Dieting is probably my foremost hobby. It might even take precedence over my two other main interests, which are 1) lying on the sofa complaining of feeling faint like a Victorian anemic and 2) staring at myself in the mirror. Of course, dieting for me just means eating healthily, because my idea of eating whatever I want includes sandwiches composed of whole baguettes with an entire pig’s worth of prosciutto, several slices of pepperoni pizza, and entire pints of ice cream in one sitting. The world in which I can eat as I please is a world in which raw kale does not exist. (Baked kale chips can stay.)
So it only makes sense that, however unpleasant it may be, I force myself to eat in a reasonable, controlled manner, which means cutting out some of my favorite foods altogether. Once I get them in front of me, I cannot resist, and then I’m eating all of it, because food is my drug. Which leads me to this: much like the gravitational pull of your favorite flavors can put you induce a drug-like euphoria, being forced (by a self-imposed or otherwise mandatory diet) to stop eating high-fat and high-sugar foods can cause withdrawal symptoms and depression. It’s science! Keep reading »
White bread, rich cheeses, and red wine are beloved staples of the Gallic diet. They smoke, they drink, they consume loads of saturated fats… yet they don’t have an obesity problem, they don’t lose their looks with age, and they have the lowest rate of cardiovascular mortality worldwide. What gives, France? We’re not the only ones who are dying to know: researchers call it (and, furthermore, how they get their hair to look so perfectly disheveled without being greasy) “the French paradox” as they seek to explain the link connecting the way the French eat (and, yes, drink) to their long, healthy lifespans, second only to Japan. Keep reading »
This weekend I was wandering around one of my favorite stores when I spotted a sliver of blue plaid fabric peeking out from the crowded rack of dresses. Blue is my favorite color, and plaid is my favorite pattern, so I was immediately intrigued.
When I reached into the mass of hangers and pulled out the mysterious dress, there is a good chance I audibly gasped. It was lined in silk, with a cutout in the back, a sweetheart neckline, and a flowing hourglass shape. It was surprisingly formal, but the plaid fabric made it feel playful and fun. It was unique without trying too hard. It was, quite possibly, the most beautiful dress I’d ever seen. “I would pay $200 for a dress like this,” I thought, flipping over the price tag to reveal numerous crossed-out sale prices making their way toward a grand total of $39.97. I practically skipped to the dressing room. Keep reading »
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed the technology to create the all-purpose condom of the future. This new kind of female condom, made of “electrospinning” micro-fibers, will protect against pregnancy, release anti-HIV medicine (or other STI preventatives), and then, get this … just dissolve over a period of days, or even minutes. Here’s how the researchers describe the “electrospinning” technology:
“Electrospinning uses an electric field to catapult a charged fluid jet through air to create very fine, nanometer-scale fibers. The fibers can be manipulated to control the material’s solubility, strength and even geometry. Because of this versatility, fibers may be better at delivering medicine than existing technologies such as gels, tablets, or pills.”
Holy amazing! I’m far from a scientist, but I think this means they load the fibers with spermicide, anti-retrovirals so that they release within you and then just breakdown in your body. In the scientific abstract that you can read here, the researchers working on this project say that they are hopeful that similar technology can “serve as an innovative platform for drug technology for drug delivery to the lower female reproductive tract.” Really exciting stuff. [io9]
Given the Gawker mandate to be glib and ruthless, whether or not they know what they’re talking about, I won’t pretend to be shocked by a dashed-off remark in Monday’s post on Kate Middleton’s pregnancy:
The Palace also reported that Kate was admitted to the hospital today with “hyperemesis gravidarum,” which is what they call regular old morning sickness when you are a princess.
Nor, for more or less the same reasons, was it surprising to watch the ladies of “The View” dismiss the duchess’s condition with a flurry of bubbly interruptions, ignoring a nurse’s earnest response to Barbara Walters’ half-hearted question about whether HG is serious: “It can be,” the nurse said sheepishly. (In an open letter to the duchess, HG sufferer Betsy Shaw gives Kate “permission to slap” Walters.)
I have no idea whether Kate has HG or not. But the fact remains that it can be a brutal, crippling condition that goes largely ignored and untreated, partly due to its overlap with ordinary pregnancy sickness and partly to our attitude toward suffering and the suffering of pregnant women in particular. As Atul Gawande noted in an indispensable 1999 New Yorker piece on nausea and vomiting, “A surprising number of doctors still believe in the discredited Freudian theory that hyperemesis is due to an unconscious rejection of pregnancy.” Little seems to have changed since the last century — or the one before, for that matter. Keep reading »
As a beauty product enthusiast (one might also say “hoarder,” if one were being less kind), lipstick is one of my very favorite things. At any given moment I have a bare minimum of 5 tubes rattling around in my handbag… and another 500 at home. When I buy a new one, (which I do, often) I consider the color, the texture, the packaging, the longevity of the formula, and sometimes, let’s be honest, just how luxurious it looks and feels. What I am definitely not thinking about, however, is what goes into it. Keep reading »
I feel like I’ve been writing/talking about cheese a lot lately. I have no idea why. I barely even eat cheese. I need to explore this new cheese obsession more thoroughly. But that can wait.
First this: the cheese you see here is made by a woman named Christina Agapakis as part of collaborative study being conducted at the University of Edinburgh and Stanford University on Synthetic Aesthetics. Agapakis grew this cheese with bacteria from the human body. She describes her human cheesemonging process is as follows:
“Swabs from hands, feet, noses, and armpits were inoculated into fresh, pasteurized, organic whole milk and incubated overnight at 37° Celsius. The milk curds were then strained and pressed, yielding unique smelling fresh cheeses.”
Keep reading »
Pediatricians should discuss emergency contraception with their teenaged patients and even write advance prescriptions, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended earlier this week. The morning-after pill should be taken 120 hours after unprotected sex, but is more effective the sooner it is taken. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, Plan B is almost 90 percent more effective than saying “No babies no babies no babies!” three times fast. Advance prescriptions, the AAP, explained, would help prevent teen pregnancies and put MTV’s “16 & Pregnant” franchise out of business. Keep reading »
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms including bloating, cramps, headache, and mood swings that occurs consistently during the ten days prior to the start of menstrual flow and vanishes either shortly before or shortly thereafter. In other words, it’s what I like to call Hell Week, and that’s a drastic understatement.
In addition to the aforementioned typical symptoms, I also experience extreme fatigue, intense food cravings, insatiable hunger, unpredictable bouts of crying, and sporadic emotional meltdowns that often result in reevaluation of every major and minor life decision I’ve ever made. As I sit on the couch drowning Oreos in gallons of milk and contemplating joining the Peace Corps, it’s hard to remember these symptoms are just temporary. One Hell Week left me with a visceral hatred for my husband after he flushed my Oreos down the toilet. In retrospect, I can’t blame him. He watched in absolute horror and disgust as I shoved whole cookies, two at a time, into my mouth leaving crumbs all over my face and chest in a futile attempt to eat my fabricated pain away. He likened me to a crack fiend, so flushing the cookies down the toilet was probably a necessary intervention. Keep reading »