Friday, March 27, 2009

This is Why You're Fat

I remember a joke in the past few years by Jay Leno as part of his monologue. He rarely makes any memorable jokes so that should say something that I actually remember this one. It was something like this: "Have you seen this new pizza that Pizza Hut is advertising? It's a regular pizza, with regular toppings, then a thinner crust with melted cheese on top of that. Is that how fat America is becoming?! We have to add ANOTHER pizza as topping on our pizza?!?!" I would say it was funnier coming from him but probably not, it was just a memorable joke for me.

I often find excessively fatty/sugary/junky foods repulsive. I have my vices, but overall, I don't each much cruddy food. Which is also why I find it hard to believe that I am just now seeing this website: This is why you're fat. If you haven't seen it either, be prepared, it may propel you to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for your entire life... or it may inspire you to find the establishments that serve such atrocious concoctions and partake of them yourself, depending on your particular style of feeding.

And in case you are too tired to go to the website or need some enticing, here are a few samples:

The Thunderdome

Three stacks of bacon, sausage, elk meat, onions and cheese between tortillas all topped with sour cream, two fried eggs and scallions.

The Homewrecker

A fifteen inch deep-fried hot dog topped with jalapeños, habanero chili sauce, coleslaw, diced tomatoes and a mound of cheese.

The 30,000 Calorie Sandwich

Sandwich filled with ground beef, bacon, corn dogs, ham, pastrami, roast beef, bratwurst, braunschweiger and turkey, topped with fried mushrooms, onion rings, swiss/provolone/cheddar/feta/parmesan cheeses, lettuce and butter on a loaf white bread.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Chocolate Touch

I was recently asked some Word of Wisdom-related questions. We covered some of the basics regarding alcohol and smoking but then I was asked about caffeine and chocolate. Over the years, I have come across Mormons who choose not to eat chocolate because of the caffeine and also people who aren't Mormon that test the validity of the Word of Wisdom by asking why we eat chocolate but don't drink coffee.

Whenever this topic comes up, for soley technical reasons, I often wonder how much caffeine really is in chocolate. I decided to do some investigating and see what kind of numbers I can find on the actual chemical make up of chocolate. Numbers really aren't my forte but chocolate luckily is. I support any research that depicts chocolate in a positive light, regardless of all the math I had to dig out of my brain to construct this post.

The chemicals in chocolate that typically cause any side effects in the human body are due to theobromine and caffeine, both from the caffeine family. But unlike caffeine, theobromine is weaker overall and does not act as a stimulate to the central nervous system (CNS). The basic negative side effects of caffeine are: stimulant of CNS, increase heartbeat, increase urination, drowsiness. The most extreme effects being: nervousness, irritability, anxiety, tremulousness, muscle twitching, insomnia, headaches, nausea, "jitters", and heart palpitations.

Since our main issue is chocolate as a caffeine carrier, I shall explain the relative content of caffeine in chocolate using the standard 1.5 oz Hershey's bar (not the mini). The standard Hershey's bar is 43g total weight and contains 74 mg of theobromine and 10mg of caffeine. Meaning... [carry the 1...], a Hershey's bar contains less than .0003% caffeine.

Caffeine starts to affect the human body rather quickly (less than an hour), but the amount of caffeine consumed to begin feeling side effects is probably more than you think. For example, caffeine intoxication, aka "the jitters" or the typical overly stimulated behavior we tend to associate with lots of caffeine, on average does usually not occur with less than 300mg of caffeine consumed within a limited time-frame. Since caffeine also wears off quickly (3ish hours), let's assume you'd have a 3 hour window of it staying in your system. Using our Hershey's bar again, that means you'd need to consume 30 bars within 3 hours to start to feel the caffeine jitters.

In rare circumstances, there is a possibility of consuming enough caffeine that it can lead to death. The average amount of caffeine required for such drastic effects is about 200mg per kg of body mass. That means in order to cause true death by chocolate, a person weighing 150 lbs would need to consume more than 150,000 Hershey's bars in less than 3 hours. Or if you are Jesse Spano, 75 caffeine pills.

But chocolate is addictive because caffeine is addictive, right? First to become addicted to anything you consume, you must build up a tolerance (I feel the same way about reality TV). [To be clear, when I say "tolerance", I mean, consuming enough caffeine that you no longer feel the effects and therefore increase the amount of consumption which eventually leads to addiction. And "addiction" meaning that when not consuming, you feel actual withdrawal symptoms, not just a mere hissy fit or chocolate craving.] Tolerance to caffeine builds quickly when consumed quickly. Partial tolerance could build in about a week if you were drinking roughly 4 cups of regular coffee, 3 times a day, for 7 days straight. This may also lead to decrease in work productivity as you would spend about 25% of your day peeing.

To build up partial tolerance to caffeine through chocolate only, at the same rate of one week, one would need to have 120 Hershey's bars per day for 7 days straight.To build complete tolerance (all side effects) to caffeine by consuming chocolate would require 90 Hershey's bars per day for approximately 18 days straight.

The effects of having that much caffeine in one day, typically by the coffee drinkers, are very drastic. That is very clear. But the reason why I used the Hershey's bar as the caffeine intake model is to show that the same side effects, tolerance, addiction, withdraw, etc, would take significantly longer to build up in the human body by consuming chocolate rather than by drinking coffee. In fact, if you had one Hershey's bar per day, it would take you almost 4 and a half years to consume the same amount of caffeine as drinking coffee for 18 days. But that's only consumption. It is necessary to factor in that building tolerance also requires a certain amount to be consumed at a certain rate, therefore complete tolerance to caffeine cannot occur with only 10mg per day (one Hershey's bar), even if it was every day for the rest of your life.

From my vast research and mostly accurate calculations, with regular chocolate consumption, the human body is more at risk for packing on pounds and rotting teeth than suffering from the side effects of caffeine. After all, the same Hershey's chocolate bar is about 55% sugar versus .0003% caffeine.

So the point of all these silly numbers is, that much like anything we consume, whether healthy or unhealthy, it must be in moderation. But even with chocolate, the level of the caffeine content is not enough to produce the same side effects anywhere close to those of coffee. Whew! Did you make it to the end?! Congrats! There are probably only a few of you that made it to this point. You have my permission to reward yourself with a piece of chocolate.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We're Kids, Inc.

This show was so annoying to me as a kid. I felt like it was the Disney Channel's reject Mickey Mouse Club. Most people can probably name the current pop stars whose fame began on the MMC, but, without cheating, can anyone figure out this girl's identity? Hint: when you see her now, she's always wearing significantly less clothing. And this isn't someone moderately popular either. She's quite popular. Some may even say g-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s.

Caution: there is a seriously creepy clown in this video. Even if you aren't afraid of clowns, it's still creepy
, I don't care who you are.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy 30 Years Mom and Dad!!

Every year I have a hard time remembering the day of my parents' anniversary. Probably because they also tend to forget it until after the fact. But I knew this year was their 30th so in honor of my parents 30th anniversary today, I have decided to dedicate my post to them.

In my current job, all of my cases are the juvenile cases for the Department of Social Services. These are the kids in foster care or in some other form of custody in "the system." I have seen mistreatment of children (and people in general) beyond anything I thought was possible. I have always been grateful for my parents, but this job has really made me see how fortunate I am to have such great parents.

The following, in no particular order of importance, are 30 reasons I am grateful for my parents:

1) Teachings of the gospel were always present in our house. We went to church every Sunday. We attended seminary. We read scriptures. We definitely had a Christ-centered home.

2) My mom and dad both cooked a lot and involved us with the cooking at a young age. I didn't really appreciate this until I went to college and had roommates. I fear for some of their husbands.

3) We were encouraged to spend our time wisely. I don't recall ever sitting in front of the television for prolonged periods of time.

4) They offered support to our endeavors and never made us feel that we weren't capable of something. Except maybe getting married... ha! I sure showed them!

5) I inherited a splendid genetic combination of great hair and the ability to tan. Whenever anyone compliments my hair, I always give props to my parents' genes.

6) They were both at a time when they were looking for something more in life, and that something more came by them learning about the gospel and joining the church when they were first married allowing us all to be raised in the church.

7) They taught us manners and good behavior as children. I'm hoping my kids inherit the gene that prevents temper tantrums in the grocery store aisles.

8) My dad has been involved in scouts for a long time. I was glad to be the girl at camp that new how to put up a tent and build a fire. (Despite what my dad says, this is not because he took me on a fathers and sons outting when I was a baby.)

9) My dad put the family first, showing my sister and me the quality man we should seek to marry and my brother an example of what makes a great father.

10) From a young age, my mother's patience as always amazed me. I think it's due to her very "character-building" childhood.

11) My mom built and ran a business for a long time when I knew she would rather be doing something else, but she still did it and many benefits came from it.

12) We never had the television on on Sundays.

13) Academics and education were stressed and encouraged our entire lives. (On April 25, all 3 of their kids will have bachelor's degrees.)

14) My mom was a stay at home mom and my dad worked enough to support the family but was also an active dad in our lives. I don't recall many times when my dad was not home for family dinner, which we had nightly until we all left for college.

15) My mom had us start doing our own laundry when we were about 12.

16) They taught us self-sufficiency, responsibilities, and accountability.

17) From my earliest recollection, they told me that credit cards are the devil. Maybe not those specific words but that was the general idea.

18) My dad spent time with me after my soccer/basketball games rehashing how the game went and giving me praise. I always knew that my parents were our biggest fans. If anyone doubts this, ask my sister about my mom coming to her cross country meets. And...

19) they continue to attend my games (except when it's 25 degrees out). I still notice when they are/aren't at my games. When I score a goal, they are still the first people I look for to share in the excitement and congratulations.

20) They encouraged us to be who/what we wanted and didn't try to make us into something we weren't. Case in point - my mom letting me keep my hair boy-short as a child, and still thinking I was a beautiful child instead of locking me in the basement (which is what I might do if my child is like me).

21) Material possessions and having lots of "stuff" were never high on my parents' priority list.

22) My mom is an active visiting teacher. I didn't realize this until I was old enough to be a visiting teacher and realize that it takes effort to really fulfill this calling. I never realized how active in serving others my parents were in our church until I got older.

23) My dad has a thorough knowledge of music and passion for it and he shared it with us throughout our lives. For as long as I've known him, he's been a member of our church choir.

24) My dad has always put my mom's needs first.

25) They continue to take a genuine interest in our lives and are willing to be of assistance in any way they can and sometimes even when they can't.

26) I'm glad we grew up with family traditions. They create so much identity and unity in a family. I intend on creating as many as I can with my own family.

27) Since my parents are converts to the church, I feel that it has given them an interesting perspective on life that has been to our benefit.

28) Though economic times are never perfect for anyone, my parents made extremely wise decisions many years ago that have sustained them through what otherwise would have been more tumultuous experiences.

29) Every night of my childhood we gathered for family prayer before anyone went to bed and we still do when we go home to my parents' house now.

30) Above all, they have shown, told, demonstrated how much they love our family. I have seen my parents' love for each other and I have seen their love for their children. They have taught us to love others and to love our family. It is exciting to see the great parent my brother is and know that my sister and me will probably turn out to be pretty decent parents as well.... So much that we have accomplished is because of our fabulous parents.

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