Saturday, December 18, 2010

Subsidizing & why I think it's awful.

Right now it's evident to me that the 3 most subsidized, hence processed, foods in the US today are soy, wheat, and corn.

For soy, it's quite obviously in the form of soy protein, soy lecithin, and soybean oil. God, I can't stand the prevalence of soybean oil in the food supply. It's what most bagged, fried snacks are fried with, it's the basis of margarine aka "fake butter," and it's often used as a replacement for natural fats because it's cheap. Try to find a bottled salad dressing without soybean oil. Now, a margarine. Now, a mayonnaise. It's in, the damn, peanut butter. The peanut butter?! The peanut butter.

For wheat, the prevalence is a bit more obvious if you thought about it long enough. Go to any chain grocery store. Look at how big the dairy aisle is, the meat, the produce. Now look at the bread aisle. The bakery that isn't the bread aisle (you KNOW there's both.) The cookies, the crackers, the cakes, the cereal, and breakfast bars. Agh, good lord, it's everywhere! Try to compare the sheer SIZE of food groups or types in a grocery store, and wheat has a much larger chunk of any store than it should. While my favorite low-carb snacks, including almonds and jerky? Tiny. No, it's chips, chips, chips in the snack aisle, with their soybean oil... And honestly how many different types of crackers can a store possibly have?!?!!??@Q#%?W$Q&WT

Ahem, sorry.

Finally, one of the most popular and demonized of the three, is the corn. Ohhh the lovely corn, and the high fructose corn syrup. It's now the nation's most prevalent sweetener. Anything with sugar, even without sugar, has HFCS. Soda? Um, duh. Cookies? Forget about it. Ice cream? Of course. That 'healthy' flavored yogurt? Yup. Spaghetti sauce? Sure! Ketchup? Yessir. 90% of bagged bread? Why the hell not.

Jarred dill pickles.
Jarred. Dill. Pickles.
Oh yeah, it's in there. As well as other products I just haven't found yet. It's in almost everything! Why is it in everything? Subsidies. You make a food prevalent and cheap enough, it won't just be everywhere around you when you shop, it'll be processed. What bugs me the most about subsidized processed food like this, is that it's not even being used to it's full potential. You take acres of corn, wheat, or soy crops, and process it into a tiny amount of sugar, flour, or soybean oil. You concentrate all this actually useful food, and not eat it whole on it's own, but extract sugar from corn, or processed low-fiber flour from wheat, or fat from soybeans. Fat from soybeans? Does this make sense? The grain is so cheap now, they're feeding it to livestock. You have corn in the beef!

It's like how some people have an issue with fruit or vegetable juicing, taking a whole large apple, putting it into a machine, and extracting the sugar and some vitamins, and tossing away the fiber and pulp and flesh and skin of the fruit. To me, subsidized processed food has the same problem.

This whole subject came up today in a conversation I had, where I was asked, if I wanted to change the nutrition and diet world on it's head, how would I go about it? And if anything, this cheapened, processed, overly prevalent crap should definitely go first.

As far as subsidizing the right food, I honestly don't know. I mean I'm all for making good food cheaper, but what might happen? Will we end up with partially hydrogenated spinach oil, or high fructose apple syrup? Soy, and corn, and maybe even wheat alone are not evil after all, but they are after being put through chemical extraction processes. Maybe if subsidies were used more responsibly than they are now, could they be used for better purposes. Subsidize the grass so the livestock can eat it's natural diet, and grass-fed dairy and beef won't be an expensive underground product for people in big cities or people with internet shopping privileges, would be first priority for me. Put more subsidies into fisherman of wild fish, into other natural foods like nuts, so even the families of 6 with foreclosed houses, can't look at a tub of nuts or a salmon filet and say they're too expensive of foods, and go for soybean oil fried poofed corn balls, or the dinner of cheap white pasta or bread, and subsidized wheat cupcakes with HFCS instead, which, in the end, will only leave them hungry.

Even if we were to try and put this plan of responsible subsidies (Or "responsidies" =D) into action, how would one go about it? Would we go around like PETA, giving out flyers, educating people, making a website, gaining followers, and going to congress? Would we make an online club of people, with blogs and interviews? It's not something I've given thought of as how to execute a plan of, "responsidies."

It's certainly something to think about. Now it's 1am, I believe it's time for sleep.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The stuff I eat now, and the stuff I ate then.

I suppose a collection of the foods I now eat is in order, as well as what changed.

Before, I would actually typically eat a sandwich for breakfast, due to the fact that cereal really didn't appeal to me, and neither did eggs. I ended up eating either a lunch or dinner food for breakfast. Honestly I didn't eat potatoes very often because I wasn't a huge fan of fries or potato chips, thank God. Another odd thing was I was never a big cereal or toast eater. Probably because Mom brought home such appetizing delights as "Shredded wheat and bran, unfrosted" and "Grape nuts flakes." Eugh. Although I must say, large bowls of the sugary carb bomb that is "Maple frosted mini wheats" Did end up being a few breakfasts here and there.

I LOVED sandwiches. Soft bread, juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce, creamy mayonnaise, zesty mustard... meaty meat and cheesey cheese! I mean do we really need adjectives to describe how good meat and cheese are anyway? I don't think so. The only food that really was the bane of my existence was..... pasta. I, could eat, pasta, all, day, long. And not just some dinky little cupful. The bowls of pasta I would eat could fit a basketball inside of them. And here's the kicker, I somehow felt like snacking shortly after my endorphins were throughly extorted through pounds of white flour, tomato sauce, and cheese. Mmmmm.

Pasta still is pretty tempting for me when I'm asked to make it for dinner. Along with bread, cake, canned soup, and sweet, sweet cans of corn. I'd just drain and heat the whole can and eat it plain. But now that I can happily include more fatty meats and dairy into my diet, I'm learning to be thankful for that and saying no to the foods that just make me hungry again.

Now I'm actually using the skillet most everyday, if not multiple times a day. Everything is either fried with olive or coconut oil, or butter.

Often times for dinner I throw frozen vegetables, chicken or steak meat, and a few eggs in a wok.

I've actually learned how to make eggs appetizing without drowning them in ketchup or salsa.

I also have adopted the fried burger patty, along with turkey or beef sausages and turkey bacon. If I can find them, I buy lunch meat with the fat still in it. It's a rare find.

As far as cheese, I try to find the realest cheese walmart can offer me, since 90% of the family's groceries are bought there. Cheese with actual names, like cheddar, provolone, and monterey jack.

I still sometimes enjoy a very large salad, this time with slices of turkey or a few chunks of chicken breast, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maybe some parmesan.

I still enjoy canned vegetables, as well as frozen, but they're green now, such as peas, asparagus, spinach, and green beans, all with a good amount of butter.

Avocados are amazing on just about everything, and I'm learning how to incorporate sweet potatoes into my diet as well.

As far as vitamin D milk, it's something I've almost always had ever since I was a kid. Skim milk was only a phase to me and I thank low-carb for giving me back my milk. Not only that, I also dribble some heavy cream into my milk now, so it almost feels like a snack instead of a beverage. I now like to sip off the half n half, as well.

Sometimes I'll try to replace bread in a food with a vegetable. Salami snack crackers? Cucumber slices with salami. Crackers scooping cream cheese? Carrots scooping cream cheese. Sandwich? Lettuce wrap.

As far as fruits, there isn't a lot of variety. I'll have to begin buying more berries to pour heavy cream over, because the typical fruits here are bananas, apples, maybe peaches and pears. I'll have one of these every day or so. After low-carbing strictly for about a week, an apple tastes that much more amazing.

As far as beverages, I was never a big soda drinker. With how much diet soda my family buys, you'd think it was a staple. I do have those every so often, along with hot cups of tea, Maxwell house international sugar free decaf, and no sugar added hot chocolate. If anything is sweetened, it's typically done with organic stevia extract.

And that's just about everything. The most important thing for me now though, is that I don't see whole wheat bread, fibrous cereal, corn, potatoes, or whole wheat pasta as "healthy" anymore. If I indulge in these foods, as I'm almost 17 now and not on a strict diet, I know now that they aren't doing anything healthful for me now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's interesting to me: How I got started in nutrition

My name is Sarah Czipowski, I was born in early 1994, and this is my first post on my low-carb blog.

I'm very passionate and interested in this subject and hope to post often about low-carb diets and why they make sense to me.

I might as well make my first post about how I got started.

When I was about 13 I started to get interested in diet, basically as every teenage girl does. I was a very skinny child and am a normal-sized teenager now (5'10" 145), but as I went about the diet and nutrition world online I kept hearing about how in your 20's or 30's, your metabolism suddenly slows down to a crawl, and suddenly you're overweight and struggling like hell to get the extra fat off. Of course I didn't want this to happen, so off I started into the diet and nutrition world, trying to find and learn good healthy diet and exercise habits to take with me into adulthood to, at least, lessen the impact of the impending "metabolism meltdown."

I've been homeschooled my entire life, so of course in junior high and highschool I began to choose more nutrition-directed elective classes. In one of these homeschools, you get shipped a box with many CDs with videos on them to help you with your studies. Y'know, the ones that look like they were filmed in the 70s with bad acting. One that actually stood out to me was one that, obviously, pushed the mainstream, low-fat, moderate exercise dogma as a healthy lifestyle. It included doctors in white coats, people in a gym, and random clips of people scraping the sauce off of their burgers and peeling the skin from their chicken. One of the characters in the video was a stereotypical grumpy fat gym-teacher in a cap and sweats. When the kids observed his lunch of a cheeseburger, they whipped out a menu and pointed out there were so many grams of fat in that slice of cheese, was it really worth it?

That's when it hit me. No, the fat isn't worth it! What is a slice of cheese compared to having a healthy body? Nothing! So from then on I began to read labels, count calories, avoid foods with high amounts of fat, eat turkey, tomato, and mustard sandwiches with skim milk and lowfat yogurt. I exclaimed to my mom, "Yeah, mom! All of the calories in this mayonnaise come from fat! You might as well spread pure fat on your sandwich!"

And then began my quest-like trek to find the perfect diet, the diet no one could get fat on, the diet I couldn't screw up. I had considered like a bad observational scientist, who was stereotypically thin and considered adopting that diet. Not as a teen living off that my parents shop for, but one I'd embrace once I'd left the nest, lived on my own, and bought my own food. I'd considered vegetarian, vegan, organic, asian.. All of the diets proclaim by low-fat spokesmen to be "the best," "the easiest," and "fool proof." Of course, the only reason why is because people looked at vegans and asians saying "Oh, they're thin, let's just adopt their diet willy nilly."

The only thing I could do as a teen living off my parents' food however, is count my calories, avoid fat, and exercise. I got a nifty little online calorie counter and made sure to count everything. One of the issues with calorie restricted diets is, of course, you end up obsessed with the counting. You write journals, you don't touch snacks you can't count, you research to the T how many calories are in a food.

Something I always noticed if I began my day with a high-carb, starchy breakfast of cereal or toast, was within the hour I'd get the most intense food cravings. It wasn't physical hunger I could feel, but something I almost felt in my head that I wanted food so badly. For me, if I feel stress or cravings or any emotion strongly enough, it seems to become a tingling in my head of some sort, which worsens if I try to control such emotions.

"Aha! This is a test! I'm not physically hungry, but I want to eat! I must show my self control and not eat." I thought. I tried to ignore the feeling, snap a rubber band on my wrist, play a game, read, study, something to get my mind off of food. But eventually, I couldn't take it anymore, I had to cave in. I'd eat a sandwich when I didn't feel physical hunger. And I beat myself up for it. "They're right! People eat too much and have no self control!" At the end of the day, a satisfied tummy ended up being over 2200 calories. "I'm doomed. At 25 I'm going to be a fat girl everyone judges," so thought my shallow teenage brain.

So I kept on trucking, eating high-carb, low-fat foods and feeling the endless cravings, trying to wait until I was physically hungry, and failing. It came to the point one day I hated myself so much for what I did, I went through a phase of starving the fat off. That's another story in and of itself, and thankfully I recovered from my underweight state unscathed, but looking back it scares me how close I was to an eating disorder.

As I continued to look into diets, low-carb wasn't something I'd considered. The only person I knew who was low-carb dieting was my friend's mother, "D." At the time I thought it was some strange, underground, bohemian thing that rebels used, and hence couldn't possibly be healthy. I had no idea how it worked, or why. I just kept taking the skin off my chicken and occasionally eating a burger with no cheese or mayonnaise.

One day on YouTube, the website which is the equivalent of cocaine, I fell across a channel called "fatheadmovie," and saw a few video titles that peaked my interest. "Why you got fat." "Big fat lies." Hmmm.... I watched the videos on the channel, and was, frankly, confused at first. What does blood sugar have to do with your diet? Insulin? I thought that was a medicine for diabetics (d'oh.)

I decided to get the movie. It felt to me like a "Low-carb for dummies" movie. This new perspective on fat and whole grains was strange, new, and exciting for me. I finally understood how it worked, why, and why people did it. Now looking at it biologically, a lot of it made obvious sense.
"Well of COURSE natural foods like eggs and meat contain fat."
"Well, of COURSE we've been eating these foods for millions of years."
"Well.... of COURSE we've only eaten bread for a small fraction of that time."
"Well....... of COURSE omnivorous mammals don't eat grain."
"Well........... of COURSE livestock are fed grain to get fatter."
Wait a minute. Hold the phone. Rewind. Hormones and body functions and our brain are dependent on fat? This guy lost shit-tons of weight eating mostly protein and fat? All carbohydrates are made of sugar? Blood sugar spikes insulin, which in turn stores fat fervently and causes hunger? Grain spikes blood sugar as much as, or worse than sugar does? The first fat-heart disease association study was skewed? A few random people in the government who liked low-fat diets decided to put out eating guidelines for everyone BEFORE substantial evidence was published? Research scientists who aren't pro-low-fat can lose their salary and their jobs? Half of heart attack victims have normal or low cholesterol? Saturated fat makes good cholesterol, and carbs make bad cholesterol?
.... What the hell, man.

And interviews, podcasts, books and blogs later, here I am now.
... The end.