Cookies & Calories
As many of my readers are likely aware, I have attracted the attention of a few true bullies and stalkers who consider it noble to ridicule my every word and move. In line with this, they have picked apart my interview with Jimmy Moore and made fun of various parts. Two of the issues both happened to involve cookies, hence the title of this post.
My (long, long ago and one time) Cookie Diet:
The purpose of my interview with Moore was ostensibly to discuss my issues with the science of Gary Taubes. It wasn't to discuss my own life, weight, history, etc. However this was around the time of the Twinkie diet so I guess Jimmy felt compelled to waste time (less for the real issues) discussing that. In that context, I related a story from long ago. I don't remember exactly what year that was, but as I recall what apartment I baked in I would have been under 25. My weight struggles were continuing at that time having began with a crash diet in my late teens and progressed through frank eating disorders to mostly a yo-yo weight cycling.
I was single, living alone, and most of my friends were also colleagues at work. The holiday season rolled around and some of the women in my department asked me if I wanted to participate in a cookie exchange. I love to bake and didn't really have a lot of opportunity to do so, as baking as a single gal meant dealing with what to do with an entire batch of cookies, a cake, etc. Easier for such a person not to bake at all. So without giving it much thought, I jumped at the chance. The way the exchange worked, each person baked several dozen of one type of cookie, and shared a half-dozen with each other member in exchange for a half dozen of each of their cookies. Small planning faux pas on my part ... I neglected to consider that I would end up with a zillion cookies to deal with! Further, since everyone at work was involved with this scheme, I couldn't just bring the cookies to work... What to do.
That year I was bound and determined not to gain a bunch of weight during the holiday season. I imagine that had I been a low carber or paleo and the internet existed back then, I would have rushed off to my favorite facebook group or discussion board to get advice, and I imagine that advice from the pure on high might go something like:
- Tell your SAD co-workers you've changed your mind and want nothing to do with their unhealthy filthy sugar and grain addiction fueled schemes.
- If you must participate, throw out the cookies. They will do more damage to your body than they are worth. Imagine them as rat poison to make tossing them easier.
- Eat a pound of bacon for each half-dozen cookies you toss and dunk it in a nice tall glass of coconut or almond milk for the "experience". Pat yourself righteously on the back for doing so. Be sure to tweet and post your victory on your FB status!
- Make bacon and almond flour cookies dusted with stevia for your contribution -- at least they'll all get a half dozen healthy cookies. Wear your Wheat is Murder t-shirt on the day of the exchange, then see above about tossing the deadly delicacies you receive.
- Time for a 21 Day Sugar Detox or a Whole30 "intervention" for your addiction for even considering such folly! At the very least, after you have sinned, repent with one of these or similar paleo soul cleansing rituals.
I imagine if I had inquired about the potential strategy of eating just a cookie or two each day, it would go something like:
- Good luck with that. It's not possible, because ... Monsanto.
- A little wheat is still murder.
- Ditto even a little of that sugar. One cookie per year, maybe. One, let alone -- gasp! -- two a day? The horror! Now go wash your mouth out with fermented cod liver oil.
- No, one cookie is not possible. Eat an unripe banana or a small green apple each day and join up with the ongoing, evergoing, 21 Day Sugar Detoxers on FB where you will learn strategies to cope with the errant strawberry that might jump into your mouth.
- Time to go on your 99th Whole30 because: "just about nobody does well with “moderation.” It’s a bullcrap concept, to be honest, created by diet gurus who sell tons of books by telling people what they want to hear—that they can still eat all the junky foods they want, as long as it’s in “moderation.” (What does that even mean? Eat just one cookie a day? Or eat as many cookies as you want, as long as it’s only once a week? Or eat 7 cookies a day, as long as you only take one bite per hour? You see my point…)"
- Mark Sisson preaches the 80:20 rule so yeah, should fit with that. However the cookies are not primal and you will destroy all your fat burning beastliness, rot out your gut, inflame your liver or whatever, and inflict various other bodily scourges. Best to just eat two dark chocolate chips with a tablespoon of whipped cream on top. Mark Sisson says cream is primal and we all know there was a chocolate chip tree in the paleolithic.
So here is what I considered at the time:
- Tossing the cookies.
- Eating them all as quickly as I could to get rid of them
- Freezing them and eating one or two a day here and there
There was a fourth thought, one I ended up going with. I am going to be talking about the socially accepted eating disorders that permeate the paleo community in great detail in coming times, which is why I'm discussing my thought processes back then. First, why I rejected the three options above, in the same order:
- When you are a restriction-induced binge eater, getting rid of the stimulus almost never works in the long run. Based on past experience, I knew there was a high likelihood that after tossing these delicious, homemade, variety of unique cookies, I would still want that food, and I would buy and down a box of way inferior cookies in a bag.
- The logic behind this one is only understood by those in the throes of ED as it makes no rational sense. Bingeing on cookies so I could then be "good" for the rest of the month is not a solution, and I knew this on some level.
- This would have been the best option, but at that time I did not trust myself enough to one day not just raid the freezer and finish them all up.
So I did my own little unplanned n=1, though nobody called it that back then or announced it to the world and whatnot. It sounds a little whacky, but in retrospect it is one of the more sane things that I ever did ... and part of a mindset "reprogramming" if you will that eventually extinguished eating disorders for good. I decided to go on an all cookie diet until they were gone. Like the "Twinkie guy", I didn't just eat cookies, I had a salad or veggies here or there, but my main "meals" consisted of cookies and milk. This worked. It lasted as long as the cookies lasted. I even lost a little weight though my goal was just not to gain.
Moderation? Yes and no. Yes, in that there was no bingeing or overeating involved. No, in that it's not advisable to base one's healthful diet around cookies, so eating them as a staple for several days doesn't fit the definition of moderation in its true spirit. I am almost 100% positive that doing so for a short time, however, had no negative impact on my health, and absolutely certain that it had a positive influence on healing my dysfunctional relationship with food as I moved forward.
A Pound of Cookies, A Pound of Fat:
This is so silly. If a 150 lb person holds a pound of butter, or steak, or bread, or ice cream, or cookies in their hand and steps on the scale, they will weigh 151 lbs + weight of container if applicable. If they then eat that pound of food (and remain standing on that scale), the weight will not change. That one pound has simply gone from being outside of you to inside of you. If the person waits a few hours until all has been absorbed and they haven't used the bathroom, they will still weigh 151 despite the insulin spike or lack thereof. Go look at the calories on a 1 lb package of cookies, or a 1 lb tub of macaroni salad, or in 1 lb of anything. Unless its pure fat, it's going to be less than 3500 calories, and nothing that evil insulin can do will make it more (or lack of insulin to make it less).
This was something I exploited in the ED days to rationalize the impending damage, I won't bore you with the details other than to say this was NOT healthy thinking. But this knowledge and truth can be turned into healthy thinking with just a little change in perspective. Whether you are on a structured calorie restricted diet or a low carb diet and you slip a little? Realize just how little the maximum damage actually is. Chances are it won't even be that bad. Move on without trying to compensate. It is tempting to compensate but it is the compensation that can trigger the problems in most, and the dread of the impending restriction that keeps most from just hopping right back on that proverbial wagon. This is ESPECIALLY important for the low carbers, because your excesses will likely translate to more pounds on the scale simply because of glycogen-associated water weight (and additional water weight depending on your level of chronic LC dehydration). Heck, the LCer is less likely to gain fat with the occasional binge. Why? Because their glycogen is depleted and that's where the carbs will go (and there may not even be caloric excesses to increase fat stores ... only works for a bit though!).
Eating Disorders and Real Healing
I'm not aware, however, that the pro-ana sites do any sort of extensive recruiting or that they feel their lifestyle deserves any sort of seat at the table of discussion of mainstream nutrition and health. That they would hope their children joined their ranks. Perhaps there's an AnoBuli-15 or something out there where one can go to buy the book, or read the free info on the blog, and join the next 15 day challenge to cure them from their addictions to food and/or normal eating patterns ... where the tag line is "it's for your own good" and you are encouraged to push through the first few difficult days to reach nirvana "for your health". I can hear some reading this going "but but but ... it's different to encourage people to just eat real food!" Yes it is. But that's not what a substantial faction within the Paleo™ movement is promoting these days. This is something that is an open secret of sorts in the community -- mostly because people just don't talk about it.
That long overdue discussion begins now.