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.)

July 18, 2016

Low Carb Cooking Class! (LC3) - Intro

Whaddup, y’all?

I tweeted this not long ago:

If the unexpectedly large response to my tweet is any indication, there are a lot of people out there who want some super simple and quick low carb meals that can be put together in minutes. I have to say, I was surprised by the response. I guess I’ve been at this long enough that it’s never a struggle for me to prepare something to eat, and I don’t rack my brain trying to figure out how the odd mish-mash of things in my fridge and pantry can be turned into a meal that someone—me, usually, but on occasion, other people, too—would consider palatable and actually want to eat.

I take it for granted that everyone thinks cooking is as easy as I do. I’m no Michelin-starred chef, but I’ve been feeding myself for over three decades now, and I’m still here. (I’ll let you decide whether or not this is a good thing.) I don’t create dazzling, four-course gourmet meals every night (or ever, pretty much), but I can usually whip up a tasty low carb meal by grabbing a bit of this, a little of that, and a bunch of that other thing over there.

And that’s really the issue, folks: whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a crowd, not every meal you prepare has to be the stuff of legends. You and I are not Iron Chefs, and we are not aiming to “beat Bobby Flay.” (Apologies to my overseas readers if you’re not familiar with the Food Network or the Cooking Channel in the U.S.) We do not have to jazz everything up with some fancy-schmancy roasted jalapeƱo & garlic aioli, or create a sweet & sour gastrique to impress the people gathered around the table. With a couple of good pots & pans, a baking sheet, and a well-stocked pantry, fridge, and freezer, low carb cooking is a breeze. Most cooking is a breeze. Really, it’s much simpler than you might think it is.

With this in mind, I am starting this “Low Carb Cooking Class” series, or, as I like to think of it: LC3.

July 13, 2016

I Love You. Now *You* Love You, Too. (a.k.a. Everyone Okay Out There?)

Hey everyone,

Today’s post is a slight departure from my usual offerings. It’s not about insulin, or cancer, stubborn fat loss, or junkfood masquerading as health food. Oh, no. It’s much, much more important than any of that. It has a little something to do with diet, nutrients, supplements, and other stuff you (maybe) come to my blog for. But it’s mostly about something else, and that’s totally cool, because it’s my blog, and that means I get to write about whatever I want. I do like to keep my readers happy, but I also have to follow my heart and write and share what speaks to me. And right now, something is telling me to write this. (Actually, no. Telling? More like compelling.) Something powerful that I don’t want to ignore, even though part of me is saying this is stupid and humiliating and I shouldn’t bother. I have one thing to say to that demon inside my brain: SHUT UP! I’M PUTTING THIS OUT THERE WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!

Also, there’s that saying, “You don’t regret the things you do; you regret the things you don’t do.” So with that in mind, I don’t want this to become a regret because I didn’t post it.

Before we proceed, though, I must direct you more emphatically than ever to an excerpt from the disclaimer that appears at the bottom of my posts: Amy Berger, MS, CNS, NTP, is not a physician and Tuit Nutrition, LLC, is not a medical practice. The information contained on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition and is not to be used as a substitute for the care and guidance of a physician.

Okay. Now that you can’t sue me, here goes.