September 14, 2016

Not So ... Fast ... (A Rant)

Hammers are great. Except for when you need a wrench.

Wrenches are great. Except for when you need a drill.

Drills are great. Except for when you need a crowbar.

Different job, different tool.
Different need, different tool.

With me so far?

With this in mind:

Fasting is great. Except when it’s not.

I think you’ll find I’m one of the more open-minded people in the low-carb/keto community. (I don’t know if this is good, bad, or meaningless. Maybe I should align myself with one camp and subscribe to that dogma and only that dogma. Then again, there’s enough of that out there already, right? And when Robb Wolf starts talking about eating lentils [as he did on this podcast], and Chris Kresser points out some of the potential dangers of going overboard with vitamin D supplementation, I guess I’m in good company if I’m able [and willing!] to see and respect the nuance some of this stuff requires.) I firmly believe in certain basic principles of nutrition that are forged in unalterable aspects of human physiology and biochemistry, but beyond that, if someone tells me they feel better eating a little bit of rice and potatoes now and then, and that they don’t feel so great loading up a cup of coffee with 4+ tablespoons of butter and coconut oil, who am I to insist they’re lying? Who am I to insist they force themselves to do something they insist makes them feel terrible? (Except bacon. If you’re not eating bacon, you are doing it wrong. [No, just kidding. Shout-out to anyone reading my blog who keeps kosher or observes the laws of halāl!])

So in my non-dogmatic perspective, what’s the deal with fasting?

September 6, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) -- Pro Tips for Home Cooks

Class is back in session!

The theme of this series is: if you have time to wait for fried chicken, pizza, or Chinese food to be delivered, then you have time to whip up a completely yummy low-carb, Paleo, or ketogenic meal. In earlier posts, we covered how to stock your freezer, fridge, and pantry to make meal prep a cinch, and tips for cooking in bulk and in advance. That’s sort of “prepping the battlefield,” as they said when I was in the military. Setting the stage, if you will. Now, it’s time to start talking about how to take these ingredients and starting points and turn them into meals.   

Professional chefs will tell you their “secrets” aren’t really secrets at all. They’re actually basic, fundamental things that the pros simply employ differently in the kitchen than home cooks do. Sure, maybe they went to culinary school, did a few years staging under more established chefs, and know way more than you or I do about creating culinary magic, but that doesn’t mean we simpletons can’t hold our own and serve ourselves and our families delicious low carb food. We’re not out to win Chopped All-Stars, after all, just to put some edible food on the table, right? If you want to impress people, then quit reading my blog and go read this one instead, for Paleo. (Or this one, for low carb.) (Or this one, for keto.)

For the rest of us, who just want to make easy and convenient low carb meals, here goes.

August 16, 2016

Back to Basics (a.k.a. Things I Didn't Learn in Nutrition School)

Hey all!

Didja catch the news story not long ago about the kid who subsisted solely on graham crackers and chocolate milk, and whose doctors ran a kazillion expensive and fancy-schmancy tests only to finally, finally figure out this poor little guy had scurvy? SCURVY, for crissake. In the United States of America, circa 2016. This didn’t happen on some British Royal Navy ship 200 years ago, where all the sailors started having bleeding gums and a ship’s doctor realized lemon and lime juice seemed to put a quick & easy end to that. It happened here. Now. (All I know is, as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, the second I saw “bleeding gums” in the headline, I said to myself, “scurvy.” I read the whole article only to confirm what I already knew.) I can only imagine if this boy’s diet was so absolutely devoid of vitamin C to the point that he landed in the hospital with freaking scurvy, that there are probably several other essential nutrients he’s deficient in. I would love to write a scathing post about child nutrition someday, but that will have to wait. (Plus, since I don’t actually have any children, I sort of figure I’d be attacked like crazy for daring to even suggest that I have thoughts on the matter, so I’ll hold off for now. [But really, what does that even matter, anyway? What makes someone an “expert?” There are lots of male OB/GYNs. They don’t even have vaginas! But I digress…])

Since we’re on the topic of the most basic, obvious, fundamental aspects of nutrition, let’s talk about something I am an expert on: ME!

Funny story:

I am a proud carrier of O-negative blood, which makes me a “universal donor.” This means that anyone with any other blood type can receive my blood and be good to go. (Unfortunately, the reverse is not true: O-negatives can receive only O- blood. Heaven forbid I were in some sort of accident and needed blood, stat, if I got any kind of A, B, or AB blood, I would quickly face some seriously fatal juju. As an O-, my blood is in serious demand in blood banks, hospitals, and vampire drive-thrus. (Also, mosquitos. Those things love me. My blood must taste something FREAKING DELICIOUS to them, because if I’m outside for more than four seconds without being covered in a protective coating of industrial-strength DEET, I will receive no less than 8 to 10 mosquito bites. But I digress. Again.)

My point: I am a regular blood donor at the American Red Cross. As someone who is not routinely engaged in heroic acts nor generally doing anything positive whatsoever for mankind (unless ranting on my blog counts), donating blood is probably the single most important and satisfying thing I do. (Plus, as they say, “The life you save could be your own.”)

SO: I went to donate a blood several weeks ago and I got rejected because my hemoglobin was too low. (Not hemoglobin A1c, just regular hemoglobin.) This was the second time this has happened this year, and probably the third or fourth time overall. According to the Mayo Clinic, the “normal” range for hemoglobin in adult women is 12.0 to 15.5 g/dL. In order to be eligible to donate blood, the American Red Cross requires that you be at or above 12.5 g/dL. During this attempt to donate, the first reading was 12.0. They ran it a second time, taking the blood from a different finger, because, well, the human body is just funny like that sometimes. The second reading was even lower: 11.5.




Low hemoglobin?

Um, it’s not like I’m a vegan or anything. I eat plenty of red meat. I don’t eat a ton of it, but I certainly don’t avoid it. So I was pretty stunned when I left the office with all my blood still inside me, and without my free cookies and juice. (KIDDING, of course. I usually just take water and then leave. No need to load up on liquid glucose when you’re pretty well fat-adapted. [See here.]) As far as I knew, I had no signs or symptoms of low hemoglobin, but considering it had happened a few times before, something had to be up, and I wanted to know what that something was.

August 9, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) -- Bulk & Advance Cooking

Welcome back to class!

As I’ve been saying all along, I find it hard to wrap my head around the idea that people “don’t know what to cook,” or that they end up eating off-plan because they were hungry and there was “nothing” suitable for them to eat. I’m sorry, but this is a total copout. I can’t speak for how things are in other countries, but if you live in the U.S., you are probably only about 10 minutes from the nearest gas station or convenience store, and in the absolute worst case scenario, you can walk or drive there and get hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, nuts, beef jerky, pork rinds, pepperoni, or choose from plenty of other low carb offerings. Sure, this stuff might not be the best quality and provenance, but if your primary goal is to stay low carb and you don't especially care much about the purity of the food, then there is approximately zero excuse for eating carby junk when you’re in a pinch.

I do realize, of course, that there are plenty of people who don’t live ten minutes from a convenience store. The folks out in rural and/or isolated places might have it a little harder than the suburbanites and city dwellers, but frankly, if they heed some of my tips from the previous post, then their very own kitchen can be the convenience store, know what I mean?

Between the previous post’s tips for stocking your fridge, freezer, and pantry, and what’s to come today, there’s no reason you can’t put together a perfectly appropriate low carb meal or snack. So if you do choose to eat something off-plan, then it is just that: your choice. And, as a grown adult, you are free to choose to eat whatever your grown adult heart desires. But if you do that, take ownership for your choice, and don’t pretend you did it because there was “nothing” else you could eat, capice?  Honestly, I feel like that’s the whole point of this series: to make this low carb thing so easy, so convenient, and so utterly do-able, that at some point, not sticking to it becomes harder than sticking to it.

(And with that being said, even we kinda-sorta professionals occasionally dive head-first off the wagon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a nutritionist, not a saint. But it was always well within my power to not do that. Not once did it ever occur because I felt like there were no other options.)

Many of you have no need for any of these tips. You read the Atkins book, or Protein Power, or Primal Body, Primal Mind, and you were off to the races. If so, I’d be surprised if you’re even reading this. But for those of you who do struggle, for those of you who stand in the middle of your kitchen looking around like a deer in headlights, this is for you.

August 1, 2016

Review: IONUTRITION Meal Delivery Service

Even though I joke about how nobody reads my blog, and how I have even fewer readers than Robb Wolf’s podcast has listeners (“Six listeners can’t be wrong!”), I think the time has come for me to acknowledge that there are, in fact, a few of you out there who actually read what I write. (Woohoo!) Even though my following is teeny tiny and itty bitty, apparently it is large enough that I now receive free stuff from companies who would like me to review their products. (And authors who would like me to help publicize their books.)

I hope by now you trust me to give you my honest assessment of things. Also, please note I have no affiliate relationships whatsoever with these companies or individuals. I make exactly zero profit if you happen to buy any of their wares. (If that should ever not be the case, I will say so.) The only things I make a couple cents off of are if you happen to buy stuff from places where I do have affiliate links, such as AmazonNetrition, or Vital Choice. (And, of course, my Alzheimer’s book.)

Now that all that’s out of the way, I would like to introduce you to IONUTRITION. IONUTRITION (which I’ll just call “ION” from here on out) is a meal prep & delivery service specializing in gluten-free, dairy-free, mostly organic real food. They have low-ish carb options, a Paleo plan, and more.

July 25, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) - Kitchen Prep

Class is in session!

Welcome to the second installment of Low Carb Cooking Class, a.k.a. LC3.

As I explained in the intro post, we’re starting things off with what is probably the most important lesson: how to stock your kitchen so that you can have delicious low carb meals ready quickly and with no need for advance planning. I realize that, as a single and childless individual, my notions of how simple it is to prepare food is approximately seventeen million lightyears away from what moms and/or dads of large families experience. That being said, I still have never understood some people’s certainty that they are incapable of sticking to a certain type of diet—be it Paleo, low-carb, keto, or anything else—without a “meal plan.” Even the phrase “meal plan” makes me cringe. It’s as bad as nails on a chalkboard for me.

I refuse to do meal plans for clients. I’m sorry, but you are a grown adult and I am not going to tell you what to have for lunch three Tuesdays from now. What I will do, and love to do, is show people how easy it is to stay low carb without a meal plan. (As they say, instead of cooking a fish for someone, I prefer to teach them to fish.) When you have a basic understanding of what to cook and how to cook it, you don’t need an instruction manual. (I did say this isn’t rocket science, yes?)

BUT: The thing is, even if you know what to cook and how to cook it, you can’t cook it if you don’t have it. So that’s what today’s post is about: what to keep on hand in your kitchen so that, when it’s mealtime and the house (or your life in general) is in chaos, the one thing you won’t have to stress over is what to make for dinner. (Or breakfast or lunch.)