Category Archives: Pulling (Sweet) Teeth

What The F*ck Does Eating Healthy Mean?

First things first, a little bit of business. Stiiiill no internet at home, going on a month now. It’s finally starting to get to me. Allegedly it’s supposed to be back up by this week, but I’m not holding my breath. Until then (or I cave and start paying for internet again–which probably won’t be soon out of necessity), the posts might be a little erratic for timing. I apologize for that. Someday I’ll get on a regular schedule. Now on with the posting!

I started getting interested in eating healthy around my sophomore or junior year of high school. My chief motivation was to put on muscle for football. It didn’t work very well. Anyways, since then I’ve gone through a lot of different phases in eating healthy and my opinions have changed countless times. And now I can definitively say…that eating healthy is confusing as fuck.

There are a million different voices out their telling you a million different ways to eat healthy and lose weight. Count calories? Low carbs-high fat? Low fat-plenty of carbs? I KNOW, I JUST WON’T EAT ANYMORE! That should solve things, right? All I’m missing is support for a high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat diet. Actually, I think I found that once but it was for world-class athletes. So I just have to work out 8 hours a day. Got it. I’ll call it the cinnamon-toast-crunch-kill-yourself (working out) cure to obesity. Because cinnamon toast crunch is always good. (No matter how generic, it turns out. True fact. Personally tested).

That was fun. Anyways, I talk about eating healthy a lot. So it’s time to figure out what that means, to me. Like I mentioned before, I’ve adopted and dropped most of the opinions out there. I’ve spent lots of time looking into nutrition. I wrote a painfully long paper on the effects of carbohydrates on obesity comparing different diets. (Holy. Fuck. Was that a pain in the ass). I’ve read Michael Pollan and watched Food Inc. I’ve watched lectures by Gary Taubes, author of “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. I do, in fact, have some degree of expertise on this subject (unlike many other things I talk about) is what I’m trying to get across. DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor (yet), nor am I a professional in the subjects of nutrition.

And you know what? I am sick and tired of trying to figure out what the hell is healthy. So I’m going to boil down eating healthy to common sense (with a little bit of science).

Veggies Equal Healthy

Duh. No arguments anywhere on this one. We can pretty safely assume the produce section of a store is healthy.

Organic/All-Natural is Generally Better

I don’t want to get into all the aspects of this argument (I already had to do that in a med school interview. Because, you know, the yield of organic vs conventional is extremely relevant to my potential as a doctor. Sorry, little bit bitter). But let’s look at this simply. How does conventional agriculture work these days? Maximize yield to maximize profit. Not unreasonable. So most produce has been bred to grow as quickly and largely as possible, while taking up as little space as possible. There’s not much energy left for nutrients. There’s also the risks that pesticides bring.

Now, organic has it’s problems too. Lower yield means more expensive. There is risk of bacteria and other problems without pesticides. And organic agriculture is also concerned with turning a profit; let’s not kid ourselves. But in theory it should be more nutritious. The science is all over the place and oftentimes biased, but I think it makes sense at a basic level. Note of warning–there is zero regulation on claiming to be all-natural, so seeing it on a package means jack shit.

Lots of Sugar Isn’t Great

This seems like another duh but the sugar gets snuck in a lot of different ways. Most people are aware of high fructose corn syrup (or the new corn sugar thing they’ve been pushing). One of the mechanism for fat storage is driven by excess simple carbohydrates (sugar). It tells our body to store fat. (This was a large part of my paper). So excess sugar is bad. And sugars like fructose and high fructose corn syrup are absorbed/broken down more easily.¬†Also, watch King Corn. It’s pretty ridiculous. Which leads me to another rule.

Don’t Eat It If You’re Grandmother Wouldn’t Recognize It

Yes, I borrowed this one from Michael Pollan (along with plenty of other themes in this argument). But it’s a pretty good rule. If the ingredients have a ton of stuff, most of which seems like advanced chemistry, I would distrust it. Now I’m sure plenty of them do useful things, like keep it fresh longer. But why not just eat it fresh. And natural ingredients just seem to work better together (more on this later).

Fats Get A (Somewhat) Bad Rap

Okay, don’t eat a ton of fat. But fat is a better source of energy than sugar (or carbs). If you don’t pair fats with carbs, you’re body doesn’t store the fat and will use it for energy. There is a reason Atkins diets work for weight-loss. But like any diet, it will plateau and can be easily reversed. So maybe this rule should be “Don’t Pair Fats and Sugar”.

Forget Reductionism

I really hate all the calorie counting, figuring out which vitamins I need or don’t need, and all that stuff. Including constantly checking sugar and fat contents. It’s annoying. Yes, there are better calories than others. I’m pretty sure 200 calories of salad are better for me than 200 calories of cake. I’m also pretty confident that taking a vitamin pill with 5000% of my daily value of vitamin X is trying to tell me that it probably doesn’t work as well on it’s own. Certain things work well paired up in ways we haven’t figured out yet. (Some might call this synergistic). So instead of wasting your time taking vitamins, pills, counting calories, get it out of real food and use your head. If you need more of a certain vitamin, find it in a food and figure out a good way to eat it.

Beware Advertising

Any health claims on food, probably bullshit. Seriously, the food industry pours ridiculous amounts of money into doing studies that find their food healthy. You know, peanut M&Ms? Good source of protein. Because of the peanuts. I’m surprised it’s not on the bag already. I’m not saying be like me (which is paranoid of every box at the store, while also being sucked in to plenty of things based on advertising), but don’t be foolish or naive about it.

Moderation!!

I suck at this one. Seriously, I will destroy a pan of brownies on my own. But this is pretty obvious. Stop freaking out about fats and sugars. Stop it! Just don’t pig out on stuff. Try to mix in veggies. And stop worrying about it so much. It’s a waste of time and billions of dollars a year. This is way simpler than it’s made out to be. I don’t think many of us would consider Twinkies to be healthy. But you can still eat one once in awhile. Just make sure that the good foods vastly outweigh the bad ones. Trust your instincts.

Did I just give you a bunch of rules and do all the things I just complained about? Yes. So here’s the one and only rule. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!! Seriously, all the information out just confuses everything and most of it has a vested interest. So ignore it.

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The Pros and Cons of Stress Eating

First of all, sorry for the missing post last Friday for the still-untitled third section of the blog. Still lacking internet. I might have to break down and start paying someone for internet again. Either that or hunt down who my landlords get (or more accurately don’t get) the internet through, and then call them every 5 minutes whenever I’m not working. The second idea is surprisingly tempting. Moving on…

This week’s food post is all about stress eating. I’m currently in that totally awesome period of time where I’m just waiting to hear back from the schools I’ve interviewed with and waiting to see if the last two schools I haven’t heard anything from will give me an interview. I also got my first rejection (from a school that I interview with). Not that much of a surprise, but the wait list would have been nice. So I’ve been bouncing back and forth from a general level of stress from waiting to a full blown WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE!?!?! level. I’m sure most recent college grads or soon-to-be-grads can relate.

I generally deal with stress in a few ways:

  1. Extreme irritability–Much scowling and complaining here. I try to avoid it, but it happens. (My apologies to the Girlfriend)
  2. Sloth–Some people work out to deal with stress. Occasionally I do when the irritability builds up too much. But more frequently, I don’t do anything. As someone who is trying to lose weight, this usually doesn’t help things much (weight-wise or stress-wise)
  3. Eat–As long as I’m not working out, why not eat more! Because stress isn’t bad enough for one’s health on it’s own!
  4. Eat Some More–Especially sweets, resulting in a never-ending spiral of more sweets.

So, in order to convince myself more thoroughly why I should avoid stress eating, we’re going to make a pros and cons list.

Pro: Eating Makes Me Feel Better

When you’re stressed, why shouldn’t you do things that make you happy? I like eating. I can’t help it. (“It’s the genetics!” whispering in the back of my mind. Might want to get that checked out.) And it does make me feel better. Who doesn’t like cookies and milk? (I mean seriously Whole Foods, how many weeks can these cookies be on sale? You’re killing me!) I can feel the endorphins flooding my system with each bite until I hit an only slightly uncomfortable food coma.

Con: The Subsequent Self-Loathing

First, let’s be honest. I rarely stop at slightly uncomfortable and go full bore into an extremely uncomfortable food coma. Then I feel guilty about eating an entire row of cookies. Plus, I’m already not working out because of the sloth strategy so I only hate myself more. Things just keep spiraling more and more once I start stress eating.

Con: More Eating Out

An increased appetite. A crabby attitude towards cooking (see extreme irritability) and the dishes that go with it. Just wanting unhealthy food. It all adds up to ordering out more. Now I’m spending more money and eating less healthy than before.

Pro: More Eating Out

Tasty food. No dishes. No cooking. Doesn’t sound that bad actually. We’ll call it a wash for now. Ignoring the money part.

Pro: I Like Sweets

Cookies, brownies, chocolate bars (dark chocolate = healthy right!?)–I like them very much. They are delicious. No further arguments are needed.

Con: My Inability to Moderate Myself

Once a little bit of sugar enters my system, it creates an unquenchable need for sweets. It’s like a vacuum. I’m turned into a mindless, sugar-killing machine. When I was younger, I would eat an entire pan of cookie bars over the course of the day. Any time I went into the kitchen, I’d grab one or two. Eventually, I’d be making up reasons to go to the kitchen. I need something to drink. Oops, forgot my pen in the kitchen. Get back here you silly cat–oh hey, cookie bars! Then it would devolve into getting a brother to bring them back for me. Hey Aaron, I’ll give you a dollar if you bring me a cookie bar. Hey Kyle, get me a cookie bar and I might not punch you. Bam! All gone. (And Kyle probably punched.)

Things haven’t improved. You’d think without brothers to bribe or extort, it’d be a little better. But now I make the sweets. Which means I have the leftover batter or dough all to myself. Which might be worse, since I eat all the extras and then eat the cookies or brownies too. Plus the Girlfriend doesn’t put up nearly as much of a fight as my father in terms of quantity eaten. Which leads to…

Con: Increased Need to Work Out

All the bad eating and uncontrolled bingeing means, more working out. And another bad week in Baldaufs vs Genetics. As someone who doesn’t love working out, definitely a con.

Verdict: Stress Eating Is Bad

Okay, no real surprises here. But let’s be honest, this was mostly an exercise in convincing myself to stop eating so shitty. I really need to find a different stress hobby than eating. While stress eating is enjoyable and maybe even helpful in the short-term, it only creates more problem down the road. And while it is important to blow off steam once in awhile with a few cookies, an entire pan of brownies is probably a bad idea. So remember kids–Moderation!!

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Cooking Tips for Non-Cookers

A lot of people I know don’t cook. They don’t want to; they don’t like to; they aren’t good at it, etc. I never used to be someone who cooked a lot. Cooking meant mac and cheese, frozen pizza, or fried egg sandwiches (nom nom nom). I started cooking more chiefly because I no longer had my mom to cook for me (horrible day). Then it kind of grew on it’s own as I moved towards a healthier, more organic diet. I would suggest Michael Pollan or the Slow Food movement for anyone more interested in why they should cook. I’m still not an excellent cook, but I’ve come a long ways from the mac and cheese days. So now I’m going to post some tips for you non-cookers out there to get you on your way.

1. Start Off Simple

It’s easy to screw up meals and get discouraged, especially when you aren’t sure what you’re doing. So you’ve got to ease into it. Start with basic recipes. Try to keep the ingredient list down and the amount of things to do at a minimum. I probably spent an entire year or two where I mostly made a pasta/stir fry thingy. Great starting point. Buy some meat, a few veggies and throw them in a pan with a little oil. Add noodles and sauce and you’re good to go. Or rice I suppose. But I still screw up rice so maybe hold off on that. Or maybe it’s me. I’m not really sure why I struggle with rice.

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Pulling (Sweet) Teeth Intro

Welcome to the revamped Shane vs. Genetics. I’m doing three posts a week on different subjects. Mondays/Tuesdays are food. They’ll all be found in the Pulling (Sweet) Teeth category listed over thurr –>. Wednesdays/Thursdays are public health topics. They’ll be in the category, Trust Me, I’m Going to be a Doctor. Fridays/Saturdays are working out and other random stuff. Still working on the title for that category.

Anyways, this is Pulling (Sweet) Teeth. I’m going to talk about cooking, eating healthy, and food in general here. Why Pulling (Sweet) Teeth? Well, eating veggies (and healthy) has always been like pulling teeth for me and the rest of my family for the most part. Just ask my mom. The sweet part has to do with my diabolical sweet tooth (or teeth. They probably all work together to conspire against me).

If you have any suggestions for posts in this section, let me know. If you think of something to say with an article, comment! Please! Some discussions on these posts would be great.