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!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oscillating habits

Yesterday, I had a sort of binge. My calories went to around 1700, where they would normally rest before my dietary tracking, though it was more in protein and fat than the normal carbohydrates (though I got my fair share of those, too). I think a large part of that was having a whey shake early on in the day, which made me feel hungrier as I sat around the house. Compare this to the day I had a rice protein shake and did things with my morning, when I wasn't hungry until 3pm.

I figure it's just an oscillating part of life. My normal day is just over 1200 calories, short of the estimated 1425 I probably use in a given day, so a weekly binge day is built in. I am trying to incorporate a fasting day but I haven't gotten that far yet.

Today I am definitely recovering from yesterday - I've plotted out all I've eaten as well as all I can see myself eating for the rest of the day, even overshooting my estimated appetite, and come up with under the 1200 calories. However, I did have a milky way bar while we were out and am paying for that in lack of fruit and thus being lower on nutrients than I'd like, but still. That's why I take a vitamin. I can't cover all my bases while living and interacting with carnivorous sugar addicts.

ETA: Okay, back, at the end of the day, and I have gone over 1200 by a few calories. I shouldn't have had that milky way bar, but ah, well. Still, I'm glad to report that my day went fairly well.

Breakfast: 1 egg + spinach frittata, along with a half cup of orange juice to accommodate my multivitamin
Treat: Milky Way bar
Lunch: Romaine lettuce with 1/4 cup pecans, baybel cheese, and some balsamic vinaigrette.
Snack: 1/4 cup almonds
Dinner: 3.5 oz mahi-mahi, a few sweet potato fries, a large portion of parmesian green beans
Post-post dinner workout: an attempt at consuming a protein shake, but I wasn't hungry

And that brings me almost exactly where I want to be. Without the MW, that's 51g carbs, though I probably would have had a few carbs worth of cranberries or something. Ah, well, the extra carbs are worth it now and again.

I'm still trying to work out how not to rely on protein powders for a large percentage of my protein, but, outside of half a dozen eggs a day, I don't know if that'll be happening. I'll try adding in yogurt - the cultures are something I want to add, too.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Still don't know what I'm doing

As much as I research, as much as I experiment, as much as I try to make and follow rules, I still don't really know what I'm doing. I'm not avoiding dairy like I said I would, I'm not incredibly low carb, I'm going heavy on the protein and I don't know how that's working out, it's just a big confusing mess.

I'm going to sort out the tenants of what I've discovered so far:
1. The most vital of my diet from here to eternity: grains are for never. Only in the most unavoidable situations (i.e. eating out in Japan) will I have rice, and even less wheat. There's nothing for me in those empty, bloat inducing carbs.
2. Sugar is another as-seldom-as-possible item. It is only to be used sparingly to make unpalatable things palatable; but, then again, why would I be eating something so bland in the first place? Natural and artificial sweeteners (honey for the primal, Splenda for the low-carb-er) are to be used sparingly as well, but they are permitted in my loose definition of a diet. Focus should be placed on the flavors of the food itself.
3. While protein powder is an important to a moderate-to-high protein vegetarian diet, it should not be an always thing. Place more emphasis on eggs, nuts and seeds.
4. Dairy is a sometimes thing. 1-serving-per-day or so, with priority on cheeses and yogurt over milk.
5. Fish, while permitted and encouraged, is limited by preference and ethics.
6. Fruit (especially bananas) should be eaten sparingly.
7. Veggies are a free-for-all.

And now I'm kinda just trailing off. I'll probably go to the store later for nuts and coconut milk. I've disliked coconut all my life, but I guess I can give it another shot.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Takeaway from food tracking: servings

Servings are quite a bit easier than tracking every meal. Instead of plugging in weights and numbers, you can estimate "Have I already had X servings of Y today? No? Let's add one in." From the past few days of tracking, I've devised my perfect system.

For a total of 1100 calories (someone with higher caloric need would want to increase it proportionately), it came to:
8 servings of 6-8 gram portions of protein
3 servings (~80g/serving) of colorful veggies, with the focus, as usual, on dark, leafy greens
2 servings of fruit, with at least one being berries
1 serving grains or starches
~2 servings added fat

This is just a basic list; a skeleton diet, if you forgive the irony. If I feel like having more spinach, that's probably a good thing. And it's hard to eat too many berries. (Larger fruit, on the other hand...) I almost always find myself low on fat, so there's another lenient point. The biggest restriction is the carbs, of course. With the above plan, 1/2 cup of brown rice in addition to everything else brings me to 85g carbs total (ftr, it's around 70g protein and 60g lipids when I add up this example; a little more fat and cals in that would be perfect) which is under my limit of 100g. So, while it's not particularly something I want to increase, a carb here and there won't hurt. Someone with no meat and/or animal products would probably want to make this a high-protein carb like quinoa, for a little extra oomph. Also, for a very low carb diet, this could be omitted and more veggies, fruit, and protein added.

In the protein category, one 3oz portion of fish would count as 2 servings because it tends to pack 15+ grams of protein. Same goes for a half scoop of protein powder. Other options would be a serving of nuts or seeds, an egg, a serving of dairy, or a serving of soy/seitan based product. 8 servings is a lot, but there are many sources to get it from. Variety is an important part of this system - it's fine to have half the servings in one day be from eggs, as long as you vary it and be sure to have more than just protein powder, or else you'll be low on lipids.

As has been happening, the above leaves me (slightly) deficient in folate, B5, E, calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and zinc; though very high in other categories. 600mg of calcium in a mineral supplement, plus some occasional iron/folate/E supplements would round it off nicely. I have a hard time finding phosphorous, potassium, and B5 in anything other than small amounts or in complexes with urine expensifiers, but deficiencies aren't a usual problem, so I should be fine.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I feel really good today

Can I chalk it up to what I have eaten, what I haven't, or just general lifestyle choices?

I woke up 6:30 like normal to get ready for work. I decided to have a protein shake, seeing how the one from yesterday went so well. Filled up a magic bullet cup with water, plopped in a scoop of rice protein, a dash of strawberry flavor, a handful of frozen raspberries, and turned on the bullet. It was okay - not delicious, but not terrible. I'm trying to figure out ways to make it taste better - I'm going to try canned pumpkin, I think. Yum.

Before work, I snagged a spoonfull of peanut butter because I needed the fat. Then off I go to walk the dogs, getting home around 10:30, at which point I turn right back around to go with the fam to the Newseum. (Oh, and I ate a Kinder Egg. My sister wanted to see what was inside!) On the metro ride back, around 2:30, my siblings were complaining of hunger, but I was still doing good. I started to feel hunger around 3, and we stopped at Wendy's where I got a side salad. Left me craving fat, so I had a handful of sunflower seeds and pistachios when we got home. Delicious.

You'll notice that up until this point, it's largely vegetarian, mostly vegan for the big stuff.

The hungries came back, but this time I overdid it. 3oz rainbow trout with some some stalks of asparagus and a bit of onion and more sunflower seeds, plus some green tea. Now I'm left rather full and contemplating when the best time to take my calcium would be. (I'll give it another hour to digest.)

CRON-o-meter says I've got a ratio of 25:24:51 protein:carb:fat. That's pretty perfect. I notice that this means pretty much equivalent weights of each macronutrient. That seems like a good guide to follow. Protein Power recommends like 30g carbs to reach ketosis, and then up to 100g after weight loss is achieved. Seeing how I've got no weight to lose, the 50g I've consumed today is pretty good.

I've had 771 calories today and am feeling quite full, to the point where some days I would eat no more. But I'm only at about 65% of my micronutrients, so I'll have to figure out what I'm missing and see how to fix that. Probably fruit - 10 raspberries isn't much fruit for one day. Maybe some broccoli...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I finally had enough data to determine what supplements I need. Until this point, I'd been taking a one-a-day women's multivitamin as well as a 600mg calcium + 400 IU vitamin D tablet. I don't know why calcium is so necessary if milk is unnatural, except that we don't eat the same weeds we used to nor the bones of our creatures, so we need a substitute. There're debates on the functionality of supplements, but I've noticed a distinct difference since taking the calcium, even when I drank milk (menstrual cramps are less, and I don't burn as much in the sun) that I'm not about to give it up.

However, I think I'm way overdoing the supplements with the multivitamin. Not counting the calcium and vitamin D, I get 90% of my RDA for vitamins and minerals, overall. 100% RDA of Vitamin A (which is fat soluble, and quite easy to overdose on) in addition to the 100-400% I get every day in my diet just doesn't seem necessary. However, there are a few things I am consistently low on - such as iron, potassium (though the RDA here is iffy), folate, Vitamin E, magnesium, zinc... So logically it'd be best to just take those items separately. Magnesium is often paired with calcium for better absorption, sometimes with zinc too, so I just need to get a calcium pill with magnesium next time. I've seen iron come with folic acid, and vitamin E is often sold on its own. I guess I'll be taking a bunch of pills instead of one handy multi, but it's probably better than overdosing.

The hardest thing is finding one that suits my needs. So many put massive amounts of the stuff I don't need in what would otherwise be a great product. I'll let you know what I end up with. TTFN!

Starter Post

Okay, so I'm not actually posting anything of substance today, just some random thoughts. I haven't exactly sorted everything out, so I'll just do a lengthy, rambly intro.

Here's the deal: I'm a ovo-pescetarian with a nutrition obsession and a desire to live the healthiest life probable. This blog will largely be about my thoughts on various dieting techniques and the best options for leading the healthiest life.

Now, you probably wonder what I mean by ovo-pescetarian. No, it's not that I eat only fish eggs. My diet is primarily vegetables, with the protein focus centered on fish and eggs. Though I am not lactose intolerant, a large proportion of humans have some sort of milk intolerance. I found that my chronic sinusitis diminished when I quit milk, and I felt overall better. Right now I'm only a short while into the experiment, but I hope to have more results in the next few weeks as to what exactly milk does to me. Another reason for quitting milk is that there is little shown benefit - the calcium is important, yes, but some studies say that the protein content, as well as the homogenization issue, make it hard to digest.

I do not eat red meat for mostly ethical reasons, but nutrition wise I find it works out quite well for me. If I could raise and/or kill the creature myself, or know exactly how it went down, I would feel better about it. I don't like feeling so detached from my food that I don't know how it got from the whole thing to the cut up portion on my plate. Fish I allow mostly because straight vegetarian wasn't working for me. I was ovo-lacto for about 3 years, and I find animal protein much more suitable to life.

But the types of food I eat are, in my opinion, less important than the content of the foods I eat. I follow a lite version of CRON as well as low-carb, high fat. Note the 'lite' part. I eat anywhere from 1000-1600 calories a day, depending on exercise. A few weeks ago, 1400 seemed to be my mode, but now 1200 is becoming more prevalent. Protein:carb:fat ratios tend to be around 20-25:45-50:30-35. You'll notice that that's not at all a low carb diet. Well, neither is 1600 calories a CR diet. I'm working on it, and I am honestly getting better.

My current setup in the CRON-o-meter is: 1200 calories, 25% protein, 35% carbs, and 40% fat. In the future I'll probably work on upping the fat and lowering the carbs; protein is already a stretch at 25%, with me consuming something like an egg, a large serving of fish, some nuts or seeds, and a protein shake per day. Fat is easier to increase - nuts are mostly lipids, and it's easy to add oils to things. I'll be working on that.