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Friday Fun! (Musings On My IBS)

June 15, 2012 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

This week I haven’t seen much of my library since I’ve been participating in the Science Librarian Boot Camp.  I’ll be posting my notes from the Neuroscience section next week, since I think those were the most interesting (at least so far).  Perhaps the capstone this morning will be inspiring as well and make the grade too though. 🙂

It’s been great to see some of my librarian friends this week, although the Boot Camp was a bit of a struggle.  I’ve been experimenting with eating less dairy for multiple reasons (primarily health).  I ate quite a bit of dairy on the first day of the conference and subsequently had a flare-up of my IBS.  Not pleasant, trust me. :-/  It was frustrating and frankly hard on me emotionally.  I’ve struggled with this syndrome for so many years and just when I think it’s mostly under control, something happens again.  Although I am passionate about heath, it is frankly sometimes difficult to have to be so incredibly strict on my diet, stress level, sleep amount, etc…. or pay the consequence of being physically ill almost immediately.  Trust me, I wish I could indulge in gluttony periodically with the only consequence being a few extra miles on the treadmill!  But I know in the grand scheme of things it’s a minor thing to have to deal with, and I am lucky that Boston is such a mecca of vegan food.  The key for me, I think, will be figuring out how much indulgence is acceptable to my body.  Nobody can be strict all the time!  In the meantime, FSM bless Boston for having indulgences like vegan cupcakes.

I also guess this just means I’m going to have to start requesting vegan food at the conferences.

This weekend I’m hoping to see one of my good friends, resume work on my next novel (tentacles, oh my!), and of course gym it.  Happy weekends!

 

 

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Book Review: Diet For a New America by John Robbins (Diet for a New America Reading Project, Book 1)

January 22, 2012 10 comments

Red white and blue book coverSummary:
John Robbins was born into one of the most powerful corporations in America–Baskin-Robbins.  A company based entirely on selling animal products.  Yet he took it upon himself to investigate the reality of animals products and their impact on Americans, American land, and the world overall.  This book summarizes his extensive research, including personal visits to factory farms.

Review/Discussion:
This is the first book in the Diet for a New America Reading Project 2012 I am hosting.  The project is focused on educating ourselves on the facts behind health and preventative medicine for the well-being of all Americans, an issue that I am sure we can all agree is a serious one.  If you join the project late, please feel free to come back to this post or the GoodReads group after you’ve finished the book to join in on the discussion.  And now, on to the book!

There are books that you read that are so incredibly powerful you are left almost speechless.  Simply wanting to hand out copies to everyone you know, everyone you meet and say, “Please, read this.”  I highlighted so much in my copy that I couldn’t even do my usual of posting all highlighted quotes to my tumblr.  I discovered I was practically illegally reproducing the book, hah.  😉  I thus will do my best to highlight precisely why I find this book trustworthy, why I feel inspired by John Robbins, and the most stunning facts I learned while reading the book.

Why You Should Trust This Book
As a medical librarian, I was very careful to check out Robbins’ resources for his facts, particularly for the health section, which is what this project is focused upon.  Robbins drew his research from vetted, peer-reviewed, well-respected scientific journals, including ones I routinely use in my own work, such as Journal of the American Medical Association, the British Journal of Medicine, and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  He also cites the studies of such organizations as the FDA, the EPA, and the National Cancer Institute.  Additionally, he conducted personal interviews with real factory farmers and scientists.  Additionally, all of his citations are in order.  You may not like the facts he reports, but they are still scientifically backed-up facts.

The fact that John Robbins researched the effects of animal derived foods on the environment and people and decided that it is bad for everyone involved is remarkable when you consider the fact that he comes from a family whose business is based entirely on selling dairy to Americans.  If the man had an innate bias, it would absolutely be on the side of carnists/omnivores, but he astoundingly conducted the research and came down on the side veg*ism.  (His family reunions must really be something…)  This not only makes me respect him, but trust him.  Somebody must be truly convinced to convert away from a business that has made his family, and presumably himself if he had agreed to take over the business, extremely wealthy.

But enough about why this book is trustworthy.  Let’s move on to discuss the astounding scientific facts revealed in the three different sections: animal rights and factory farming, health consequences of eating animal based products, and environmental consequences of meat-based diets.

Animal Rights and Factory Farming
I definitely believe this knowledge is more widely spread than when this book was first published.  I have a hard time imagining growing up in America and not coming to understand the horrors of factory farming, but you never know.  Robbins talks about the psychiatric fact that children who grow up abusing animals are more likely to become criminals in later life.  This, of course, is a basic reason to not base an entire sector of the American economy around factory farms that treat animals horribly like cogs in a machine.  Of course there are more reasons to treat animals well, such as the fact that dogs’ EEG scans are identical to human’s or that dolphins routinely save humans and other animals in the ocean or that many species of animals mate for life showing a dedication most humans can’t pull off.

The horrors of factory farming are so extensive that it’s difficult to even list them.  I feel as if I could go on and on.  Perhaps the best way is to tell you to imagine being in the most crowded elevator possible.  Now imagine that 20 of the 24 hours you’re in there it’s dark.  You’re standing on a slanted, slatted, metal floor.  The food for everyone is all on one side and is dumped in all at once and you must shove and race to get to it.  Of course it’s difficult to even call this food.  It’s a mix of shit, paper, sawdust, chemicals, and antibiotics all spiked with yet another chemical to make it smell better to you.  If you are female, then a hand periodically reaches in and artificially inseminates you, only to rip your baby away from you the instant it is born and hitch machines up to your mammary glands instead of allowing your milk to go to your baby.  If you are male, you are castrated by placing a band around your testicles until they fall off after weeks of the circulation being cut off.

That is the reality for factory farmed animals.  Even if you can manage to ignore the fact that these animals are being pumped full of chemicals and artificial growth hormones that you will then ingest yourself when you eat them or their products, that is still a horrifying way to get your food.  These animals live in terror and pain and die in terror and pain.  There is nothing natural about a factory farm.  Animals were meant to live outside and graze and nurse their babies and maybe live in a herd or a flock.  Not be caged up in situations so unnatural that they literally go crazy and cannibalize each other when they are naturally herbivores.  That is the reality of what you are supporting when you buy factory-farmed animal products.

Human Health
Ok, so maybe now you don’t believe in factory farming, but what about eating animals in general?  We were raised to believe that a healthy diet involves meat, dairy, and eggs, right?  Surely if an animal is raised organically and humanely all will be well?  Well, the meat and dairy lobbyists have done a LOT of work to hide from you the scientific studies that show their products are unhealthy for you.  If you read only a portion of this book, read the health section.  It is impossible for me in this discussion and review to make as eloquent a point as Robbins does.  I will instead sum it up for you.

In scientific studies published in reputable scientific journals such as JAMA, vegetarians have drastically less occurrence of: heart disease, all cancers, strokes, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis, ulcers, IBS, arthritis, kidney stones, gallstones, hypertension, anemia, and asthma.  Those who still have any of the chronic diseases are distinctly less symptomatic than the meat-eaters.  Vegans (people who consume no animal products whatsoever) have even LOWER occurrences than vegetarians.  This is vetted by multiple different studies run by different scientists in multiple nations.  Even simply comparing the data of these diseases between countries following the standard American diet and those following a primarily plant-based diet backs these statistics up.

I am sure that those of you who read the book as I did were stunned to hear that these studies have been in the reputable journals since as early as the late 1960s and 1970s and yet we have not heard about them.  Who is to blame?  The meat and dairy lobbyists of course.  What would happen to their businesses if the American people suddenly stopped following the standard American diet?  The Dairy Council provides the nutritional packets at your kids’ schools.  Think about that.

The Environment
The environmental impact of a meat-based diet has started to crop up more often recently with the increased interest in the green movement.  Essentially, Robbins primarily reiterates what I believe most of us already know.  The chemicals necessary to factory farm are bad for the whole planet.  It takes more fossil-fuel energy, more water, and more acreage to feed one person a meat-based diet than a plant-based diet.  These are things that are definitely relevant, particularly to people who don’t believe in human population control.  What I personally found most interesting in this section though was the discovery that American imports meat from Central and South American nations who have been destroying rainforest to do so, and their people are still overwhelmingly on a meat-based diet.  Thus these nations are destroying their own ecologies to support Americans’ wasteful meat-based diets.  That is just disgusting and selfish on our parts.

My Conclusion
I am honestly a bit shocked at the extent of the facts that I didn’t know when I became a vegetarian in January of 2006.  I admit I mostly became one out of an empathy for animals that I have always strongly felt, but additionally the less meat I ate, the better I felt.  Becoming a vegetarian mostly eliminated the symptoms of my IBS as the scientific studies Robbins cites showed.  But….I have a hard time imagining anyone reading the facts like this and not drastically changing their eating habits.  So many of the economic and personal problems in the US today have to do with health.  So maybe you’ve read this book and you still don’t care about animals and you still believe humans are better than them.  But don’t you want to be as healthy as you can be for your lifetime?  Wouldn’t you rather be a happy, healthy grandparent than a stooped-over one on multiple heart medications or going through chemotherapy?  Even if you don’t care about that, don’t you want to leave a healthier planet for your children and your children’s children?  The facts unequivocally show that the fewer animal products you consume, the better all of these outcomes will be.

Once we become aware of the impact of our food choices, we can never really forget. (page 379)

Source: Better World Books

Buy It

Discussion Questions:

  • Robbins believes that the scientific studies reported in the medical journals aren’t well-known because of the meat and dairy lobbies.  Do you think this is the case?  Why or why not?
  • If you do think the facts aren’t known because of the meat and dairy lobbies, how can we combat this?
  • If you don’t think the lobbyists have anything to do with the lack of public knowledge of these issues, what do you think the true cause is?
  • Do you believe the fight for organic animal farming is doing anything to help the environmental and health issues cited in the book?
  • What do you think can be done to get the meat and dairy lobbyists out of our schools?
  • Would you be willing to change your diet knowing the facts about the diseases it can cause or do you think it’s not worth the effort?
  • Do you believe money is better spent on treating the disease or preventing the disease?
  • Do you think world hunger can be successfully combated with a change in the diets of those in the first world countries?

Friday Fun! (On the Heat Wave and Musings on Self-control)

July 22, 2011 6 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  Sorry this week was a bit short on reviews.  I actually finished a second book, but didn’t have time to write up the review.  It’ll be up Monday!  Sales of Ecstatic Evil are up into the double digits. Woo!  I can’t tell you how exciting it is to know that people are reading my story.  Of course, now I need to return my focus to the new book that will be out in October….

We’re having a disgusting heat wave in Boston this week.  The temperature has been regularly hitting 98 degrees (which is unfortunately not as fun as the boy band of the same name.  Yes I’m a child of the 90s).  I’ve been told by people not originally from the northeast that 98 degrees here feels insanely worse than 98 anywhere else in the US because we have horrible humidity to go with it.  I wouldn’t know, having never lived elsewhere in the States, but I believe them.  I’ve mostly been hiding in my living room with my window ac unit watching this show from Australia on Netflix.  (Um, it’s about three teenaged mermaids……It’s kind of awesome).

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about why doing what’s best for yourself can be so damn hard at times.  For instance.  Not only is fried food bad for people in general, but for me, it has a tendency to make me sick.  (I have IBS, which I discussed at length during Invisible Illness Awareness Week).  Anyway.  I know this.  I know that fried food tastes amazing but is bad for me and will make me sick.  Yet this week I still tried deep fried mac and cheese.  It tasted amazing, yes.  I also puked it right back up an hour later after having a stomachache for that whole hour.  All I could think for the whole hour was WHY did I do this to myself?  What is it about instant gratification that makes you ignore things like “this will make you sick stop it.”  I’m 25.  You’d think I’d have this whole self-control thing….well, under control by now.  But periodically I don’t, and I don’t know why that is.  I suppose it’s just part of being a person.  We all do stupid things sometimes.  I just…..wish we wouldn’t? Lol.

This weekend I’m hoping to see Captain America, get in some gym time, and maybe sell back some books to my local indie bookstore.  There’s also going to be a lot of time spent writing smack in front of my ac (if the cat will give me that primo spot back).  Happy weekends all!

Friday Fun! (On Tuesday!)

February 16, 2010 4 comments

I realized that I missed Friday Fun last week, and given that my current read is pretty long and a lack of movie watching, I haven’t posted since Thursday. My bad!

I took last Friday off of work and had Monday off for President’s Day.  Yay being a non-essential employee of a hospital!  I spent Friday running errands, shopping, and cooking.  I discovered a Stop n Shop that is closer to my apartment than the Shaws I had been frequenting, and let me tell you, their prices are insanely low!  Plus they have more vegetarian options than Shaws does.  I’m a total convert.

Also this weekend, I paid my first visit to the Apple Store’s Genius Bar.  It wasn’t for me; it was for someone else’s iPhone.  I haven’t dared to bring in my baby, erm, MacBook, even though it does this freaky thing where it restarts if I close it.  It took observing someone else using the Genius Bar for me to realize that they are totally awesome!  They’re like librarians’ nerdy twins, and you guys should totally make appointments to use them.  It was some of the best customer service I’ve ever seen.  Just be sure to make your appointment online before you go, or you’ll wind up waiting a while.

Hope you guys enjoy your evenings.  Don’t forget there’s a new episode of Lost tonight and a new Wolf Bite Wednesday tomorrow!

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

September 18, 2009 6 comments

I discovered via Random Musings from the Desert that this week – September 14-20 – is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week.  I was unaware that such a week or an organization exists, but this is awesome!  Too often people suffering from illnesses without obvious symptoms are told it’s all in their heads.  Well, it’s not.  In honor of raising awareness, I decided to complete the groups’ 30 things questionnaire about my own invisible illness.

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

1. The illness I live with is: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2006

3. But I had symptoms since: Well that’s hard to pin down.  I had minor symptoms periodically in my teens, but they grew insanely consistent and nearly unlivable in December 2005.  Imagine the worst stomach bug you’ve ever had.  Now imagine that lasting two months, but only showing up in the mornings and that was my life.

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: My diet, my diet, my diet.  IBS caused me to become vegetarian and severely limits what processed foods I can eat.  It’s really hard to tell people “I can’t eat there” or “I can’t eat that,” because if they don’t know I have IBS then they relentlessly question me, mock my food choices, or even just assume that I’m picky and spoiled.

5. Most people assume: That symptoms are consistent.  That it’s my fault because I’m stressed out too much.  It’s true that stress-reduction techniques can help IBS symptoms, but stress does not cause IBS.  It’s true that sometimes I puke but not every time I’m symptomatic.  There’s nothing really consistent about IBS.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Breakfast.  Do I attempt to eat breakfast? Should I eat even though I don’t feel hungry?  Lots of times I’m nauseous in the mornings.  Even if I’m not nauseous there’s no guarantee that eating breakfast won’t cause me to become symptomatic.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: Scrubs.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My iPod (not sure what this has to do with anything…..)

9. The hardest part about nights are: Nights are actually usually the easy part for me as long as I ate well that day.

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. I don’t take any consistently. Though I do try to take B12.  When I was first diagnosed, I took a lot more until I got the symptoms under control.  It was mostly herbs and digestive support alt med stuff.

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: would be in hell without them.  The regular medical doctors were only able to give me a pill that added passing out on top of my other symptoms.  A naturopath gave me dietary and exercise advice as well as the dietary supplements previously mentioned.  Changing my diet and exercise routines combined with those pills were a serious life-saver.  I went from being symptomatic every day to about two days a month.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: An invisible one.  It’s relatively easy to hide if I don’t feel like talking about it, which is most of the time.

13. Regarding working and career: Most of my jobs have been really understanding about it. Yay libraries!

14. People would be surprised to know: That people with IBS are at a higher risk for developing eating disorders, because they come to view food as evil.  This is not a big surprise since people with IBS know that the only time they are guaranteed no symptoms is when their digestive tracts are empty.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: That I can’t eat whatever I want anymore.   Also, the fact that when I’m symptomatic and puking in a public restroom, people always make snarky asides about me being either bulimic or pregnant.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: There’s nothing I thought I’d never be able to do again that I now can do.  I still can’t eat Pringles, for example. (Hey, I really like Pringles).

17. The commercials about my illness: Make it look like only women have it, and we all bloat up and stand around holding our stomachs.  They also make it seem like a pill could fix it, when it can’t. (yet)

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Again, being able to eat whatever I want!   Ah, to vary this up, how about puking only occurring the once in a blue moon I got a stomach bug.  Now it’s a monthly occurrence.

19. It was really hard to have to give up: Fried food. I can still eat it somewhat, but it’s risky.  I also miss Doritoes.  And bacon.

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Yoga!  It’s so beneficial for IBS symptoms.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: (repeating myself) Eat whatever the hell I wanted all day without worrying about how I’d feel later.

22. My illness has taught me: It led me to reading vegetarian cookbooks, which educated me about factory farms (terrible places).  It has also taught me to respect people’s food choices without asking them annoying questions about them.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “It’s your fault because you’re too stressed.”

24. But I love it when people: Make a point to do the extra checking to make sure a restaurant we’re going to will have food I can eat.  I also love the various people who’ve held my hair when I’m throwing up.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: I really don’t have one.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Skip the regular doctors and go alt med.  Make lifestyle changes and your symptoms will improve.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: How much other people care about my stomach.  In both the good and the bad sense. 😉

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Anybody who’s held my hair and/or cleaned up for me when I was too ill to is really high up there.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I think it’s a good cause!  I wasn’t even aware IBS existed when I was first symptomatic.  Awareness of these things is always a good thing.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Honored. 🙂