The Rabbit Hole

Anyone who knows me (and how my brain works) would expect that I’ve been a longtime YouTube user but they would be wrong. I have assiduously avoided that site for two reasons, the horrifically awful user experience and the well known 3CTN rule. What’s that? You haven’t heard of the Three Clicks To Nazis rule of YouTube? Then I’m guessing you’ve stumbled onto quite a few videos by someone with a swastika face tattoo.

It’s called 3CTN because the algorithm quite often provides you with a brain damaging recommendation after you’ve watched three to four videos. These can be of the unhinged conspiracy variety or the aforementioned swastika face type, or even one that refers to the majority of American voters as “Demoncrats.”

And the purveyors of this nonsense have gotten more clever over the years. The videos start with something reasonable and then about ten minutes in they swerve hard into the weeds. I accidentally watched one recently that started out talking rationally about nutrition and then sprang “EMF sensitivity” on me. Rather than cover myself in Reynolds Wrap, I decided to bail on the video. I later found an actual scientist, a medical doctor and nutrition researcher, who provided a specific fact check for that video. It turns out the “nutrition expert doctor” was a chiropractor.

So how did I end up spending so much time on this awful but, as it turns out, helpful site? Last October, I had a come to Jesus moment about my digestive problems, problems that had been so bad that in 2016 my doctor sent me for an MRI, CAT scan, and numerous other more intrusive tests only to pronounce me problem free. It turns out medical doctors spend all of six hours on nutrition in school.

I was googling my symptoms when a video came back in the results that looked intriguing. Normally, I would have ignored it, but this was a speech before the London Royal Institute. No chiropractors there. So I watched the whole thing and then watched it again four more times. From everything this research scientist said, it became clear my problem was a destroyed gut microbiome. Years of antibiotics and a brown diet had allowed the really good bugs in my system to recede into insignificance and the bad bugs, the ones who cause depression and make you crave shitty fast food, had taken over completely.

The reason all this started last October was I was about to fly across country to attend a wedding. I was trying on my suits to see which one I would wear when I found I couldn’t get them on. Now the really disturbing thing about this was, I had just bought these suits a few years before because I was too fat for my previous suits. I couldn’t fit into my fat suits.

I weighed in at 225 that night. Thirty-five pounds above the top recommended weight for my height. Eight months later, I’ve just broken the 200 barrier. This morning I weighed in at 199. That’s twenty-five pounds in 3/4 of a year or less than a pound a week without dieting or macro counting or giving up bread or eating only fat three days a week or anything else extreme. And the buried lede here is that I’m still on this “diet” eight months later. I have never made it more than two months in the past.

And this is all because YouTube was there serving me up video after video of real hard science about nutrition and how it affects the gut. Along with “9/11 was an inside job”, “White Genocide”, and “Aliens live among us.” It’s a very libertarian site. There are no guard rails so it’s up to you to be careful and to always crosscheck with a second opinion from a trusted source to make sure that really was a chupacabra in your back yard last night.

Since then I’ve veered off into “Walkable Cities” as I mentioned in a previous post, The Hot Ones challenge (I now own the middle five spices for this years lineup including Da Bomb Beyond Insanity), and so many cooking shows. Part of my recovery has been to cook for myself instead of eating out all the time. Probably my favorite deep dive was into burger making with a man named George Motz who travels around the country trying all the regional burgers, learns out to cook them, and then presents them on The Burger Show YouTube channel in the “Burger Scholar” sessions. Here’s a link:

I’ve now made several of his burgers, most importantly the Oklahoma Onion Smash Burger which may be the best the burger of them all. Wait. How do I lose weight eating burgers?

Well, okay, I should probably explain this further. I get two meals a day. First meal can be anything I want, though I do try to do as healthy as possible and make the amount reasonable. No double burgers with extra cheese, for instance. The second meal revolves around a salad with as many plants as I can manage. For protein, I add sardines or a couple of chicken nuggets drenched in hot sauce. Then I don’t eat again until the next day. So I have a natural 16 hour fast nearly every day.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. When you pay attention to what you eat, you naturally eat better
  2. Cook your own food. The pandemic was a real gift in this aspect. We stopped going out so much and started making stuff at home instead. When you make it yourself, you control portion size and ingredients. You probably don’t have polysorbitatemonosagittariusglutenol in your pantry but don’t worry, good, fresh food doesn’t need it.
  3. You can eat “bad” foods if you eat high quality and not all the time
  4. Instead of removing things from your diet, at first, add things that are good for you. Then gradually push out the bad stuff as you replace it with good stuff.
  5. Don’t eat things you don’t enjoy. For instance, I’m not a big fan of salads so I put all kinds of stuff in there and then drench it with Blue Cheese or Caesar dressing. Adding hot wings makes me crave the creamy salad after every bite.
  6. Eat as many different plants as you can manage. Try to consume 30 different plants a week. It’s not possible as far as I can tell unless you’re a vegetarian. My best is 15. But those fifteen plants have done more to rehab my gut than I can convey here.
  7. Fermented foods whenever possible. I drink Kefir in the morning and Kombucha in the afternoon. They taste good and they’re far more powerful probiotics than yogurt. I only eat naturally leavened sourdough bread and my new YouTube inspired hobby is fermenting jalapenos to add to salads.

And that’s it. You won’t get a huge drop in weight immediately, but it only takes about two weeks to start feeling better. My IBS disappeared about three months in. And since your gut biome is responsible for making the pyschotropic chemicals that control your mood, you’ll also be happier. At 3/4lb per week it does take a while to notice changes in the mirror, but since you’re not suffering on this “diet” you don’t feel aggrieved, either.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my plan to remove all the cars from Austin so I can move back there.

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