Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Posts tagged ‘diets’

It’s Not 99%, That’s for Sure

close up of a cows nose

mmm, nummy.

Have you heard about “nose to tail”? That is another movement to change how we eat. It is really simple, in theory. If you are going to eat meat, you should eat all of it, and not waste it. In our modern culture, this is rather silly, in that few of us will butcher and process our own meat.  In light of what we now know about good nutrition, it isn’t even sound, since that is why our forebearers made all that yummy, yet unhealthy sausage, to use up the less appetizing bits. The idea behind this is the idea that there are so many of us, and it takes so much land to raise meat, that getting us to use every bit is better ecologically.

Learning about this made me think about all the different movements out there to get us to eat healthier, help the earth, prevent global warming, or in some way live a more mindful life. I don’t think we need to go to the extremes that some movements promote.

We don’t even agree on what we need to do. I do think we all agree on recycling, unless the energy it takes to recycle creates to much carbon. We agree on using less, unless the economy suffers. We agree on using renewable resources, unless that renewable resource is controversal, like ethanol. Oh, but we do agree on green energy, unless they are putting a wind farm in your neighborhood. Sigh.

I have a friend who is convinced if she can get us all to go vegan, the world would be a better place. I don’t know that she’s wrong, We’ll never try it to find out. I won’t even do it. Do I think that eating less meat is a good thing? Of course. Meat should be the side dish, not the veggies. I had some shrimp tacos at Red Lobster that were out of this world. I gorged myself and probably ate 10 shrimp. The rest was veggies and bread. However, I live with a raving carnivore. I have gotten him to eat smaller portions, and occasionally have chicken, fish,soup or something other than straight red meat at a meal, but he still thinks two hamburgers is a serving. The funny thing is, there is a significant portion of the health community that would see bread as the problem, not meat.

My chiropractor just gave my husband some info on the paleo diet. I have a bunch of clients going gluten free.  I applaud people for taking steps to control their health, I just wonder why everything has to be so extreme. Just eating healthy is extreme enough. Put down the crueller and have fruit and oatmeal for breakfast. Have the Southwest Salad instead of the Big Mac. Have a small coffee with one cream and sugar instead of the latte, frappe whatever. Have pudding for desert instead of ice cream. Better yet, have a yogurt parfait, with homemade strawberry rhubarb sauce. Ok, that’s it, I’m outta here. There’s some of that in the fridge calling my name. I put some in my salad this morning and it was really good.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a major problem nowadays. We could rehash all the reasons, but I have other reasons for bringing this up. To be clear, I’m talking about type II. Type one is so different in many ways we shouldn’t lump the two together. Type two is largely lifestyle generated, type 1 you are often born with. There are more distinctions than that, but it is enough for now to say we are talking in this article about type II.

First, there was this article, Health Care Law Targeting Diabetics. Don’t worry, this isn’t a “big brother is going to get you article”. In order for everyone to have health care, we will have to be stricter about taking care of ourselves, and our health care system will be more proactive. I know diabetics who know almost nothing about their disease. The doctor handed them a script and a handful of literature and sent them on their way. I know many others who educated themselves. Your doctor ought to be your primary reference, and in far too many cases, he’s not. This might be one positive result to the new health care law.

Then, there is this tantalizing article, Clues to Type 2 Diabetes Discovered on Mount Everest.  The more we learn about how our bodies work, the more we can target treatments. Let’s face it, life’s not fair, some people have horrible diets, and don’t get diabetes at all, or very late in life, and others get it very early. We know that genetics plays a role, being overweight does too, as well as diet. The more we can hone in on the interplay, the closer we get to being able to say to someone what their personal risk factor is, similar to heart disease.

Lastly, there was my experience lately with a diabetic. She told us she could not eat donuts because of it, but went ahead and had hot chocolate. She told us her daughter was diabetic, and she was an expert at “swapping carbs”, that the hot chocolate was her lunch, and that what she had was the equivalent of a sandwich and a beverage. That might work out, as far as her blood sugar is concerned, but it misses the point as far as good nutrition. It is hard if you are diabetic to avoid all sugar. There isn’t a one of us who doesn’t love desert. Not to mention bread and other starches. But outside of the fact that sugar isn’t good for any of us, and that cutting it back means you get more sensitive to it, so less really is more, there is also the question of what are you replacing it with. Food is fuel, and the better your fuel, the better you’ll run. I cringe when I hear of all the crazy things people are doing with their diets- whether it’s cutting carbs completely, no fat, no dairy, no gluten, etc. Those might be fine for a very small percentage of people- the number of actual celiac disease patients is still estimated to be 12%- but for most of us it is self-defeating and short-sighted. Food has things in it besides calories and carbs, that make you run well. Build the body today that you’ll be relying on a decade from now.

HCG

I wasn’t going to tackle the topic of HCG, as it wasn’t on my radar, till I found out my cousin was on it, then a girl came into work and everyone was marveling at her weight loss, and she said it was due to HCG. HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy. There are two ways to get it, as an injection from your doctor, or as drops available online.  I have a link here to a Dr. Oz show exploring the whole issue. I know, kinda funny, I don’t care much for Dr. Oz anymore, and I’ve referenced him in two posts lately.

Here is a quote from Mayoclinic.com:

So why has there been so much talk about the HCG diet? Perhaps it’s because the diet recommends severe calorie restriction — typically just 500 to 800 calories a day. People who follow such a very low-calorie diet are likely to lose weight, at least in the short-term. However, that level of calorie restriction has risks, such as gallstone formation, irregular heartbeat, and an imbalance of the electrolytes that keep the body’s muscles and nerves functioning properly.

If weight loss is your goal, there are safer ways to lose weight. Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about how to make healthy changes that lead to permanent weight loss, such as eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

I will tell you up front I think this is horrible. First, the only way to get true HCG is from your doctor. According to the representative from the FDA that was on Dr. Oz, there is no discernible amount of HCG in all of the over the counter brands they tested. If it is a “homeopathic” preparation, that already means there is little to no active ingredients, since that is in keeping with homeopathic beliefs. (A topic for another time.) So most of the people on the HCG diet, are simply on a diet. Don’t try to tell me it can’t be placebo, my experience with anorexia tells me that the most powerful diet aid is your brain. Your body will signal hunger, but you decide whether to listen to that signal or not.

Second, the diet. 500 calories a day is not healthy. Your diet is not just calories. Calories are only one thing your food provides. You need vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and fiber. They are called “essential” amino acids for a reason. Same with essential fatty acids. Starving yourself will work to lose weight. Ask anyone in a third world country. However, you will also lose hair, teeth, skin condition, etc. The reason women used to lose teeth when they were pregnant was their bodies leached calcium for the baby. People in the past faced famine on a regular basis, but they often died from it. You need to consume what your body uses. When you “burn fat”, it is only calories your fat is providing, not all the other essential things your body uses to make you. For every dramatic success story of weight loss on this diet, there are as many people who suffer physical harm. Here is a link to people’s reviews of the diet on About.com. As you will see, for every person who was happy with it, there was another who suffered from it.

Third, what are you learning from this diet about how to live the rest of your life? Will you forego pizza and hot dogs in favor of salad and watermelon? Or will you start a yo-yo diet of dramatic weight loss, gain it back, starve yourself, gain it back? I’m striving daily to get people to think about what they put in their mouths and what that is doing to their body, and I don’t see any indication that there is anything about this diet that teaches anything about health and nutrition. I have not heard one word about a transition to a normal diet, and teaching you how to achieve that.

My summation? If you want to starve yourself, be my guest. Just don’t ask me to support it. If HCG, or the placebo effect, helps you to do that, then why can’t you stick to a normal diet? Ask yourself that question. If you can eat 500 calories a day, why can’t you eat 1400 calories a day, get optimal nutrition and lose weight more slowly and in a healthier fashion. What is your philosophy? Appearance at any cost? Or optimal health and strength? I do realize that being extremely overweight is a health risk too, and some argue “any port in a storm”, but I say lets try harder to do it the right way before we resort to extremes. I’m not even against HCG itself, if it is truly legitimate. It is the pairing of it with such an extreme, unhealthy diet that bothers me.

There’s One Born Every Minute…

And your evidence is?

I was a strange kid, instead of reading romance novels or whatever passed for kid lit in our day, I read books written by naturalists and zoologists.  This gave me a strong bent towards science. During my teen years, I got interested in the occult, and read books both embracing it and debunking it, which led to a habit of always trying to find both sides of the story. I say all this to tell you that whenever a new health craze comes out, I’m interested, but skeptical. I like to wait and see what evidence supports the new claim(s). When faced with some new diet craze or exercise fad, I try to apply some common sense principles to cut to the heart of the matter.

  • Could applying this hurt me?
  • How costly is it?
  • How does it fit in with the general body of knowledge?
  • Does it contradict things I know to be true?
  • Does it claim too much?

So, if a new claim comes along, if it won’t hurt, isn’t costly, and I can’t see anything glaringly wrong with it, I might give it a try.

Real Life

So now that we’ve laid the framework, lets look at some real examples. This post was prompted by a Washington Post article stating that there is little evidence that alkaline water promotes health claims. I had heard some ads for the water treatment devices, and they are very costly. Like most of these things, they start with word of mouth advertising, along the lines of multi level marketing. Right away, anything that is sold that way makes me very leery. Especially when the people selling it are “true believers”, coming across like converts to a religion. The whole idea of acid imbalance in your body flies in the face of science. Your body is very delicate, and very good at regulating itself. That is part of why your electrolytes are so important, calcium buffers the ph in your blood, so it doesn’t get too acid when conditions warrant it. So getting back to my principles, it violates three of the 4 , as it won’t hurt you to drink it.

Some Fads go Mainstream

Lets look at some recent fads that are gaining traction. Low carb diets, vegan diets, gluten free diets, coconut oil, and blenders. Low carb diets started with Atkins, and have gone through many permutations. I don’t recommend any of the more extreme forms, and I don’t think they are a lifestyle diet, which is the real goal of a “diet”, to created a daily way of eating that benefits your weight and health. However, any diet that gets you to eat less white flour and sugar isn’t too bad. Just when they say to cut carrots- that’s getting foolish.

Vegan is popular, and it is too extreme to be very healthy. You can’t do it without modern supplements for your B vitamins. Also, any diet that extreme makes most people fall off it rather quickly. Done wrong, without paying close attention to the nutritional value of what you are eating, it can be very harmful.

Gluten free is one that I think will fade over time. There are a percentage of people who are gluten intolerant. It can be tested for. The rest are on a bandwagon. Most of the health benefits people claim who are not suffering from celiac disease come from cutting the empty carbs, which does benefit everyone. Cut baked goods- cookies, pie, pastry, bread- out of your diet and you’ll see the same benefit.

Coconut oil is now touted as the cure-all for everything. I’ve even started allowing a small amount into my diet, and will see if my cholesterol jumps next time. I doubt it does everything people say it does:

The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and soothing properties.

That is from organicfacts.com. That goes against the last principle, of claiming too much.  I’m trying some, without going nuts on it in case it proves not to be true. I look at that one like vitamin D. Right now, people are claiming way to much for one lowly vitamin. Do I think vitamin D is good? Of course, but to hear some people talk, it is the cure for anything that ails you. All diseases don’t have the same root cause, so all can’t be cured by the same product.

People are buying blenders for their health. Think about it. You can’t eat these foods unless they are predigested? Sorry, I like blenders, but if you need a $500 blender to eat strawberries and spinach, there is something wrong. I blend my kale in a $25 bullet knockoff every morning and it turns out fine. Besides, I like chewing my food. The only reason I blend my kale is it is kind of tough, especially in my oatmeal. I wouldn’t do that if I was sautéing it. Enough said.

So, every time a new product, diet, or any other type of fad comes out, hear it out, weigh it against what you already know, and decide if the proposed benefits out weigh the risks. Just remember – the person selling it is a true believer, and often is making money off it, so of course they are all on board. Also, before you go buying products to improve your health, look at your baseline – what is your current diet and exercise regime? Could you just improve that, rather than go to some extreme diet?

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World” is a poem by William Ross Wallace that praises motherhood as the preeminent force for change in the world.

-Quoted from Wikipedia

That was a belief that shaped our country. It is was led to the education of women, and the idea of universal education. Only an educated nation could support a healthy democracy. The founders of the country realized the mothers of the nation shaped the future leaders.

 The exact same truth applies to health. Georgia has a media campaign to reduce childhood obesity. It has aroused major controversy since it is not narrowly focused at the parents, but seems to target the kids too. This is a mistake. Until adolescence, children’s food intake is almost completely controlled by the parents, both in quantity and quality. This puts the full burden on the parents shoulders. If you are a parent, you are transmitting everything you feel, think and believe about eating and exercise. It isn’t hard to see this, heavy parents often have heavy kids. It would be easy to blame this on genetics, but it is easy to see where daily choices make all the difference. For example, if it were only genetics, obesity wouldn’t be on the rise so quickly.

One of the most crucial things you, the parent, are doing, is creating favorite foods and comfort foods. Our deep psychological relationship with food is created in childhood. If you serve healthy food most of the time, you are training your children’s palates to prefer those foods. If you serve high fat and sugar food, that is what your child will prefer, making weight loss in later life that much harder.How often do you serve pizza, cake, hot dogs, french fries and pop? What is a treat in your house? Is a desert one cookie or three? Are you terrified to let your kid go to bed hungry? ( Children will not starve themselves.) If you are heavy, if your children are heavy, get educated and make changes as fast as possible, for their future. It is very, very hard to lose weight. Why put that on your kids? Help them not gain it in the first place.

If you hate to exercise, chances are your children will to. If you won’t take a walk, how can they? If you won’t ride a bike, how are you going to teach them? Trying to find work arounds, without changing yourself, may mitigate some effects, like enrolling them in sports, but they will largely be modeling themselves after you. If you are afraid to try something new, for fear of making a fool of yourself, how can your kids see courage modeled?

Hopefully this will encourage you to make changes in your life now. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for the children.

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