Is this food healthy?
Before the pandemic, I ordered a latte from a local barista. In our exchange, the barista mentioned I might like to try it with coconut milk, because it's "healthier than cow's milk." Whether it's a blessing or a curse I haven't decided, but statements like these catch my attention. Where does this claim come from? Is it true? What is the evidence that supports this claim?
With all of us basically trapped at home these days because of COVID-19 and social distancing, many of us have much more time to spend online. Of course we want to stay healthy, even though the world seems like it got turned upside down, so seeking nutrition advice is common. And in the online world, there is no shortage of nutrition claims! But alas, online there is a great shortage of evidence.
Let's discuss what comprises good nutrition, emphasizing a few concepts that you will hopefully find useful.
The hero's body
Last week I wrote about how The World Needs You to Be a Hero. I believe...
Everyone loves a hero
When I was a kid, every week I could not wait for Saturday morning cartoons. I would get up, race downstairs with my sister, and spend the next 2-3 hours watching the week's new shows.
My favorite cartoon was Super Friends, which brought together all the superheroes from the Justice League - Superman, Batman & Robin, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman - who would use their superpowers to battle the forces of evil.
While watching Saturday morning cartoons is no longer a childhood ritual, I believe most children still dream of using their special gifts to save others, fight for justice, and bring goodness into the world.
What is a hero?
Reconnecting with old friends during COVID-19
As I write this, one of my college housemates, a cardiologist in Miami, has been sick with COVID-19 and on a ventilator for almost a month. He is showing signs of improvement but it's been really slow, nail-biting progress.
While this is of course a terrible a circumstance, one of the blessings that has come out of it has been the opportunity to reconnect with my 6 other housemates, several of whom I've not seen for more than 10 years. We had a great Zoom call this last weekend, with prayers and worry broken up by laughter and fun memories.
While maintaining relationships has never been something I've been good at, right now I'm encouraged to be on the lookout for other opportunities to re-establish old friendships or family bonds.
Immune function and social connections
Perhaps because of this, an older study caught my eye this week. Published in 1997, researchers actively placed cold virus in the noses of 276 healthy...
I beat myself up pretty well last week.
During this time of coronavirus and social distancing I had grand plans to take advantage of fewer commitments and increased downtime to accomplish so much. I wanted to develop a number of new educational training programs at work, clean out the garage, and organize my files and photos, among other things. Yet, I had days last week where it seemed like getting dressed was about the highlight of my accomplishments.
Just like many of you, I'm learning how to make my way in this time of social distancing. And I suspect like many of you I'm experiencing challenges that make it hard to show up each day in the way that I desire.
Has anything like this happened to you?
If so, here are a few things that I believe contribute to the problem. Our routines are different. We don't receive the same daily reinforcements and encouragements that let us know we are making a difference in someone's life. And there is great uncertainty about how long social...
My daughter Maddie is a science and math geek (much like her father). But she's also got this really cool artistic side. Take a look at the photo accompanying this blog post. Those are 3 art pieces Maddie and her friends are working on in her engineering class. They're currently on my garage floor as we're in the midst of social distancing and the schools are closed, so she brought them home to work on.
I was walking through the garage the other day when I stopped short as I took in the scene, and the range of possibilities for her life really struck me. She's interested in chemical engineering. But she's also working on designing a user interface for a non-profit. She's got so much potential, and so many doors open. I wonder where her life will take her?
The current reality, the Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Tutu
After the fact, I began to appreciate the joy this brief moment provided. I believe I'm more aware of joy currently. In part, this is because our world...
Where does your mind go when you eat?
I heard this question recently when listening to the Ten Percent Happier podcast interview with Evelyn Tribole, one of the developers of the intuitive eating. I have to admit, when I heard the question my first thought was, "huh, I'm not sure."
How about you? Where does your mind go when you eat?
Let's start with a story...
My low point in my relationship with food occurred just before my 15th birthday. I so badly wanted to fit in, to be popular. Somehow in my mind I began to believe that if I were only a bit skinnier I would get what I wanted.
From 125 pounds, I dropped roughly 20% of my body weight while trying to keep my food-restricting and purging behaviors hidden from my parents. Although I was never diagnosed, I clearly had an eating disorder. I bottomed out just under 100 pounds.
Fortunately I somehow "snapped out" of this phase after about 6 months. While my weight returned to normal, I've maintained a complex relationship with...
James' system was breaking
It was too much for James*. His father was ill, and he was travelling back east frequently to help with his father's healthcare. Combined with his business travel, lots of stress, and the difficulty he faced finding the right foods on the road, it was just way to hard for James to eat well and keep his blood sugar down. He was feeling tired, frustrated, and ashamed.
About 3 years ago James found great success controlling both his blood sugar and his weight by following a ketogenic diet. He'd lost over 50 pounds, and when everything was ticking just right, all of his blood sugar numbers were excellent. He'd even been able to stop one of his diabetes medicines. And he felt really good.
The problem was that he needed to devote a fair amount of effort to keeping on track. Shopping for groceries ahead of time, packing lunches, and keeping his stress down helped him stay on track. When life was "normal," this was all very manageable.
However, with all the...
Karl* wants to get back into the habit of running regularly. He's gained about 10 pounds over the last 2 years, and where he used to regularly hit the trails about 5 times weekly, lately he's "just not motivated" to get out the front door.
Do you have anything like this in your life? Do you have a habit or routine you'd like to start, but either you just can't seem to get traction, or you start but find the habit impossible to maintain?
I certainly do. Let me give you a personal example. I've always wanted to become a "journaler," routinely writing about my days, what I'm learning, what challenges I'm facing, memorable events, interesting conversations, and the like. I've heard it's helpful for learning and progressing past challenges, and can be good for dealing with stress. I've tried several times to make journaling a habit, but I've never been successful. I've never been able to make it stick.
Contrast that with my morning "wake up" exercise routine. I...
My 15-year-old son has a metabolism like a hummingbird. It seems that if he doesn't eat every 2 hours he's likely to waste away. And because of this incredibly fast metabolism, he can get away with less than optimal food choices without showing any adverse effects.
It was therefore no surprise when I found a half eaten box of hot tamales, those little spicy cinnamon candies, in our pantry over the weekend.
You may recall that it's been about 2 months since I did my own Added Sugar Audit and took the majority of added sugar out of my own diet. However, I'm not militant about following this 100% and I do allow the occasional treat. And I really used to love hot tamales. So it seemed no big deal when I decided to have a couple while reading on Saturday.
Release the Beast
Apparently I still have a sugar fiend inside me, cause after those first two little candies, I couldn't stop thinking about hot tamales. I knew there were more. And two by two by two I kept going back...
Headlines won't always tell you the whole truth
I'd like to come back to the question of "what's the best diet?" This week let's look at a study that compared a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet vs. a low glycemic index diet. Take a look at the authors' conclusion from this study (bold text mine):
"Dietary modification led to improvements in glycemic control and medication reduction/elimination in motivated volunteers with type 2 diabetes. The diet lower in carbohydrate led to greater improvements in glycemic control, and more frequent medication reduction/elimination than the low glycemic index diet. Lifestyle modification using low carbohydrate interventions is effective for improving and reversing type 2 diabetes."
You might read this and conclude you need to follow a ketogenic diet, and that a low glycemic index diet is not good. But let's dig a little bit.
It is true that participants in the ketogenic group lost more weight, had a bigger blood sugar drop, and were able to...
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