I run into a surprising number of people in their 20s and 30s who have no idea how to cook. Healthy eating - particularly on a budget - is much easier if you know how to cook. Since family seem to be failing at teaching these skills, some are calling for a return of home economics programs. It seems like a good idea - not only practical, but confronting obesity early is very attractive.
One can make arguments that physical eduction, assuming it focuses on teaching a life-long appreciation of physical activity, and shop classes should be considered relavant. Sigh ... and then perhaps basic money management and critical thinking...
Most new vegetarians and vegans start using some meat substitutes as they become used to their new diets. Unfortunately these tend to be not very tasty and are very expensive (Morningstar Farmes products are better tasting than most, but often cost more than $8 a pound). Making your own meat substitues costs much less, but frankly is often not very successful. Fortunately, at least for those of us who know how to cook, you quickly learn there are many new interesting foods to investigate and meat substitutes become less important.
Meat is a very inefficient use of resources - it taakes a lot of energy to make meat ... frequently ten times as much as an equivalent amount of plant based nutrition. With many cutting back on meat for health and or environemntal reasons there is a growing market for meat substitutes.
I've been very interested in Beyond Meat, which several good sources claim is good enough for foods where meat is part of the mix rather than the main focus. It may be a good enough substitute and, in theory, it will cost less than meat. Currently it is being trialed in Northern California Whole Food markets.
To make this work they need scale - it turns out they have an important investor who may be able to provide just that.
Beyond Meat's intitial product is only semi-interesting to me, but their future plans are very interesting and may end up making an impact on a piece of the environment and even health. I hope they can pull it off.
I publish periodic charts showing my weight maintenance results to date.1 This is largely to give myself some accountability. I've found maintenance to be much more difficult than loosing weight. Motivation is difficult and there is often a bit of hunger towards the end of the day.
The good part is I'm learning quite a bit about metabolism and hunger mechanisms and am doing experiments to see what works for me. The experiments are very slow by nature as it is difficult to sort out the feedback signals, but I have learned that (a) breakfasts are essential, (b) a good amount of protein for breakfast seems to be essential, (c) dramatically reducing fat alone increases my food cravings. This is leading to some curious breakfasts that seem more like light dinners and (d) periodic treats are essential to prevent long term cravings.
I suspect that what I'm learning is far from universal - quite a bit of individual tailoring will be required. For me exercise is also important - not so much for actual weight control as the amount of exercise necessary for modest weight change is large compared to food intake - but for overall health as well as what appears to be a handle on hunger feedback. If I exercise a huge amount at high intensity, I tend to be very hungry, but moderate exercise appears to leave me less hungry that very low levels of activity. It makes you wonder about possible mechanisms.
For those who are interested, here is my note on the technique I used for losing weight in the first place as well as the beginning of the maintenance phase. There weren't any silver bullets, and I assume that will be true for everyone. I think a case can be made that the diet industry - as it lacks focus on maintenance - is something of an expensive scam.
Update October 15, 2012
I'm still tracking my weight, but it can be very difficult. The exercise continues as does the coaching from my height unchallenged friend. For diet I've experimented with protein, fat and carbohydrates and find generally I'm happiest with about 20 to 25% protein and about 20% fat with most of it being unsaturated. Allowing myself a daily treat or two is critically important. Part of this is easy as I like fresh fruit and I eat about an ounce of tree nuts a day along with a bit of dark chocolate. There is some art as to when you do this. But every now and again - for me perhaps twice a week - I have some ice cream. If I'm in the city I visit a good gelato shop. At home I sometimes have some Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt (only a small amount of unsaturated fat). But there are those times - at least twice a month - where something exceptional is required. This can be NYC gelato or some super premium ice cream. Recently I had the best I've had in my life: Jeny's Splendid.
OMG this is wonderful ice cream!!
It is very expensive at $11 a pint at our local Kings. I can justify it by only having half a pint and sharing the rest a couple of time a month. The quality is completely worth it and this will help me maintain my weight - a legitimate part of my longterm weight maintenance program.
Treats like Jeni's make this so much easier!
1 For the record I started out around 220 pounds and am a shade over 6'1. The recommended weight target from my family physician is shown in light green. He is impressed that I was able to make the target and also suggested that, based on common experience, that one can only keep on target is through constant maintenance.
Oddly a lot of people feel I've lost too much weight. But relative to 1950 norms along with some more recent European norms I'm quite average at this point. It may be the American perception of average has moved with increasing average weight.
Typography is one of those mysterious crafts I realize is deep, but know next to nothing about. I brought the subject up with an illustrator I know who noted it is a careful and deliberate artform and its application is filled with controversy unknown to most of us. Modern PCs can offer easy access to over 100 fonts, but few of us have the knowledge to make proper use of them. We find a few we like, pick a font size and plow on...
A few days ago the illustrator sent an email noting a review on a new work on the subject by Cyrus Highsmith - apparantely a hotshot font designer.
Inside Paragrphs looks lovely - not a full treatment of the subject, but never-the-less deep in areas written in a conversational jargon-free style. It may not be exactly what the curious beginner needs to be more clueful in how they use their tools, but it might be fascinating none-the-less.
The primative radios in use everywhere today place severe limits on their use - we see this in mobile phones (although there are other issue involved - things like limited network connections to the cell sites). A likely way around this is sometimes called cognitive or agile radio. This may be an area of explosive growth five or ten years out...
Here is a neat box and inexpensive for testing - I've been to the facility at Rutgers several times - it is a very impresive place. Much more on the box here. A couple of us used to joke that we wanted a radio that tuned from "dc to red" - this is a radio that operates simultaneously from 100 MHz to 7.5 GHz ... wow...