Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Guest Post: A Must-Have Supermarket Coupon App

Today's guest post comes from our office's own RD Rob Lazzinnaro who has found this supermarket coupon app to be invaluable, and for the record, he doesn't know the app designers, nor was he paid or asked to write this review.
As an RD I’m always on the lookout for technology that enhances healthy eating and makes it more accessible and attainable. I believe the Flipp app is just that and an excellent example of how technology can indeed help improve food security and health. I have used this app mostly for grocery shopping but it can be used for other essential & non-essential goods. In essence the app is a flyer that takes searching for deals to the next,awesome, level. The weekly savings that Flipp could provide is potentially enormous, granted folks have easy access to grocery stores or good public transportation, which many unfortunately do not.

Flipp is a free download, and once loaded it will ask your location via postal code. It then takes your postal code and compiles a list of all flyers within the selected radius of your location. You now have access to all available grocery stores flyers (of course some grocers will not have flyers) to browse and find deals.

My first recommendation is while browsing a grocery stores flyer to use the discount slider to highlight items in the flyer that are anywhere from 10-50% off (though this doesn't work for every flyer, as the item needs to quote a discount in the stated price for it to be included in the search).

However the more impressive feature is the ability to search a specific food item in all the flyers. e.g. you want to know if there is a sale on oranges, sweet potatoes or avocados at a grocer near you, done:

To take the feature to another level you can even create a grocery list and it will compile the flyers for each individual item, and you can cross items off the list as you get them.

As a final note, I did end up trying the app for other essential kitchenware, such as a slow cooker and food processor and found some great deals! Every kitchen needs the right tools :)

Check it out here!

*Hat tip to my tech savvy wife for finding Flipp, she knows a good app when she sees one.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Guest Post: A MOOC on Weight Bias with Dr. Sara Kirk? Yes Please!

When my friend, colleague, and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research, Dr. Sara Kirk reached out to let me know that she'll be offering a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on weight bias I immediately asked her if she'd write me a few words about same for Weighty Matters. She graciously agreed.

I last provided a guest post on Weighty Matters in 2013 in which I discussed some of the research happening in the province of Nova Scotia, which explored the dialogue between a person with obesity and their health care providers through drama. This research was published last year and it highlighted the challenges that were experienced on both sides of the therapeutic relationship. It was not that health care providers did not want to support individuals experiencing challenges with weight management. They simply did not know how to do so within the constraints they faced, such as a system that is not structured to support chronic health conditions, and for a health issue for which they receive inadequate training.

This need for more training has led me to develop, in partnership with Dalhousie’s Faculty of Health Professions, my first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), which will be starting on April 20th 2015. A MOOC is a free, open access course that is offered fully online, providing participants with the opportunity to learn about current research and practices in a broad range of topics.

The MOOC, called Behind the Scenes: Addressing Weight Bias and Stigma in Obesity, builds on my research and the dramatic presentation that was created from the findings and will explore some of the personal and professional biases that surround weight management and that impact patient care and experience. I hope to be able to provide participants with an appreciation of the causes and consequences of obesity, and better insight into how to approach individuals experiencing obesity in a respectful and non-judgmental manner. Whether you are a health professional working with individuals seeking weight management support or just interested in learning more about what weight bias is and how it can impact health and relationships, this course will explore bias and stigma in health care and society and provide strategies to build positive and supportive relationships between health care providers and patients.

Participants who complete the course requirements can apply for a citation of completion (for a nominal fee).

For your FREE registration, please visit the course listing and registration page here.

Dr. Sara Kirk is a Canada Research Chair in Health Services and a Professor of health promotion with Dalhousie University's School of Health and Human Performance.

Originally from the UK, she moved to Canada in December 2006, and now heads the Applied Research Collaborations for Health (ARCH) research group. She also holds cross-appointments with Dalhousie's Department of Community Health and Epidemiology and the IWK Health Centre. The focus of her research is on how we can create supportive environments for chronic disease prevention. This includes understanding how obesity is managed within the health setting, as well as understanding the contribution of the “obesogenic” environment to the development of obesity.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Stories: Vitamin D, PBS, and Protein

Kevin Klatt over on his blog Nutrevolve explains why he can't climb aboard the take piles of supplemental Vitamin D train.

Tara Haelle over on Forbes explains why PBS' recent take on vaccination, despite being predominantly steeped in science, was still inexcusably irresponsible.

Lou Schuler on Men's Health questions Dean Ornish' recent New York Times anti-protein op-ed and when you read it, the most important lines in the piece are these two,
"Anyone who’s actually lost weight and kept it off will tell you that a successful diet requires a lot more than a grocery list. In fact, no one in recent years has made a stronger case for full-spectrum lifestyle changes than Ornish himself."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Why Don't You Love Me?

Today's Funny Friday video is about, at least at first, unrequited love.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Make Harry Potter a Teachable Lesson in Fat Shaming

For readers who don't know, I'm the father of 3 young girls. This week I'll be discussing just a smattering of the weight bias teaching they're getting from the world around them. While I catch some of them, I'm sure there are many instances that I'm missing.
I've written about JK Rowling's "Big "Fat" Hypocrisy" on my blog before, and I also wrote about it in my book,
"Harry Potter’s Dudley Dursley's weight is both a constant source of derision and scorn and an identity unto itself. While certainly the Harry Potter series includes other villains who don’t happen to have obesity, the author, J. K. Rowling, uses Dudley’s weight to personify the worst of society’s stereotypes about weight: greed, gluttony, laziness, and stupidity.

My oldest daughter first read Harry Potter at the age of seven, as did many of her peers. Despite the fact that I took the time to sit and chat with her about the way Dudley was written, I still worry about the impact he might have had on her perceptions of children with obesity. My daughter doesn’t struggle with her weight, but what if she did? How do you think a child with weight might react to reading about Dudley? What sort of trauma to body image, food relationship, and self- worth do you think Dudley’s depiction might conjure up for them?
My middle daughter has also recently read Harry Potter and she and I also had a chat about weight bias. No doubt when my baby reads it, I'll be having that same chat again.

Coincidentally, just last week a study about the Harry Potter series was published. Entitled, "The greatest magic of Harry Potter: Reducing prejudice", the study found that reading through the Harry Potter series improved readers' attitudes towards stigmatized groups. Which stigmatized groups? Immigrants, homosexuals, and refugees.

I've written to the lead author and have suggested it might be interesting to repeat the study, but this time look for what the books do to readers' attitudes towards and about those with obesity.

If your children are reading Harry Potter, you might consider using the portrayal of the Dursleys as a teachable moment to explore implicit and explicit weight bias with them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why I Stopped Reading The Princess Bride to My Daughters After Only 146 Words

For readers who don't know, I'm the father of 3 young girls. This week I'll be discussing just a smattering of the weight bias teaching they're getting from the world around them. While I catch some of them, I'm sure there are many instances that I'm missing.
I was excited when my sister-in-law gave us a copy of The Princess Bride. Like pretty much everyone, I adore the movie, and thought it would be great to read the book to my kids by their bedsides.

I didn't make it through a single page.


Here are the first 146 words of The Princess Bride,
"The year that Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette. Annette worked in Paris for the Duke and Duchess de Guice and it did not escape the Duke's notice that someone extraordinary was polishing the pewter. The Duke's notice did not escape the Duchess either, who was not very beautiful and not very rich, but plenty smart. the Duchess set about studying Annette and shortly found her adversary's tragic flaw.


Armed now, the Duchess set to work. The Palace de Guiche turned into a candy castle. Everywhere you looked, bonbons. There were piles of chocolate-covered mints in the drawing rooms, baskets of chocolate-covered nougats in the parlors.

Annette never had a chance. Inside a season, she went from delicate to whopping, and the Duke never glanced in her direction without sad bewilderment clouding his eyes
And so right out of the gate The Princess Bride is teaching kids that obesity is consequent to gluttony, and that gaining weight will lead people to find you unattractive and to never again glance in your direction. Perhaps the rest of the book leaves this creepy, older man leering, and simultaneously fat-shaming narrative behind, but frankly, after those first few paragraphs, I had no desire to find out.

My advice? Stick with the movie.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Scooby Doo's Daphne Cursed to Lose What She Holds Most Dear - Her Figure

For readers who don't know, I'm the father of 3 young girls. This week I'll be discussing just a smattering of the weight bias teaching they're getting from the world around them. While I catch some of them, I'm sure there are many instances that I'm missing.
The movie is called, "Frankencreepy", and it's about a curse that leads the Scooby Doo crew to, as the specter puts it,
"lose what you hold most dear"
What's the most important thing in the world to Daphne?

Her figure.

And now she's cursed to be fat.


Take just a moment and imagine how watching this might make a pre-teen child with overweight or obesity feel about themselves.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Teaching Children to Hate Weight - Johnny Test

For readers who don't know, I'm the father of 3 young girls. This week I'll be discussing just a smattering of the weight bias teaching they're getting from the world around them. While I catch some of them, I'm sure there are many instances that I'm missing.
The episode is called, "Phat Johnny", and it starts off with Johnny Test telling a comic book salesman that he should try a dancing video game for exercise. The salesman, visibly upset, asks Johnny if he's calling him fat and tells him he has a "glandular problem", to which Johnny replies, "you have a fat problem too" leading the salesman to run crying from the store.

Next Johnny is transported to an island where he meets up with his nemesis Bling Bling. His nemesis is fat, and he's working on creating an" abtastic muscle bar" that will both make him muscular and hence attractive to his crush, Johnny's sister Susan. Both he and Johnny eat the bar and muscle up, but when Johnny is transported back to his home instead of muscled he finds himself fat - the bar has malfunctioned. His best friend Dukey (a dog), recoils in horror on seeing him, and when Johnny sees his new fat self in a mirror, he screams in horror at the reflection.

Johnny heads back to the island to see Bling Bling where he's told that it'll take a long time to fix because the lab technicians all ate the bars too and they're all fat now too and as an apparent consequence, they're also now all klutzy idiots who fall down when they inadvertently bump into each others' stomachs.

Johnny, desperate, asks if he can take monkey growth hormone to help slim him down and his nemesis says not to be ridiculous and instead places Johnny in his mom's girdle.

Johnny gets ejected from the girdle (by the force of his exploding fat), and that launches him back into the teleporter and then back to the comic book store where upon landing a kid points at him and says, "Hey look at Test, he's fat, and that's with an 'f', not a 'ph'" and then all the other kids laugh.

Next Johnny heads home to see his sisters. They're geniuses. He's hoping they can help. They laugh and point at him when he walks in the door. They describe Johnny's problem as, "a big problem, emphasis on big". Their plan is to make Johnny look cool even though he's fat. The plan works. He becomes "Phat Johnny" and raps about his fatness. Then the show cuts to him in his dressing room eating gluttonously.

Next they reiterate the overarching theme of the episode - Johnny made fun of a fat guy and made him sad, and so karma made Johnny a fat guy and now he's sad.

So Johnny does something nice and donates money to a cat shelter, and then gets mad at karma for not "fixing" him.

Ultimately Johnny gets teleported back to the island where he uses the bottle of monkey growth hormone to get thin again.

The end.

So what do you think this episode taught kids who watched?

Oh, and Johnny Test, according to Wikipedia,
"it ranked as the #1 broadcast program in Girl 2-11 (garnering 2.2/10), and ranked as the #2 broadcast series in Kids 2-11 (gaining 2.3/11 in the process) and Girls 6-11 (2.4/11), and ultimately ranking #3 in Kids 6-11 (receiving 3.0/14). Its second season received a slightly more number of viewers in average in the United States: 2.6 million viewers per 2nd season episode. Its 3rd season's average number of viewers in the United States was 3.1 million viewers. Its 4th season got an average number of viewers of about 4.3 million viewers per episode in the United States. Its 5th premiere attracted over 4.7 million viewers in the United States."
And it airs in over 75 countries and 19 languages.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Feline Hypnotherapy Session

Today's Funny Friday involves a combination kitty masseuse/hypnotherapist.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What I Learned Actually Reading That New Diet Soda Waist Gain Study

I'll cut right to the chase.

If you're going to conclude that diet soda consumption is linked to weight gain and increased abdominal circumference you'd damn well better control for diet as a whole given that diet beverage consumption may simply be a marker for people who eat more indulgent foods and think, erroneously, that choosing the diet pop with their mega combo will somehow protect their weights and waists, and because there is no known plausible mechanism for a direct link. This study didn't.

This new paper has made international news, and as you might imagine, that critical methodological shortcoming up above, is missing from much of the coverage and certainly all of the headlines including this Dr. Sanjay Gupta tweet which included a graphic and a teaser and was sent out to his nearly 2 million followers:
Honestly, that researchers would feel comfortable publishing a study with the end points of weights and waists, and not control for diet and caloric intake, is just mind boggling. Seeing the study published also makes me wish for more transparency in peer review. Would love to know who thought this was publishable as is.

(and for the conspiracists out there, I don't consult for, or own shares in, any artificial sweetener or soda company, and I think we should be striving for less sweet as a whole, including from artificial sweeteners, but I'm also for evidence based recommendations, peer review, and media coverage)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When RDs Include Coca-Cola on Their List of Good Snack Ideas Who Pays?

A few days ago AP reporter Candice Choi covered the story of RDs who as part of a Coca-Cola funded black history month campaign, included Coca-Cola on their list of healthy/smart snack options which ultimately led to this from The Onion,

The Coke loving RDs, Robyn Filipse and Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, stand by their recommendations and to paraphrase from Choi's piece, reject the notion that being paid by Coca-Cola is/was an influence.

This past week also saw the sale of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kids Eat Right logo to Kraft to place on their "pasteurized processed cheese product" Kraft Singles - much to the chagrin on many RDs. That move even hit The Daily Show where Jon Stewart took aim,
and where according to Andy Bellatti (I haven't seen the episode yet), Stewart skewered the Academy with this zinger,

In short, it hasn't been a great week optically for RDs, and many of my RD friends have expressed their frustration that the actions of a few, or of their organizations, are casting shadows on their profession. I don't disagree, and am rooting for this petition, started by 3 frustrated RDs to not only "repeal the seal", but also to further what seems to be a much needed discussion about public-private programs, policies, and partnerships and whether or not they help or harm, their profession as a whole.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sugar Reduced Juice May Well Be Less Bad, But it Sure Ain't Good

From the there's a world of difference between "healthier" and "less bad" comes SunRype's new Frullo line of partially sweetened with Stevia juices.

Now, instead of spoiling your palate with a glass of intensely sweet sugar water containing 5 teaspoons of sugar a glass you can spoil it with a glass of intensely sweet sugar water with 3 teaspoons of sugar a glass.

So yes, drop for drop it's less bad, but less bad is definitely not the same as good - especially if drinking the less bad stuff leads you to believe that because it's less bad you can have it more often, or pour more of it.

Fruit can only be eaten. Juice is not fruit.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kraft Supports Kids Eat Right So "Proudly" They'll Pay to Tell You So

For those who have yet to hear or see, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) has sold Kraft the right to use their Kids Eat Right logo on the front of packages of Kraft Singles - a "Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product".

AND has said, I kid you not, that the seal doesn't indicate that they've endorsed Kraft Singles, but rather that Kraft is a "proud supporter" of AND's Kids Eat Right program, and that in fact Kraft's purchase of that right is an advertisement from Kraft for the program Kraft supports so proudly.

I wonder what other proudly supporting companies want to advertise for AND on the fronts of their products? I'd bet there are plenty. Who wouldn't want to support such a great cause?

Given the various statements from AND I can only surmise that there aren't any criteria for companies who want to philanthropically proudly support and advertise for AND's Kids Eat Right program on the fronts of their packages because if there were criteria to be met, well that would mean there's an approval process, which in turn would mean products would require AND's sanction for the right to advertise Kids Eat Right, which of course is the very definition of an endorsement.

[If you're an RD and you'd like to write a letter of concern about this partnership to an AND delegate, the group Dietitians for Professional Integrity published a sample letter and links to the AND email directory on their Facebook page over the weekend.]

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Stories: Soda Taxes, Biracial Identity, Pseudoskepticism, and Cancer

Steve Holt explains that of course soda taxes don't work on their own.

Jenée Desmond-Harris writes a primer on what people need to know about being biracial.

Michael Shermer wants you to know that just because we don't know everything doesn't mean we know nothing.

And if you haven't yet watched Vice's cancer special, find 45 minutes this weekend to do so. Even if it is just a narrow slice of what's happening in cancer, it's both remarkable and exciting - be prepared for some goosebumps.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Are You Sure You Want to Know What Your Dog's Thinking?

Today's Funny Friday video makes a pretty convincing case that you don't.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why Advertising Even Healthful Foods to Children May Carry Risk

If you're not aware, there was a recent announcement of a new program entitled FNV, the aim of which is to aggressively market fruits and vegetables to kids.

The pros and cons of this idea were recently virtually debated by Casey Hinds (she's not a fan) and Bettina Seigel (she is a fan). I think both make great arguments, though I side with Casey, I think it's a bad idea.

And while I agree with all of Casey's argument, especially her concerns around juice, I want to add another to the mix. Seeing photos of food, any food, causes the release of ghrelin, one of our bodies' primary hunger hormones. In turn this may help to explain the findings of one study that looked at advergames and children and how even when the advergames promoted fresh fruits and vegetables, the outcome for the kids playing them was an overall energy intake increase - not exactly a great plan for a country struggling with childhood obesity.

While I'm all for children consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in the place of junk and fast food, I just can't wrap my head around the notion that adding more food advertising to our kids' lives is going to help. I think kids (and adults frankly), would be far better off if they weren't being continually being told to eat and shown photographs of luscious foods (healthy or otherwise) given these advertisements may well be physiologically priming them for larger portions, and regardless of what's being advertised, indulgent cravings.

And out of curiosity, is anyone aware of any data on the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables for the average kid in America? Does the average household have fresh fruits and vegetables at all times? Are they readily available in schools and arenas?

All that said, fingers crossed the program has wonderful outcomes, and that my concerns lack merit.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The DIET Score - What Every Weight Loss Study Needs

By Jon Rawlinson (The Long Road Ahead) [CC BY 2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Re-upping/tweaking this post from 2012 as I'm not aware of anyone having taken me up on the idea, and rightly or wrongly, I think it would add value to weight loss literature were someone to take it on.
Most diet studies stink. They stink for a pile of reasons not the least of which are their generally short or medium term durations. Given the real trial is keeping the weight off, these short and medium term studies' value added are small in that short term losses in no way, shape, or form guarantee their long term maintenance. Given that people seem capable of putting up with the most god-awful and inane diets around, being able to put up with a study protocol for a few months seems a given, so too does the fact that if someone loses an extreme amount of weight in a short period of time, they're not likely to gain it all back before the conclusion of even a medium term diet study.

Now I realize that research dollars don't materialize out of thin air, and that the likelihood is that good idea or not, we're still not going to see an automatic shift from short term, to long term data reporting. To that end, I'd like to offer a potential work around.

Before I get to it, some non-evidence based experiential theory,
If you don't like the life you're living while you're losing weight you're almost certainly going to gain it back
The ability of a body to gain weight isn't something that's "curable", and therefore if weight's the outcome being measured, treatment must be continued forever if its results are to be maintained. If treatment's too much of a misery, if the diet's too strict, too sparse, too confusing, too anything, well I'm betting its results aren't going to be too lasting.

Even more simply put,
Weight lost through suffering will likely be regained
So if my purported truisms are in fact true, why is it the that I have never seen any consideration of dietary quality of life in a weight loss study's methodology and evaluation?

The way I see it, if there were a measure with which dietary satisfaction could be evaluated, even if it's a short term study, you might get a sense as the liveability of the diet and the lastability of its affects. If everyone in the study felt the intervention was a misery you might gather there'd be a damn good chance the intervention won't be long lasting. On the other hand, if the majority reported an intervention as being enjoyable, you might think more folks will continue with it long term.

So I'd like to propose the Diet Index Enjoyability Total (DIET) score whereby using a series of simple Likert scales (descriptive scales from 1-10), researchers could set out to evaluate a particular weight loss approach's DIET score where high scores might represent lives that could actually be enjoyed and low scores the usual under-eating, over-exercising, highly restrictive, quality of life degrading, misery that are most modern day diets. Ideally these scores would be gathered during a diet's early days (the honeymoon period), but also at intervals up to two years out to ensure that data are collected long after the scale stops whispering sweet nothings in a person's ears.

What sorts of "enjoyability" items could be scored?
  • Hunger
  • Cravings
  • Feelings of fullness/satisfaction
  • Need to cook special meals for other family members
  • Ability to still eat out with friends and family
  • Energy levels and feelings of general well-being
  • Complexity of dietary requirements
  • Dietary flexibility vs. monotony
  • Rigidity of dietary requirements (ie forbidden foods/food groups and impact on quality of life)
  • Expense/cost of dietary requirements (ie expensive foods, supplements, etc.)
10 items yielding a score of 100. Now scores wouldn't necessarily correlate with degree of loss, but I'd be willing to wager, the higher the score, the greater the long term utility of the diet which might well matter more than the amount of initial loss. This of course could be studied in turn, and if validated, included as a descriptor for all studies' diet protocols.

Any of my obesity researcher readers willing to take this on?  I'll happily help!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coca-Cola Aggressively Targets "Kids" With New Powerade Campaign

In its very slogan, Coca-Cola's new Powerade campaign, "Just a Kid From Chicago" announces the ad's target market.

From a selling sugar water perspective, it's truly a great ad and kids are going to love it. It features Tupac Shakur's voice reading his powerful poem The Rose that Grew from Concrete over scenes of a kid chugging a Powerade for breakfast before hopping on his bicycle to pedal away from his home in Chicago's inner city, to culminate with the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose giving one hell of a visual shout out to the "power" of the product being shilled.

"Don't ask me why, ask me how" says Tupac just as we see Rose lifting up a 20oz bottle of Powerade and taking a swig. Then the ad fades to black.

That's one crystal clear message.

Coca-Cola knows it too, and while they'll likely claim that kids over 12 aren't definable as kids any more and are therefore fair targets, clearly I don't agree.

It would seem Rose doesn't agree either, at least about the target market not being kids that is, and he sure does know the value of his personal brand. Here's what Rose himself had to say in the ad's extended edition,
"As long as I can reach one kid, that's fine with me. I know there's one little kid out there that's watching every move that I make, so me always knowing that I just try to make sure I watch where I step, watch what I say"
Mr. Rose, in my opinion, you just failed at that job. Little kids, big kids, and I'd venture somewhere in the neighbourhood of 99% of grown ups will never have any need for any sort of sport drinks, let alone one that packs just shy of a staggering 14 teaspoons of added sugar per that very same bottle you swig from in the commercial. And if you're curious about what's actually in that bottle, here's my very rough home made version of same from about 3 years back.

Monday, March 09, 2015

"Low-Carb" Diets, Peer Review Failure, The Media, and Us.

A few months ago a study was published in JAMA entitled, "Effects of High vs Low Glycemic Index of Dietary Carbohydrate on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and Insulin Sensitivity: The Omni Carb Randomized Clinical Trial" and it proved to be interesting and important enough for the New York Times to cover it with Anahad O'Connor's piece, "Questioning the Idea of Good Carbs, Bad Carbs".

O'Connor's coverage is solid, and if you're curious about the study's results, and don't feel like reading the full text (also linked up above), have a click, but my question is simple. Is there a problem with discussing "low-carb" diets when the diets themselves aren't in fact low-carb?

I think there is.

The New York Times rightly highlighted the fact that really the study was of the impact of glycemic index. But have a peek at MedpageToday's (a newswire read by many MD's), headline, "OmniCarb Study: Cutting Carbs No Silver Bullet"And I don't blame MedpageToday for it either given that the study itself describes one of their diet arms as "low carbohydrate".

But a diet containing 40% of calories coming from carbs to me anyhow, just isn't fairly describable as "low-carb", and yet that's what Omni Carb's "low-carb" arm contained.

Sometimes too, unlike this study, there are times when while the diet prescribed is low-carb, but the adherence to it isn't, and yet the authors still report their findings as if they pertain to the prescribed, rather than the consumed, diet.

Given the battle lines that are drawn around dietary dogma, and that many don't read beyond headlines, I think it would be great if there were some agreed upon "low" nomenclature. If diets must be labeled as "low-carb", or "low-fat", is there no way to ensure that journals won't allow such descriptors if the diets that were actually consumed (let alone prescribed), don't in fact meet some very basic and even conservative definition of "low"?

So what should the cut-off be? I asked on Twitter and there wasn't any clear consensus. But for what it's worth, a recent low-carb review paper published by Richard Feinman et al. in Nutrition defined "low" carb as being either fewer than 130g of daily carbohydrates, or a diet whereby carbohydrates contribute less than 26% of total daily calories (thanks @RobertOhMD for pointing me to it). Both values sound fair to me. What say you?

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Age Old Battle Between Cat and Printer

Today's Funny Friday video has foul language - be forewarned.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

An Apology to Carolyn Kallio

In the earlier days of this blog I once wrote a piece that was highly critical of the very pro-beef messages being put forward by then Beef Information Centre registered dietitian Carolyn Kallio.

My view on beef at the time was that it carried with it more risk than I now think the evidence actually supported. I don't think I took enough time to read the red meat studies with sufficiently critical glasses and instead trusted others' opinions without doing my own truly due diligence. At the time I was concerned about increased cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease risks with red meat consumption, and while there may well be some slight risks to red meat not shared by other protein sources (especially with processed red meats), my take was overblown.

I've written more positive pieces on red meat since then (including this one on how it's almost certainly not going to kill you if consumed moderately), and I think too for the most part my writing style has softened over the years, and while I can't change the past, I can correct it.

Carolyn, I'm sorry. I was wrong both in how I interpreted the literature, and also in how I wrote about your work, and I have deleted that post from my blog.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

You Can't Teach Yourself Not to Fall

Truly, falling happens.

Whatever it is you're trying to do with your life - improve health, nurture relationships, parent better, lose weight, cook more, improve fitness, run faster - the fact of the matter is, sometimes you're going to suck at it, sometimes you're going to fall.

Getting mad at yourself that something inevitable happened, well that's not very helpful.

Instead of spending time and mental energy on being upset that you fell, instead focus your attention on getting back up.

Easiest question to help you to do so?

"What can I do today that will help?", and then do it.

Falling down doesn't matter. All that matters is that you get back up.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Why You Should Aim to be Diligent, not Militant

Further to my post from yesterday, if you focus on remaining diligent, not militant, you've got a shot.

Regularly, thoughtfully, diligently, asking questions like, "is it worth it?", when considering dietary indulgences, and then following up with, "how much of it do I need to be happily satisfied?", rather than militantly, blindly, saying "No", and you'll have a far better chance of longterm thoughtful reduction.

All or nothing lifestyle changes might start off with a well-intentioned "all", but almost invariably lead people back to an all-encompassing, "nothing".

Monday, March 02, 2015

Why I'm Not Fazed by Long Term Weight Management Stats

Image Source
It's no secret that I believe modern day dieting is broken.

Traditionally it has relied on extremes of restriction, under-eating, over-exercising, and cultivating lives that often at best are describable as merely tolerable.

Not only are these regularly extreme approaches the ones that society has adopted, but they're also often the approaches that medicine has studied.

Is it no wonder then that long-term weight management has proven itself to be elusive?

Expecting people to live lives where food can't serve to provide comfort and pleasure, where guilt and shame are meant to shape decisions, where fighting hunger with distraction is encouraged, where reality is ignored - go figure the long term stats stink.

We need new goalposts. Where goals aren't number based, where the healthiest life you can enjoy is the aim, where food retains its ability to provide comfort and celebration, where our personal bests are considered great, and where like everything else in our lives, we're comfortable with the fact that our personal bests will vary - both between individuals, and even within individuals.

Ultimately if your diet gives your life the finger, don't be surprised if you eventually tell that diet to kiss off.