Friday, December 19, 2014

Videos Like This Make Me Love The Internet

Today's Funny Friday features arguably the very best Christmas dinner video ever.

Have a great weekend!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why Semantics Matter To Food Diaries

Just a quickie on calories and diaries.

As I've mentioned before,
  • People are not walking math formulas whereby if they have 3,500 more or less calories than they burn they'll gain or lose a pound.
  • 3,500 calories of one food or type of food will likely have a different impact on health, hunger, thermic effect, and weight than 3,500 calories of another food or type of food.
  • Different people have different caloric efficiencies whereby they are seemingly able to extract more calories from food or reserves than others and lose weight with more difficulty (and gain with greater ease).
And yet here's the only truth that matters.

From a weight management perspective, the currency of weight is calories. While exchange rates undoubtedly do vary between foods and between individuals, you'll always need your own personal deficit to lose, and surplus to gain.

But "counting" suggests upper limits or ceilings you can't crash. So too do the words, "accountability", and, "honesty" - and yet those words underscore most people's approaches with food diaries.

Food diaries aren't there to tell you whether or not you've been good or bad, how much you're allowed, or how much room is left for dinner. That said, a food diary is for information and while calories certainly aren't the only nutritional determinant of health the fact that they're imperfect doesn't divorce them from having some importance if weight's a concern. The more information you have before you make a decision, the better that decision's likely to be, and in our Willy Wonkian wonderland of food, having more information is a good thing so long you use it as only one piece of a non-judgemental decision.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the smallest number of calories you'll need to enjoy Christmas is likely to be higher than the smallest number you'll need to enjoy today and that if your general food diary practice is to allow non-contextualized calories make you feel badly about yourself when you "go over", there's a good chance that eventually the guilt you'll feel when real life leads you to higher numbers will see you stop considering the numbers altogether.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why Can't We Just Ignore The Irresistible Bullshit?

I do a lot of interviews with the media about fad diets - pretty much all of which with extremely reputable reporters and news outlets.

I do understand the media's job is to sell media and that fad diets, regardless of their efficacy, sustainability or scientific underpinnings, can fairly be described as newsworthy - especially if wildly popular. I also understand that the public has a seemingly insatiable appetite for entertaining the promise of simple solutions to complex problems. But shouldn't there be a limit to the degree of bullshit a reporter will cover?

Sure, reputable reporters and news outlets generally produce balanced pieces explaining why the bullshit is in fact bullshit, but doesn't simply writing the piece, however balanced it may be, suggest there's a discussion to be had in the first place? That there are two sides to consider?

But if one side is just florid, stinking, hogwash wrapped up in the shiny tinsel of hope and tied with the red velvet bow of marketing, does it really deserve to be shot through the megaphone of a media discussion?

I don't know the answer, but I do know that the bullshit is apparently so irresistible it's bulletproof.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why This Holiday Season Should be All-You-Can-Eat

Ok, so the headline's a bit clickbait-y as there's a qualifying word missing.


This holiday season should be all-you-can-thoughtfully-eat, where thoughtfully means asking just two questions before each and every indulgence.

1. Is it worth it?
2. How much do I need to be happily satisfied?

As I've said many times before, food isn't just fuel. As a species we use food for comfort and for celebration and no doubt for most of us, the answers to those two prior questions will be different in December than in January.

And here's a promise. If you don't ask those questions every indulgence will be worth it and you'll have far more of each than you need to be happily satisfied.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 15, 2014

Should Hospital Pharmacies Be Selling Homoeopathic Products?

I've struggled in the past with pharmacies selling nonsense. Invariably I always come back to the fact that pharmacies are businesses like any other and while I would have hoped that ethics would preclude pharmacies from preying on their customers by selling non-evidence based, or worse, proven to be useless bunk, I get that they're in it for the money.

But what about hospital pharmacies? After all, hospitals in Canada are publicly funded, and as such I struggle even more with the notion that the almighty dollar excuses their pharmacies' non-evidence based sale of hope.

That photo up above was taken in the Ottawa Hospital's General campus. The over the counter section in this pharmacy is extremely small (so's the whole pharmacy), and yet even among its very limited selection, there are multiple products that at best can be described as non-evidence based, and at worst as proven to be useless.

So I'm asking, should hospital pharmacies be held to a higher degree of accountability to evidence, and if not, why not?

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ever Wonder Why Someone Doesn't Just Throw Salt on Iceman?

Comedian Pete Holmes did, and him as Professor X. firing Iceman is today's Funny Friday.

Have a great weekend!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 11, 2014

National Geographic's Fat Shaming is Shameful (and Ironic)

Weight bias is everywhere.

For instance yesterday it showed up in a National Geographic special on how our environment shapes our decisions for us.

That photo up above is a still from the special which is teaching those who view it two things that aren't true. Firstly that fat people are lazy. Secondly that stair climbing is associated specifically with weight.

Here's the clip:

Hopefully at least one of the National Geographic producers who green-lit the experiment finds their way here and takes a minute to watch the video I'm posting below of the world class obesity researchers and clinicians who I filmed taking the escalator at a recent obesity conference. That clip pretty clearly demonstrates two things, firstly that taking the escalator over the stairs is a very normal behaviour and not one relegated just to those with obesity, and secondly that I fully agree with National Geographic in that without environmental cues, we don't as a species seek out physical activity when an alternative is readily available regardless of whether or not we know better.

And really, that's what's most staggering (and ironic) about this in that the premise of the National Geographic story is that behaviours like stair climbing vs. escalator riding aren't in fact governed by simple conscious choices and instead are greatly influenced by our environment, yet in their execution of trying to prove that point, and by means of ugly, stereotypical weight bias, they end up suggesting to the public the opposite is true and instead reinforce the message that unlike skinny folks, those with weight clearly, consciously, choose escalators (and sloth as a whole) more often.

[Thanks to my friend and colleague Dr. Sean Wharton for sending my way.]

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Gear Review: The $25 Coffee Maker That'll Free You From Starbucks

3 Aeropresses in action in Vancouver's Revolver Coffee House
[Full disclosure - Not only did I buy this for myself, but I've bought two so that I can have one at home and one at work. No one asked me to write this review.]

It's called an Aeropress and it's amazing.

It makes what some argue to be the world's best cup of coffee, it's dirt cheap, it's bombproof, it travels extremely well, and if used regularly, it'll save you the ridiculous amounts of money and calories that you might otherwise be spending in Starbucks.

It's got such a cult following that there are Aeropress coffee brewing championships held all over the globe exploring the different ways you can use it to brew.

Personally I use the inverted method (as seen in the video below), though I'm not particularly anal about ensuring perfect quantities, timing and temperature and it still tastes great.

I also purchased this 3rd party stainless steel S filter so I never need to buy the paper ones again.

If you'd like one for yourself or as a gift, here's an Amazon Associates link to buy.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Everything is Bull$hit

You can buy this poster here
The sad truth is that healthy living science is nowhere near where the public believes or is told that it is. We just don't have the drilled down specifics of this food vs. that food, or this exercise vs. that exercise, etc.

So what do we know? It's a really safe bet that these 8 behaviours are good for your health:
  1. Cooking foods from fresh whole ingredients and eating them free from distraction
  2. Minimizing restaurant meals
  3. Minimizing consumption of sugary liquids
  4. Drinking alcohol at most in moderation
  5. Exercising as much and as often as you can enjoy
  6. Sleeping well
  7. Cultivating and maintaining friendships
  8. Not smoking
This New Year's resolution season, steer clear of the stupid stuff and focus on as many of those 8 things as you can, because everything else? Everything else is either total but innocent nonsense, too soon to be conclusive hopefulness, genuinely inconsequential minutia, or sheer conflict-of-interest inspired bullshit.

Bookmark and Share