Red meat & mortality & the usual bad science

This is a great explication by Zoe Harcombe of the article in Archives of Internal Medicine released March 12 reporting the teeny association between eating meat and premature death. Skip the numbers if you want. The “meat” of her summary is in the first 2 points:

“1) This study can at best suggest an observed relationship, or association. To make allegations about causation and risk is ignorant and erroneous.

2) The numbers are very small. The overall risk of dying was not even one person in a hundred over a 28 year study. If the death rate is very small, a possible slightly higher death rate in certain circumstances is still very small. It does not warrant a scare-tactic, 13% greater risk of dying headline – this is ‘science’ at its worst.”

If you are so inclined, also read the rant on Gary Taubes’ blog post, Science, Pseudoscience, Nutritional Epidemiology and Meat

Relapse Is My Middle Name

Those who remember my technical blatherings about the Stages of Change Model describing how people voluntarily change behaviors know that I have tried to relate my journey from merely thinking about eating healthy, to seriously planning, to acting on the set of behaviors, and then integrating the mechanisms (processes) of change to help me keep going. (Fifty-word sentence, good grief.)

Relapse is one of the stages, and I am in it. “Don’t despair,” I tell myself because this is normal. There is always something to be learned from a setback. And, recycling to a later stage of change means not starting all over. I do not need to build motivation. I do need to re-establish my ability to shun certain trigger foods. Regain my self-efficacy/confidence. This is especially hard given that I have a binge eating disorder. Yep, depression, anxiety, PTSD, BED. One wonders how I ever functioned so successfully in academia. Here’s a secret. I almost ate myself to death. I gained 150-pounds and no one talked to me about it. If I had reeked of alcohol think someone might have initiated an intervention? Yep? Do I harbor some anger at those charged with my training during medical residency, those who supposedly valued behavioral sciences yet ignored my tremendous weight gain during my residency? You bet. Time to let that go.

I have returned to the world of the present by being open with my family about what has been going on. Sought support from key friends and loved ones. Agreed to not eat in private. Talked with my long distance shrink who is an incredible sounding board. Finally, I stepped into my tightest jeans and found they were almost too tight to wear. Reality check.

Losing weight and maintenance are difficult enough without adding a binge problem. I don’t expect sympathy. It’s a real disorder that I magically thought had disappeared. Nope.

Ever vigilant without obsessing is a fine line. I’m back in the saddle and wearing my tight jeans.

My ABC’s

This post idea is stolen from Karen @ Waisting Time. Why? Because it is such a great idea, and I am in a creative funk. Here is my alphabet soup of eating, food, and other related themes.

A is asparagus, lightly mixed with olive oil, tossed with sesame seeds then broiled.

B is for berries, straw, blue, Marion, black…

C is cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower dusted with a bit of cheese.

D is for doggies that beg for leftovers. The chi-terrier mix loves coffee and veggies!

E is for eggs. Hardboiled, soft-boiled, poached, scrambled, omelet-ized, over easy in olive oil.

F is for fish, which I do not eat enough. Fresh haddock is a favorite. Smoked salmon is a speciality of a local pricey market. Shellfish would be high on the list if I had not developed an allergy 😦 in the 1990’s. What is your favorite fish, and how do you prepare it?

G is for grapes that meet my desert and snack needs wants. Any food that you allow for snacking?

H is for Honey Baked ham with the fat and sugary coating trimmed off.

I is for the cast-iron skillet that we use so frequently.

J is for jogging that I learned hurts my knees.

K is for the Kashi cereals I no longer eat because I don’t “do” grains anymore. (Read Wheat Belly for good reasons to remove most grains from your diet.)

L is for lean protein. Cannot get enough. What is your favorite source of protein?

M is for maintenance. I cannot wait!

N is for nut, almonds and walnuts, please. Although macadamia nuts are my faves.

O is for organic. I’m still on the fence about which products to buy and which are not worth the extravagant cost. Recommendations?

P is for the produce section at Sunflower Market. Love it! Do you have a Sunflower near you?

Q is for quince – something I have never tried, although I have only seen it in New England as a jelly or jam. Anything in your alphabet list that you are curious to taste?

R is for my Mom’s roast brisket. I have tried to duplicate it with horrid results.

S is for steak. OK, I am a carnivore. We do limit beef consumption to once or twice a week. Anyone feel embarrassed about eating meat these days? (Those big ol’ cow eyes with long lashes…)

T is for toxins that lurk in our water and food supply. Without public health oversight from the government (local and federal), we could expect food borne illnesses to increase. Watch how your Congress person votes.

U is for getting unstuck. I could give many excuses why my weight hasn’t moved in the last several weeks, but that’s all they are, excuses.

V is the vitality that I feel when eating healthy and being physically active.

X is for xylitol, which is used as a sugar substitute. What, if any, sweeteners do you use? I put Truvia in my protein berry shakes.

Y is for yogurt, specifically Fage non-fat used for protein smoothies.

Z is the end. OK, that was a cop out. Zero grains. I’m serious. Zero ice cream. What foods are on your absolute NO list, if any?

Two Years Ago…

We hosted a Labor Day barbeque. I ate my usual large amounts of fatty food (nothing wrong with fat in food) and the next day had to face what Sue and I had known for a few years – I had gallstones. A surreptitious ultrasound had shown them earlier, but I rarely experienced symptoms. Post Labor Day binge, I had excruciating pain that took me immediately to my primary care doc then for an ultrasound later that week to reconfirm what we already knew.  Within 2 days of seeing one of Sue’s favorite surgeons, I was scheduled for surgery. Terrified, on September 16, 2009, I had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Just one little incision under my umbilicus (sorry, it’s hard for me to say “belly button”), and 30 minutes later 3 large stones and my gallbladder were removed.

My post-operative course was a little rocky with a small bile leak that did not require surgery but caused a lot of pain. My incision took forever to heal. And, I had no appetite combined with tremendous, um, disturbance in my gut. Couple little intake with tremendous output and one gets a 30-pound weight loss in a month. Sue and I had been contemplating a joint weight loss program prior to Labor Day. During my post-op misery we discussed that this was the perfect time for me to get healthy and continue the weight loss in a rational manner.

So, this 2-year journey was kick-started by a health crisis. Methods have been adjusted as I learned what worked and didn’t for my body. I choose a hiatus after the death of my mother, focusing on maintenance. Frustrated by repeated plateaus (damn post-menopausal state), I read all I could find on different methods of losing fat. Thus was born the totally new approach in January, 2011, of no starch, sugar, grains combined with watching calories. A little breast cancer got thrown in this Spring. Exercise (I prefer to call it physical activity) continues to be a struggle given my recent surgery, but I enjoy challenges.

Suddenly I weigh 138 pounds less, am 2 years older, maybe a little wiser, and have met so many wonderful people by writing about the process. Thank you all for blogging, inspiring me, letting me comment on your thoughts, giving me a place to lend support and write things that I would never post on my own blog.

Here’s to health, writing, and connections.

138 pounds later picture

September, 2011 - 167 pounds

July, 2009 - 305 pounds

Carbs, Starches, & Grains Denial

Here is an update after almost 2 months of cutting out the above mentioned nutrients (?) as I attempted to keep my insulin response under control (remember, no diabetes here) and push my fat cells to deplete their supply. First the hard part, bread and potatoes were sorely missed by my brain. My family continues to shake their collective heads that one can go without eating any type of grain, refuses dishes made with flour, laughs in the face of fresh sourdough (sigh), or can sit and watch them eat fresh cut french fries from In-N-Out Burger. That leads me to the other hard part, eating so radically different from those around me. I am not low-carbing, or doing Atkins, or eating primal (still enjoy some dairy), so folks find it hard to pigeon-hole my plan. Plus, I still count calories since I don’t care how much fat I eat and want my body to chew up its own fat stores, not live off of what I ingest.

Now the easy part. Eating this way is easy. I am never hungry. Variety is limited only by my lack of originality in cooking. Eating out is easy since most restaurants will happily leave off side dishes even if they won’t substitute fruit for potatoes or give me an extra side of veggies. Besides, we rarely eat out except for breakfast and eggs are so on my plan.

So what am I eating and how much of what? Looking back at the last month, my carb intake per day has ranged from 9 grams to 87 grams with an average of 55 grams/day. The highest day came from an intended splurge of a mocha coffee. So much for no sugars, huh? That was my only refined sugar source the entire month. Protein mainly comes from lean sources such as fish and roasted chicken breasts and eggs, although I do eat more red meat now than I did last year when I had this strange aversion to meat sources from animals with eyelashes. The can of whey protein sits languishing in the pantry for a desperation snack when I am too lazy to eat real food and need some calories. I eat no more than 2-3 servings of fruit per day – always berries except for the occasional fresh pineapple. Eggs – I love eggs! I always keep a few hard boiled ones hanging around, again so I know there is acceptable food available. But, I prefer my eggs freshly cooked and usually with some Canadian bacon and maybe a touch of Tillamook extra sharp cheddar cheese and mild green chiles and whatever else I can throw in to spice ’em up. Raw almonds and walnuts are other acceptable food sources as long as I measure them out. Salads, you bet – with oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. One food I have to be careful with is Greek yogurt. I buy non-fat Fage and add my own berries, but sometimes it reminds me too much of ice cream. Plus, the whole question of dairy in one’s diet is still bouncing around in my head. Although, I refuse to give up my 2 tablespoons of half-n-half with my morning coffee and the occasional bit of cheese. Veggies, I need more veggies – working on that.

Exercise… I am still on the very, very slow track of walking because of my statin-induced myopathy. Enough said or I just will start whining.

Supplements: Because of my damn myopathy and overall attempt to lower inflammation (which is unrelated to the myopathy), I am now taking Vitamin D3 5,000 mg/day, fish oil 3 gm/day, L-acetyl carnitine 500 mg/day, some multi-vitamin with a bunch of stuff in it (helpful, right?), and CoEnymeQ10 300mg/day.

I’ll end here with a fun side-effect of CoQ10 that few people experience – photosensitivity. I never, ever sunburn. But in Hawaii after 2 hours in the sun I developed a blistering burn on my chest that lasted for 3 weeks and a lovely spotted reaction on my arms and legs (where the skin wasn’t so virginal).

Oh, yeah – I lost 10 pounds.


CoQ10 Photosensitivy Reaction