every cow can be pastured, and cost is a factor. It's good to know you aren't costing your health too much if you can't afford grass-fed.)

On the veggie side of things, here's a post on organic produce:

The article states that organic produce is still often produced with toxins, they're just organic toxins. Some inorganic toxins are engineered to decompose quickly, meaning that organically farmed produce may have more toxins when it gets to your plate than its counterparts.

The same still holds that organic often beats the run-of-the-mill varieties in nutrient composition, but far more important is the freshness of your vegetables. A vine ripened tomato beats one that was picked early, often regardless of whether the soil was mediocre or not. Freshly picked spinach has double the folic acid as spinach that's been sitting there a week. So eating in-season is more important than organic, and often cheaper. Frozen veggies also have their nutrients packed at the moments they are highest, so there's no distinct health reason to go for fresh (and so often wilty) over frozen. (I do have to say, farmer's markets beat all in terms of taste, at the very least! I love the farmer's market.)

Just some food for thought.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


My littlest sister has had way more health problems than the rest of us had. She's not as focused in school, doesn't have the best memory, and she's more like the Standard American Kid (though, still pretty smart), than any of us smartie-pants ever were.

So, what gives?

I figure part of it is that she has more time to be bored, seeing how she doesn't have siblings who interact on her level that often. She does have friends, though, and good ones.

I figure a bigger part of it is diet. Undoubtedly she gets more sugar than we ever did, and I guess that's it. She doesn't like the same foods we liked, but, then again, we didn't eat that great either. Lots of hot dogs in buns with ketchup, fries, chips, soda, cereal, corn dogs, mac and cheese. Mom's idea of a home cooked meal was frozen processed meat loaf with canned green beans and mashed potatoes from flakes, or mac-and-cheese with frozen peas and kielbalsa. How did our brains grow on that?

I have a theory that you might not like. Every night, we would have hot chocolate - Nesquik, with the vitamins and minerals. Yeah, it's commercial dairy and sugar, but you know what? That probably filled in a lot of gaps.

I'm going to see if my sister wants to get into that habit. She's 9, but it's never too late to make an improvement, right? Milk is better than corn chips and mac and cheese.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Well, that sucks

I just found out that the kefir I ordered isn't real kefir. I have no idea what it is. So I ordered some real kefir grains and some mason jars. Ungh, what a waste of money.

In other news, my diet has relaxed a bit. The very low carb lifestyle is very good for those who have damaged their insulin producers/receptors/whatever. Having been very thin for most of my life, and catching the weight from high-carb veg rather early, I think I'm 'safe'. So, while I was never really low carb, I'm accepting moderate carb as my diet - 25-30% carb, 20-25% protein, 50% fat. This is still half the carbs of the average SAD, but it is much easier for me on a vegetarian diet, especially considering the fact that my family eats out every week, etc.

It's also good because I've decided to start training for ultra marathons, so my glycogen stores need to be reasonable.

Ultimately, I'm going to eat what's on hand that I want to eat. This experiment into as-low-as-possible carb has taught me that fat is GOOD! Add fat to everything! Nuts are the yummy fat candy of nature! It has also taught me that eating carbs with proportions of protein and fat (the same weight of each is a good estimate) seems to be ideal, and that all opportunities to not eat sugar or grains should be taken. Potatoes = okay; poptarts = bad.

That said, I'm still eating a ton of sushi and rice in Japan!