Sceptically Fit

17/01/2013

Reasons to have a smartphone

Filed under: Personal, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 07:26

Instant recipe search!

So after an evening in the pub, SO attempted to be supportive of my healthy eating thing (Can’t you just eat around the pie crust? Lasagne is out too? Well, you have to pick something) and we headed to the late night mini-supermarket to pick up some meat to cook (my post-pub concession was we can have some oven chips to go with it).

The supermarket was out of lamb chops but had some nice looking Irish rump steaks. Which SO looked at and shrugged and revealed without peppercorn sauce what’s the point of steak. Imagine the wonder when I quickly looked up a recipe on my phone so we could a) determine it was easily made and b) grab the ingredients.

Went a little heavy on the pepper (SO thought the recipe didn’t look peppery enough) but tasty. And while I can’t consider it a truly healthy meal, and the beef stock cubes weren’t gluten-free,  it did show better options aren’t always more time consuming. In the time it took the chips to bake (ie same amount of time a pizza would take and half the time for a lasagne) I cooked the steak and made the sauce. And besides, four tequilas on an empty stomach, how healthy can you expect someone to be.

Learning points:

  • its just as easy and tastier to cook up something than to heat a pizza
  • Despite seeming to have normal or greater competence in life, SO continues to be amazed at the concept that food you buy can also be made at home
  • I can be motivated enough to stick to my healthyish diet even after a night out.

Also – more success on the resolution front. That’s two new recipes this year and I’m only in the third week!

20/12/2012

How to manage the Xmas Binge

Filed under: Health and Nutrition, Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 18:48

A timely post from Charlotte: Cookie Detox on how to manage the sugar cravings and crashes that come with Christmas treats.

I’m feeling a little strange approaching the Christmas break. I’ve not had the most healthy diet by any standard over the last few months but I have been trying to pay attention to how the different foods feel. Not as aware as proper intuitive eating but getting there. Will I manage not to binge? probably not. But I do know from experience eating sugar with fat and protein helps me feel better.

05/09/2012

Lots of Links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:52

Lucky men – chocolate reduces the risk of stroke.

Men who ate the most chocolate, a weekly average of 63 grams, had a 17% lower risk of stroke compared with men who ate none. The correlation did not seem to differ depending on different types of stroke.
Meanwhile – creatine supplementation for women increases the effectiveness of antidepressents
the creatine supplementers responded earlier and better than the antidepressant alone group using a couple different scales (HAM-D and MADRS).  The creatine group had higher response and remittance rate and no higher incidence of side effects.
A look at the Gluten Sensitivity – What is it? Is it more common? Why do so many people (including me) feel better giving up wheat when they aren’t celiac?
Testing for gluten sensitivity is tough because there’s no real standard yet. You’ll notice that the recent study didn’t determine gluten sensitivity solely by running patients’ labs and looking for a certain figure; they had to painstakingly and laboriously eliminate confounding variables (like celiac) through extensive lab testing, and then run a double blind wheat challenge to see if symptoms still arose. That grand, single overarching lab test doesn’t exist, not yet anyway.

It’s conceivable that gluten could be doing damage and causing constant, low-grade inflammation without you even knowing it. This is why folks who go Primal and give up wheat and other gluten-containing grains become more “sensitive” to wheat upon reintroduction. It’s not that going Primal has suddenly made them intolerant of gluten; it’s likelier that going Primal has made them more sensitiveto their gluten sensitivity. It was probably always there, but they never knew what they were feeling until they removed it and then tried to reintroduce it.
Dr Cordain outlines the risk of legumes – damn, why must they be so tasty? Here’s hoping I can continue to enjoy them as a sometime food
Most people will probably experience few adverse health effects if these foods are occasionally consumed.  Nevertheless, some people may have immediate gastric and GI tract distress after eating legumes; others may experience transient joint pain and sinus congestion.  All legumes contain a cocktail of anti-nutrients (in addition to lectins) which potentially produce adverse health/nutritional effects.  The most common of these are saponins and phytate.  Pseudograins also are also loaded with a variety of antinutrients whose effects are dose dependent — meaning that the more you ingest, the worse are the health effects.
There is no evidence that yo-yo dieting has any lasting effect on your metabolism.
Although severe weight cyclers were, on average, nearly 20 pounds heavier than non-cyclers at the start of the study, at the end of the study the researchers found no significant differences between those who yo-yo dieted and those who didn’t with regard to the ability to successfully participate in diet and/or exercise programs. The cyclers also did not differ from the non-cyclers with regard to the impact of diet or diet-plus-exercise on weight loss, percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass gained or lost. Other physiological factors such as blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and blood concentrations of hormones such as leptin (which helps make one feel full) and adiponectin (which helps regulate glucose levels) also did not differ significantly among those whose weight fluctuated and those whose did not.

18/08/2012

Links this Week

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 12:42

An in-depth look at Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity at Hunter-Gatherer including the envy-inducing standard of care IBS sufferers received in Italy and the quality of controls.

Among those who were wheat sensitive, a high number of them tested positive on the cytomteric basophil activation test, and many also tested positive for serum IgG and IgA AGA tests. Many of these patients suffered from anemia and weight-loss. Biopsies showed eosinophil infiltration of the duodenal and colon mucosa.
, despite not having the type of villous atrophy damage associated with celiac.

There seemed to be two groups of IBS wheat-sensitive patients- those with wheat sensitivity alone and those with wheat sensitivity AND multiple other sensitivities to cow’s milk and other foods. The later group was also more likely to also have other types of allergies (non-food allergies, skin allergies, etc.) and a family history of allergies.

Acetylcholine is responsible for ahem, moving things along, so it might explain why wheat causes diarrhea in some people.

Also, it is notable that this study used wheat rather than gluten, so it might be other components of wheat like fructans that are responsible for the symptoms.

Dr Davis (of Wheat Belly) dismisses the benefit of sprouting grains.

It is folly to believe that such a process as simply allowing the seed to germinate somehow disables all the bad potential of modern wheat. It still contains the gliadin protein that clouds your thinking and stimulates appetite. It still contains glutens that disrupt intestinal health. It still contains amylopectin A that sends your blood sugar through the roof. It still contains lectins that disable the normal intestinal barriers to foreign substances. It still contains apha amylase, peroxidases, lipid-transfer proteins, and thioredoxins responsible for a variety of allergic phenomena.

An infographic on differences in sprinter’s vs marathoner’s bodies over time.

Proof that the plank is better than crunches.

There are two disadvantages to old-fashioned sit-ups and crunches. In the long term they are likely to lead to back problems because of the pressure they create on the discs between the vertebrae, and, more to the point, they are not very effective. The muscles in your midsection area are not so much meant for moving your torso, but above all to keep your torso stable when your spine is subject to tension.

Dr Loren Cordain in a discussion on the range of a paleo diet.

14/08/2012

Comfort Food – Doing it Right

Filed under: Personal, Recipes — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:20

Taking time to relax on my approach to food does feel like its working for me. I think my diet is settling into a more natural pattern – being aware of when I’m hungry as opposed to needy. Trying to keep wheat out of my diet as much as possible – my food journalling has made pretty clear that wheat has an unpleasant effect on how I feel physically and has suggested quite strongly a negative effect on how I feel emotionally. It seems there might be something to the intuitive eating theory that becoming aware of how something affects you will change your interest in eating it. I’m not trying to deny myself although I do need to ‘fight’ the urge for some wheat products. And fail at time although I the donut I ate at work was so unsatisfying I don’t think I’ll be tempted again for a while. I’m not trying to ‘diet’ or lose weight, but I am trying to feel good. So that means working towards a healthier diet, one that meets my emotional and physical needs.

A long day at work, and still nursing a badly sprained ankle, I was hungry and in need of something particularly comforting today. Part of me wanted to stop off at the shops and grab something – a big bag of crisps or something else equally snacky, a nice easy fix to the desire. But it wouldn’t really. Somehow, for the first time in a while, I was able to recognise that. Instead, I made myself sweet potato fries. And they were tasty:

Image

Sweet Potato Fries:

  • pre-heat oven to 200C
  • cut up a large sweet potato into sticks
  • melt a tablespoon of coconut oil
    on a tray
  • mix a generous amount of paprika, a little sprinkling of cayenne pepper to taste, and a little ground black pepper into the oil
  • roll the sweet potato in the oil and bake for approx 20min turning once.
  • sit down with a good book and enjoy

25/07/2012

Food is so much more than Nutrition

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 23:20

Food is fuel, but food is so much more. Food is pleasure and comfort, punishment, resignation and despair. Food is sensual and a subsitute. Food is a treat, a gift to oneself and one’s loved ones. Food is a symbol of morality, self-control, indulgence and lack of discipline. Food wears the coat of many many colours.

Are women more likely to take refuge in food as both a pleasure and a punishment? It does seem that way. Is that the manifestation of the specific cultural pressures women face, hormones or a combination of both? Does one play off the other – cultural pressures influence towards dietary restrictions and indulgences that have their own effect on the body’s hormones which then have their own effect again on appetite, weight and mood?

Sometimes it seems that there’s truth in the saying: when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  Paleo for Women’s Stefani Ruper had a very timely post on binging that really resonated with the place that I’ve been for a couple of months now.

The psychological deprivation may be worse. It puts us in a state of hyper-awareness about food.   The decision to restrict induces a constant struggle to eat less and exercise more, and it makes it nearly crucial for a woman to constantly check herself against her desires, lest her stock-piled hunger pick her up and shove her head-first into the overeating rabbit hole.  The more a person thinks about food, the more he doesn’t want to think about food, but the more he ends up emphasizing it in his brain and thinking about it anyway.   Then the more he messes up, and the more guilt he has, and the more negative he feels, the more strongly he needs to eat.    So deprivation is one huge psychological factor.  And so is the need to medicate against negative self-talk.  Food is a powerful, powerful drug.   And this whole process, a vicious, vicious cycle.

I have been very distrustful towards the idea of intuitive eating. Several of the  blogs I read encourage it as a healthy (mind and body) approach to diet. However, I have had a lot of trouble with the idea that we should trust our bodies. Why? Have you looked around, our bodies have no idea what they are doing?  I would be ashamed to let some of my nearest and dearest see how much I can eat in one go. My mind might know its a problem but my body doesn’t. I know that if I eat a certain way – lots of refined carbs – I just get hungrier and hungrier. I always have a dessert stomach! So how can I trust my body?

But maybe my body needs to trust my mind. Pushing your emotional concerns down doesn’t get rid of them. And, maybe there’s a certain pre-deposed aspect to it, eventually there’s an escape. Willpower is a finite resource. In some ways it acts like a muscle – you can develop it – but it also fatigues. If you are using up your willpower on the unaddressed or unadressable emotional issues, you have none left to control your diet. All the comfort that food can offer can no longer be refused. Consuming enough food to cause real physical discomfort can be a manifestation of the emotional turmoil you aren’t ready to deal with. The exhaustion of a busy and stressful situation that doesn’t seem to end can be overcome through high energy foods that offer brief dopamine boosts to help you rise above it temporarily.

Stefani’s comments on the role of food hyper-awareness on over-eating resonated me. I decided that I would no longer track my food. I wouldn’t monitor how many calories or carbs I was eating. I wouldn’t pay attention to how paleo my food is. Instead I would attempt to journal, paying attention to how I felt about my food intake, but really just about how I feel.

Charlotte (thegreatfitnessexperiment.com) has also recently posted on using a food journal to examine the interaction between food and emotions.

In the past when someone has asked me if I am an “emotional eater” my response has always been “Duh, yes! Isn’t everyone?!” I know there are some people out there who see food purely as fuel and nothing more but for the majority of us, food is intimately connected with our emotions. This isn’t a bad thing (survival 101?) but understanding the interaction would be very helpful. So that’s why I’m doing this. And, one of the great things about keeping a mindful journal is that I still get to write other stuff not just about food.

Its far from a success yet. But I’m working on eating what I want – but trying to pay attention to what I actually want – not just eating junk because its comfort food. That’s an important distinction for me. I realise I’ve come to associate certain types of unhealthy food as the tasty food. Even when they often aren’t as tasty as I imagine. I’m working on exercising enough to make me feel good – no half-marathons for a while, and some good solid strength training because I like the way it feels to do, and the way it makes me feel having done it.  Getting enough sleep – definitely still a work in progress. And I’ve managed to resume enough enthusiasm to post again.

22/05/2012

Lots of Links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 19:29

Stress can make you fat. Should we just sleep more? Is meditation the answer?

A look at the idea of sustainable agriculture and the role of subsidies. Another look at the question of is Paleo sustainable?

British tastes in breakfast cereal is moving away from highly processed and sugary. Can we move away from cereal altogether? Mark offers some conversational rebuttals that may come in handy when explaining you don’t eat grains.

A further look at the role of inflammation and mood disorders.

A look at the myths and pseudoscience in the cosmetic industry.

I don’t expect to win, yes its just about taking part and yes, races are just more fun.

Caitlin talks about why fit is a feminist issue:

But when you’ve internalized the social messages that you are weak because you are a woman, well, just existing in the world becomes a lot harder than it needs to be.  And when you pursue fitness simply so you can fit a new definition of “sexy,” you are continuing to buy into a system of thought that says women’s highest value lies in how they look to others.

I think it is critical that we feminists engage with fitness and athletics in a way that takes these things seriously and recognizes their potential to change lives for the better.  It doesn’t have to be about hating yourself and your body, nor does it have to be about embracing fascist beauty standards.  It can also be about loving your body and wanting to take the best possible care of yourself.  It can also be about rejecting the social equation that says to be a woman is to be weak and in need of protection.  It can be about redefining yourself as a creature of strength and power.

16/05/2012

The Obesity Epidemic

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 10:59

There’s a new HBO documentary coming out looking at the obesity epidemic in America. And Gary Taubes picks holes in it

But when David Wallinga of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy tells us in The Weight of the Nation that the USDA has established the cause of the obesity epidemic and it’s “an increase in our calorie consumption over the last 30, 35 years,” he also tells us where those calories come from: a quarter come from added sugars, a quarter from added fats (“most of which are from soy”), and “almost half is from refined grains, mainly corn starches, wheat, and the like.” What Wallinga doesn’t say is that the same USDA data clearly shows that red-meat consumption peaked in this country in the mid-1970s, before the obesity epidemic started. It’s been dropping ever since, consistent with a nation that has been doing exactly what health authorities have been telling it to do.

If The Weight of the Nation accomplishes anything, it’s communicating the desperation of obese Americans trying to understand their condition and, even more, of lean (or relatively lean) parents trying to cope with the obesity of their offspring. Lack of will isn’t their problem. It’s the absence of advice that might actually work. If our authorities on this subject could accept that maybe their fundamental understanding of the problem needs to be rethought, we and they might begin to make progress. Clearly the conventional wisdom has failed so far. We can hold onto it only so long.

15/05/2012

Paleo Food Pyramid

Filed under: Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 21:10

How to eat well:

 

 

21/04/2012

A month of links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 14:38

Its been a busy month (and a half) for me – more on that in another post – but its been a busy time in the world of health and fitness.

The Meat will kill you Study: I’d jump straight in with a comment from Gary Taubes and  Silverhydra’s interpretation   before rounding it out with a post from Mark Sisson. And a heart surgeon speaks out – what really causes heart disease.

More on the use it or lose it

“We control 70 per cent of how we age,” she says. “The other 30 per cent is genetic, and we can blame our mothers for that. But 70 per cent is in our hands.”

Omega 3 supplementation is recommended for a lot of people – but you can over do it. And more reasons to supplement with vitamin d.

Do you remember to use the foam roller on your upper body?

Wheat – more ways it damages you. And a look at the spectrum of gluten sensitivity disorders.

Given my diet for the last month or so, I’m not surprised that evidence keeps emerging that lack of sleep causes you to overeat.

A study suggests women are more susceptible to hormonally induced hunger after exercise. And another study looks at the effect of resistance training on overall energy expenditure.

Its disappointing to watch my country’s educational institution’s reputations ruined by pseudoscience.

When will my gym start offering Kitty-robics?

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