What I Learned at a Mexican BBQ

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I didn't have plans to do anything on 4th of July but I did get an inpromptu invitation from a Mexican family to join their BBQ. 

There were some lessons this BBQ taught me:

1) Mexican BBQ's are delicious. Go to one if you can.

2) Forget portion control sometimes (if I hear that word again, I'm going to scream). If the host puts food on the plate, eat it. If you have the chance to eat something that you've never tried, eat it. I'd never tried carna asada or nopales (grilled cactus). The homemade tortillas and guacamole were unreal.

3) Your health goals can conflict with cultural norms. If the host expects you to eat and eats lot, there is going to be a conflict. Personally, I eat more than I want to satisfy the host. As long as you don't do it everyday, it's fine. In some cultures, like the Philippines, Italy, and Mexico, declining food is seen as an insult. You can eat less, but sensitive to the culture. There's no need to be insensitive on your way to your...

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Too Many Choices

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"In New York, freedom looks like...too many choices..."- New York by U2 (2000)<--- one of my all-time favorite songs

One concept that stood out to me in Paradox of Choice was the tyranny of small decisions.

Barry Schwartz, the author, makes three points about too many choices:

1) it makes decisions harder to make (which flavor should I get?)
2) it makes mistakes more likely 
3) it makes psychological consequences more severe ("why did I get this one?")

We live in an unprecedented era of choice, freedom, and abundance, but there's a sinister side to that: we have the ability to make bad decisions about what we do and what we eat.

You can't alter your environment very much, but what you can do is change the pathways in your brain so that you consistently make better decisions about what you eat. Too many choices send your brain into a frenzy, overstimulate it, and make you lose control. 

Rewiring your brain doesn't mean inpatient therapy or brain surgery. It's much...

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Less Freedom is More

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One of the things that struck me as I was reading Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz was the idea that we need to put voluntary restraints on our freedom.

As a strong advocate for personal liberty and choice, this struck a nerve. How dare he he put "freedom" and "restraints" in the same sentence.

But as I pontificated about this sentence, I realized how true it is.

When you get married, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes
When you have kids, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes
When you decide to go to school, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes
When you house your in-laws, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes

Apply this to your own health and you'll see massive improvements. 

When you say no to dessert, say no to the donuts, say no to the 158 fast food restaurants that are beckoning you, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes, but for a good reason.

When I was a binge eater, my problem wasn't lack of freedom, but too much of it! Easy access to transportation, easy access to credit, too much...

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What I Learned Reading the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

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Back in the day, my mother would give me the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue for Christmas. What more could a 14-year-old boy want for Christmas? My father, as square as they come, was always horrified. 

They haven't changed much over the years. Picture after picture of beautiful women wearing nothing but a couple of strings. 

Of course I don't "read" the SI swimsuit issue. There are some articles in there but nobody reads them.

I did notice a couple of things:

-A woman in a hijab on page 14. Diversity!

-The cigarette ad on page 71. I mean, they're still advertising these things?

-The 54-year-old beauty on the last page. Beauty at any age!

-And of course, the Snickers bar on the back cover. See previous e-mail.

-I can't imagine how much preparation goes into these shots. They probably take dozens of shots over days to get the exact right shot. This means you shouldn't try to emulate the pictures.

-Women like this are rare, which is probably why men drool over them. We want what...

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Less Freedom is More

Uncategorized

One of the things that struck me as I was reading Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz was the idea that we need to put voluntary restraints on our freedom.

As a strong advocate for personal liberty and choice, this struck a nerve. How dare he he put "freedom" and "restraints" in the same sentence.

But as I pontificated about this sentence, I realized how true it is.

When you get married, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes
When you have kids, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes
When you decide to go to school, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes
When you house your in-laws, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes

Apply this to your own health and you'll see massive improvements. 

When you say no to dessert, say no to the donuts, say no to the 158 fast food restaurants that are beckoning you, are you sacrificing freedom? Yes, but for a good reason.

When I was a binge eater, my problem wasn't lack of freedom, but too much of it! Easy access to transportation, easy access to credit, too much...

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Talk to Your Doctor Before Reading This E-mail

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If you live in the United States, you know one of the anomalies of this country is that drug manufacturers can advertise directly to consumers (DTC). I think the only other country where this is allowed is New Zealand. 

This comes with pros and cons. Does this lead to more drug consumption? Probably, otherwise drug companies wouldn’t do it, would they?

I was reading an article the other day about medical schools and how little they teach their students about nutrition. If I recall they only get 12-24 hours of nutrition. 

Are you serious?

That’s why I laugh when I hear ads that say, “talk to your doctor about…” The truth is, most physicians are so burned out and overworked they have little time to read about the latest research. 

If you saw 30 patients in one day and spent two hours writing notes, the last thing you want to do is read a peer-reviewed article about the latest drug or read about nutrition science. At that point I'd rather eat...

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The Prevention Myth

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I remember hearing some doctor at a conference saying that “you can never get too much prevention.”

Now you see entire magazines devoted to prevention of this, prevention of that. There’s this idea that you can prevent every exigency that could possibly occur to you.

I remember Joel Salatin, the great farmer, one saying, “what you prepare for never happens.”

That generally has applied to my life with rare exceptions. 

But prevention has become so trite that it hardly means anything anymore. 

How much can you possibly prevent the worst-case scenario? Do people get cancer because they didn’t engage in enough “preventative health?”

One thing you can prevent is bad behavior. You’re always capable of preventing that. You can’t prevent hurricanes, drought, Ebola, genetic deformities, heart attacks (to some degree you can, with basic measures), climate change, the next political election (sorry, your vote barely counts). One...

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Mexico's Obesity Problem

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I made a video this week about obesity in Mexico. Common culprits are:

-Coca Cola and Pepsi 
-Large corporate conglomerates 
-Large supermarkets 
-Candy stores and churros on every corner 
-Sugar 
-Too much meat 
-Advertisements 
-Cartoon characters on boxes
-NAFTA (the article I reviewed talked about the effect of free trade)

Well, even if these were the problem, they’re not going away any time soon. Trade isn’t ending despite talk of a “trade war” or whatever between Trump and China. Supermarkets aren’t disappearing. Candy stores aren’t disappearing. Tony the Tiger and that chef on the box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch might disappear if regulators have their way, but the cereal will still be there. 

My point is, the environment isn’t going to change any time soon. I remember in the nadir of my eating disorder (circa 2014), I kept thinking an environmental change would solve everything. If the weather got warmer, or...

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The Silent Health Hazard

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In this week’s video I talk about dieting.

I consider dieting to be a health hazard. It’s directly responsible for many of the health ailments we have in society. 

Where does it come from? You weren’t born to diet. Nobody was.

Somebody, somewhere along the way (parents, peers) told you that you weren’t good enough or some other BS that infected your head. 

I got the idea when I was 20 that I had to look a certain way. I was insecure about everything but at least I could control what I eat, or so I thought. 

Without dieting, think about the world we would live in:

-No binge eating 
-No disordered relationships with food
-Fewer cases of obesity and diabetes and other health problems 

The list goes on. I’m not saying that eating disorders cause all of this all the time. Ignorance plays a good role in it too (and I'll talk about that in future e-mails). Just look at obesity rates in Brazil. Is that all caused my dieting? No, but any society...

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Awareness Trumps Strength

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I was reading Paradox of Choice the past couple of weeks. It was in my book queue for 14 years before I finally got around to it.

BTW, if you recommend a book, I might not get to it for another 14 years. Just keep that in mind. 

Anyway, one thing Barry Schwartz said really stood out to me:

“But adaptation is so fundamental and universal…that there is very little we can do to mitigate it directly. However, simply by being aware of the process we can anticipate its effects, and therefore be less disappointed when it comes.”

Notice the word, “aware.” 

I don’t think willpower is as important in weight loss and addiction recovery as many think. It’s not that it’s not important, but what it’s important is being aware of the processes in your head. 

Your brain has various ways of deceiving you and making you do things you would prefer not to do. 

But once you’re aware of those processes, then you...

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