Happy Thanksgiving!

College student explains the Thanksgiving sleepiness.

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Here’s wishing my  readers that celebrate it a happy thanksgiving.  I know I for one am thankful for the break; these past few weeks have been punching my dick into oblivion with all the classwork.  For everyone else readers, well, happy Thursday to you.

One thing people believe about their upcoming meal of turkey and all the other foods out there is that the turkey meat knocks you into a coma.  It makes sense.  When do a lot of people eat turkey meat?  Thanksgiving.  But, what if I was to say that this thought process is wrong, and it seems to be more the meat is at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The theory on the Post-Thanksgiving Meal Coma is that turkey is high in the amino acid, L-Tryptophan.  Tryptophan (in biochemical terms, the “L” simply means if it is facing one way or another) is a precursor to serotonin and melanin.  Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps regulate things like appetite, sleeping, and mood.  Melanin is the neurotransmitter responsible for sleep cycle regulation.  So here is where the misconception is.  Everyone knows turkey is high in tryptophan, which means that eating it causes your body to produce more sleepy-time chemicals.  Case solved, let’s go get hella wasted.  But not so fast, Capt. Drunko, there is more to this case than association.

Foods high in tryptophan include red meat and cheese.  Basically foods that are in almost every single meal in America.  Which is odd, because by that logic, people who eat a cheeseburger should be passing out once they eat their meal.  Huh, interesting.  So after all that biochemical bullshit using words I learned in my biochemistry class, that was NOT the reason why people get sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner?

Well, there is actually a very simple reason that might have been overlooked.  We really need to get to the heart of this.  Or actually, more like the cardiac sphincter.  As in the stomach.  You see, digestion requires energy.  The stomach and intestines actually have muscles that need blood.  When you consume a lot of food, there is a lot of blood needed in this area, and not in others, like your skeletal muscles.  What is a good way to make sure more blood goes to the gut, and not anywhere else?  Immobilize the person.  So essentially, the reason you get tired is because you ate too much.  Kinda interesting to think about, right?

This is Halloween: The Scariest Thing About Today

In the midst of current events, what is one thing a nutrition student thinks is “scary?”

Happy Halloween everyone!  Hopefully everyone has a safe holiday, whether you are Trick-or-Treating, or going to another drinking party, or even staying home watching horror movies or playing horror games.  Or even not celebrating Halloween, that’s fine too, I guess.

In life there are many fears.  There’s the fear of things like climate change, the upcoming United States election, failing college courses and having to retake them etc.  Well, one thing you should really fear is the Halloween candy.

An article posted on Harvard’s blog page highlighted a study they conducted, and it showed that those who consumed larger amounts (25% or more of daily Calories) of added sugar were twice as likely to die of heart disease than those who ate a lower amount of added sugar in their diet.

Sugar is also “empty” Calories, meaning that foods with higher amounts of added sugar (think candy or soda) often contain very little nutrients, like vitamins and minerals.  Diets with larger amounts of Calories than your body can burn can often lead to obesity, which the American Heart Association cites as a risk factor for heart disease.

Added sugars also increase the risk for dental carries, aka cavities.  The presence of sugar gives the bacteria naturally in your mouth something to “eat,” which causes them to release acids that break down tooth enamel.  Once the tooth decays into the deeper parts of the tooth, it can be very painful.

Now, I am not saying it is bad to celebrate and to eat Halloween candy.  It is a celebration, after all.  Plus, candy does taste good.  What I am saying is to keep it in moderation.  Plus, there are better things to worry about, like the upcoming US election, climate change, grades in college classes etc. than getting heart disease later in life.

So what do you guys think?  Anyone with experience dealing with heart disease patients, or coming up with dietary plans reducing added sugar for health reasons not listed (like diabetes)?

AP/EP: What does this even mean?

A look at what the abbreviations AP and EP are, their application, as well as a bad AC/DC pun that does not work so well.

I made this title a certain way because I wanted to explain more in the actual article, as well as to make a bad AC/DC pun, because to me, AP/EP sounds similar, based on the ending sounds of “C” and “P.”  But I digress.

Let me explain what “AP” means first.  AP stands for as purchased.  Now, this one is pretty explanatory, but I will continue to explain, because that’s what I do.  Imagine going to your favorite grocery store, and picking up some ingredients for dinner.  Or lunch.  Or whatever, that’s not the important part.  Let’s say that you bought some oranges, for your secret family recipe of putting oranges on top of some bread.  You bought a pound of the fuckers for $1.49, because I am an American so I use American units.

Now, here’s where the “EP” or edible portion comes in, as well as all the annoying math.  Now, there are 16 ounces in a pound, which means per ounce of orange, you are spending about $0.09.  However, because nobody wants to eat the zest and pith parts of the orange (aka the skin), you have to peel it off before putting it on the bread.  Of the 16 oz of oranges you bought, you wind up using 11.2 of them.  The 11.2 is the weight of the edible portion of the food, so 4.8 oz of orange gets wasted.  This is a 70% yield, meaning that the oranges go from $0.09 to $0.13 in price just counting the EDIBLE part.  So, for one serving of orange, you are spending $0.93 for the peeled orange, compared to the $0.63 for the whole orange.

So what does this mean?  Well, you are for one not good at cooking if bread and oranges became a family recipe.  But it also means that you are spending more money on less food, due to the fact that about 30% of the oranges gets wasted.  It is also an important factor, as there is a food waste problem.  Waste gets thrown out, which can pollute the areas surrounding landfills.  Now, I am not promoting never throwing anything away, but I am promoting awareness.  Maybe you can save some money per serving by using apples instead?

Back (to College) in Black: Tips for Avoiding the “Freshman 15” During College

Some senior student gives food advice to incoming freshman

Well, summer has come and gone.  It went by really fast, partially due to the fact that I took a nutrition class over the summer because I thought it would be interesting.  I was right.  But now I am entering my senior year part-one.  As opposed to several of the new students on campus, who are still lost as to what they want to do, or where to go, or any other questions that lead to an existential depression.

Any incoming freshman approaching me with these questions are going to have me give them a roundabout answer, while I think in my head “Fuck, I don’t even know that.”  But what I do know is food.  And, as such, I can help people out with that.

For those out there who don’t know what the freshman fifteen is, or are too damn old to recall, essentially it’s the term given to the weight gained during the first year away from your parents, typically during the first year of college, due to a change in lifestyle factors.  So, here are some of my pieces of advice to at least try and help avoid some of this weight gain.

  1. Watch the desserts: One thing apparent when I lived in the dorms was the overall abundance of fatty and sugary snack foods on campus.  A lot of it was deep fried, and covered in sugar.  While you might have had these foods once in a while living at home, now that you’re in control of your meals, the temptation is there to eat nothing but donuts and cookies during the year.  Try to not eat so many of these, as they provide A LOT of excess Calories, which can lead to weight gain.
  2. Be mindful of beverages: My caffeine fix is black coffee.  If I had a dollar for every scrunched face I’ve seen when I mention that, I could afford a nice coffee maker, with one of those fancy coffee grinders.  However, things like sweetened coffees and teas, as well as sodas, energy drinks, etc. are loaded with Calories.  One serving can be in the 100-200 Calorie mark from what I’ve seen, but the bottle might have two or three servings.  These empty Calories from drinks can really add up, if you are not paying attention.
  3. Remember to eat your fruits and vegetables: My experience with the dorm food was way more pizza, burgers, and fries than I care to admit.  Or even remember.  I ate quite a bit of energy-dense foods, but less nutrient-dense foods.  It wasn’t until I started to feel like shit that I made the change to a slightly more healthful diet.  Sure, I still ate pizzas and burgers, but instead of cakes and cookies, on occasion, I would get a banana or an apple for dessert.  Maybe even get a salad and soup for dinner rather than the pizza and burgers.  While this might not save a whole lot of Calories long term, there’s still higher quality nutrients coming in.
  4. Be sure to exercise: Depending on how you look at it, my dorm was pretty far from the buildings my classes were held in, which is either a good or bad thing.  Good because I was getting out and exercising, rather than sitting and “studying” (aka studying YouTube or Facebook), but bad because that meant more walking.  However, walking is only one part of being well.  I did not do many stretching exercises, or strength training.  Had I exercised more, I would probably have been more toned than I am today, as my muscles, and cardiovascular system would have been made more efficient then, aiding me now.
  5. Be sure to stay positive about it all: Now, my advice given here probably won’t prevent ALL potential weight gain; there’s still a plethora of garbage food served in the dorms, whether it is labelled as healthy or not.  Now, here is a question I pose; is it better to try to avoid gaining weight or eating healthy but being miserable, or to gain some weight but have some fun doing it?  I would probably argue if you are getting out, and socializing with friends, and getting enough micronutrients to not suffer from severe deficiencies, then it’s fine to gain some weight.  Dorm food is trash, and it is extremely difficult to avoid the temptations.  And this is coming from someone who LIKES his produce.  Plus, with college you have better things to worry about than getting some extra belly.  Like grades.  And possibly work.  So I would argue here that focusing on LIVING is more important than on maintaining or gaining weight, so long as an adverse health effect is not going to happen.

So there are some of my tips.  I decided to write this post as a way to help alleviate the stress of some of the incoming freshman in college, because that shit is stressful, yo.  Keep in mind, I am not a doctor, and I still don’t play one on TV (the casting crews keep refusing my proposal to play a doctor on the show “Sesame Street.”  They are probably worried that I will “educate” the children on too many new words), so my advice is some psychotic senior student putting in his two cents, before realizing those pennies were better spent on my college debt.

So, what are some tips you have for incoming college freshman who are worried about their weight?  Any college freshman feeling less stressed to avoid the freshman fifteen?

Liar: How Pseudoscience Cause Problems

How can some misinformation cause problems?

You cannot go too far on the internet without finding some sort of ad or article on something that promises some sort of benefit by doing or eating some sort of thing.  You might see them on a website as an ad, particularly the ones promising extreme weight loss during a short period of time, or your crazy aunt or grandma or whoever posts an article from some website saying that GMO crops cause children to spontaneously combust or some other shit like that.

While some of these can be amusing to see, there is actually a downside.  People actually are believing everything someone posts without verifying facts.  It’s easier to read an article on popular news sites about “Bullshitexoticplant Cures Cancer!!” or diets that are “doctor approved” and promise fast weight loss, or even things like vaccines causing autism.

The problem with this is that harm CAN come from this.  Buying an ineffective supplement is one thing; the only loss is money.  However, harm CAN come from buying supplements that do not have accurate labels.  I already wrote about supplements here, so I won’t give more details.  With regards to diets, most fad diets that promise weight loss can actually cause harm.  Some cause water loss, which can dehydrate the person eating them.  Others can cause damage to the kidneys if done long-term.  Recently, the gluten-free diet has taken off, but it really only benefits those with Celiac disease, and can actually cause nutrient deficiencies in those without Celiac disease due to not eating nutritious foods, as many foods containing gluten also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals.  And my final point with the anti vaccination movement, there is virtually NO evidence showing vaccines cause autism.  Vaccines, for the most part, are safe, and are only dangerous in people with weak immune systems, or contaminations.  The main article that found vaccinations causing autism has been since retracted, as there were large amounts of data manipulation.  As for why autism is diagnosed around the time children receive their vaccinations?  That’s correlation, not causation.  When they get vaccinated is about the time children start to have diagnosable symptoms.  Vaccines are a good way to keep everyone healthy, as they boost herd immunity, which is basically how sick or well everyone in a community is.

Now, as a reminder, this is not medical advice.  I spent the whole post talking about not listening to everything you read online, and this blog is no exception.  In no way should my opinions on things be taken as medical advice.  Ask a real doctor, not some dipshit nutrition student in college.

So what are your takes on this topic?  Any interesting ads promising outrageous things you have seen lately?

Lunchbox: Advice for Packing Lunches

What are some tips for making lunchtime healthier while on the go?

For many students, school has started, or is about to.  For others, it’s the same old day-in-day-out Monday to Friday grind.  Whether you are a student, a parent of a student, or someone who works, you can benefit from eating a healthy meal.  Hopefully, it can save you some money, because you would be buying more servings of food for less money, instead of buying the shit they sell at fast food joints.

Beverage:  What should you drink with your lunch?  Things like soda and juices are loaded with sugar, which can cause a sugar crash later on.  I would recommend drinking water, black coffee, or tea.  Water, by nature, is hydrating.  Coffee is less so, but the caffeine can also perk you up for the rest of the day.  So long as you do not add sugar, milk, or creamer to your coffee or tea (or I suppose, your water, but adding those to water sounds fucking nasty if you ask me) you can save Calories on your meal.  A 12-ounce can of soda is about 150 Calories.  Water is zero.

Main course:  For me, I typically go with a sandwich for lunch.  It’s highly versatile, as the interior and bread can be changed around.  Usually, I eat sandwiches with cheddar, lunch meat, and whole-wheat bread, with mayonnaise and mustard.  I would substitute the lunch meat with deli meat or things not loaded with nitrites, but I am a fucking broke college student.  That shit costs too much.  The mayonnaise and cheese can be taken away to lower the amount of Calories from fat, if that is what is desired.  The bread itself can also be substituted with lettuce leaves to reduce the glycemic load.  My goal, however, with the main course is to NOT be too messy, so as to not get food remnants all over my clothes.

Sides:  Instead of eating chips or other snack foods, why not eat something like chopped carrots, broccoli, an apple, or other produce?  A serving of produce is going to be much more nutrient dense than chips or candy.  Plus, it is much more filling for way less Calories.

To recap, what are the benefits of packing meals the way I have described?  Making simple switches from soda to water, as well as something like chips or candy to fruits and/or vegetables has already decreased the meal’s Calories while increasing the amount of nutrients present.  I suggested one main course that is highly variable and can be toyed around with to find what works for you.

Do any of you readers have tips for people on packing their own lunch?  Any advice I missed and did not put up in this post?

Sweating Bullets: What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

What is orthorexia, and why do I care about it?

Eating disorders are a serious topic.  Some people think that things such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia can be cured with a simple “why not eat?  Why not eat and keep it down?” when in reality it’s not that simple.  Mental disorders are a complicated issue, and sometimes disorders are known by people not in the associated field.  For example, orthorexia nervosa.

Orthorexia, as defined by National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is a mental illness not found in the DSM-5, also known as the big ass psychology book of mental stuff. meaning it is not clinically diagnosed.  However, many people have to cope with the symptoms there of.  Some of the symptoms include stressing when deviating from a diet plan (which includes guilt or self-loathing), and spend excessive amounts of time worrying about and preparing food.  As such, orthorexia sufferers might become socially isolated, as they are preoccupied about preparing “healthy” meals and foods, and not spending time with friends and family.

Dr. Steven Bratman, sufferer of, and coiner of the term orthorexia, detailed “I pursued wellness through healthy eating for years, but gradually I began to sense that something was going wrong… My ability to carry on normal conversations was hindered by intrusive thoughts of food. The need to obtain meals free of meat, fat, and artificial chemicals had put nearly all social forms of eating beyond my reach. I was lonely and obsessed…I found it terribly difficult to free myself. I had been seduced by righteous eating. The problem of my life’s meaning had been transferred inexorably to food, and I could not reclaim it,” on the website orthorexia.com.

Treatment for orthorexia nervosa includes identifying the problem, as well as what is causing the obsession.  Then, sufferers need to understand that it is okay to deviate from a “healthy” diet and become flexible with their diet.

So what does this all mean?  Well, for starters, it’s okay to eat unhealthy every so often.  I mean, I write about how shitty one food is for health.  I can list out the dietary consequences of drinking soda, or alcohol or energy dense foods, and yet I still drink soda, liquor, and eat things like cake, pie, and whatnot.

So why am I talking about this?  I feel this is one of those disorders not talked about (possibly because it’s not in the DSM-5).  I grew up loving food.  Everything from fruits and vegetables, to baked goods and, more recently due to my eligibility to do so, beer and liquor.  So I think it sucks that there are so many eating disorders, and I feel any kind of mental disorder gets swept under the rug.  As someone who one day hopes to be a professional in the field, I want to try and break this stigma.

Do any of my readers have any thoughts, concerns, issues etc. with regards to this topic?  If so, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

For more information see NEDA’s coverage of the issue or the orthorexia webpage.