Category Archives: Culinary

Chinese-Restaurant Syndrome

Has MSG gotten a bad rap?

I’ve personally never had a problem with it. I used to keep it on hand, in fact, though I haven’t used it in decades.

[Update a few minutes later, after reading the whole thing]:

As Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth professor who has researched how to influence attitudes about vaccines, pointed out to me in an email, it’s hard for people to change their minds about personal health issues because it contradicts what they have perceived to experience in the past. “People who felt bad after eating Chinese food in the past may have blamed MSG … and thus resist information they encounter later about its actual effects,” he said. This may be the result of the availability heuristic, where people make judgments using the easiest information available, rather than looking for alternative explanations.

This could also explain peoples’ resistance to accepting new ideas about nutrition, when (e.g.) they’ve been told for decades to avoid fat.

[Update a while later]

Related: Half the people who think they have food allergies are wrong.

I’m pretty confident in my allergy to tree nuts. Even if no one tells me, I can tell when I’ve had them.

The Paleo Diet

Forget it; go neolithic.

I’ve never been orthodox paleo. Basically, I’ve just cut way back on processed foods. I’m back to my college weight, my cholesterol is a little high, but the ratio is good, and my triglycerides are almost unmeasurable. I’m supposed to worry because both my parents died fairly young (father at 55, mother at 68) from coronaries, but they both were overweight, had terrible diets, and were inveterate smokers. Every time I check my arteries, no issues are found.

Good Food Advice

for the wrong reasons:

Breads made with white flour have not only been stripped of all of their nutrients, but they might even contain remnants of the chemical used in the bleaching process. Our obsession with white foods (sugar, I’m looking at you) is totally odd and unfounded. The natural, unbleached version tastes the same (if not better) and is far more nutritious.

Not really. You should cut out the bread, period.

Why must everything that tastes so good be so bad for us? Our beloved creamy, fulfilling ice cream is extremely high in sugar and fat. And since milk is an animal protein, it’s also high in cholesterol. Sure, you can opt for some yogurt or a vegan dessert, but they’re not the same.

The problem with ice cream is the sugar, not the fat or cholesterol.

There is nothing wrong with ordering a regular cup of coffee (and you can even toss in a little half and half if you need it), but the calories add up very quickly when it comes to those fancy $7 coffee beverages. They taste so good because of all the added sugar and fat. You’ll get an immediate boost from a huge sugar rush, and then you’ll crash hard. Then you need another high-calorie coffee drink to feel better.

Again, it’s the sugar, not the fat or the calories that’s the problem here. Counting calories is junk science.

Bacon, sausage, and even cold cuts: they’re oh-so-yummy, but they’re just awful for your health. They contain high levels of unsaturated fat and sodium.

No, bacon has saturated fat. Which is good. And there is more danger from underconsumption of sodium than over.

A guaranteed way to add inches to your waist is to indulge in fried food. High in calories, fat, saturated fat, and carcinogens (yup, in those beloved french fries), there is nothing good about this. Except for their scrumptious flavor, obviously.

The problem with fried foods is not the fat, saturated fat, or calories (unless you’re frying it in seed oils, in which case the fat is bad because of the omega 6s). The problem with fried foods is carbohydrates in the batter. Deep frying dusted veggies in lard or tallow is fine.