Friday, August 28, 2009

How (Perennially) Fat People Diet: Part 3: Huge Dinners

In Part 1 we looked at how lots of (perpetually) overweight people approach (perpetual) dieting. Now we're going down the list and analyzing the mistakes. In case you missed it, part 2 is here.

"2. Large Portions at Dinner
Hey, if you've fasted all day, there's no harm in loading up at dinner time, right?"

Wrong! No matter how low-cal and low-fat your food may be, eating a huge portion of it will always thwart your efforts to lose weight. There are several reasons why:

1. Above a certain point, tons of low-cal, low-fat food amounts to hi-cal and hi-fat. In fact, research shows that people who eat foods that are X% lower fat tend to eat greater than X% more of those foods, completely undoing the benefit.

2. Few dieters consider glycemic level. High-glycemic foods (most commercial bread - including wheat bread; rice - even brown rice; raisins, Corn Flakes, sweetened yogurt, potatoes, most highly-processed carbs, etc.) essentially turn into sugar as you digest them. Loosely speaking, a big mound of brown rice might as well be a big mound of chocolate cake. That's an exaggeration, but the gist is true. Few people morbidly overeat protein; it's invariably carbs. And if you're scarfing huge amounts of carbs, they are very likely high-glycemic carbs, big portions of which can rattle your system like a big portion of sugar, creating cascades of cravings (dessert cravings, night snack cravings) and an aftershock of general foggy-headedness. The aftermath will also "work forward" into your next meal, affecting what and how much you eat - or causing you to skip eating the meal entirely.

3. The more you over-fill yourself, the more your body - which, let me repeat, is only trying to accommodate you! - will come to expect over-filling. Which means whenever you go off your diet, and eat, say, lasagna, you'll eat tons of lasagna.

4. You are famished, and therefore inclined to gorge, at dinner time because you haven't eaten regular, well-balanced meals during the day. Give your body what it needs, and it will stop urging you to overeat!

The body functions best on regular, moderately-portioned, well-balanced meals (we'll define that more precisely later). A pattern of big famished dinner blowouts leads to mood and energy swings, night snacking, poor sleep, and a sour-stomached disinclination to eat full breakfasts and lunches - the very opposite of what the body needs to maintain a metabolism level that will aid you in losing weight. And a habit of huge portions - even of very healthy food - will lead to eating huge portions of highly caloric foods when that's what happens to be in front of you. Finally, this patten will lock you into the meal-skipping habit that (per part two) is so detrimental to dieting and good health.

Continue to Part 4

How (Perennially) Fat People Diet: Part 2a

That last entry was a bit long. It had to be, to make the points it had to make. But to be sure the central thread didn't get lost, let me tersely wrap it up:

Many dieters insist they can't eat a thing in the morning and/or at lunch. But that's only the case because you've trained it that way! Start having a nutritious few bites at the same time of day, gradually increase to a balanced, healthful meal (which I'll be defining more precisely later), and within a week, you'll be fully hungry at those times and able - even eager - to eat breakfast and lunch. And the meals won't leave you feeling bleary and sluggish.

The cessation of your hunger reflex for much of the day is not a good thing. It's the sign of your metabolism shutting down, and taking your digestive fire with it. It is very bad for your health, and will trap you into a pattern of low-energy and high weight.

Continue to Part 3

Friday, August 21, 2009

How (Perennially) Fat People Diet: Part 2: Skipping Breakfast/Lunch

In part 1, I described how lots of (perpetually) overweight people approach (perpetual) dieting. Now we'll go down the list and find the mistakes, starting, today, with the top-most entry:
1. Little or No Breakfast or Lunch
They just don't get hungry early in the day. And that's ok. Not eating is good! It feels virtuous. Time spent not eating is time well-spent: an accomplishment. Eventually, the hunger reflex departs and it's hard to imagine eating more than a yogurt or a piece of fruit early in the day. The righteous feeling of asceticism somewhat offsets the shame of being overweight. I may look like someone lacking self control, but if you only knew...!
Here's the problem: when you fast, your body has an unfortunate tendency to burn muscle rather than fat. There are three problems with that:

1. You're not losing fat. In fact, muscle loss leaves you with an overall greater percentage of fat.

2. Losing muscle is unhealthy, saps your strength and energy, and makes you look lousy even after you've lost all your fat

3. Muscle mass is a dieter's best friend. It's like a pulsing metabolic engine; the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolism, allowing you to burn fat faster and more easily. As you lose muscle, it becomes much harder to lose fat, because your body is burning fewer calories. Dieters need to add muscle, not lose it (we'll talk more about that in a few days)!

The true experts on weight loss are body builders, who constantly cycle between "cutting" (slimming) and "bulking" (gaining). These guys/gals, with their great discipline, shed fat on schedule as part of their sport, and have built an impressive trove of shared wisdom. And any of them will tell you that, when trying to lose weight, they'd rather drop heavy barbells on their feet than skip a meal or two, because losing muscle is definitely not the goal. In fact, some top weight lifters wake up in the middle of the night for a bite to eat, to ensure their muscles don't shrink between dinner and breakfast. Importantly, they do this - carefully attend to getting enough food - while cutting (losing), not while bulking (gaining). Because that's when muscle loss is of greatest concern!

Skipping breakfast won't burn up all your muscles. But it will burn some. Skipping breakfast and lunch, much more so (if you haven't eaten since the previous night, that's nearly a 24 hour fast!). Your metabolism will shut down as your body does its utmost to conserve calories, figuring you're in danger of starving to death. And then you're really in a bind. It's vastly harder to lose weight with a low metabolism.

Once your metabolism shuts down and your hunger reflex fades after you've conditioned your body to withstand the apparent famine, the meals you do eat will be digested sluggishly by your semi-dormant gastric system. And you'll lack energy. And you'll be vaguely hungry much of the time. Your blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides may increase. You will be neither happy nor healthy. You may chalk that up to the rigors of dieting, but that's not it. It's the rigors of treating your body in a ghastly, unhealthy manner. Which is, of course, what many do in the name of dieting, though they rarely lose much weight for very long.

You became overweight via unbalanced, unhealthy eating patterns and via a disconnection in your relationship with your body. You will not resolve things by heightening the imbalance and deepening the disconnection - by forcing your body into ever more extreme, unhealthy, and unnatural circumstances. Imbalance is fixed via balance, not via opposite extremes.

Losing weight requires eating more, not less. Frequent, regularly-scheduled, balanced, modest meals of healthful foods. Not simply dropping the number of calories. And there's no need to impose your will on your body. You needn't discipline it, force it, shove it, starve it, or otherwise battle it.....because your body is just trying to accommodate you by following your lead. The best way to lead it is by giving it healthful, balanced, regular meals. In less than a week, your body will embrace that and ask for nothing but more of same. You'll soon even find yourself growing hungry for breakfast and lunch - a sign that your digestive fire has reignited and your body's ready to start burning calories again. You'll feel great, too!

I noted, above, that a habit of meal skipping makes digestion sluggish. At that point, eating will leave you feeling dull and bleary, which feeds the vicious circle by encouraging meal skipping. We refrain from eating, because it will slow us down. And we blame our bodies for all this. We don't get hungry at lunch time, that's all. We simply don't digest food well early in the day. We're not morning eaters. Hey, our systems are what they are!

No. They are what we are because we've trained them to follow our patterns. Change the pattern for just a few days, and the body will follow. If you choose to starve during daylight hours, don't blame your body! It's following you, not vice versa!

What's more, the meal that's actually eaten, after one or more skipped meals, tends to be eaten in an unhealthful way: overly large portions, carb cravings, trailing snacks, etc.. And that throws the next meal out of whack...or else leaves you feeling so wretched you'll want to skip that next meal (i.e. breakfast) entirely. And so the vicious circle remains vicious!

Finally, ayurvedic medicine suggests losing weight by eating larger lunches and smaller dinners. I can't explain why, but it's true. Eating at night is more fattening and jarring to the system. And many people who skip breakfast and/or lunch chow all night along. That's a serious - and common - enough practice to be its own syndrome.

Continue to Part 2a

Single Sponsorship

One of my early ideas for garnering financial support for Chowhound was to persuade a single company to underwrite everything in exchange for exclusive high-level branding. My model was Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom; a show that had nothing to do with insurance, but which indirectly cast the company in a friendly/neighborly light unattainable by a more conventionally direct ad campaign.

Chowhound seemed a perfect opportunity for certain non-food companies to benefit from association with a popular media operation devoted to - even evangelistic toward - high-value, high-quality consumption. Companies like Nordstrum's, Apple, Virgin, Aveda, Mephisto sell "cut above" products which depend on consumers willing to seek out and up pay for quality. And Chowhound had gathered a rare audience which, by definition, consumes staunchly on the merits.

A truly good company making truly good products, which wouldn't insult us with mindless marketing or disrupt us with annoying pitches could enjoy a symbiotic relationship with Chowhound by being the gentle benefactors of a much-loved resource with an early-adopting, evangelistic audience...and which was garnering frequent press.

Back in 1999, I couldn't talk anyone into it. I was too early with the idea...which has lately begun
taking off...though the current action seems a much looser fit than what I'd envisioned.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How (Perennially) Fat People Diet: Part 1

While this series is self-contained, I'd suggest reading these four postings first:
"Losing Weight Costs $1000/pound"
The Best, Easiest, and Most Sustainable Diet Tip
"Your Body's Just Trying to Accommodate You", and
"Nothing's Ever Shot To Hell".

Index of This Series:
Part 1: How (Perennially) Fat People Diet
Part 2: Skipping Breakfast/Lunch
Part 3: Huge Dinners
Part 4: About Protein
Part 5: Night Snacking
Part 6: At the Gym
Part 7: The Bipolar Diet
Part 8: Hapless Helplessness

Many fat people are on seemingly perpetual diets, yet they remain perpetually fat! Surely they're doing something wrong! Indeed, as I've departed their ranks, I've come to see that they're doing everything wrong! Today we'll look at the approach many of them take. Then, over the next few days, we'll examine why these methods are so ineffectual - or even counterproductive.

I'll draw a distinction between dieters and dieting fat people. Many dieters are previously thin people who for some reason (e.g. bed-ridden recuperation), have put on a few pounds. Others are weight lifters who've intentionally "bulked up". Dieting fat people are a separate - and spectacularly unsuccessful - breed, and they have traits in common. Of course, not all fat people do all these things. But many of them do many of them:

1. Little or No Breakfast or Lunch
They just don't get hungry early in the day. And that's ok. Not eating is good! It feels virtuous. Time spent not eating is time well-spent: an accomplishment. Eventually, the hunger reflex departs and it's hard to imagine eating more than a yogurt or a piece of fruit early in the day. The righteous feeling of asceticism somewhat offsets the shame of being overweight. I may look like someone lacking self control, but if you only knew...!

2. Large Portions at Dinner
Hey, if you've fasted all day, there's no harm in loading up at dinner time, right? Especially if you're eating a....

3. Low Calorie, Low Fat, Low Protein Dinner
Dieting fat people know to watch their ingestion of calories, fat, and sugar. But they also avoid protein. Why? Because their usual protein sources are caloric bombs. Hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, tacos....all that stuff is, obviously, unfit for dieters. So they sidestep the protein and ingest great big bowls of things like brown rice, vegetable chili, and other virtuous-seeming carbs. Plus, something sweet for dessert - fruit-based, because the sugar in fruits is much healthier and less fattening than other forms of sugar.

4. Night Snacking
Strangely unsatisfied by their virtuous huge carby dinner, they snack all night. They generally don't binge on especially unhealthy snacks (though sometimes they do, when cravings get the best of them). On good nights, they merely ingest lots and lots of relatively low-calorie carby stuff. But even if they scarf a bag of chips or a slice of frozen pizza, they figure they can get away with it, given their low overall daily calorie count. After a day of fasting, and a fatless, meatless dinner, a bit of pleasure seems justified!

5. At the Gym: Hammering Away
Few fat people keep up consistent gym regimens, but those who do tend to hammer away at some part of themselves. They do 30 minute grueling death marches on the stair master or relentlessly work their abs on those great big plastic balls. You'll find few fat weight lifters at the gym, and few on the treadmills for more than a visit or two. Pilates classes, however, are full of fat folks - none of whom ever seem to slim down. They flock to pilates because they feel that by Crunching! Away! Again! And Again! at the muscles beneath their swelling tummies, they'll melt away The Problem.

6. Special Occasions
The above regimen is quite unpleasant. It leaves one feeling vaguely but deeply discontent, battling endless cravings, and experiencing a sour sort of near-hunger which eating never quite satisfies. As the long day of fasting rolls on, there's a light-headedness and lack of energy. Mood swings are the norm. Consciously or not, this is accepted as penance for being fat, and this penitent, sacrificial feeling, in and of itself, ought to translate into lost weight!

To preserve sanity, there are periodic "special occasions" when one goes off the diet in a limited way. Lasagna, steak, cupcakes...eating like a human being again. Such meals are perceived to have been "earned" via prior sacrifice. But while they may satisfy emotionally, they don't leave the body feeling satisfied. Rather, there's a sense of unwellness, which the mind seizes upon as shame. And so the harsh regimen of fasting and the gym hammering is resumed with a reinforced attitude of sour aggression.

There may also be binge periods of a few days or more where one falls totally off the wagon. That's to be expected amid months or even years of dismayingly fruitless dieting.

7. Hapless Helplessness
In spite of relative low daily calorie counts, and the feeling of hardly eating anything (with much of the day spent fasting), the weight never budges. Cholesterol, and perhaps blood sugar and pressure, remain high. There must be a hormonal or metabolic problem; I diet and diet, yet the weight never comes off. There must be something uniquely screwy about my system that keeps me from losing weight. Since my effort isn't rewarded, I eventually come to make less and less effort.

Continue to Part 2

Friday, August 14, 2009

Caregiving: Revisiting Pushy Loudmouths

Warning: this one's a bit dark. There are few dilemmas in life as distressing as trying to help an elderly friend or family member through a health crisis...especially when age and bad advice cause unwise choices to be made.

There is an elderly person in my life (we'll call her Dorothy) with serious health problems which doctors have been unable to rectify. I've come up with a last-ditch strategy based on exhaustive research plus my own experience with similar health problems. I'm pretty sure it's the best way to go, and there's not much time left. But a willfully ignorant (and stupendously controlling) person - we'll call her Greta - is also trying to help. Greta gets her dodgy information from pseudo-science and from quacky web sites, and has shockingly little discernment, though she's staunchly confident in her conclusions.

Dorothy has lost judgement with age. She'll adopt whichever course of action is most fervently hammered at her. And Greta excels at ferventness; she's always prepared to tenaciously screech and shove to get her way. I can't possibly win the battle. Dorothy will be bedridden if her issues are not properly handled, but the only course for me is to detach. That's the wise option - I can't win the shouting match, and even musty-headed people do have the right to choose. Dorothy's chosen the louder voice.

But here's the thing: Dorothy is a person for whom I'd place myself in profound physical danger. I'd fight big scary people, at long odds, to rescue her. Yet I've capitulated so easily here. Should I step up to the plate and violently shove my agenda? Should I contest mental competence, seek custodianship, and do battle against indomitable Greta, who's likely to unwittingly kill her? I'd surely make enemies of them both, and the fight would make me miserable...but it might save a life.

Those are rhetorical questions, of course. There are no easy answers.

I've previously written about how, in collaborative efforts, the pushiest loudmouths always win, and how reasonable folks learn to shrug off fights and cede ground. But when stakes rise, that dynamic really gets tested...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Your Body's Just Trying to Accommodate You

To launch a series of posts about diet, I'll start by pointing out that your body tries to accommodate you. It really does!

The body habituates to what it's used to. If you have dessert with lunch twice in a row, you can bet you'll crave sugar after lunch on the third day. If you skip breakfast for a week, you'll stop getting hungry in the morning. If you eat heavy dinners for a few days, it will take more to satisfy you at dinnertime going forward. Your system reacts attentively to circumstances, aiming to accommodate your situation. We evolved in tricky, unreliable nutritional straits, and, as a result, our systems are magnificently flexible, able to optimize and readjust with the precision of a German race car. Whatever, whenever, and however you feed it, it will quickly learn to expect more of the same.

We get into problems because while our body is only trying to oblige, we assume that it's the boss. Noticing you don't get hungry in the mornings, you'll probably figure that's just How You Are. But if you were to eat breakfast - even something small - for three days in a row, "How You Are" would change to suit the new pattern! No matter how much of a sugar addict you consider yourself to be, if you stay off sweets for just 48 hours, your body will severely reduce its sugar cravings. Your body hasn't led you to sugar. It's just adapting to circumstances. Understanding this makes it easier.

It's easier to establish a habit than to break one, of course. But the body doesn't know this, because its flexibility was never intended to respond to conscious tinkering. Our bodies are optimized to keep us from starving to death in tough times, and to make do with the foods at hand as we go about our hunting and gathering. Our forebears didn't attempt to eat less of this or that; they ingested whatever they could get, and their systems adjusted to ever-changing realities.

Your body follows your lead on dietary additions and subtractions. The subtractions can be rough, because the body's helpful promptings feel so monumental. But if you understand the mechanism, and change your inputs for just a few days (e.g. avoiding sugar), your body will come around much more quickly than you'd expect. It's not monumental at all, really. It's a matter of days, not weeks or long as you're consistent and don't mix the signals you send your body (e.g. via a surreptitious Snickers bar or two). If you send confusing signals, your body, like an over-eager puppy, will keep trying to oblige...resulting in a misery of perpetual cravings. The pit which most dieters attempt to dig themselves out of is actually laughably shallow. Heroin, alcohol, and cigarettes are hell to kick. Sugar and Cheetos just require a couple of days.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tracking Ingestion

Several people wanted more info about the web site which allows you to track your eating- specifically the balance of protein/carbohydrates/fats.

There are two main ones:
FitDay and Calorie King. Try signing up for (free) accounts and try each for a day; to see which is easier for you to use and tracks more of the foods you eat (I shop a lot at Trader Joe's, and Calorie King has almost all their items in its database, so that's my choice).

You do want at least 30-40% carbs in your diet. And it's essential to have some form of protein at every meal. And the big trick is to find ways to have healthful carbs and proteins - what athletes call "clean" carbs and proteins. Tortilla chips (even lowfat ones) and french fries are not clean carbs. Burgers and bologna slices are not clean protein. Go for less processed, fresher, more from-scratch "whole" foods with little added sugar, salt, etc. And reinvest the money you save (from dining out less and buying simpler foods) by springing for organics.

One advantage of including (clean) protein at every meal is that it will help keep you from burning muscle as you lose weight...a big problem with many diets (and one we'll discuss here next week).

Updated correction: Calorie King is now charging...$9 per month. Not bad, considering that you probably won't be using the service for more than six months (by which time you'll have lost your weight and/or developed a knack for gauging meal balance).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Diet and Nutrition Stuff

A number of Minnesota Public Radio listeners have written in asking for more info on the diet and nutritions issues I mentioned during the show today. I'll be writing about that stuff throughout the rest of the week. Meanwhile, through my prior writings on diet, health, and fitness.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Going on Live Radio

Tomorrow, Tuesday, I'll be going live (brave souls, they) on Minnesota Public Radio from 11am to noon, eastern time. I'll be talking about trends in food - including my theory that the recession's not the biggest factor currently deflating the restaurant biz, as well as new modes of home cooking and diet.

The show's called Midmorning, and you can listen along here, if you'd like.

Update: Download the podcast here (clicking starts an MP3 download).

Friday, August 7, 2009

We Caused the Health Care Crisis

Our health care problem is that our costs are high yet our care doesn't make us healthy. There are many parties to blame for this, but the real problem is rarely identified. 

As I wrote here
I'm no hypochondriac, but my doctor has always brushed off most complaints I present to her. She rarely even orders tests. A few years ago, just when I was about to deem her callous, she said something interesting. In response to whatever hazy symptom I was reporting, she told me "Look, I could test you to see whether you have a brain tumor, but what will probably happen is they'll find no tumor but something else will be noticed that will call for lots more tests, and, inevitably, procedures. I try to keep my patients the hell out of the machine so it doesn't kill them."
It's pretty well-established that VIPs, with clutches of physicians monitoring every vital process, enjoy worse health than patients with less doting and expensive care. The reason is that each test, each medicine, each procedure, each hospital visit carries some degree of risk. The more you're in the system, the more risk accrues, just as costs accrue.

The solution is, clearly, less of all that. But American health care always moves toward more. We can blame the lawyers (doctors, fearing malpractice lawsuits, order excessive tests and anxiously try to be proactive on every complaint), we can blame big pharma (they bribe doctors to prescribe more), or we can blame insurers (who pay doctors on what amounts to a commission basis). But, really, the problem is us. Because while it's undeniably true that less attention, less care, less tests, less procedures, less drugs is better, and would, in the end, make everyone healthier, that scenario would mean a few people suffering or dying unnecessarily (e.g. the instances when people come in complaining of a headache, and it really is a late-stage brain tumor). And while we're able to reconcile that sacrifice in the abstract, it's a different story when we're talking about our sons, daughters, and parents.

There are places in this world where life is a little less valued; where it's not considered an affront to one's human dignity to kick the bucket as a result of drawing a short statistical straw, and sparkling vibrant perfect health is not deemed a birthright. It could be argued that in 21st century America, life is more valued than our society can afford. It breaks a taboo to say so, as we're fundamentally unable to staunch the thought of loved ones dying a death (or suffering a debilitating affliction) that's remotely preventable. The alternative, of invasively tracking down each and every long-shot symptom, is not the best course, medically or economically. But we just can't brook the necessary outcome. And that is the stone in the pond which has produced all the evil ripples.

One under-reported ripple is entrepreneurial physicians. Read this superb New Yorker piece on just how bad it can get when doctors "come to treat patients the way subprime-mortgage lenders treated home buyers: as profit centers." But even this is an effect, not a cause. Some doctors are indeed greedy and callous. But others are just trying to make an honest buck in a system weirdly stacked against them. Office visits where patients are simply told to take two aspirin and call in the morning are paid in the low two digits. Should doctors principled enough not to over-prescribe and over-test be forced into poverty? 

The system's the problem. And the system, ultimately, has come about from a dysfunctional, self-destructive coupling of two otherwise noble American ethics: 1. each life is sacred, and 2. the consumer is king.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Leff's Third Law

"The perfect is the enemy of the good" is the enemy of the perfect!

Fwiw, here are my other laws

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Does Peace Have a Chance?

There's an interesting article in Slate today asking whether predisposition to war is truly ingrained in human nature.

I didn't know this, but:
"...there is little or no clear-cut evidence of lethal group aggression among any societies prior to 12,000 years ago. War emerged and rapidly spread over the next few thousand years among hunter-gatherers and other groups, particularly in regions where people abandoned a nomadic lifestyle for a more sedentary one and populations grew. War arose, according to this perspective, because of changing environmental and cultural conditions rather than because of 'human nature'."
Assuming that's correct (and we can really draw authoritative conclusions about human behavior so far back), it makes sense that sedentary, higher-population areas naturally give rise to nationalism. And nationalism ("we're great") necessarily contains the seeds of xenophobia ("we're great compared to them"). The 20th century showed us where that dynamic ultimately winds up.

The development of the notion of an "us" relies upon the contrasting presence of a "them". From primitive societies to American anti-Muslim bigots, one hallmark of provincialism is the dehumanization of the barbaric tribe across the river - and by staying in one place and growing an insular population, tribal instinct stagnates into cohesive nationalism. By contrast, nomads see more of the world, and while there's nothing more tribal than a group of nomads, demonization of The Other may be less likely to develop in those who've personally encountered lots of others.

The writer of the piece, John Horgan, argues that war was just a 12,000 year trend, and, given the drop in war deaths over the past fifty years, it may be winding down. I can't say I'm persuaded, given that 1. we evolved to the top of the food chain via extraordinarily competitiveness and aggressivity (i.e. it's burned in to who we are
*), and 2. five decades isn't statistically significant re: a 1200 decade trend.

On the other hand, the past half-century has brought an unprecedented erosion of insularity, with cheaper/faster means of travel plus the vicarious travel made possible by TV, movies, and Internet. Cultural nomadism is fast becoming the norm, and that could indeed be making a huge difference (e.g. read about these lovely, net-savvy Middle Eastern kids, tired of extremism and stereotypes, who I'll write about separately next week).

* - This may account for the lack of indications of intelligent life in the universe. As technology improves, so does the means to kill efficiently, and since intelligent life represents the ultimate victor in the ruthless arena of evolution, there'll always be someone ruthless enough to press any given "kill" button at some point.

BBQ/Soul Food Guide

Pig Trip:Your guide to BBQ joints (and soul food) in Boston, New York and everywhere in between.

Nice job, well-maintained, though there are yuppified atrocities scattered into the mix, so be sure and verify...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Technique for Avoiding Jet Lag

This trick can help you overcome jet lag in a single day, according to Harvard Medical School (as explained in the WiseBread blog): Figure out what time breakfast is in your destination, and fast 12 to 16 hours beforehand. No big deal, considering that most of us fast that long between dinner and breakfast, anyway...though the idea of traveling hungry isn't terribly appealing (on the other hand, a week of jetlag may be less appealing still). Staying hydrated is essential, obviously.

Some interesting reader comments posted on that page:
"In fact, many people do this automatically when they sleep in on a saturday, which might explain why some people are slow starters on a monday morning. As someone who used to frequently juggle between day and night cycles, I am far more affected by food than sunlight. I'm no scientist, but my anecdotal experience fully supports this theory."
"Instead of torturing yourself during the flight, why not simply eat dinner when the locals do (e.g. 6 p.m. their time), then wake up for their natural breakfast time 12-16 hours later (6 a.m. - 10 a.m.)? I can't see any reason, based on this article, to make the flight more unpleasant by fasting."

"Death to America" Background

During the Iranian hostage crisis, the conclusion we were all to draw from the harrowing news reports and angry images on television was that the crazies had seized control, and were venting their irrational anti-American hatred.

I heard, a few years later, that the Iranians had at the time managed to reconstruct many shredded CIA documents they'd found at the embassy (
via carpet weavers). But no one ever told me that the reassembled documents were actually available to be read.

They are. In photo form, on Wikipedia, no less. It's an interesting read for those who've always wondered if there was a basis for all the seemingly irrational anti-American hatred.

The documents are a chore to read in photo form, so I tried googling some of the text, hoping to find a transcription. Remarkably, there were no hits. No one has ever transcribed these documents?

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