[New Yorker] Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free?

What’s so bad about gluten anyway?

“To find out the effect something like gluten has on people’s diets is complicated,’’ he said. “We’ll need long-term studies, and there won’t be a useful answer for years. So, instead of telling everyone you are going on a gluten-free diet, what if you said, ‘Hey, I am going on an experimental regimen, and it will be years before we know what effect it might have.’ I don’t know about you, but instead of saying ‘Eat this because it will be good for you,’ I would say, ‘Good luck.’ ’’

‘This is getting out of hand. We are seeing more and more cases of orthorexia nervosa”—people who progressively withdraw different foods in what they perceive as an attempt to improve their health. “First, they come off gluten. Then corn. Then soy. Then tomatoes. Then milk. After a while, they don’t have anything left to eat—and they proselytize about it. Worse is what parents are doing to their children. It’s cruel and unusual treatment to put a child on a gluten-free diet without its being indicated medically. Parental perception of a child’s feeling better on a gluten-free diet is even weaker than self-perception.”


The New Yorker always brings it with nuanced, well-research, and unbiased reportage.

Moolissa? More like, BOO-lissa: the dish on dairy + acne

You might know me as the person with the best skincare routine ever. I was preaching the gospel of “actives” across the intertoobs. Not one to toot my own horn, but I pretty much miracle-workered myself. Within 6 months, I went from pizza face to one that was fairly clear, smooth, and healing from hyperpigmentation scars. Since puberty, I’ve always had acnegenic skin that managed to be both dehydrated and oily. Genetics, right? What a bitch. Finding r/SkincareAddiction saved my skin. I learned about BHA and AHAs, how chemical exfoliants performed better than physical exfoliants. Tossing out my face scrubs (go to hell, St. Ives apricot!) and creating a routine that kept my skin moisturized and clear (no more oily skin!) meant that I could go bare face more often.

And then… this happened.


acne 7-1 wm

There’s a cluster of acne on the chin with some closed comedomes and whiteheads joining the party.


There’s a lot of contributing factors to acne, almost as many as the number of treatments out there. I’ve been experimenting with some new skincare products in the past month. I know, I know, why mess with perfection? I couldn’t help myself to new skincare! Luckily, no deleterious effects came from the new products. I always patch test and add one new product at a time. That way, I can easily identify the cause of any skin irritation. Aside from a couple closed comedomes, my skin didn’t explode with this level of acne until a week ago. In fact, I haven’t had a break out this bad for a few months. The last time this happened it was because I was consuming a lot of skim milk. I haven’t consumed dairy in earnest for a number of years. From time to time, I’d have some cream sauce, stilton, or ice-cream, but never made the connection between dairy and acne.




Apparently, I am allergic to dairy. I didn’t know that was a thing. I’ve heard of lactose intolerance, but this is a whole different ballgame. I tried lactose-free milk for a few weeks because I thought lactose was the problem. LIES. These past few weeks have been full of fro-yo and ice-cream bars. Bad for the fitness bet, and bad for my face. I should know better.

Should you abstain from dairy for clear skin? Technically, the scientific literature is unclear about this. THERE IS NO STRONG CORRELATION, much less causation, BETWEEN DAIRY AND ACNE/INFLAMMATION. At least universally.  For most folks, dairy products are harmless. In fact, it’s one of the best high-satiety foods for diets. If you have an intolerance or allergy to dairy, however, you might want to double check your skin to see if abstaining from dairy products will make a difference. I know it’s hard, but put down the cheetos. And walk away.


works cited

I think I’ll just stop eating tomorrow because this took too damn long





Counterclockwise from top:

breakfast: 2 raspberry tea cookies, english muffin sandwich with pepperjack and turkey

lunch: brown rice, teriyaki meatballs, sauteed bamboo shoots

snack: grapes and 2 fig newtons, loads of Ladro coffee, [update] kirkland oatmeal cookie, handful of unsalted, roasted almonds

dinner: FUCK IT.



Bentos or bust

Despite planning to step up my game last week, it’s been pretty difficult to break some habits. Especially when my employers keep bringing in snacks and lunches that are not bet-friendly. Not that it’s their fault. I’m a grown person who should have some damn self control. In theory, at least. Both claims are debatable. The worst part is, free food tastes better.

For this upcoming week, I will be photographing all of the bentos/meals I am bringing to work. Packing your lunch is the best way to ensure that you stay within your calorie limits. Willpower won’t be an issue when you pre-plan. It also helps my April low-spend challenge. Lots of birds are being killed this month. FOR SCIENCE.


What the fuck are you supposed to eat, anyway?

What the fuck are you supposed to eat, anyway?

But what lesson can we draw from the cautionary tales of eggs and trans fats? We would surely be slow learners if we didn’t approach other well-established, oft-repeated, endlessly recycled nuggets of nutritional correctness with a rather jaundiced eye. Let’s start with calories. After all, we’ve been told that counting them is the foundation for dietetic rectitude, but it’s beginning to look like a monumental waste of time. Slowly but surely, nutrition researchers are shifting their focus to the concept of “satiety”, that is, how well certain foods satisfy our appetites. In this regard, protein and fat are emerging as the two most useful macronutrients. The penny has dropped that starving yourself on a calorie-restricted diet of crackers and crudités isn’t any answer to the obesity epidemic.


Let’s not jump so quickly to conclusions. As a commenter noted:

Conclusion from the abstract: Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.

Which is not the same as saying “now we reckon polyunsaturated fats are good for you”. It means, current evidence is (statistically) inconclusive.


If you’re going to science or interpret science, do that shit right. I’ll stick to my current regimen of everything in moderation. And of course, to eat as intuitively as possible.

bootleg intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a pretty big trend amongst the anti-breakfast fascists.

Conventional dieting wisdom (we all know how well that usually works out) tells us that the most important meal of the day is breakfast: skip it at your own risk. If you forgo the first meal of the day, it can potentially lead to overeating around lunch time because you’re a goddamn glutton without any sense of self control.

There’s also a lot of buzz around how eating breakfast “jumpstarts” your metabolism. What are we, 5? Your metabolism is on all the time. Otherwise, you would be dead.

Practice IF if you want to. Or don’t. What I like is that when I shorten my eating window, I trick my brain into thinking I am eating a lot more. Instead of 3-4 meals of ~500cals each, I get to have 2 meals of ~1000cals. BAM. SATED.

homer knows what's up

homer knows what’s up

what’s the relationship between microbes and metabolism?

The Blaser lab also investigates whether antibiotics may be changing the animals’ microbiome — the trillions of bacteria that live inside their guts. These bacteria seem to play a role in all sorts of immune responses, and, crucially, in digesting food, making nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight. […]

By the time we reach adulthood, we have developed our own distinct menagerie of bacteria. In fact, it doesn’t always make sense to speak of us and them. You are the condo that your bugs helped to build and design. The bugs redecorate you every day. They turn the thermostat up and down, and bang on your pipes.

I know that fecal transplants are all the rage right now, but I’m going to ease into with with maybe a belly button lint swap. Who am I kidding? I shiver at the thought of even acknowledging someone else’s mouth germs.