Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Foodie Pen Pals Reveal - Manly Man Edition

It's that time again! Time to grab $15 worth of goodies and trade off in the mail. Yes, it's ...

The Lean Green Bean

This time, tireless RD and FPP diva Lindsay continued the one-on-one exchange system instead of the round robin version. And she set me up with Nick from Virginia. Yes... a man!! Out of thousands of FPP participants, it was a testosterone exchange. Bring it on!

Nick told me of his appreciation of grilling. I talked about my appreciation of hockey. (What? I eat everything!) We both said we'd send each other manly stuff.

Soon, my squishy FPP envelope arrived, and what did Nick send?

A Clif Bar, Jack Daniels Marinade in a Bag, A Chocolate-Chipotle bar, BLT dip mix, olives in a bag, Halloween peeps, and DeeDee Desserts No Bake Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake mix.

This is, without a doubt, the manliest Foodie Pen Pal Package I've ever received. I've used the olives in a sauce, but I'm still debating on what to marinade. And that no bake mix would probably make a decent custard.  Yeah, I never was a recipe follower.

And I did try the BLT Dip, which was like a sweet onion mix with bacon bits. I didn't have cream cheese or sour cream on hand, so I used ... silken tofu and yogurt. I know, I know, but it still tasted rugged.

This is definitely a departure for the usual FPP reveal. It is a lot of sugar in one place, but I've already had offers for sharing:

Black cats and pumpkin peeps...very October appropriate!

As Nick doesn't have a website, let me show what I sent him. He did say he liked grilling, so:

Assorted rubs and condiments/glazes, some jerky, some bacon mints and of course, candy for Halloween!
I hope you liked it, Nick! (Dude, you gotta acknowledge! There are some FPP rules we all must follow!)

So, it was a different package, but it adds to the diverse tapestry that is the receiving of free food n the mail.

Now it's off to watch the Rangers. And eat not so manly BLT dip.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It Never Gets Old...

The season of reality shows is coming back in full swing. In many ways these are a guilty pleasure for me. Partially they are a sense of escape and partially they reaffirm that, yes, at least my life is not like THAT, nor would I ever go through that exposure just for fleeting fame. Sadly, a lot of these shows involve many people from my homeland of Staten Island. All I can say to that is: You can't blame that much on editing.

Of course, a lot of makeover shows are on nowadays including weight loss programs. I know a popular one is The Biggest Loser. I admit I do tune into that one, now more than ever in Streamlined times.  I don't really need to reaffirm what many people think about this show. I won't even link to those posts, because they are everywhere. Suffice to say that I do feel it is presenting a very unfair view of weight loss and the idea that "failures" on the show are only losing 2-5 lbs. a week....well, it's just bad. It reminds me of one of my previous attempts at weight loss a few decades back. I managed to lose 25 lbs. and reached a tableau. And I felt like a complete failure.

Because I. Only. Lost. 25. Lbs.

Sigh. I'm glad that mindset is over. 

But this also brings to mind the endless attempts at dieting and the yo-yo effect that can have on someone.

But this is nothing new. I've already mentioned some of the old diet and cookbooks I own. Now how about a old time "reality show'?

This fascinating paper on President William H. Taft's correspondence with a doctor about weight loss had me hooked. Taft certainly cut a prosperous figure:


But he had concerns about his health. The prescription for weight loss reads remarkably modern (without the "fads"): reasonable amounts of food, exercise and daily logging of weight. There are some historically unique aspects to the plan (Taft's exercises including horseback riding, as opposed to something we might now consider more rigorous), but the gist is very much the same as today.

There's even the other aspects here which show how little things have changed. Taft was a celebrity that was publicly ridiculed for his weight. He tended to report a higher weight loss than he actually managed to achieve. He did lose a lot weight but gained a lot back when he stopped dealing with his physician. This was also not the first doctor and weight loss prgram to which he subscribed. And this particular doctor also used his work with Taft to promote his own diet business, cashing in on this celebrity diet.

When Taft passed away he was about 70 lbs. less than his highest weight, but still considered "morbidly obese" by today's standards.

Taft's legacy as President and as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court is quite varied (He is the only person to hold both positions). But sadly he's probably remembered more for being the fat president. 

Strange to think that dieting and celebrity is more embedded in our collective mind than governmental and judicial initiatives still in play. 

Maybe we should elect Snooki to the Supreme Court. But first I need to go track down some of Taft's doctor's books to add to my collection.


Deborah I. Levine; Corpulence and Correspondence: President William H. Taft and the Medical Management of Obesity. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2013 Oct;159(8): 565-570.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Obsessively healthy

Enough laziness....time to get my workout on!

I knew those Pilates classes were good for my core! :) 

Much as I am a sucker for the Scopitone era, one thing that does strike me is that a lot of the women (and the one guy) dancing around that pool would be considered "unfit" by today's standards. And not in the sense that they are "fat", but rather that they don't look "strong." (Which is really another way of saying "thin but with visible muscles.")

I'm all for understanding what a healthy body looks like and I still get a bit giggly when I catch my reflection in a mirror (Hello, studly!), but I know that it took some time to actually convince myself that I don't have to be a solid six-packed beefcake dude nor super-skinny fella to look good AND look healthy. 

And yet there's this trend happening with these "Fitspiration" or "fitspo" posts on websites, facebook, etc. I'm sure you've seen them, so I won't bother putting one on here, even snarkily. 

It's still a shaming and somewhat misguided way of saying "you're not good enough, but here's some bad, pat advice with a still unrealistic photo to make you feel passive-aggressively better." And I know I'm not the only person that has problems with this trend. This post covers it pretty well.  However, it also draws me towards a topic about which I'm not too happy; the excessive attitude of many of the health-minded people. 

At various points in my life, I've had to drop some friends and acquaintances who were just unhealthy to be around. Sometimes it was for reasons centering about substance abuse, sometimes it was someone who just promoted a toxic environment. It's never easy, even when you know you have to do it, but it does happen. And lately I've had to "unfriend" those people who I felt were not healthily contributing to Streamlined Ska Librarian lifestyle. 

I'm not talking about people who insisted on eating pans of lasagna in front of me or those who would get frustrated now that I've cut back on the beers. Different eating habits don't mess up friendships, at least in my thought process. No, the people who I had to "let go" were all "healthy living" folks. Because how they were treating themselves (and others) was very unhealthy.

I previously posted about Social Physique Anxiety and my own change in mindset towards gyms and working out. We've seen enough about eating disorders and how societal factors contribute to those. But what about exercise and "healthy living"? Can someone treat it like a disorder? Is there such a thing as going too far? 

A few bloggers have coined it as "healthorexia" but I see it's actually been addressed some years before as Orthorexia Nervosa. That does seem to be more oriented solely towards food intake, but the expression does seem to be used as well to denote those folks who take both healthy food and exercise to an extreme.  

There have been some studies questioning whether or not it is an actual disorder and one somewhat troubling study seeing if there was a prevalence of orthorexics among Dietitians! (Hmm...Dietitians with food issues...that's like Librarians as hoarders.)

Whatever it's official diagnosis, I can't help but think these Fitspo photos have not helped. It gives the impression that you're otherwise doing it wrong. 

And I'm not immune. Almost a decade ago, I tried the Low Carb diet. And one day, I ate 8 grapes. And I proceeded to freak out that I ruined my whole diet experience. Thankfully, I immediately checked myself and realized there was something fundamentally wrong with any eating plan that would do that to your head. 

And yet, that's what we're seeing in orthorexics and those people who are no longer my friends. Every few weeks was a new "eating plan" that usually included some point of abstinence, starvation or "special food", while exercising to the point of continued injury and ill health. And then deriding those who did not follow the same plan. Never mind that it often changed from week to week. As a friend, I tried to support them but it soon became apparent that they did not want support that didn't follow their own strictures. 

But I've now seen this behavior all over the web, too. And unfortunately it's now easily shared among the internet and with it, the bullying atmosphere that comes with this medium: 

"You didn't puke? You're not exercising enough!"  
"You made non-paleo cupcakes? Stuff your face with failure!" 

How does this help people feel better about themselves? I'm all for being pushed into working harder. That's why I go to a trainer. But it's not about doing something til I puke. Or as my trainer put it, "I'm not here to beat you up, Dan. You seem quite capable of doing that yourself. I'm here to take it in the right direction."

So, I'm not a fan of this orthorexic movement. But I also hope that in my own quest for Streamlined life, I have not been perpetuating this attitude among others. One of the saddest parts of my Streamlined Ska Librarian journey is losing friends who feel they no longer "know me" because I'm trying to live healthier. Is it because I'm no longer staying out late drinking pitchers and eating entire pizzas? Or have I become something less palatable? Have I become as toxic as those people that I have had to unfriend? It's a reality check, to be sure. 

I'd like to think I'm basically still me, but more aerodynamic. So I hope to work on still being that way. If I start posting photos of airbrushed athletes with "hang in there, baby!", you all have the right to delete me.


Kinzl, Johann F., Katharina Hauer, Christian Traweger, and Ingrid Kiefer. “Orthorexia Nervosa in Dieticians.” Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 75, no. 6 (2006): 395–396. doi:10.1159/000095447.
McInerney-Ernst, Erin Michelle. “Orthorexia Nervosa: Real Construct or Newest Social Trend?” Thesis, University of Missouri--Kansas City, 2011.
Vandereycken, Walter. “Media Hype, Diagnostic Fad or Genuine Disorder? Professionals’ Opinions About Night Eating Syndrome, Orthorexia, Muscle Dysmorphia, and Emetophobia.” Eating Disorders 19, no. 2 (2011): 145–155. doi:10.1080/10640266.2011.551634.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Is there really anything I won't eat?

Darn, I missed National Kale Day last week! The parades, the costumes, the kale massage contests! How will I ever get over this?

I really have no opinion on kale and it's special day. I mean, I like kale, been eating it for years....sure, why not have a parade? It is now sort of the ubiquitous hipster of the food world. But I do eat it.

I often talk about how I will eat (or at least try) everything. There's only one food I CAN'T eat and that's mussels, to which I developed an adult-onset allergy, and evidently that's pretty common. It's too bad because I do love them, and I can no longer truly bond with my Flemish pals.  

Het spijt me, mijn mosselen eten vrienden!

But if I had to list one food product I that prefer to consistently avoid it would be nutritional yeast and yeast spread. In other words, Marmite, Vegemite, that crumbly stuff on raw kale chips, an everything in that genre.
Now I love salty, funky, umami tasting foods, but these always seem a little ... wrong. I can't describe it, but it's just not worth eating. I always found it bad combination between a cheesy-beefy-tangy taste without the better notes of actual cheese and beef (and Tang).

Then when I was in France this past summer, my English-Dutch hosts had a variety of spreads on the breakfast table every morning:

What? no marmalade?
And every morning, I would watch their kids combine two of these spreads on their toast. And while we Americans may immediately assume it would be the two great tastes of chocolate and nuts, it was in fact peanut butter and Marmite.

Peanut Butter. And. Marmite.

That just seemed wrong. 

I of course did what any good American older gentleman would do: I made fun of them.

Soon after, my current "dating companion" wanted to try Marmite. So we bought some (it is available in many shops around NYC). There was one recipe for Marmite mushrooms, which only one of us liked (and it wasn't me). I thought that might be the end of it.

However, I am taunted by this image every morning in my kitchen:

*Sob* What do you WANT of me???

And one day, I was spreading plain peanut butter (just peanuts, no salt, sugar or additives) and I thought I'd give it a little kick.

So I ate the Marmite with peanut butter. And I've done it more than once.

So what made me do it? I'm not sure. Studies show that we are often conditioned by societal and cultural factors as to whether we will like food and changes in our diet. Now these two studies and many others focus on healthier eating habits but I think it's apt for many aspects of food preference.

When I started on my Streamlined Ska Librarian lifestyle, I had to make some major changes to my food intake. But because I was open to lots of tastes already, I didn't find it hard to alter my meals. nothing was too "odd."

But just because I do eat everything doesn't mean I want to eat everything. But it also doesn't mean I forgoo any usual conditioning and start liking it. 

So, will PB&M be my new go-to breakfast? Ummm....will there be kale?


Nestle, M., Wing, R., Birch, L., DiSogra, L., Drewnowski, A., Middleton, S., Sigman-Grant, M., Sobal, J., Winston, M. and Economos, C. (1998), Behavioral and Social Influences on Food Choice. Nutrition Reviews, 56: 50–64. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.1998.tb01732.x
A. Eertmans, F. Baeyens, and O. Van den Bergh.Food likes and their relative importance in human eating behavior: review and preliminary suggestions for health promotion. Health Education Research (2001) 16 (4): 443-456 doi:10.1093/her/16.4.443

     n.p. (2004, July 9). "Seafood allergies often begin later in life." Medical News Today. Retrieved from  10 Oct., 2013