Sugar Propaganda


While “Big Soda” might be a bit of a simplification (the problems with nutrition-legislation are much more widespread), research funded by sugar begets sugar propaganda:

Those promoting Big Soda’s view of nutrition consistently claim that chronic disease is “complicated.” Is this true? While all human diseases are “complex” in the sense that they involve detailed and often poorly understood mechanisms in the human body, that isn’t what they mean. Big Soda speaks of the complexity of addressing and identifying the causes of chronic disease. The label of complexity rules out simple treatments like “stop drinking sugar” and makes models of chronic disease based on overconsumption of sugar seem oversimplified and rash. It is true that chronic disease is complex, but Big Soda is using the term to support their false nutrition narrative.

This type of reasoning provides more justification for the toxic mindset that we can’t do anything about our health (we can!) or that our body/genes/disease will always get the best of us (it won’t!). It’s much too complex, Timmy, you couldn’t possibly understand your health issues and how your actions compound them. Your chronic condition is much to complicated to do anything about, Susie, so just lay back and let it eat away at you. Giving up on your health. Giving up on yourself.

License to be sick–exactly the opposite of what they claim to be selling.

Yup…Today Sucked

I’m planning to try out a sauna this week, and had been discussing that fact with a coworker. As we walked out of work this evening, I said:

“You know, maybe I will go to the sauna on Friday instead of Wednesday so that if I crash and burn afterward, it’ll be on the weekend.”

My coworker replied, “Why would you do that? You should just go!”

But you know what? I know how hydrotherapy has hit me before, and I can’t imagine a sauna being much different. I’ve been seeing signs of SIBO regrowth, which means that if I do a couple rounds of steam heat-slash-cold, my immune system will get to work. And that means a herxheimer reaction, or dehydration, or just plain exhaustion. Who knows, maybe a sauna will produce some new reaction altogether!

The point is, I don’t want to have to deal with the secondary effects of a new treatment option while trying to juggle a very full workload.

The older I get, the more psychic I feel.

Yesterday I wrote about how sometimes knuckling down is the exact opposite of what you should do, but sometimes you have to do it anyway. And I predicted that today would suck.

Well, it did.

I was completely overwhelmed, overloaded, and I’m dealing with it (just like I said).

But today is almost over. Tomorrow is a new day.

Maybe I’ll go to the sauna.

(Lack of) Taking it Easy

I often live with this idea that I need to do everything perfectly. It’s not enough simply to just do it, it must be done well. And that doesn’t apply only to days when I’m feeling good, but it also applies to every day when I’m not feeling great.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to knuckle down (or rather, punch up) and get myself through a tough day. Maybe fatigue has set in like a dull fog. Maybe I’m running to the bathroom every ten minutes. Maybe my gut is cramping so hard that I can’t stand up straight.

That can happen on some days, but it usually comes at a price.

That price may be not leaving bed the next day.

There’s a time and a place to knuckle down, but I’m also learning that it’s okay to do nothing. And not just the “well, I did nothing so by default I’m okay with it because I can’t change it anymore” kind of acceptance, but the “I am doing nothing today because my body needs downtime” kind of okay.

I’m a big fat hypocrite writing a post like this today, however, because my energy was spent at about 4pm but I still came home, and did laundry, and cooked dinner, and worked for an hour, and now I’m writing this post, and after that I’ll rescue my laundry, and then will do a writing assignment for a course I’m taking.

And tomorrow is going to suck!

Which I will deal with…tomorrow.

One day at a time.

Recipe File: Whole 30 Roundup

Back when I first started cracking down on my diet in earnest, I would go through my monthly Bon Appetit subscription and earmark pages that had recipes I could actually eat (or that were easily adaptable). They weren’t the majority, by any means, but it was always surprising at how many I could pull out of a mainstream cooking magazine.

Fast forward to the current year, and the BA staff is now providing that service online! They recently posted a roundup of Whole 30 Recipes That Don’t Taste Like You’re Depriving Yourself.

Leaving aside the massive dig at dietary self-control, the recipe list is pretty on-point for paleo-style cooking inspiration. But like many recipes from people who do not fully understand the theory and practice of the paleo approach, there are a few missteps with ingredients (white potatoes? corn??). Never rely on someone else’s dietary interpretations; always evaluate critically for yourself.

Similarly, if you’re low-fiber or low-FODMAP like myself, most of these recipes won’t work either. BUT — at least it’s a start! There are a few that I can adapt. (Is this adapt-ception? I’m now adapting the paleo-adapted recipes!)

A few that caught my eye:

For now, I’m off green beans…and tomatoes…and almonds…but I’ll dream about that recipe anyway.

Happy Cooking!

Research Alert: PREdiCCt

Looks like some investigators in the UK are looking to identify environmental triggers for Crohn’s and Colitis flares.

Basically, they’re going to sample people’s gut bacteria and given them questionnaires on their diet, lifestyle, and health over the period of 2 years, then attempt to find trends in the data.

This is the kind of study that makes me hate “evidence-based” science, because it is completely backwards. For the most part, we KNOW what those things are already. We don’t need some big data study to tell us what Sarah Wilson chronicles in herself, or what all the success stories at Mark’s Daily Apple point at.

Based on what I’ve talked about with other IBD people, and read about online, there are big triggers (ie, sugar), but then everything else is intensely personal.

And even then, it can be incredibly hard to tell. I once talked with a guy who kept a very detailed spreadsheet of his symptoms, food intake, sleep and then ran a statistical analysis on it. What did he find? Nothing helpful.

I wish these guys the best, but I’m not going to hold my breath that they find anything significant.

Public Bathroom Etiquette

Usually, in a public bathroom, you don’t talk to anybody. Just do your business, turn around, and get out.

Most of the time, your business is pretty quick, quiet, and not incredibly stanky.

TMI alert.

These last few weeks, I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my bowel movements. They’re a bit out of my control–pretty much the opposite of the “perfect poop.”

Long, loud, and smelly.

What I always wonder is this: if there’s another person in the bathroom already, is it okay to call out a preemptive “Sorry in advance”?

Because I think it would be weird. You don’t really acknowledge people in the bathroom.

On the other hand, though, it feels rude to drop a gas bomb on a poor, unsuspecting non-chronic-disease-having person three stalls over who just wants to pee in peace.

I’ve always been acutely aware of being the person who messes up a peaceful bathroom, and I’ve trained myself to not worry about it too much, but I still think about how my personal bowel issues impact everyone else who uses that bathroom.

I hate making everyone else’s air stink. But I also refuse to apologize for having a disease that I didn’t choose and do my best to control.

Also, it’s just weird.

Maybe there’s a balance between trying to make other people feel comfortable and just doing my business.

What do you think?

Fighting the Health Insurance System

One of the things that frustrates me most about health insurance: when you need it most, you’re less able to deftly navigate the system:

“You have the right to independent medical review, but how good are you going to be at taking advantage of it if you’ve got cancer?” said Dustin Berger, an attorney in Wyoming who has written about health insurance appeals.

Every health system rations care one way or another. And some might say that a warrior like Todd is sucking the system dry. To her, that analysis is backwards: She believes she gets patients the treatments that have the best chance of working, instead of wasting their time — and the insurers’ money — on endless rounds of less effective interventions.

“People say, ‘The insurance companies might come and torch your car,’” said Todd, laughing. “But I’m the insurance company’s best friend. I’m saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars by finding the patient the best treatment for them.”

It’s true, though. My experience with insurance is much the same thing–you have to try and fail and try and fail and try their list of treatments one by one until you can finally level up to a treatment that might work. Even if you have documented evidence that you’ll need to skip from level 1 to level 4 to effectively treat, they don’t let you.

That is the problem with large systems like insurance or with “scripted” walk-in clinics like ZoomCare*. You are not an individual person to them, you are an input. And, as one of many different inputs, you’ll get routed as appropriate until you reach the end stage. It takes a massive amount of startup energy to eject yourself from the pre-programmed channel into being as a real person with a real problem.

That’s why Laurie Todd personalizes her stories. That’s why she goes straight to the top, the people who can make decisions and pull files out of the routing system. That’s why she waits until the last week, when she can light the issue on fire and lob it into the appeals board and make a big bang.

To tackle the biggest problems, you really do have to go outside the system. Either you go alternative, or you fight with someone like Laurie Todd on your side. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more Laurie Todds in the future.


*ZoomCare is great, don’t get me wrong, but usually for clear-cut issues that only need a rubber stamp treatment.

Training the Gut

Mike Massimino became an astronaut, but only after applying an extensive amount of work.

And over the course of several years, he applied twice to become a NASA astronaut and both times was rejected in the first rounds. A few years later, he tried again, finally getting an interview. But the interview included a medical exam, which he failed due to poor eyesight.

Dejected, Massimino considered his options. Rather than taking NASA’s third rejection to mean that he should abandon hopes of becoming an astronaut, Massimino was determined to improve his eyesight.

“Even if I could rectify it somehow, which seemed impossible, still no guarantees of anything,” Massimino says. “But before I could even be considered again I had to do that. So I went through some vision training to improve my eyes so I could see better. And it worked.”

I’m intrigued by this idea, this idea that we can exert control over bodily functions that are seemingly beyond our power. We can control things like our breathing, and winking, which are typically both body functions that are taken care of by our autonomous nervous system. We don’t have to control them, but we can, when we take the time and effort. I know it’s possible to build up lung capacity and extend the time that I can hold my breath.

Obviously we can exert control over muscle mass through diet and workouts, as both bodybuilders and Victoria’s Secret models demonstrate.

I’ve even learned how to control my body following adrenaline spikes–trying to get heart rate down, that sort of thing. We have all worked through fear to do something that we don’t want to do.

With that in mind, I have a hunch that it’s possible to control other bodily functions that we normally don’t think about–perhaps digestion?

I will be looking into various types of vision training to see if I can apply them to my gut.

Now Hiring: Gut Translator

Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at listening to my body, of translating various signs and symptoms into actionable cause-and-effect chains (or at least as close to them as possible; it gets pretty tricky sometimes).

The hardest part is that my guts do not speak English or even Korean or Braille or any other language that uses abstract thought. Guts speak physicality. They speak hormone. They speak feeling.

Even then, I can only observe through a 3rd party translator, like the health of my skin, or my energy levels, or the quality of my poops. I can’t talk to my guts directly.

Sometimes I get so frustrated because I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU NEED, GUTS. More probiotics? Kill bacteria? Sleep? Are you dehydrated? Do I need to feed you more fiber or less fiber? JUST TELL ME!

And that’s the problem: they are TRYING to tell me.

It’s the same with plants, you know–they’re distressed and wilting, turning yellow and dropping leaves all over your desk–but you don’t know WHY. And they can’t tell you. They’re already doing the best they can to survive but I’m overthinking things like AM I OVERWATERING OR UNDERWATERING? DO YOU NEED MORE LIGHT OR LESS LIGHT? WARMER OR COLDER?

That’s when I pull out the little plastic stake with instructions, that comes with the plants. Those at least give you a hint of what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it.

Sometimes I feel like it’s a complete shot in the dark as to what’s going to make my gut better, since my abdomen didn’t come with a little plastic stake full of instructions.

But that’s not entirely true–I know from experience and talking with my doctors what is good for me. More low-FODMAP fiber, more sleep, more water, more herbals.

Usually one of those helps.