Monday, December 31, 2007


Saturday, December 29, 2007



...sort of.

Yup, the ADA has new recommendations coming out for 2008. They are adding in following a low carb lifestyle.

You can read further about it in the links at the bottom of the page. The issue I want to address is a comment found on Dr Vernon's post. Jenny, a well educated advocate for diabetics, had this to say:

How many hundreds of thousands of people with diabetes have gone blind, lost their limbs, or gone on dialysis thanks to the ADA's decades of promoting the high carb diet? How many more will suffer these fates in the next decade thanks to this tepid endorsement which will go unnoticed by anyone except us long term low carb activists.

The ADA's magazines for patients are still full of high carb recipes. Their "educational" materials still warn people that achieving "Tight control" which they define as a 2 hour post-meal blood sugar of 180 mg/dl may be "dangerous." Even for people controlling with DIET alone!

When will the medical community expose the ADA for what it is--an advocacy group for big pharma and the junk food companies who prey off people with diabetes NOT an organization that promotes the interests of people WITH diabetes.

If anything the ADA's policies ensure that diabetes will continue to flourish, kind of like how the American Timber Association makes sure we still have timber.

They're still telling people to take Avandia, too.

Did you know that the major contributors to the ADA are food companies like Cadbury and pharmaceutical companies. No wonder they have taken so long to get on the low carb bandwagon. Plus this less than overwhelming support now shows that they just didn't want to bite the hand that feeds them.


Apparently, Hell Has Just Froze Over

Friday, December 28, 2007

Learn About the Candidates’ Views on Mental Healthcare

NAMI sent a questionnaire on leading mental health issues to all the presidential candidates. Candidates are answering and we encourage you to view their positions on our new Explore the Candidates page.

NAMI will be posting additional responses and materials as they are received after this date, so please check our Explore the Candidates page regularly for updates. NAMI does not endorse specific candidates. Any materials posted are intended for educational purposes only.

View a copy of NAMI's candidate questionnaire.

Here are the responses so far:

John Edwards, former Senator from North Carolina
Questionnaire response

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico
Gov. Richardson has provided NAMI with his Mental Health Platform in lieu of a response to our questionnaire.

All other candidates have a response pending. Check back frequently for updates.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Exercise NOT Good For Weightloss

That's right folks. Exercise does NADA as far as weight loss is concerned.

Too many people use exercise as a form of losing weight. You find it everywhere. The problem with this is people are under the mistaken assumption they are burning loads of calories while exercising. Look at the charts all around the web showing you how many calories an activity is burning. What they fail to tell you is that the majority of those calories would be burned just by lying in bed all day long.

There also is a seldom mentioned complication in calculating calories burned during exercise: you should subtract off the number of calories you would be using if you did nothing. Almost no one does that, Dr. Bouchard said. But for moderate exercise, the type most people do, subtracting the resting metabolic rate can eliminate as much as 30 percent of the calories you think you used, he added.

Resting metabolic rates, though, differ from individual to individual and also differ depending on age, gender, body mass, body composition and level of fitness, so guessing at your resting rate also is fraught with error.

Also it has been shown that exercising can actually make you GAIN weight.

Finnish investigators looked at the results of the dozen best-constructed experimental trials that addressed weight maintenance—that is, successful dieters who were trying to keep off the pounds they had shed—they found that everyone regains weight. And depending on the type of trial, exercise would either decrease the rate of that gain (by 3.2 ounces per month) or increase its rate (by 1.8 ounces). As the Finns themselves concluded, with characteristic understatement, the relationship between exercise and weight is “more complex” than they might otherwise have imagined.
I'm not advocating sitting around on your duff all day doing nothing and expect to be healthier. Exercise in and of itself is good. The release of endorphins gets it an A+ in my book. It just makes you "feel" better.

So in this New Year, make exercise a regular part of your routine. Just do it for the right reasons. Not because you want to lose a few pounds. That strategy may back fire on you.

Check this out for further reading:

Sunday, December 23, 2007


No matter how you celebrate this time of year, I wish you well.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Getting More Traffic

I've been looking lately into ways to increase traffic to my blog. I feel like there are others out there who have dealt with some of the same issues I have. So I've been digging around on the net looking for information.

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, I'll keep writing about things I find interesting. I'm hoping you will too.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stop the Presses---Hell has Officially Frozen Over

I just can not believe it---mainstream media actually writing something positive about consuming dietary fat.

What if bad fat isn’t so bad? - Diet and nutrition- "Nina Teicholz"

This author writes for Men's Health, so that is not a surprise. They have many writers who support a carb restricted, higher fat dietary approach. Adam Campbell is a good example.

Suppose you were forced to live on a diet of red meat and whole milk. A diet that, all told, was at least 60 percent fat — about half of it saturated. If your first thoughts are of statins and stents, you may want to consider the curious case of the Masai, a nomadic tribe in Kenya and Tanzania.

In the 1960s, a Vanderbilt University scientist named George Mann, M.D., found that Masai men consumed this very diet (supplemented with blood from the cattle they herded). Yet these nomads, who were also very lean, had some of the lowest levels of cholesterol ever measured and were virtually free of heart disease.

Scientists, confused by the finding, argued that the tribe must have certain genetic protections against developing high cholesterol. But when British researchers monitored a group of Masai men who moved to Nairobi and began consuming a more modern diet, they discovered that the men's cholesterol subsequently skyrocketed.

Similar observations were made of the Samburu — another Kenyan tribe — as well as the Fulani of Nigeria. While the findings from these cultures seem to contradict the fact that eating saturated fat leads to heart disease, it may surprise you to know that this "fact" isn't a fact at all. It is, more accurately, a hypothesis from the 1950s that's never been proved.

I am always preaching to my WLS friends they need to get out of that whole low-fat dogma mind-set. Dietary fat is GOOD for you. Still many of my friends speak of having dumping issues from the fat. I ask you to look at what else you are consuming. Fiber will cause the same "potty" issues many associate with the fat intake.

The diet heart hypothesis is the basis for all the low-fat dogma out there. If you read up on it, you will see it is just a load of crap, with absolutely no proof.

Here's some more interesting things from the article:

Today, it's well established that stearic acid has no effect on cholesterol levels. In fact, stearic acid — which is found in high amounts in cocoa as well as animal fat — is converted to a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid in your liver. This is the same heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. As a result, scientists generally regard this saturated fatty acid as either benign or potentially beneficial to your health.

Do you see that---ANIMAL FAT---is converted to the same type of fat found in olive oil once it gets into your body. So no more of this garbage about "good" fats, "bad" fats junk okay. Go eat a steak and enjoy it---a fatty steak at that. Read on though...

We've spent billions of our tax dollars trying to prove the diet-heart hypothesis. Yet study after study has failed to provide definitive evidence that saturated-fat intake leads to heart disease. The most recent example is the Women's Health Initiative, the government's largest and most expensive ($725 million) diet study yet. The results, published last year, show that a diet low in total fat and saturated fat had no impact in reducing heart-disease and stroke rates in some 20,000 women who had adhered to the regimen for an average of 8 years.

Now let's get into the whole cholesterol thing. Cholesterol is a big bunch of garbage in my opinion, but for those of you who still believe in it---look at this info.

In 1980, Dr. Krauss and his colleagues discovered that LDL cholesterol is far from the simple "bad" particle it's commonly thought to be. It actually comes in a series of different sizes, known as subfractions. Some LDL subfractions are large and fluffy. Others are small and dense. This distinction is important.

A decade ago, Canadian researchers reported that men with the highest number of small, dense LDL subfractions had four times the risk of developing clogged arteries than those with the fewest. Yet they found no such association for the large, fluffy particles. These findings were confirmed in subsequent studies.

Now here's the saturated-fat connection: Dr. Krauss found that when people replace the carbohydrates in their diet with fat — saturated or unsaturated — the number of small, dense LDL particles decreases. This leads to the highly counterintuitive notion that replacing your breakfast cereal with eggs and bacon could actually reduce your risk of heart disease.

So put down that oatmeal and Fiber One cereal for breakfast and have some eggs and bacon instead.

My Problems with the GI Index

I really have a problem with the whole GI Index concept. It is okay for those really not up on nutritional science to use as a simple guideline. Personally, I feel just the overall carb restriction is a much better gage.

A new study has come out No effect of a diet with a reduced glycemic index on satiety, energy intake and body weight in overweight and obese women. Two of my favorite bloggers have gone head to head on their interpretation of the findings.

Weight of the Evidence: Glycemic Index Doesn't Matter Much in Overall High-Carb Diet
Junkfood Science: Carbs humbug? — Are carbs really fattening?

Check them both out for all the info on this study.

Dr Barry groves sums up my feelings on how usless the GI Index really is here:

GI Blues: The GI Diet - Second Opinions

You will be told that white bread is high-GI and that wholemeal bread is low-GI, but the difference between their GIs is only 2: white bread is 71; wholemeal is 69. Big deal. By the way, the only whole-wheat bread made in the UK which is listed in the official International GI data is one made by Ryvita Co Ltd. This has a GI of 74 – which is higher than white bread! Another problem is that the same food, made by the same manufacturer, but in a different plant can have widely differing GIs. Take Kellogg's All-Bran, for example, which has a GI of 30 in Australia, 38 in the USA and 51 in Canada. I have no idea what the GI of Kellogg's All-Bran is in Britain as it hasn't been tested.
WTH!!! Read on.....

And there are some strange anomalies. For example, you might think that foods containing sugar would have a higher GI than the same food made without sugar. But Banana cake, made with sugar is 47, while Banana cake, made without sugar is 55.

Then the way a food is cooked or processed also makes a difference to its final glycaemic index, according to a trial conducted at Department of Dietetics, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong.

And there is a last problem as far as diabetics are concerned. The GI of fructose (fruit sugar) is 22, very much lower than sucrose (table sugar) at 64, yet fructose is far more damaging to a diabetic's health than sugar. To sum up, the Glycaemic Index is a very weak index which is over simplified, over hyped, and over sold. While it may have some use in a clinical setting, it is really of very limited use to the general public.
And here is the real clincher for me----and should be for everyone---so take note...

What matters as far as your body is concerned is not the GI of a carbohydrate, but the total amount. A hundred grams of carbohydrate is a hundred grams of carbohydrate whatever its GI is.
That about sums it up.....just count the carbs....bottom line....PERIOD....end of story.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You are what your body does with what you eat

Regina Wilshire always does a wonderful job in reporting new research coming out concerning nutrition. She didn't let me down this time either. Check out the full post here.

A newly published study, in the journal Lipids - Comparison of Low Fat and Low Carbohydrate Diets on Circulating Fatty Acid Composition and Markers of Inflammation - found that subjects given a low-carb diet experienced "profound alterations in fatty acid composition and reduced inflammation compared to a low fat diet."

One of the remarkable effects in the data presented that may have contributed to the results is that despite the three-fold greater saturated fat in the diet for the low carb group, saturated fat in the blood turned out to be higher in the low fat group due to the process known as carbohydrate-induced lipogenesis.

Dr. Volek points out that “this clearly shows the limitations of the idea that ‘you are what you eat.’ Metabolism plays a big role. You are what your body does with what you eat.”

I just wanted bring your attention to the paragraph in red---despite eating 3x as much saturated fat on the low carb diet----saturated fat in the blood was GREATER in the low fat group.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mental Health Parity--Get Involved


We are SO close! Passage of a strong parity law is within reach. But this session of Congress will end before Christmas. If a parity bill is not passed by then, we risk losing it entirely in election-year deadlock!

Join me and many, many other advocacy groups and individuals in a massive grassroots telephone call-in day Friday, December 7th to press Congress to pass a strong parity bill this year. With more than 30,000 lives lost to suicide each year, we CANNOT allow parity to be punted away to “next year”!

Status of parity legislation: The Senate unanimously passed its parity bill, S. 558, on September 18. A similar, but somewhat broader House bill, H.R. 1424, was approved by three committees. Negotiations on parity have taken place between the House and Senate. Grassroots’ advocacy that calls for passing a strong bill this year can help build momentum for achieving a House-Senate compromise bill that can pass both chambers.

Action: On Friday, December 7th, use the toll-free Parity Hotline, 1-866-parity4 (1-866-727-4894), to call your representative and senators and leave a message urging them to press their leadership to pass mental health parity legislation this year. (The Parity Hotline reaches the U.S. Capitol switchboard, which will connect callers to their representatives and senators’ offices).

Targets: All members of the House and Senate.

Message: “I am calling to ask the senator/representative to press for passage of a strong mental health parity bill this year! Please work with the Leadership to pass parity now!”

Thank you for taking action!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mental Health and WLS Revisited

I did a post early on this subject. In light of new research,I felt compelled to go more in depth on some things. Living life after having WLS is difficult enough on your mental health. Throw in the added complication of a severe mental illness and it can be devastating to some.

The nutritional deficits coupled with all the body image changes make for a difficult journey for the strongest of minds. The rapid weight loss phase can trigger depression in someone without a history of mental illness. Remember, I'm not a writer, but let me see if I can explain this properly.

Estrogen is stored in the fat cells. When you lose weight, especially rapidly like with WLS, that estrogen is released. Thus your estrogen levels fall. Low estrogen levels can be a reason for depression in women. Low estrogen triggers the brain to release MAO, an enzyme in the brain which breaks down and destroys the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Likewise estrogen increases the destruction of this enzyme MAO . The lower our MAO enzyme levels the better we probably feel, since MAO breakdowns serotonin. Serotonin levels can dictate if we feel depressed or not. Low levels of estrogen in women are associated with the premenstrual syndrome, postnatal depression and post-menopausal depression. Research studies show promising results in combating the depression brought on by this one factor after WLS. They use an estrogen patch. Like some of the birth control patches.

In my earlier post I reported that mental illness is present in many of those seeking WLS:

Overall, 66.3% of subjects had a lifetime history of at least one axis I disorder and 37.8% were currently diagnosed with such a disorder. The most common lifetime axis I disorder was major depressive disorder, seen in 42% of subjects. Binge eating disorder was the most common current disorder and had a prevalence of 16.0%.

A lifetime history of an axis II disorder was noted in 28.5% of subjects, the most common being avoidant personality disorder, which was seen in 17.0%.
The majority of reputable bariatric centers have a lengthy screening process for all surgery candidates. Which a psychological evaluation plays an important role. A recent study shows 1 in 5 potential surgery candidates fail to meet these guidelines:

The most common reasons people were not allowed to go through with the procedure included overeating to cope with stress or emotional distress, having an eating disorder, and uncontrolled mental problems, such as depression.

Most patients who were deferred from bariatric surgery after their initial psychological evaluation were referred for psychiatric treatment. The researchers write that they will conduct a future study to look at how many of these patients accepted psychiatric referral and went on to have the surgery.

"The goal of the psychiatric evaluation is not to keep patients from having the surgery. Rather, the goal is to determine if there are any problems that might interfere with the success of surgery, and have the patient get treatment for these problems," says researcher Mark Zimmerman, MD, of Rhode Island Hospital, in a news release. "In so doing, the patient is more likely to have a positive outcome from surgery that is delayed to allow time to address the problems."
In my case, it was my pdoc who actually played a major part in me getting the surgery in the first place. He began encouraging it when I first started seeing him. I had never considered it until he began speaking of it. He also wrote a glowing report, even despite my history of an eating disorder along with my Bipolar Disorder.

He was well aware of the risks the surgery posed to my mental health. For the first year I was followed very closely. I saw him once an month and my therapist once a week. My routine prior to surgery had been to see him twice a year and my therapist once a month. The second year I was still followed closely. Gradually increasing he times between visits as he deemed appropriate.

Luckily, he had the forethought to do this. I had a serious bout of depression beginning in my third month. Which was controlled with an additional medication and therapy. Going from my second year into my third brought on another very serious bout of depression. That one was brought on by adding carbs back into my eating plan. Coupled with the ineffectiveness on my medications due to the malabsorption issues. I ended up hospitalized for awhile to get things back under control.

Another issue I deal with is the changing of seasons. Fall going into winter, being extremely difficult in the past. Many people go through same thing each year. Most just refer to it as the "winter blues". In my case and many more, it is so much more than that. They call it Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Kinda fitting, don't you think. This is from NAMI:
Most people with SAD are women whose illness typically begins in their twenties, although men also report SAD of similar severity and have increasingly sought treatment. SAD can also occur in children and adolescents, in which case the syndrome is first suspected by parents and teachers. Many people with SAD report at least one close relative with a psychiatric condition, most frequently a severe depressive disorder (55 percent) or alcohol abuse (34 percent).

Symptoms of winter SAD usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April. Some patients begin to slump as early as August, while others remain well until January. Regardless of the time of onset, most patients don’t feel fully back to normal until early May. Depressions are usually mild to moderate, but they can be severe. Very few patients with SAD have required hospitalization, and even fewer have been treated with electroconvulsive therapy.

The usual characteristics of recurrent winter depression include oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain, although a patient does not necessarily show these symptoms. Additionally, there are the usual features of depression, especially decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities, and social withdrawal.
The reasoning behind the onset of SAD is simple. It is a lack of sunlight. Treatment options can include an added antidepressant and therapy. But the best treatment is light therapy. In the winter months people are not outside in the sunshine as much. Due to the tilt of the earth, UV exposure is decreased, even if you do get outside. You can help your symptoms by making sure you get enough Vitamin D. I've done some lengthy posts on the benefits of Vitamin D (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).

Light therapy is really the best line of defense to combat SAD. Especially in very debilitating cases such as mine can be. Here is what a light therapy box looks like:

Bright white fluorescent light has been shown to reverse the winter depressive symptoms of SAD. Early studies used expensive "full-spectrum" bulbs, but these are not especially advantageous. Bulbs with color temperatures between 3000 and 6500 degrees Kelvin all have been shown to be effective. The lower color temperatures produce "softer" white light with less visual glare, while the higher color temperatures produce a "colder" skylight hue. The lamps are encased in a box with a diffusing lens, which also filters out ultraviolet radiation. The box sits on a tabletop, preferably on a stand that raises it to eye level and above. Such an arrangement further reduces glare sensations at high intensity, and preferentially illuminates the lower half of the retina, which is rich in photoreceptors that are thought to mediate the antidepressant response. Studies show between 50% and 80% of users showing essentially complete remission of symptoms, although the treatment needs to continue throughout the difficult season in order to maintain this benefit. Here's some more info from NAMI:
There are three major dosing dimensions of light therapy, and optimum effect requires that the dose be individualized, just as for medications.
  • Light intensity. The treatment uses an artificial equivalent of early morning full daylight (2500 to 10,000 lux), higher than projected by normal home light fixtures (50 to 300 lux). A light box should be capable of delivering 10,000 lux at eye level, which allows downward adjustments if necessary.
  • Light duration. Daily sessions of 20 to 60 minutes may be needed. Since light intensity and duration interact, longer sessions will be needed at lower intensities. At 10,000 lux – the current standard – 30-minute sessions are most typical.
  • Time of Day of exposure. The antidepressant effect, many investigators think, is mediated by light’s action on the internal circadian rhythm clock. Most patients with winter depression benefit by resetting this clock earlier, which is achieved specifically with morning light exposure. Since different people have different clock phases (early types, neutral types, late types), the optimum time of light exposure can differ greatly. The Center for Environmental Therapeutics, a professional nonprofit agency, offers an on-line questionnaire on its website,, which can be used to calculate a recommended treatment time individually, which is then adjusted depending on response. Long sleepers may need to wake up earlier for best effect, while short sleepers can maintain their habitual sleep-wake schedule.

Side effects of light therapy are uncommon. Some patients complain of irritability, eyestrain, headaches, or nausea. Those who have histories of hypomania in spring or summer are at risk for switching states under light therapy, in which case light dose needs to be reduced. There is no evidence for long-term adverse effects, however, and disturbances experienced during the first few exposures often disappear spontaneously. As an important precaution, patients with Bipolar I disorder – who are at risk for switching into full-blown manic episodes – need to be on a mood-stabilizing drug while using light therapy.
Mental health is extremely important for anyone. The changes your body goes through post WLS make things difficult even for those with no prior history. Also the many changes you go through psychologically after WLS is another debilitating factor. Their changes in your body image, dealing with the loss of food, addiction transference, loss of friends, as well as host of other things.

The LivingAfterWLS site is chock full of numerous articles dealing with the psychological changes after surgery. These are just a few of my favorites. You can see all of them by visiting the Library:

For those preparing for WLS and those already well on their journey, paying attention to your mental health is important. Just as making sure you get in your proper nutrition. I feel it is MORE important. They didn't do surgery on your head. That aspect you must take care yourself. One, follow up post op with a therapist. Two, find a good support group. three, get your family involved in follow up support too. Significant others, spouses go through many changes of their own. Even though it is YOUR journey, everyone around you is effected. Personally I feel all of this should be mandatory for all post ops for at least the first year. Online support, like the LivingAfterWLS Neighborhood can be a viable alternative to the bariatric center support group meetings. It can also be used in conjunction with those too. Further help is as close as your local mental health center.

Since you have taken the steps to regain your health, don't lose your mental health in the process. I have much more to share on the subject of mental health and WLS. So I will end up breaking it down into another post or two.

I'm off now on my camping trip. Then I'm taking a break from the internet. I should return sometime in December. Take care everyone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Have you lost control of your weight loss surgery tool?

My long time, online WLS friend, author Kaye Bailey, has been a great influence in my post op journey. I've talked frequently here on my blog about her wonderful website, LivingAfterWLS. Plus I've said many things about The Neighborhood. That's the online forum for LivingAfterWLS. Now Kaye has added another equally important site, 5 Day Pouch Test. Here's a little intro for you:

Have you lost control of your weight loss surgery tool?

Today learn and live the plan that is sweeping the surgical weight loss community. If you are asking:

Does my pouch still work?
Have I broken my pouch?
Am I doomed to be a failure at this too?
Can I lose the weight I've regained?
Is the honeymoon period over?
I never made it to goal weight and now I'm gaining. Help!

If you are asking these questions then the 5 Day Pouch Test is for you. In 5 Days you can rediscover your pouch, get back on track and lose weight with your weight loss surgery tool. You have not failed! You can learn to use the tool again!

This is a plan that Kaye developed based on the stages of a new post op. Many of my fellow "Neighbors" have had fantastic results following this program. You can read some of their own testimonials here. The site even contains some great recipes for the plan.

There are plenty of WLSers who fall into these categories above. If you are one of them, give it a try. Then come on over and join the Neighborhood and share your experience.

My Shopping List

Adam asked in a comment way back about things to increase the fat in his eating plan. I figured I'd just share some of the things I normally buy. I have done this in the LAWLS Neighborhood before, so I'll share that.

Real milk--from a local dairy--not raw---but not homogenized either
sour cream --full fat
Heavy cream-used alot
Real Butter(not margarine)-used alot
cottage cheese-full fat
cream cheese-full fat
huge variety of cheese full fat---fermented---sold locally but are Amish---so are natural cheeses----no cheese food products---REAL cheese only

chicken wings
leg quarters
whole chickens
boneless chicken thighs
whole turkeys, raw and smoked
shank or butt portion ham, smoked and fresh--no honey baked or glazed
pork roasts-butt/shank portion
pork chops
pork steaks
calf liver
chicken liver
frozen shrimp
canned crab
bacon---SF and nitrate free
fatty ground beef---no ground sirloin or round
fatty cuts of beef roasts or steak---example--rib eye, chuck
pork loin
tuna in oil
salmon and tuna steak pouches
canned sardines and fish steaks
smoked sausage
duck/goose---save the fat too
fresh gulf seafood when I can afford it, oysters, grouper, snapper,etc

onions---all kinds
peppers---multi variety--mild to hot
summer squash
spaghetti squash
some winter squashes---like butternut, acorn,pumpkin
fresh herbs
variety of frozen mixed stir fry type veggies
frozen blueberries, strawberries, blackberries(fresh when in season---used as a treat a couple of times a month)
baby salad greens
collard, turnip greens

almond flour
coconut cream
unsweetened coconut flakes
coconut flour
coconut oil---expeller pressed and virgin
lg variety of herbs and spices, no spice blends some have sugar
olive oil
walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans
sugar twin brown sugar
palm oil
walnut, macadamia nut oil
plain gelatin

other stuff
SF tomato sauce
SF diced stewed tomatoes
dill pickle relish
olives--black and green
variety of dill pickles
plain pkts of koolaid---I sweeten with stevia
unjury unflavored protein powder---used for quick protein shakes on occasion

I make all my own condiments including ketchup, mayo(made with a blend of coconut oil and olive oil), salad dressings, and marinades--I also now make my own SF gelatin and puddings---I have tried to eliminate all artificial sweeteners(use stevia, SweetPerfection now)--the only exception is the sugar twin brown sugar for my BBQ sauce.

I also visit a new butcher that is connected to a slaughter house here---I get bones and hooves and other usually discarded items to make my own broths---I use the poultry carcases for stock too---I also get large amounts of fat(generally pork) for rendering(that's making lard y'all)---I do get some whole fish to make fish stock>

I try to avoid processed foods of all kinds---that includes deli meats---which used to be a staple of my eating---too many chemicals---I do no soy products of any kind---I do no grains whatsoever---I make my own yogurt now also. I also use nut butters, like cashew and almond. They are great tossed with some veggies. Gives it an Asian flair.

I have returned to a more paleo type of eating---the eating that sustained our ancestors for thousands of years. Also try to keep it very high fat:

Why your low-carb diet should be high-fat, not high protein

So, that about covers it. I keep plenty of staples on hand. Then buy meat, veggies,etc according to my menu at the time. So what's on the menu at your house tonight?

Just Some Stuff

I'm in a hurry, super busy today. It's cold this morning so am having difficulty getting going.

My Blog

I decided to change the layout for my blog. What do you think? My oter blog is 3 columns. I just like it it better. Does it load okay for everyone? Are you able to read it easily? Just let me know in the comments section, if I need to change the font or colors.

Gary Taubes

Here are links to 2 videos on YouTube featuring Taubes. One is an excerpt from the Larry King Live show. The other is the interview done several years ago on PBS. That one has Taubes going head to head with Dr Dean Ornish. Here's a few more articles also to read:


Here's some interesting things from around the web.

Taking a Break

In the upcoming weeks I'll be taking a break from the internet. I've got too much stuff to get done prior to my son visiting. Just wanted to give everyone a fair warning way ahead of time. First I'll be going off camping again this weekend. Then I'll spend the next 2 weeks getting prepared for my son's visit. I have to do most of my holiday decorating and baking before he arrives. He is flying in on the 15th and will be going back home Thanksgiving Day. Then it will be putting the finishing touches on all my decorating. That will take me into December by then. I do have some posts in the works to put up before I leave this weekend.

Well gotta go----busy, busy, busy

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

All around the web, the talk is going on. Bloggers are posting about it. Message boards are talking about it. News reports are abundant. But in all this, the WLS community is strangely quiet. The message boards have nothing to say. None of the bloggers are talking about it, not even the more vocal ones. What is it I'm talking about?? THIS:

NewsDaily: Science -- Death rate higher after gastric bypass

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A University of Pittsburgh study found 6 percent of those undergoing bariatric surgery -- a treatment for severe obesity -- died within five years.

The study, published in the Archives of Surgery, also found the death rate for those with the surgery higher than that of the general population in the cases of heart disease and suicide.

Dr. Bennet I. Omalu, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues analyzed data on all bariatric operations performed on Pennsylvania residents between 1995 and 2004. Following 16,683 operations, 440 patients -- less than 3 percent -- died. Almost 20 percent of those deaths were from heart disease.

Of the 45 deaths from traumatic causes, 16 were suicides and l4 were drug overdoses not classified as suicides. National statistics for the general population would predict only two suicide deaths among this number of individuals.

The study authors suggest mortality after bariatric surgery could be reduced by better coordination of follow-up after the surgery, especially control of high risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking.

Since my blog focuses on WLS and mental health, I could not let this go.

I have posted before on the statistics surrounding WLS and mental health. Two thirds of those seeking to have weight loss surgery have a history of mental illness. I'm in the process of working on a more in depth post about this. I do want to leave you with this thought. If you have already had WLS, there is nothing weak of character in obtaining follow up psych help after your surgery.

If you are seeking to have WLS, think long and hard about your decision. There is more to this study than has been reported in the news. Bariatric centers want you to believe that having the surgery will better your health and allow you to live longer. But as my fellow blogger, Sandy Szwarc, BSN, RN, CCP, JunkFood Science points out, this study shows just the opposite is true. Here is just a small sample of what the study actually proves.

Junkfood Science: JFS Special: The latest research on actual deaths seen after surgery for weight loss

Looking at the cumulative deaths according to the time after surgery, they found that nearly 3% overall had died after the first year and 6.4% of the patients were dead by the end of the fourth year after their surgeries. They also looked at long-term risks, reporting:

We also estimated the long-term mortality for individuals who had undergone surgery many years ago. For the 1995 cohort who had at least 9 years of follow-up, 13.0% had died. From the 1996 cohort with 8 years of follow-up, 15.8% had died, and from the 1997 cohort with 7 years of follow-up, 10.5% had died. For the 1998-1999 cohorts with 5 to 6 years of follow-up, the total mortality was 7.0% to 2004.

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reports that the overall death rates among Americans of the same age is 0.352% — for men it is 0.44% while for women this age it’s 0.26%.

These are minuscule compared to the numbers dying after bariatric surgery. In fact, there is no data to suggest that fat people die at ten times the rate of most Americans to even approach these death rates. The most available figures are the latest estimates of deaths according to BMI led by Dr. Katherine Flegal, Ph.D., at the CDC, National Center for Health Statistics. Using NHANES I - III data, they found that among American adults of this age, those with BMIs of 35 and higher (qualifying for bariatric surgeries) had increased relative risks of dying of 25% for nonsmokers or 83% overall. (These rates are slightly higher than calculating actual deaths and estimated numbers of Americans with BMIs >35 in NHANES III. As Flegal and colleagues noted, the latest NHANES data indicates mortality rates associated with high BMIs have continued to drop since then with each NHANES.)

This equates to actual mortality rates for the most “morbidly” obese of about 0.44% to 0.64% — still not appreciably higher than the rest of the population and nowhere close to the bariatric surgical patients of comparable ages and weights in this study.

So, by best estimates, bariatric surgery likely increased the actual mortality risks for these patients in the first four years by 363% to 250%.

So read the rest of the post. That way you can make an informed decision on having WLS in the first place. Stay tuned for my more in depth look at the mental health aspect of WLS coming up soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dr Larry McCleary---Book Signings

I'm in the process of reading Dr McCleary's book, The Brain Trust Program. So far I'm really getting into it. It makes a good addition to my ever growing library about nutrition and health. I was most interested in this because it deals with brain health.

While checking out his website. I noticed he had some book signings coming up in November. So those of you in that area take time to meet him in person. Here are the dates:

  • Saturday, November 10, 2007 - 3 PM Sundance Books, 1155 West 4th Street Suite 106, Reno, NV, Reno, NV (775) 786-1188
  • Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO
  • Week of March 10, 2008 - Explore Booksellers, 221 East Main Street, Aspen, CO (970) 925-5336
He also has a blog on his website--it is very new. But there are already some good posts. One post was especially profound for me:

The Unhappy Brain

I recently received an email questioning whether mental illness might in whole or in part be related to diet and nutrition. It is clear to me that the two are intimately related. Around the turn of the prior century the mental asylums of the southern United States were filled with patients suffering from dementia, melancholy, psychosis and a host of related ailments. The disease responsible for this malady became known as pellagra. The prevailing view of the medical profession at this time was that such an epidemic could only be caused by an infectious agent. It took the knowledge and willpower of Dr. Joseph Goldberger to convince his colleagues that pestilence was not the cause. He proved that the deficiency of a single nutrient from the diet, niacin (nicotinic acid) in this case, was the causative factor. To change the mindset of the medical establishment he and his associates held 'filth fests' where they, acting as human guinea pigs, injected themselves with blood and ingested the excreta from patients severely afflicted with pellagra. Other than for squeamishness in several of the study participants, no symptoms of disease developed over the ensuing six months. This served to dispel any further investigations into the 'germ' theory of pellagra (niacin, or nicotinic acid, deficiency disease). Nicotinic acid therapy produced miraculous results. In spite of this discovery, it still took five years to cure the large number of patients suffering from the disorder. Part of the problem was the persistence of poor dietary habits. Poor nutrition remains a major health problem today.

Because of sporadic food fortification, pellagra has become a relic of the past. However, the broad role of nutrition, and more specifically the impact of prolonged, less severe, dietary deficiencies appears to be playing an increasing role in the production of an array of illnesses. Mental diseases are no exception. This is being recognized in the clinic and in the laboratory. Based on such insights physicians have started recommending dietary interventions alone, or in addition to pharmaceutical treatments to help their patients. A Harvard-based psychiatrist, Dr. Andrew Stohl, thought one reason responsible for the increase in depressive disorders he was seeing was related to changes in the essential fatty acid content in the modern diet. There are two essential fats required by the body. They are the groups of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. We are consuming much more omega 6 fatty acids than required, and much less omega 3 fat. Not only is the absolute amount of each class of fats important, their ratio is also key. Today we are experiencing an absolute deficiency of the omega 3 fats and a dramatic increase in the omega 6/omega 3 ratio in our diet. When persistent, these alterations produce inflammation and cause changes in cellular attributes of neuronal function.

To test his theory, he studied the response to essential fatty acid (EFA) therapy in a group of depressed patients. Using pharmacological doses of the omega 3 EFAs (meaning about 5-10 times the amount required on a daily basis), he noted a marked improvement in their depressive symptoms. Additional studies documented improvement in patients with Bipolar Disorder. He also observed that in a number of his patients he was able to lower the dosage of medication when he incorporated omega 3 EFAs to the treatment regimen. Obviously this is something that should not be considered without the input of your personal physician. It does show the power of nutrition to beneficially impact brain function specifically in the arena of mood disorders.

When provided in amounts in excess of the RDI, other nutrients such as folic acid have been shown to beneficially impact depressive symptomatology. This suggests that they have functional utility beyond their established role in basic metabolic processes.

Mental illness clearly also has a genetic component, but the clinical phenotype-meaning if, when, and how it expresses itself- is clearly modulated by nutritional factors. This reasoning even applies in the realm of ADD/ADHD (attention-deficit disorder/attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder) where symptomatic improvement has coincided with EFA therapy. This suggests to me there are intimate links between brain function, diet and mental illness and one component in the prevention and/or treatment of these devastating conditions should involve dietary recommendations.
Here once again is food for thought, so to say, that nutrition DOES play a significant role in mental health. I've done plenty of posts about this aspect of treatment. Hopefully someone out there is listening. I know first hand the devastating effects of having a mental illness. We all know that long term psych drug use can actually make the illness worse over time. So being able to decrease your meds is a good thing. Check out this book and don't forget about the book signings. I'll post my review when I finish it.

"GoodCalories, Bad Calories"

Before I get into my review, I want to make this qualifying statement. This is not a "diet book". It is a book written by an esteemed science journalist. Gary Taubes is a correspondent for Science magazine. The only print journalist to have won three Science in Society Journalism awards, given by the National Association of Science Writers, he has contributed articles to The Best American Science Writing 2002 and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000 and 2003. He is not just another diet guru trying to sell a book. In this groundbreaking book, the result of seven years of research in every science connected with the impact of nutrition on health, award-winning science writer Gary Taubes shows us that almost everything we believe about the nature of a healthy diet is wrong.

If there is one book I would recommend everyone to read it would be this one. It is a long book and very detailed as far as the science goes. But Taubes does a good job at breaking it all down so anyone can understand it. It's not a "light" read by any stretch of the imagination. He picks apart many of the held beliefs when it comes to nutrition. Even showing how many studies are twisted around to prove the exact opposite of what the press release stated. All of this done to not go against mainstream thinking.

One of my favorite parts has to do with appetite, weight gain and eating. As someone who was formerly morbidly obese, I dealt with the notions from others that I was fat because I was just lazy and sat around stuffing myself all day. Taubes turns things upside down by claiming you eat too much as a result of getting fat.

Whoa!! Wait a minute. That makes no sense......Well actually, if you look at the explanation in the book you will see it makes perfect sense. Dr McCleary explains it better than I ever could:

Why is appetite so important? We need to eat to survive. When animals are offered diet chow in a solution they drink enough to meet their bodily energy requirements. When water is added, they drink more of the solution; but the same number of calories. Hence we eat because of the need to deliver the appropriate level of nutrition to the cells of our bodies. We can use calories in the form of protein, fat or carbohydrate. However, to be utilized they must be made available to the active cells. Since we don't eat when we sleep, we must overeat during the waking hours to compensate for the nocturnal period of fasting. As this is done, we store what we don't metabolize in our adipose tissue (fat stores). During sleep periods or between meals, the fat must be released from our fat cells into the circulation for delivery to the active cells throughout the body. If this doesn't happen and the fat is confined in our storage depots, we can't access the nutrients we require and become hungry. Since the body can't discriminate calories coming out of storage from what we eat, our appetite increases and feeding is initiated.

What is the controlling factor that prevents fat from being released by the fats cells? It is an enzyme (functional protein) that transports fat out of the adipose cell and into the bloodstream. Think of it as a switch that can be turned off and on. When turned off, fat stays where it is. When turned on, it is released into the blood to be burned in the cellular furnaces of the heart, muscles, brain and other organs. Unfortunately the switch gets stuck in the off position. What determines this is the level of the hormone insulin in the bloodstream. Not only does insulin regulate blood sugar levels by transporting sugar out of the blood into muscle cells, it also acts as the fat storage hormone. So, in a sense, weight gain is a hormonal problem. The hormone responsible is not low thyroid levels, but high insulin levels. Thus, the key to successful weight loss is to release fat from fat tissue instead of eating more. Low insulin levels do just that.

Looking at things another way, if we very effectively store food in our fat cells, we will need to eat more to met our metabolic energy needs. It is as if the body is blind to the calories stored as fat if it has no access to them. All that is required is the ability to make them available, which means letting them move into the bloodstream. This involves turning on the fatty transport switch by lowering insulin levels. Insulin levels are determined by carbohydrate levels. The way to think about the process is sugar raises insulin levels, which prevent the release of calories stored in adipose tissue, which prevents us from using them as a fuel source, which increases appetite, which makes us eat more. So it is the storage of fat that drives us to eat more, not the consumption of excess calories that drives obesity.
So we get fat because we eat too many carbs---carbs turn to fat when not used. And the more carbs we eat the hungrier we are. The hungrier we are the more we eat and the fatter we get. So by limiting your carb intake you lower your insulin which lets fat cells be used for energy and you lose weight.

The 11 Critical Conclusions of Good Calories, Bad Calories:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, does not cause heart disease.
2. Carbohydrates do, because of their effect on the hormone insulin. The more easily-digestible and refined the carbohydrates and the more fructose they contain, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars—sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup specifically—are particularly harmful. The glucose in these sugars raises insulin levels; the fructose they contain overloads the liver.
4. Refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are also the most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the other common chronic diseases of modern times.
5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating and not sedentary behavior.
6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter any more than it causes a child to grow taller.
7. Exercise does not make us lose excess fat; it makes us hungry.
8. We get fat because of an imbalance—a disequilibrium—in the hormonal regulation of fat tissue and fat metabolism. More fat is stored in the fat tissue than is mobilized and used for fuel. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this imbalance.
9. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated, we stockpile calories as fat. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and burn it for fuel.
10. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
11. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.
Taubes has really done a wonderful job with the science research behind this book. But you don't have to take my word for it. Read the book yourself. Also check out some of these other reviews. There are many. Not all are positive. You should be given all the info and decide yourself on the facts. The best way is to read the book yourself.

I warned you there would be many of these to look at. But once again READ THE BOOK!!! Ten you will be able to make an informed decision about your health and nutrition.

Friday, October 19, 2007

10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Hunger

One of the many blogs I read is by Dr John Briffa:

Dr John Briffa qualified as a doctor from University College London Medical School in 1990. A prize-winning medical student, he also completed an intercalated BSc degree in Biomedical Sciences during his medical studies.

Since graduating, Dr Briffa has developed a special interest in nutritional and naturally-oriented medicine. He works in private practice in London.

Dr Briffa is an award-winning health writer and has contributed to a wide variety of publications. He was formerly the natural health columnist for the Daily Mail, and has been the Observer’s nutritionist since 2002. He is the author of several books on the subject of nutrition and natural health.

Dr Briffa is a lecturer and broadcaster. He regularly delivers health-focused and work-life balance seminars and courses to corporations. Clients include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Reuters, IBM, the Bank of England, Morgan Stanley, Baker and Mackenzie, Bovis Lendlease, Deloitte and Touche, GE Money and Numico. He is also active in the education of members of the public and health professionals in the area of nutrition and natural medicine in the UK and abroad. He is a regular guest on radio and TV.
This is taken from his post for today:
10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Hunger

1. Forget about calories
While there is some element of truth in the calorie principle, it neglects the fact that different types of calorie are burned differently in the body. While fat is often singled out for attention in low-calorie approaches, there is evidence that when calorie intakes are the same, individuals that eat the most fat actually lose the most weight. Also, the effect that a food has on subsequent appetite will also determine, ultimately, its influence on food intake and weight. The key to long-term weight loss is not to concentrate on the quantity of the food that you consume, but its quality.

2. Eat protein-rich foods
Calorie for calorie, protein has been found to satisfy the appetite more than either carbohydrate or fat. Protein-rich foods that are naturally appetite-sating and worth emphasizing in the diet include meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds.

3. Eat low glycemic index (GI) foods
The GI is a measure of the speed and extent a food releases sugar into the bloodstream. The higher a food’s GI, the less satisfying it tends to be. Of 20 studies published between 1977 and 1999, 16 showed that low GI foods promoted the satisfaction derived from that meal and/or reduced subsequent hunger. Protein rich foods have very low GIs, though other options include beans, lentils and most fruits and vegetables (other than the potato).

4. Eat breakfast
For many, eating breakfast helps to prevent over-eating later in the day. This phenomenon was studied formally in a piece of research published in the Journal of Nutrition. The results of this study showed that those who had consumed the bulk of their food near the end of the day ate, on average, significantly more calories than individuals who ate more substantial amounts of food early on. So, to put a natural break on the appetite, make sure you don’t skip breakfast.

5. Graze, don’t gorge
If we get too hungry, it’s difficult to control what we eat and how much we eat of it. Eating between meals (e.g. some fruit and a few nuts) can make it a lot easier to eat more healthily at meal time. Also, consistent eating has been found to be associated with lower levels of the insulin – a hormone that can cause weight gain in the body by stimulating the production of fat. A piece of fruit and a handful of nuts or seeds represents a healthy and convenient snack for the late morning or afternoon.

6. Don’t buy it
When none-too-healthy food is easily available to us, it can be difficult to resist. On the other hand, if it’s not in the cupboards or fridge, you can’t eat it. So don’t buy it. Critical to doing this with relative ease is to make sure that food shopping, especially in a supermarket, is not done when hungry. So eat before you go shopping, not after.

7. Curb alcohol intake without sacrifice
One way to bump up intake of unwanted calories is with alcohol. Some drinking may be driven by taste and the ‘relaxant’ effects alcohol can have. However, what is less well recognized is that drinking can also be driven by plain thirst and hunger. Maintaining hydration during the day and not coming home or walking into a bar or restaurant very hungry can really help to curb alcohol intake without any sense of sacrifice.

8. Use small plates
Adequate portions of food can easily get ‘lost’ on big plates, so there can be a tendency to serve (and eat) more than is strictly necessary. Using smaller plates and bowls can help make it easier to eat enough, but not too much.

9. Chew your food
Eating more slowly helps ensure that food is more likely to ‘register’ in the body, and reduces the risk of eating more than is surplus to requirements. Ideally, food should be thoroughly chewed to a cream before eating. It can also help, once food that has been put in the mouth, to not touch the food or cutlery again until that food has been thoroughly masticated and swallowed.

10. Discover your ideal diet
Physiological studies show that different people metabolize specific foods with different efficiencies. For instance, some individuals are very good metabolizers of fat, while others run better on carbohydrate. Maintaining a healthy weight is therefore partly about feeding the body with the foods it is best adapted to."The True You Diet"
I already make use of these tips. Although,I say that fat fills you up better than protein. As I've stated before, low carb has to be high fat not high protein. Too much protein is bad for the kidneys. Having guidelines such as these has made a big difference in my weight loss and most importantly, my maintenance. So try them out for yourself.

Larry King Live: "Great Diet Debate"

Everyone needs to take the time to check out Larry King tonight. He's gonna have a pretty lively conversation going. Guests will be:

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories,Bad Calories. I know from reading his book, he supports a carb restricted, higher fat dietary approach.

Dr Mehmet Oz, best known as Oprah Winfrey's diet guru, he is definitely in the low-fat, low-calorie, portion control camp. He is co-author of the book, You on a Diet.

Dr Andrew Weil, natural health advocate and alternative remedy promoter who also follows the low-fat line of thinking.

Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels, or Kim Lyons. One of these three trainers on the hit NBC-TV reality show "The Biggest Loser" will participate. Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels are mindful of how carbohydrate-restriction are helpful for some with weight loss, but Kim Lyons is a low-fat and low-calorie supporter.

Joy Behar, panelist from the ABC show The View. Now what she can add to this discussion, I have no idea. But it will surely be a sight to see.

They will be discussing the controversial topics raised in Taubes book, dietary fat is not the evil cause of all diseases, carbs are. It should be a very lively and possibly heated debate. So check it out tonight. Show time is 9:00 PM EST.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Home Again

Well, I'm home from my "mental health" vacation. I didn't realize how stressed out I had become. I arrived at the campground early in the morning. I got my camp set up, had lunch, took a walk, sat down in my lounge chair and fell fast asleep. I slept the entire afternoon. I got up ate, took another walk, made a fire, sat back down and fell asleep again. I then took another short walk and went right to bed and slept all night long. All this sleeping is something I just do not do. Most days I only get 5 hours of sleep, max. And then only if I'm zonked out on my meds.

I spent the remainder of the days there doing some hiking, visiting with fellow campers, and lots of reading. I finished Gary Taubes' book and will be doing a review of it later. I started Dr McCleary's book also, but have yet to finish it. I also read some good ol' romance novels, just for pure entertainment. Here again that is something I rarely do. Most of my reading is of the research kind or some self help book, generally all non fiction.

It is sad that I feel compelled to do that. I feel that my time has to always be productive. That I always have to be accomplishing something. Seldom taking time to just do something for the enjoyment of it. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being goal oriented. But having "down time" is critical too. I have a tendency to feel guilty when I take "me" time. I think that is something taught to girls from the crib. Alot has to do with my obsessive compulsive personality.

I guess it really goes back to my days of being morbidly obese. I was the consummate overachiever. I had to be the best and brightest. I still think that way. But I'm determined now that I will begin taking more time to just stop and unwind. Find some things just to do for fun. No particular goal in mind. It will take time I'm sure. But as I've said before, I'm a work in progress.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Off Camping Again

I know I just got back from a camping trip. But this weekend is perfect camping weather, highs in 70's an lows in the 40's. I'm heading out tomorrow and won't be back until late Monday.

I met some real nice people last time. They and a large group of their friends will be coming down Thursday. It should end up being a pretty good time.

No phone, no TV, no computer, but lots of fresh air and exercise. I will be taking some books with me of course--the new one by Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories. Also taking the one by Dr. McCleary, The Brain Trust Program....

I'm taking the remainder of Mental Health Week, to renew my own mental health.

So have a good weekend y'all. See ya.....

Mental Illness Stigma

Mental Illness does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender or socio-economic status. Many mental illnesses begin during childhood or the teenage years.

One out of five Americans will experience a mental disorder during their lifetime. But, people can get better. With proper treatment, most people with a mental illness recover quickly, and the majority do not need hospital care, or have only brief admissions.

Mental illness has traditionally been surrounded by community misunderstanding, fear, and stigma. Stigma towards people with a mental illness has a detrimental effect on their ability to obtain services, their recovery, the type of treatment and support they receive, and their acceptance in the community.

Exactly what is stigma? Stigma means a mark or sign of shame, disgrace or disapproval, of being shunned or rejected by others. It emerges when people feel uneasy or embarrassed to talk about behavior they perceive as different. The stigma surrounding mental illness is so strong that it places a wall of silence around this issue.

Do you know that an estimated 44 million Americans experience a mental disorder in any given year?

  • Do you know that stigma is not a matter of using the wrong word or action?
  • Do you know that stigma is about disrespect and using negative labels to identify a person living with mental illness?
  • Do you know that stigma is a barrier that discourages individuals and their families from seeking help?
  • Do you know that many people would rather tell employers they committed a petty crime and served time in jail, than admit to being in a psychiatric hospital?
  • Do you know that stigma can result in inadequate insurance coverage for mental health services?
  • Do you know that stigma leads to fear, mistrust, and violence against people living with mental illness and their families?
  • Do you know that stigma can cause families and friends to turn their backs on people with mental illness?
  • Do you know thatstigma can prevent people from getting access to needed mental health services?
NAMI has an ongoing fight to break the cycle of stigma that is abundant in our nation. Part of that fight is StigmaBusters. I happen to be a member.

NAMI StigmaBusters is a network of dedicated advocates across the country and around the world who seek to fight inaccurate and hurtful representations of mental illness.

Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmaBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes. They seek to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. StigmaBusters' goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.

Each month, close to 20,000 advocates receive a NAMI StigmaBusters Alert, and it is read by countless others around the world online. Send it to your own personal and professional networks.

Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.
This is from the latest Alerts newsletter:

During Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 7-13), the movie CANVAS will be released in five cities. Whether it succeeds will depend on how well it plays at the box office—in terms of tickets sold. The test will be in Chicago and New York on October 12, followed by Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Phoenix on October 19. If Friday and Saturday ticket sales run high, the release will expand to 200 cities nationwide.

Starring award-winning actors Marcia Gay Harden and Joe Pantoliano, CANVAS is the story of a family's struggle with schizophrenia. The film educates as well as entertains. It will strike a blow against stigma, but only if enough people see it.

The NAMI Advocate has suggested ways to help. You don't even have to live in one of the five cities. Here are the key ones:

* Go see the movie if you live in those metro areas
* Spread the word! Email family and friends in the five cities about the film this week!
* Buy tickets on-line early during the week before each opening. Donate tickets to others.

Theater locations currently are available for four of the five cities. Check local listings for Ft. Lauderdale as the date approaches.

* In Chicago, starting Oct 12: AMC Loews 600 North Michigan 9, 600 N. Michigan Ave. 60611

* In New York, starting Oct12: Regal Union Square Stadium 14, 850 Broadway, 10003

* In Los Angeles, starting Oct 19: Laemmie Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Boulevard, 90046

* In Phoenix, starting Octo19: Harkins Shea 14, 7354 E. Shea Blvd, (Scottsdale) 85260

Modeling Straitjackets

On October 3, "America's Next Top Model" featured contestants "perfecting their runway walk" while wearing straitjackets, as part of a competition to prove they can make it in "the high-stress, high-stakes world of supermodeling." The set was a mock, abandoned psychiatric ward and the modeling coach, dressed as a nurse, scolded them not to walk "like the former patients of this hospital."

The CW Television Network needs to know:

* The episode was outrageous—mocking people with mental illnesses. Would the show ever use a cancer ward as the setting for a modeling test?
* Straitjackets represent extremely painful, traumatic experiences. Their image is hurtful to individuals and families who struggle with mental illness.
* Using straitjackets for entertainment demeans individual dignity and trivializes mental illness.
* Straitjackets are often associated with violence. Their image reinforces the kind of stigma that the U.S. Surgeon General has found to be a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it.

Rick Mater
Senior Vice-President for Broadcast Standards
The CW Television Network
220 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017

Halloween Horrors

It's the season again for ghosts and goblins, and unfortunately stigma. Every year, some local haunted house attractions take the form of "insane asylums," featuring "mental patients" as murderers or ghouls. Halloween costumes or other products may reflect similar themes. If Halloween stigma arises in your community:

* Contact the civic sponsor or commercial owner of an attraction or the store manager. Usually, no one intends to offend, but they need to understand that the effect is not only offensive, but also generates stigma.
* If necessary, ask for a group meeting. Explain the public health concern.
* Ask that the theme of the attraction be changed or modified. If the immediate cost is too great, ask for a public statement or written letter of assurance that the theme won't be repeated in future years.
* Ask that a store product be removed from shelves. For chain stores, ask to contact the regional manager.
* Generate a letter-writing campaign. Work as part of group. Inform the news media. Write letters to editors. Use the controversy as a "teaching moment" about mental illness and the need to eliminate stigma
* Try to create partnerships for the future. Thank and praise responsiveness. After the controversy is resolved, invite the civic group or business to support NAMI's broader goals by helping sponsor a walkathon or other local event. Ask if they can help distribute pamphlets.

Stigma "Red Flags"

Whether it's a Halloween attraction or any other portrayal in the entertainment or advertising industries, here are factors that can be weighed to determine whether mental illness or people with mental illnesses are being stigmatized.

* Inaccuracy
* Stereotypes
* Portrayed only as antagonists or villains
* Linkage to violence
* Disparaging language
* Devaluation (trivialization)
* Using mental illness as the butt of a joke
* Offensive or insensitive symbols (e.g., straitjackets)

It makes me angry to see things like the straitjacket wearing models. The media is always quick to portray someone with a mental illness as being violent. It makes for better copy in their opinion. In reality, someone with a mental illness is more likely to be a VICTIM of violence.

If you have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness, brain disorder, psychiatric disability, what can you do to combat the stigma? Here are a few suggestions to help you deal with the pressures of stigma:
  • Get appropriate treatment. Don't let the fear or anticipation of being stigmatized prevent you from seeking treatment for your illness. For some people, a specific diagnosis provides relief because it lifts the burden of keeping silent and also underscores that you aren't alone — that many others share your same illness and issues.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people. Because stigma can lead to social isolation, it's important to stay in touch with family and friends who are understanding. Isolation can make you feel even worse.
  • Make your expectations known. People may not know how to support you, even if they want to help. Offer specific suggestions and remind people of appropriate language.
  • Don't equate yourself with your illness. You are not an illness. So instead of saying "I'm bipolar," say "I have bipolar disorder." Instead of calling yourself "a schizophrenic," call yourself "a person with schizophrenia." Don't say you "are depressed." Say you "have depression."
  • Share your own experiences. Speaking at events can help instill courage in others facing similar challenges and also educate the public about mental illness. Until you gain confidence, you may want to start at small events, such as talks at a support group or church community.
  • Monitor the media. If you spot stigmatizing stories, comic strips, movies, television shows or even greeting cards, write letters of protest that identify the problem and offer solutions.
  • Join an advocacy group. Some local and national groups have programs to watch for and correct archaic stereotypes, misinformation and disrespectful portrayals of people with mental illnesses.

Start with yourself. Be careful about your own choice of words. Use accurate and sensitive words when talking about people with mental illness. Your positive attitude can affect everyone with whom you have contact.

Try to influence all the people in your life constructively. Whenever you hear people say things that show they do not really understand mental illness, use the opportunity to share with them some of the information that you have.

We have already changed the way we refer to women, people of differing ethnic backgrounds and people with physical disabilities. Why stop there?