Saturday, August 27, 2011

half of Americans to be obese?

according to an article in the washington post:

Based on trends, half of the adults in the United States will be obese by 2030 unless the government makes changing the food environment a policy priority, according to a report released Thursday on the international obesity crisis in the British medical journal the Lancet.

Those changes include making healthful foods cheaper and less-healthful foods more expensive largely through tax strategies, the report said. Changes in the way foods are marketed would also be called for, among many other measures.

Okay, dangerous ground- half of the US obese is a LOT of unhealth.

I won't argue in this case that paleo is the only way to go, there are several answers to the problem.

I don't believe taxing foods that the current medical prejudice thinks are unhealthful is the way to do it. That sort of top down approach won't get anywhere.

Banning advertising entirely? Yeah, I'd go for that.

Hiring Michael Pollan to write the food guide? Yeah, I'd go for that.

Once again, the problem is large corporations designing our health education, and what we get to see as food. Food isn't about health- it's about profit.

I'm not sure what the answer is to that- but I have children with no TV who haven't even eaten half the really nasty foods out there- and somehow, the advertising still gets them.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

going hot turkey

My wife and I were discussing a conversation on a forum about the best way to approach a paleo diet- gradually or cold turkey.

My initial response ins "cold turkey, of course!"

Talking to my wife, I realized that from her point of view, we've spent 6 years developing a paleo diet. (My point of view is a bit different, as by the time we met I had deprogrammed on a lot of diet issues through various diets, living in other countries, and adequate experience with MREs.)

When we moved to Davis in 2005, my first attempt at a family healthy diet was to get to "no processed foods" - including no bread. For a while, this was pretty rough. Even a 1600 calorie chef's salad with everything wasn't a meal to my wife because there wasn't one or more of the following:


So, there was a huge deprogramming stage for that. And we did, with fits and starts- well before looking at paleo specifically- go through several progressive iterations of ever more natural, less canned/bagged/processed, and raw diet changes.

So, okay, gradual.


If you aren't eating paleo yet, you are going to have to go through these adjustments. Is it easier to do it quickly? I think so, with some caveats.

One of the most often quoted passages in paleo literature for a step by step process is from Dr. Kurt Harris' Archevore (formerly paleonu) blog. The list is as follows:

Here is a 12- step list of what to do. Go as far down the list as you can in whatever time frame you can manage. The further along the list you stop, the healthier you are likely to be. There is no counting, measuring, or weighing. You are not required to purchase anything specific from me or anyone else. There are no special supplements, drugs or testing required.*

1. Eliminate sugar (including fruit juices and sports drinks that contain HFCS) and all foods that contain flour.

2. Start eating proper fats - Use healthy animal fats to substitute fat calories for calories that formerly came from sugar and flour.

3. Eliminate gluten grains. Limit grains like corn and rice, which are nutritionally poor.

4. Eliminate grain and seed derived oils (cooking oils) Cook with Ghee, butter, animal fats, or coconut oil. Use no temperate plant oils like corn, soy, canola, flax, walnut, etc.

5. Favor ruminants like beef, lamb and bison for your red meat. Eat eggs and fish.

6. Make sure you are Vitamin D replete. Get daily midday sun or consider supplementation.

7. 2 or 3 meals a day is best. Don't graze like a herbivore.

8. Attend to your 6s and 3s. Pastured (grass fed) dairy and grass fed beef or bison has a more optimal 6:3 ratio, more vitamins and CLA. If you can't eat enough pastured products, eat plenty of fish.

9. Get proper exercise - emphasizing resistance and interval training over long aerobic sessions.

10. Most modern fruit is just a candy bar from a tree. Go easy on bags of sugar like apples. Stick with berries and avoid watermelon which is pure fructose. Eat in moderation. If you are not trying to lose fat, a few pieces of fruit a day are fine.

11. Eliminate legumes

12. If you are allergic to milk protein or concerned about theoretical risks of casein, you can stick to butter and cream and avoid milk and soft cheeses.

Many of the individual items on the list are fairly easy- for example, 4, 5 and 11 are going to be fairly easy for many people.

But I do believe the list has a useful graduation. 1 through 6 form a unit that's really life changing. And while the biggest single difficulty is likely to be "eliminate sugar"- it's also the single biggest immediate benefit.

And it has a cascading effect on the rest of your diet and lifestyle. Industry sneaks sugar into EVERYTHING, and eliminating just that will make profound changes.

The reason I lump the rest into the group is that it pretty much eliminates most of the worst of the processed foods- since animal fats replacing vegetable fats means less shelf life and more need for actual- well- food.

And this bring up the last point my wife brought up to me. Can you cook?

Being able to cook is pretty essential! Let's assume you aren't a grillmaster, aren't too inventive, and basically can't cook that much. You're idea of cooking is adding chili to macaroni and cheese. or making a grilled cheese sandwich. Maybe even adding some fried onion and chicken to a canned soup and serving over rice.

And thus we get to:

Paleo Hot Turkey.

See Kurt's list up there? grab it, live it, love it. Empty the fridge and the cabinets. Go go go!

(assuming you need to shop and can't do this all yuppie farmer's market organic whoopdedoo)
Buy a mess of eggs, and a bulk bag of bacon. Grab a few stacks of meat in whatever portions you can deal with, and several bags of frozen fish. Go ahead and get some frozen berries.

You need cheese? it's optional and contested, but go ahead, get the extra sharp cheddar, a pound or so.

coconut milk (for your coffee and those frozen berries.)

Now, you are going to go totally retro early 20th century and hit the store every day or every other day, and visit the produce aisle and meat counter. All your frozen meat is for when there's nothing good at the meat or fish counter, okay?

lettuce. Any assorted fun thing you can handle in your salad- a small pear, cucumber, bell pepper, whatever.

Okay. Cook the meat, chill the salad. Done! Hot turkey semi raw paleo.

Assuming you can handle frying an egg and bacon, you are pretty much set from here on out and can happily visit the paleo recipe sites and work your way up to my wife's status of master chef.

She could cook- from a cookbook- when we met, while I had never used a cookbook for more than ideas. In some sense, I definitely helped her leanr to cook in the sense of recognizing food synergies and interactions without a cookbook. She's much more creative than I am with paleo recipes- I'm a grill and salad guy- she can make paleo ZUCCHINI FRAPUCCINOS that taste like ... frappucinos!

At some point, you really will do better if you learn to cook- not just to follow a recipe.

There's really not much more to it than that- the easiest way to go paleo is to get stuff you don't have to cook much, right?

(And, in the end, the faster you do it, the faster you will feel the effects. doing 5% a week for 20 weeks you may not notice ANYTHING)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

WARNING, action ahead. (and it's political, ew)

First, this post is particularly for Americans. nothing against any of
y'all, but this is particular to American politics. And I have a firm
belief that our internal politics should remain internal.

that being said:

The timing of this post may seem odd to you- we have a huge amount of
time before the next set of elections (except for district 2
Nevadans!) - yet the races are starting and this is the most important
time for the individual citizen to get involved.

I'd like to recommend a book. It is, I believe, out of print in paper,
but Baen publishing has an ebook version available- without DRM as is
the policy of Baen publishing.

The book was originally written in 1946, and re issued in 1992. It was
re issued specifically to generate more impetus to a particular third
party candidate- but the book itself isn't written along any party
lines. Just about the only American political stance you will see it
stand *against* is classic political communism- which was and is
dictatorial and repressive.

I would like urge everyone to get, to read, and to enact in some small
way, this book. It's an easy read, written by someone who managed to
make a nearly obscene living off of writing well. So it's easy to get
through. It's also thought provoking- it demonstrates in many ways how
the culture and mechanisms of politics have changed over the decades
since WW2, and offers some pictures of what reforms could look like.

Quoted from the book, the author has 7 beliefs he has listed that are
a result of his working in politics on local through national levels:

"(1) Most people are basically honest, kind, and decent"

I'd like to point out that if you do NOT believe this, if you firmly
believe that people MUST be controlled to force them into decency
(what my childhood religion calls the Luciferian Error)- I will
probably stand against you in every poll. But don't let that stop you,
get this book!

"(2) The American people are wise enough to run their own affairs.
They do not need Fuehrers, Strong Men, Technocrats, Commissars, Silver
Shirts, Theocrats, or any form of dictator."

For reference, a Silver Shirt is a member of the defunct Silver Legion
of America, an openly fascist group founded by William Dudley Pelley,
who hoped to install himself as dictator in the 1930s.

A dictator in reference to the time period when this was written was
anyone who had anything approaching an absolute, or overly
influential, amount of power - "One who dictates". If a president
tries to assume congressional powers, he is attempting to be a
dictator. (I could point to several on both sides of aisle, I'm not
targeting a specific individual here)

The main point of this belief is that American citizens are wise
enough to run their own affairs. There are two aspects to that. One,
which I believe may be key in this election cycle- is that Americans
are wise enough to vote how they vote. We have had far too many
managed elections- and managed ballot lists- over the past several
cycles. Maybe we oughtta take that back.

The other aspect to this is a classically liberal belief that the
individual is wise enough to run his own affairs and governmental
intrusion into such should be limited. In fact, the structure of the
Bill of Rights to the Constitution is a prime example of Classic
Liberal thought.

"(3) Americans have a compatible community of ambitions. Most of them
don't want to be rich but do want enough economic security to permit
them to raise families in decent comfort without fear of the future.
They want the least government necessary to this purpose and don't
greatly mind what the other fellow does as long as it does not
interfere with them living their own lives. As a people we are neither
money mad nor prying; we are easy-going and anarchistic. we may want
to keep up with the Joneses -- but not with the Vanderbilts. We don't
like cops."

Greed is something that appears to me to be attempted to be instilled
in our children and selves by marketing campaigns- both commercial and
scholastic. I could not state absolutely that I agree with the author
at this point, but I can let it slide because most of the people I
know who are honest and decent do not want wealth for the purpose of
removing power from others. Good enough for me.

"The least government necessary to this purpose." - I know that a fair
percentage of the people I'm trying to reach will at this point
disagree with that phrase. The belief that we need government to
ensure fairness, elevate the oppressed, mandate rules and regulations
to prevent people from doing what another believes is harmful- Well,
I'll admit I don't *totally* disagree with that view. But, to me, the
least government necessary to the purpose of guaranteeing my children
access to healthy food is still the "least government necessary to the
purpose". Think on it.

Cops. It is almost a requirement in my line of work to idolize
policemen on a level equivalent to military veterans. (Since I hold
close to my heart a separation of civilian government and the
military, I have to disagree with this on some levels.) While I
appreciate the risks and service of the job, the point here is that
Americans don't want cops sniffing around everything they do. It has
become institutionalized to the point where I know a LOT of Americans
who won't allow their children to have a conversation with a uniformed
police officer or badged government representative because the
possibility of fishing for a crime is too great- and it is almost
impossible to be guilty of nothing in our current legal landscape. You
can end up being investigated for deprivation if your kid complains
about not ever getting candy, or investigated for neglect f he says he
eats candy all the time! What the author meant, I believe, is that
Americans don't like authoritarian busybodies.

"(4) Democracy is not an automatic condition resulting from laws and
constitutions. It is a living, dynamic process which must be worked at
by you yourself -- or it ceases to be democracy, even if the shell and
form remains."

Any of us, on any side of debate, could point to infringements of the
first, second, fourth, fifth, eighth, and fifteenth amendments in the
past decade once the amendments were pointed out to us. I won't go
talking about vigilant defence- but involvement. Your cell phone
camera may be the democratic sunshine tool of choice for youtube- but
voting and being involved in your party(ies) is much more effective in
the long term. just a letter, a phone call, 4 hours of volunteer work
make a difference.

"(5) One way or another, any government which remains in power is a
representative government. If your city is a crooked machine, then it
is because you and your neighbors prefer it that way -- prefer it to
the effort of running your own affairs...."

(the ellipsis refers to some notes on Hitler which were timely then
but I can safely leave out for the moment.)

I hear an argument from many persons- right and left and center- that
it's pointless to get involved because it doesn't matter. As long as
enough people believe that, it is to some extent true. If you abdicate
your franchise because "all politicians are bad"- you still abdicate
your franchise. Don't do it.

"(6) Democracy is the most efficient form of government ever invented
by the human race. One the record, it has worked better in peace and
war than fascism, communism, or any other form of dictatorship. As for
the mythical yardstick of "benevolent" monarchy or dictatorship --
there ain't no such animal"

Well, look. If you really don't believe this and think that there's
some justification for taking over the government on a NON
representative basis, then elections aren't your game anyway.

"(7) A single citizen, with no political connections and no money, can
be extremely effective in politics."

And that last point is where the book takes off. It's a manual of how
to apply number 7.

Here's what I want you to do, here's why I'm writing this. I want you
to get involved. I don't care if your politics agree with mine- I have
several major disagreements with the platforms of the Republicans, the
Democrats, and at least half the amazing hodge-podge of contradictions
that is the Tea Party (Bachman and Ron Paul in the same bed?!?!?!? how
on Earth?)

Disagree with me. or agree with me. Just do it in a more personal,
more active, more individual political manner.


The book: Take Back Your Government, 1946, 1992 by Robert A Heinlein

Published currently as an e-book by Baen, available here:

No, I have nothing to do with Baen except for some friendships with a
few authors who have published through them.