As I sit here trying to blow away the thick layer of dust that has accumulated on Try Nerdy‘s URL, I can’t help but think that you, dear reader, have every right to hate me. Or at least to never read my blog again.
If you leave your job for three months without explanation, you’ll probably get fired. If you leave school for three months without a really detailed doctor’s note, you’ll probably get kicked out. If you leave your children unattended for three months, even with a good excuse, they’ll probably hate you, and CPS might take them away.
So, if you used to read my blog, but no longer feel that you can trust me as a webmaster, that’s well within your rights. I could go on and on about my hiatus with all the lab meetings and the presentations and the hours spent slaving away over tubes of clear liquids — but that’s not actually so interesting. You know what is?
What’s interesting is that I’m alive and relatively healthy despite my abominable (to some) diet and
lack of exercise choices. Please read on for a heartbreakingly honest confession of my wicked health ways, with photographic examples of the devastation I’ve wreaked on myself, and sometimes on loved ones.
Disclaimer #1: The pictures herein may or may not induce diet fail.
Disclaimer #2: I may or may not use tons of hardcore scientific fact to back up my feeble excuses for my health choices.
Disclaimer #3: I may or may not be an advocate of unhealthiness per se, but I strongly defend people’s rights to make whatever unhealthful choices they wish…so long as they can live to tell about it, as I am.
First off, I can’t decide what my goal is with this post. Is it to absolve myself of the guilt I feel for what I’ve done? Is it to brag about the fact that I can do what I’ve done and get away with it? Or do I just want a platform to rage back against the hordes of people who provoke me time and time again by asking “Oh my gosh, you’re going to eat that?!”? Because the answer to this question is almost always “Yes. With seconds.”
So let’s say you make a cupcake. A cinnamon-y cupcake. You’re feeling indulgent, so you top it with streusel, which is basically butter and cinnamon and sugar. This adds a nice crunchy layer of devil-may-care deliciousness to your dessert.
Wow, you’re really throwing caution to the wind now! And since you’ve gone this far, you can’t think of any great argument against garnishing this confection with crumbled bacon, can you?
Paula Deen has nothing on you, obviously, but why are you doing this? Are you hosting a party? (No.) Do you have an amazing food blog, in addition to having an awesome science blog? (No.) Oh, so you just have a thing for unhealthy food! Lots of unhealthy food.
You don’t even really share these with people, you just eat them. The only reason you’ve taken pictures is to make your friends jealous on Facebook. But maybe you justify this as a rare treat! …What’s that? It’s not a rare treat? You mean you make unhealthy stuff, like, all the time? Surely you jest.
Alright, so I’m talking about myself here. I’m constantly making stuff like this, and not sharing it either. High sugar, high fat — and not just for dessert. My meals are technically not much better: cheap Chinese food, half of a large pizza, Ramen noodles. Even when I cook for myself, which is at least half the time, the meal is almost always along these lines:
Lots of frying, lots of butter. I’m not even going to talk about all of this stuff that I have on the side:
Alright, so you’re getting the picture. I’m not necessarily counting calories. Or fat, sugar, salt, cholesterol…. Maybe at this point you’re saying to yourself “Okay, this is disturbing, but what does it have to do with science?”
I’m not so sure, exactly. I guess I’m only just now becoming fully aware of the fact that I have eaten like this for my entire life, while making no attempt at formal exercise whatsoever, and yet I’m alive. Alive with an unremarkably normal BMI of around 20, normal cholesterol levels, no sign of diabetes, and blood pressure on the lower side. This probably sounds a lot like some sort of Humblebrag. And maybe it is. But I like to think of it as an anomaly of nature, an anomaly that should be questioned, challenged, and weakly explained in list form.
And so I present you with reasons why I’m not dead:
1. “I’m on a ketogenic diet!” A ketogenic diet is one that’s high in fats. I’ve got that covered. However, a ketogenic diet it also low in carbohydrates, so I can’t actually claim to be on a ketogenic diet. But it’s interesting to know that such a diet exists and is used as a form of treatment for epilepsy, brain cancer, and some genetic metabolic disorders. When the body has a relatively high amount of fat and low amount of sugar, the liver will burn fat instead of carbohydrates, which generates a byproduct called ketones. In people who can’t metabolize sugars because of enzymes deficiencies, a ketogenic diet is the way to go; in people who have seizures, it’s not well understood why a ketogenic diet helps, but it does.
2. “I’m on the Warrior Diet!” The Warrior Diet is fairly straightforward: “under-eat” during the day and “overeat” at night. Now, I don’t technically follow the Warrior Diet or any diet at all, but I do find that my breakfast is small, my lunch is small, and my dinner is HUGE. For breakfast, I might grab some Greek yogurt (<200 calories). For lunch, I’ll have something like pita chips
and a cereal bar (<300 calories). And dinner is as much food as I can fit into my body. I’m talking 1200+ calories of pepperoni pizza, 1000+ calories of pasta, or 1400+ calories of fried chicken and biscuits. Followed by whatever my most recent baked good happens to be. So maybe I intake a normal number of calories (or so I’ll tell myself), but most of that happens after 6pm…where no one can see me.
3. “I’ve got good genes!” Ah, yes, those all-powerful “genes.” Those things that we use to excuse ourselves for not being runway models, Olympic swimmers, or (insert enviable profession here). And of course genes have a lot to do with everything we are…but, which genes are we talking about specifically? Very few people actually have a gene in mind when they praise “good genes” or lament “bad genes.” In fact, there aren’t many genes that can be solely blamed for why people are fat, athletic, smart, etc. Truth be told, there’s an enzyme known to break down fat in food and in the body and convert it to energy, and I know one of my two copies of this enzyme is mutated. So I don’t think I can say I have superior genes that let me eat tons of fat and sugar without consequence. If you still think it’s my genes, my dad developed Type 2 diabetes in his 50s, and my mom was diagnosed with high cholesterol in her 50s… neither of them were ever supermodels, either, so my genes probably aren’t terribly special.
4. “Just you wait!” And, after all this, it’s certainly possible that I’ve got some rough days in store for me. Everyone’s heard about how eating lots of fats and sugars predisposes to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and just about every other negative biological outcome. It’s possible that my love of all things fatty is dooming me to a future with scarring in my brain, specifically in my hippocampus. I’m definitely not advocating for anyone to do as I do, but sometimes people break all the health “rules” and turn out just fine, and sometimes people follow every rule and are still struck with health misfortunes.
Honestly, I am in awe of people with well-balanced diets, those of you out there running marathons for fun, and the like. But…I’m just not like that. I’m sure as I get older, I will be forced to make concessions to nature and clean up my act a bit. But, until then, I’d love it if people would give me less grief about what I choose to eat, unless those people are doctors holding the results of my blood work.
And in the meantime, yes, I’m going to eat that.
P.S. I really do apologize for so much time away from blogging. I’m going to shoot for updates every week or every other week, and hope for the best. Thanks as always for your continued support!
P.P.S. Check out this shiny new comedic science blog written by my buddy Tyler: http://www.biLOLogy.net
Lambrechts DA, Wielders LH, Aldenkamp AP, Kessels FG, de Kinderen RJ, & Majoie MJ (2012). The ketogenic diet as a treatment option in adults with chronic refractory epilepsy: Efficacy and tolerability in clinical practice. Epilepsy & behavior : E&B PMID: 22366051
Seyfried TN, Marsh J, Shelton LM, Huysentruyt LC, & Mukherjee P (2011). Is the restricted ketogenic diet a viable alternative to the standard of care for managing malignant brain cancer? Epilepsy research PMID: 21885251
Veggiotti P, Teutonico F, Alfei E, Nardocci N, Zorzi G, Tagliabue A, De Giorgis V, & Balottin U (2010). Glucose transporter type 1 deficiency: ketogenic diet in three patients with atypical phenotype. Brain & development, 32 (5), 404-8 PMID: 19515520
Thaler JP, Yi CX, Schur EA, Guyenet SJ, Hwang BH, Dietrich MO, Zhao X, Sarruf DA, Izgur V, Maravilla KR, Nguyen HT, Fischer JD, Matsen ME, Wisse BE, Morton GJ, Horvath TL, Baskin DG, Tschöp MH, & Schwartz MW (2012). Obesity is associated with hypothalamic injury in rodents and humans. The Journal of clinical investigation, 122 (1), 153-62 PMID: 22201683