Book: “Body Respect” by Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight is the follow up to Health at Every Size, a science-packed book about body size and weight loss. Body Respect is geared towards anyone interested in evidence-based healthcare and a more just world.

The reality is that diets don’t work. While many people may be able to lose weight in the short-term, the act of restricting calories (through diet, exercise, or both) results in complex biochemical changes that trigger profound negative effects on metabolism, stress levels, mental health, and many other important aspects of health in the long term. It’s not that people aren’t dieting properly (in fact, humans are really really good at it), it literally means that diets don’t work, and in fact backfire the vast majority of the time.

This book was empowering and an important read packed with science and a rational approach to what’s wrong with diet culture, the media, and current approaches to healthcare.

The messy world of supplements

A delayed celiac diagnosis means I struggle with adequate nutrition. I’m still combatting a lifetime of unabsorbed nutrients. It’s exhausting.

I have to rely on supplements in some cases, and supplements are the Wild West of the nutrition world. Little regulation goes into them, and it’s entirely possible that vitamin bottle doesn’t contain any vitamins at all, and the only way you’ll ever know is if someone tests it, or if it contains something risky and someone gets hurt.

I am allergic to lanolin, which is used to produce the majority of vitamin D3 supplements. D3 seems to be better absorbed by most people (especially those with gut problems) compared to non-lanolin derived D2. I took massive doses of D2 for months with no impact on my single-digit levels. I managed lanolin-derived D3 for awhile, but eventually the allergy symptoms got too severe. In the last several years, a vegetarian source of D3 has been discovered (lichen), which works well enough.

A new bottle of D3 I recently purchased caused me a lanolin-like reaction. I decided to write the company, because it seemed like the wrong D was in the bottle. I emailed the company with the lot number, explained the situation, and hoped they’d look into it.

They contract with a 3rd party QA service, which asked me to call them on the phone. I talk on the phone a lot for work and I’m exhausted. I asked if they would work by email. The email bounced back and there is no way to get a hold of them without calling on the phone.

I emailed the manufacturer again and explained I am tired and disabled. I’m happy to help you with this free labor, but please let me do it by email. They said they would.

I never heard back from them, and today I got an email reply, weeks later, claiming I gave them an invalid lot number so the case was being closed. I checked my sent mail, and the lot number they’re working on is different than the one in my original email.

Seems like working by email should prevent this, because everything is in writing, but the communication still got all bungled up.

I replied with the correct lot number, but who knows what’ll happen.

No one even offered a coupon for the two brand new bottles of D3, which are medically necessary but unsafe to take.

Celiac + allergies under capitalism is a dangerous existence.

Book: “Jennifer’s away” by Jennifer Esposito

I have been intrigued by Jennifer Esposito since she left a hit TV show due to celiac disease. She even wrote a book about it: Jennifer’s Way.

It turns out it was more complicated than that: her celiac disease is very severe (like mine), and her acting job was full-time hours at part-time pay without any accommodations for celiac. She became very ill and still got no accommodations.

It’s nice reading experiences of people with celiac as severe as mine. It’s validating and reassuring to know there are people who are as profoundly affected by this disease as I am. It’s important to hear people reiterate that this is an autoimmune disease, and it is serious. And it’s relevant to know that even thin and conventionally attractive women are not believed, or even committed to psych hospitals, before diagnosis (and sometimes after).

The first 2/3 of the book is her celiac story. It’s compelling and heartbreaking and infuriating and familiar. An illness so severe that it causes permanent damage, and takes an average of a decade to be diagnosed, with the simplest medical treatment in the world.

The rest of the book is about how to get diagnosed and adjust to post-celiac life. It’s the usual stuff about kitchen and bathroom products going to dumpsters, about missing nutrients, and navigating social situations. It wasn’t news, but it was interesting… until I read the part about lemon juice being alkaline and how important it is to make your body less acidic with foods like lemons and grapefruits.

It’s hard to take the rest of the science seriously when such a fundamental fact is mistaken.

Lemon juice has a pH of 2. It is unquestionably acidic. I believe this started when the Food Babe made these same claims.

I did learn (and confirmed elsewhere) that 90% of serotonin is produced in the small intestine… which explains a lot of mental health problems that pair well with celiac disease.

The lemon thing made me put down the book, though.

Bad covid science

Today a nurse tried to say “Damn China since the news has finally agreed it is a man-made virus from the Lab in Wuhan.” A quick search brought up Snopes’s take, and “all” the media outlets are right wing or known tabloids… hardly “all.”

I’ve had a lot of bad healthcare experiences in my life. It’s hard to trust any of them when you don’t know which ones are buying into this drivel.

It’a dangerous out there for patients.

I don’t do resolutions

But I think I’ve got some advice for myself in 2021:

  1. Put on my own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.
  2. No one knows more about me than I do. Time to act like the expert I am.
  3. My story is worth telling.