You Crave What You Eat.

If I eat this I'll crave it!Interesting quotation from Anne Lamott in today’s Washington Post, “A Few Quick Thoughts on that Diet You Are About to Fail.” (I’ve read her non-fiction books but could never get into the one novel of hers that I tried. She can be pretty strong stuff, both in subject matter and language, but I have really enjoyed Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, and Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son.

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Food Fads Debunked

The Gluten Lie and The Gluten Lie book b Alan LevinovitzOther Myths about What You Eat by Alan Levinovitz, Ph.D., originally published in 2015 by Regan Arts, now available in a variety of formats. (Book image and title are both affiliate links; if you click through to the Amazon page and buy the book there I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

I first became aware of this book because its author was featured on the Freakonomics Radio podcast, to which you should subscribe and faithfully listen. (And then you should read the Freakonomics book, Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.

Anyway, the author of this book, Alan Levinovitz, was interviewed not too long ago on the show, and since I’m a total fan of any author who wants to punch a hole in our society’s various food fads and manias, I made sure to get hold of his book.

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My Personal Clean Slate

clean blackboardHave you ever heard the proverb “Begin as you mean to go on”? It means that beginnings count. How you start is how you’ll continue. New beginnings are a way to start over. Gretchen Rubin (there she is again!) calls it “the strategy of the clean slate” in her book on habits. (The link is to a video she did on the subject.)

So, although I didn’t plan it that way, I started out in our new life here at Lowell & Jan’s with a clean slate about food: I just wasn’t going to eat any sweets.

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Yet Another Sugar Screed

Poster for "That Sugar Film" movieThat Sugar Film, 2015, written and directed by Damon Gameau, who also stars. Streaming is available for free through Amazon Prime, or you can rent to stream or buy the DVD if you’re not a Prime member. Also available through Netflix.

I don’t want to wear out my welcome here, so if you’re kind of weary of the whole “sugar is evil” hoopty-doo feel free to skip this. However, Jim and I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and it’s a pretty painless way (except for the tooth-extraction scene) to find out a little more about the silent white killer. (Cue ominous music. And full disclosure: I just caved in and ate three smallish peanut-butter cookies that my husband made this weekend. They were calling out to me from the freezer. But I won’t say that I couldn’t resist. I could. I just didn’t. So sue me!)

Gameau is an actor who decided to make a documentary about what would happen to him if, after about three years of eating a very healthful, low-to-no-sugar diet, he deliberately ate 40 teaspoons of sugar every day for 60 days, yet another one of those “stunt journalism” stunts, akin to “Supersize Me,” the 2004 film in which Morgan Spurlock, an American filmmaker, ate nothing but McDonald’s food for a month.

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The Ongoing Sugar Struggle

wonderful pear pieI write periodically about the dangers of sugar consumption and my own efforts to control if not banish this substance from my life. Right now I’m working on re-doing my recipes over on the hospitality blog, and for every dessert I’m including information on how many grams of sugar each serving contains. The typical amount is around 25 grams, or about 6 teaspoons, which, coincidentally, is the limit given by most researchers for the daily maximum we should have for added sugar.

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The Low-Sugar Lifestyle–Rules of the Game

cupcake with frosting on the frostingI’ve written quite a bit about my periodic attempts to cut out sugar from my diet and have also posted reviews of several books about the dangers of sugar. The most recent material I posted was of an interview that Gretchen Rubin did with Gary Taubes, who has now written yet a third book on this dangerous aspect of the Western diet, The Case Against Sugar. I’m including the link again here; be advised that you have to give up your e-mail address in order to gain access to the PDF. It’s about 23 pages and very worthwhile reading.

Other than the annual chocolate tasting that my sister-in-law leads each year (well, this was the second year), a few sips of pink eggnog and some cookies,, mostly barely-sweet biscotti, I stayed off sweets for the holidays. Sometime in the next couple of weeks I’ll go in and get my A1C checked—a reading that gives a three-month average of your blood sugar load.

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Circles Around a Problem

concentric blue circles

Yet another post in which I borrow shamelessly from the Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft podcast. You really, really, really should listen to it every single week. I don’t actually subscribe to it but just remember, “Oh, it’s Wednesday! Time for Gretch and Liz!”

Anyway, yesterday they were discussing the issue of how to deal with people who are very upset about your problems and so aren’t helpful. A woman had written in earlier saying that she had cancer, and her mother was so devastated about it that it was draining and upsetting for the daughter to be around her. Instead of her mother comforting her, she was having to comfort her mother. So the woman just didn’t want to be around a person who should have been a great help and support.

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The Fragility of Good Habits


I wrote a post recently about Michael Caulfield’s book on health and fitness and mentioned that his ideas on physical fitness, particularly on the need to push yourself, had changed my own exercise routine.  Instead of going on my 3 1/2-mile walk, which I really enjoy, I switched over to do more intense sessions on our exercise bike.  After a week or so of this routine I realized that my knees were killing​ me.  I was going up the stairs like an old lady.  (Nothing against old ladies–I’m going to be one myself someday!)

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Common Sense Is the Key

book cover for The Cure For Everything, showing an apple

The Cure for Everything:  Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness by Timothy Caulfield, Beacon Press, 2012, available in several formats.

​If you have time to read only one book on health this year, I would strongly suggest that it be this one.  Were you to be prone to spend money on dietary supplements, cleanses, homeopathy, or acupuncture (to name a few currently popular fad items), you’d make back the money you spend on this book with all the money you’d save by cutting out your expenses on those totally needless items.

A dear friend from a number of years ago (and in a different state from where we live now) said to me about some nostrum or other, “It totally changes the way your body works.”  Whoa! Do we actually want to do that?  Sounds pretty dangerous to me.  (She was safe in taking whatever-it-was, of course, as it did nothing of the kind.  Cleaned out her wallet, but that’s about it.) Caulfield actually tries out every item he criticizes, so he puts his money where his mouth is.  There’s a hilarious section . . .

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