Book review: The Hungry Gene

The Hungry Gene: The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin is another good history of eating, or rather obsessing about weight. It’s not as detailed as Good Calories, Bad Calories but she made some good points. Here are the two messages I took away. (I’m sure there were more in the book.)

  1. Our genes influence how fat we get – not just how we process food but also what types of food we like and how much of them we eat. She gave an example of an island in the Pacific where the inhabitants were decimated by famine. The survivors were genetically inclined to use all calories "effectively" – they eat lots of fatty foods, enjoy being sedentary, and put on lots of fat – food storage. Today with plenty of convenient fatty foods they are very fat. Her point seemed to be that it’s only a matter of time before we are all fat in today’s society. If you are skinny now it’s because you are lucky to have good genes or you have time and money to work at being skinny.
  2. Until we treat "Big Food" like Big Tobacco, the situation will continue to get worse. Food companies exist to make money and they make money when we eat lots. They will continue to lobby for laws and situations that enable them to sell us lots of food.

The Hungry Gene was an easy to read, absorbing book. I found myself reading it long after I should have been in bed!

How to get rid of the hiccups … in New Orleans

While at the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans, I got the hiccups. We happened to be passing a witchcraft/voodoo type shop and someone jokingly said, “You should see if they have something for hiccups!” So we went on in and met the rudest woman I’ve talked to in quite a long time. She said:

No, I don’t have anything for hiccups. Lemon and bitters – everyone knows that!

So we went to the bar next door, asked for lemon and bitters. The bartender took a slice of lemon, added a few drops of bitters and some sugar and handed it to me. Five seconds later, the hiccups were gone!

Bitters are 45% alcohol so use with caution – it only took a splash on the lemon.

My Pants Fell Off!

We’ve been eating "low carb" since Thanksgiving.  The first month or so I lost 10 pounds and then nothing happened even though I continued to be good.  Whenever anybody asked me how it was going, I’d say we’re being good and it’s working really well for Frank (my boyfriend.)  And I’d go on to explain that I’m eating a lot less because I’m not as hungry as I used to be.  I think eating less is a good thing as I used to eat continuously.

Last week I put on a suit in my hotel room getting ready for my keynote presentation and I looked down and thought "who let my pant hems out??"  My pants were so long I was standing on them!  So I grabbed the waist and pulled up and discovered I had a good 4 or 5 extra inches!  With a bit of work and creative use of my belt – on the smallest hole, I managed to come up with a solution that looked decent.  When the guy that put the mic on me suggested I take off my jacket, I looked at him just horrified.  "Well, you see, but, I’ve lost some weight … NO!"

So it’s going good.

P.S.  This post is my entry for a free trip to BlogHer.  It’s also a true story.  The conference was SCALE and my keynote was "Would you do it again for free?"

Strange diets

We’ve been trying to eat low carb and while that means lots of veggies, it means not much fruit.  So it’s been strange to see all the pictures of Steve Pavlina’s raw food diet.  He’s trying to eat healthy and eating only fruits and vegetables (that look yummy but very unsatisfying) and we are trying to eat healthy and eating lots of (very yummy) chicken, pork, cheese, elk, deer, asparagus, lobster, green beans, steak, … 

It just goes to show you not only are their different tastes for different people but we also have no idea what the healthiest diet for a human being is!  (I do assume there is more than one type of healthy diet.   People have survived in many different places in the world.)

Talk Review: Good Calories, Bad Calories

If you didn’t read Good Calories, Bad Calories because you are not into reading nonfiction books or you didn’t want to buy it, then I recommend you watch Gary Taubes talk The Quality of Calories: What Makes Us Fat and Why Nobody Seems to Care at University of California Berkeley.  It’s a free webcast and he makes some really good points.

  1. It’s an undisputed fact that it takes insulin to store fat.  No insulin, no fat.  That’s why undiagnosed diabetics lose weight.
  2. Another undisputed fat: carbohydrates cause insulin, not fat or protein.
  3. In many poor societies, the women are obese and the kids are undernourished.  (He gave almost 20 examples.)  Either the women are starving their kids (unlikely) or it doesn’t take a lot of calories to be fat.  Those women are fat because they are eating the wrong foods not because they are eating too much.
  4. Lack of will power, gluttony and sloth are not the causes of obesity.
  5. Kids eat because they are growing.  They don’t grow because they eat.  Vertical and horizontal growth are not so different.  People eat because something is telling them to grow horizontally.  They don’t grow because they eat.

Gary Taubes’ talk is well worth listening to.

Does your doctor take your concerns seriously?

As I said in my last post about choosing a new doctor, we’ve seen a lot – like really a lot – of medical people this year.  I’ve really come to appreciate medical people that take my concerns seriously (all of those visits but one were very necessary) and I’ve become really annoyed at people who don’t take me seriously or don’t believe me.

Today, before the doctor even looked at Caleb she was already trying to tell me there was not much chance of him having an ear infection because he didn’t have a fever and he wasn’t fussing with his ears.  I felt myself getting defensive – and a bit worried that she might not even look at his ears!  I think I stayed civil and calm.  The minute she peeked in his ear, she said, "Oh, that’s definitely infected!" and I didn’t even say "I told you so!" 

In contrast, I took Caleb to the ER a couple of weeks ago and they made me feel believed, trusted, knowledgeable, …  When all of Caleb’s terrible choking sounds stopped when we got there,  I was so worried they wouldn’t believe me!  But they went out of their way to listen to me and to check him.  They even took xrays!  (Turns out he had a throat infection and his throat was swollen so much that when he cried his vocal cords would hit the sides of his throat and it sounded terrible!  It got Frank and I out of bed faster than I think we’ve ever moved before!)

Does your doctor believe you?  Or do they take a "I’ll be the judge of that" attitude with you?

When do you need a new doctor?

When do you decide you need a new doctor?  In the past year we’ve been to the hospital once, the ER three times, urgent care twice and the doctor’s office countless times!  That’s a lot of medical care – and all of the visits except one justified some type of medical treatment.  So today when I called the doctor’s office to ask a nurse a question – to see if we needed to see a doctor – and she told me there were no doctors or nurses on staff and I should go to urgent care … well, I decided we needed a new plan.  So I called a pediatrician who works in an office of pediatricians.  Because of their large staff of doctors they were able to fit Caleb in right away.  We had to jump in the car to make it in time.  (Instead of half a mile away, they are 15 miles away.)

So while I really liked Caleb’s small town family doctor – he always took the time to sit down and answer all my questions and he had a very matter of fact, no worrying way of looking at things – I really needed a doctor we could see on short notice.  One that wouldn’t constantly refer me to urgent care and the emergency room.  When your kid has an ear infection, you can’t wait till next Tuesday.