Oats, Acne, and Overeating…Oh My!


Jonathan: Hey, everyone, Jonathan Bailor and Carrie Brown coming at you with another Living the Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Carrie, how are you today?

Carrie: I am awesome, Mr. Bailor.

Jonathan: Carrie, I have some positive feedback for you. My dear wife recently has shouldered the burden of all of the green-smoothie making in our house because I’ve been quite underwater with the dual job and new book finalizing. She now spends her Sundays blending and cutting vegetables, and she needed something to take her mind off that.

She has big headphones to kind of cancel out the noise of the Vitamix, and she started listening to every single one of our podcasts, back to back, from Episode 1, because believe it or not, she hadn’t really listened to them. She comes to me and she goes, “Jonathan, Carrie is just a delight; she is just so much fun on your podcasts.” So there you go, props to you.

Carrie: Yay. Thank you, Angela.

Jonathan: Carrie, I know you had some questions about breakfast.

Carrie: Oatmeal.

Jonathan: And?

Carrie: Tell us about oatmeal.

Jonathan: Just my emotional feelings about oatmeal?

Carrie: Let’s start there and see where it goes. How do you feel about oatmeal, Jonathan?

Jonathan: Oatmeal has always been an ironic one for me because the texture of it is — let me just back up. There seem to be quite a few people that are fans of oatmeal.

Carrie: I’m a huge oatmeal fan; I grew up on porridge.

Jonathan: Yes, but if you take a —

Carrie: Brown sugar, cream, yum.

Jonathan: I won’t get into my own personal things about oatmeal, but I’ll start off by saying that, as Carrie has said on numerous occasions, her SANE version of oatmeal is, I believe, the single most popular —

Carrie: Ever, on my blog.

Jonathan: The reason I bring that up is because, obviously, that is going to be the SANE-est oatmeal option we can have, is Carrie’s intentionally SANE-itized or sanitized version of oatmeal. Essentially, people get confused. They are like, How can oatmeal not be SANE; aren’t steel-cut oats healthy?

Remember that healthy is relative. Healthy is always relative. If you’re choosing between eating a bowl of sugar cereal and a bowl of steel-cut oats, the steel-cut oats are the healthier option.

Carrie: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. Oats every time.

Jonathan: Oats every time. But if you’re eating a bowl of oats instead of maybe a delicious frittata, which is going to have wonderful healthy fats from your eggs, a lot of delicious protein, very satisfying protein, mixed with a bunch of nutrient-dense, hormonally-healing vegetables; and maybe some berries, not in the frittata but on the side.

Carrie: Thank goodness you said that.

Jonathan: Don’t throw your berries in your eggs. Remember, it’s just a spectrum, right? Just because one thing is better than another thing makes it better and that’s good, but it doesn’t make it optimal. Again, if our goal is not to be optimal, if someone says to me, Can I eat oatmeal? Yes. I don’t know of anyone who ever died because of an oatmeal overdose; but if you’re not getting to where you want to go and you’re eating oatmeal, then I would recommend that being a place to start sanitizing a little bit.

Carrie: Awesome.

Jonathan: Make sense?

Carrie: And a great place to start is on my blog, with my SANE porridge.
Jonathan: Remember, a lot of this talk about oatmeal — personal story. Angela’s getting blown up in this podcast. Angela’s my dear wife. She had genetically high cholesterol, and her physician recommended to her to eat oatmeal. She had done that for a while and it did, yes, it did lower her LDL cholesterol and her HDL cholesterol. Lowering your HDL cholesterol is probably the worst thing you could ever do for your heart health.

That said, she then transitioned to a SANE lifestyle, raised her HDL cholesterol, good, and dropped her LDL lower than it had ever been, and then also did the other more important things like triglycerides and yada, yada, yada. So again, it’s always — Carrie put it best when she said it’s about progress, not perfection. But also, understand that progress isn’t perfection. If you want to continue to progress along the results continuum, you will also need to progress on the SANE-ity continuum.

Carrie: Of course, it depends on what your goals are and where you are on your journey. If you’re just starting out, you probably want to be SANE-er when you’re further down the road or when your body is the way you want it to be. Then if you have oatmeal once in a while, it’s not going to affect you in the same way.

Jonathan: Exactly, and you may even find, too, that — Carrie, it’s hard, there’s very few excuses, right? If the reason I like oatmeal is because of the consistency and the warm kind of nutty flavor, I can get that from your SANE recipes.

Carrie: Yes, you can.

Jonathan: If I were to splurge, it wouldn’t be on oatmeal, let’s put it that way. It would be on something else. If I’m going to take in a bunch of sugar, which is essentially what oatmeal is, because I don’t care where it’s coming from, when it leaves your stomach it’s glucose. I can think of other ways to get my sugar than oatmeal, let’s put it that way.

Carrie: Each to their own, Mr. Bailor, each to their own.

Jonathan: Each to their own. Again, oatmeal is a better option than probably what 75% of normal Westerners eat for breakfast. Does that mean it’s SANE? No.

Carrie: Awesome.

Jonathan: Love it?

Carrie: Oatmeal in depth. Thank you, sir.

Jonathan: Oatmeal 101. Carrie?

Carrie: Yes, Jonathan?

Jonathan: Acne.

Carrie: Acne?

Jonathan: And hormones, are making me break out.

Carrie: Oh?

Jonathan: Not me, personally. This is a question.

Carrie: I was going to say I’m looking real close here, and no.

Jonathan: I want to talk about acne, Carrie. What are your thoughts on acne and eating?

Carrie: Unfortunately, I’m not experienced in this department. I’m very, very lucky that that has never been — I remember when I was like 13 getting one spot, zit, and thinking my life was over. Luckily, that was like the first and last one, so I’m not experienced in that area, I’m afraid.

Jonathan: The good news is when it comes to acne, when it comes to vision, when it comes to hearing, people ask me questions all the time, Carrie, like, I have this wrong with me; will eating SANE-ly help me? I’ve got this; will eating SANE-ly help me? Anytime there is anything wrong with our body, that’s because something has broken down.

If something is wrong with your car, the reason there’s something wrong with your car, assuming that your car has broken down, if you take steps to make your car run better, that symptom, like that crack in the windshield or the fact that your brakes are squeaking, will get better.

Carrie: They are; how did you know?

Jonathan: Acne is a symptom, right? Acne is a symptom. A sore throat is a symptom. They are symptoms of some underlying disturbance in your body. Going SANE gives your body more of what it needs to heal anything that’s wrong with it and less of the things that would exacerbate what’s wrong with it. For any symptom you see, what you put in your body has a dramatic influence on whether or not that symptom will continue and get worse, or discontinue and start to get better.

Carrie: True. However, one of my very favorite people in the world was plagued with the most horrible case of acne about three months into her first pregnancy. Literally, her face was just entirely red and pustulated. I’ve never seen anything like it. That poor girl tried everything. She went SANE, and this went on. Her baby is now 18 months old, and we tried everything. She went SANE; it did help, but it didn’t make it go away. Literally three days after she stopped breastfeeding, her face cleared up.

Jonathan: Wow.

Carrie: My point of telling you is that going SANE helped, but sometimes recognize that there may be some hormonal, particularly for women —

Jonathan: Oh, of course

Carrie: — some hormonal thing going on that nothing is going to stop other than your body just coming out of that phase.

Jonathan: Absolutely. Please don’t hear, Go SANE and all of life’s problems go away. That is not the case.

Carrie: That was my point of telling that story.

Jonathan: Certainly, it can’t hurt.

Carrie: It definitely helped, but the actual problem, it literally was day night and night. Three days after she stopped breastfeeding, it all cleared up.

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Carrie: And it was joyous. If there are any women out there that are thinking this is a magic bullet, there are cases where crazy female hormones are going to win out.

Jonathan: Yes, there is, sadly, no magic bullet. Because even when we talk about how a SANE lifestyle could benefit acne, again, remember it’s not acting directly on it; it’s not like you take SANE food and rub it on your acne and it makes it go away. Rather, it just puts the body in a state where the body, if it’s able to fight off this invader, it will be more able to now. If you have Stage 4 cancer, eating more vegetables is not going to make the cancer just go away. We can only do as much as we can do.

Speaking of what we can do, I’ve got a question, Carrie, which is: Is it possible, can we overeat while going SANE? Like, is it possible to eat too many calories while being SANE?

Carrie: Yes. If you’re — well, yes it is. My brain wants to say the wrong thing, but of course if you’re reaching SANE, it’s not wrong. What I’m trying to say is —

Jonathan: You mean the wrong order?

Carrie: — if you’re eating 75% protein and 25% veggies, even though it’s all SANE, you’re going to be intaking way more calories in the protein than you are in the veggies. Even when you’re focused on calories, that still is going to make a difference. Was that the right answer?

Jonathan: Well, it’s nuanced. The challenge here, folks, is that we all over-anything. You can drink too much water, right? You never want to —

Carrie: I will never have that problem.

Jonathan: You never want to eat excessively. Anything in excess is not good, by definition. Carrie got really, really close to being spot on. If you eat SANE-ly in the proper order, meaning every time you eat, you’re eating predominantly non-starchy vegetables, followed next in terms of volume – this is in terms of volume – by nutrient-dense protein, and then you’re adding in whole-food fats and low-fructose fruits, if you’re doing that, it is nearly impossible to overeat calories, because your stomach would explode. Those foods are so large that you just can’t fit 3,000 calories of veggies — not that you would eat exclusively spinach, for example.
Carrie: I don’t know. I’ve eaten six pounds in the last, like, four days.

Jonathan: Well, no. That’s all good. But you couldn’t eat six pounds of spinach in one day, you physically could not. It would — well maybe you could, I don’t know. Twenty pounds of spinach is still under the amount of calories that would make someone obese, and it’s physically impossible to eat that much. So is it possible? Yes. Is it possible to overdrink water? Yes. Should you worry about it? No, not really.

Carrie: But don’t eat 10 pounds of almonds in one sitting.

Jonathan: That’s the key thing. Just like Carrie said early on, and that was spot on, is just because it’s SANE, it’s always a spectrum, right? It’s a SANE-ity spectrum. Zero on the SANE-ity spectrum is processed sugar. Oatmeal is probably a three, right? Above that, beans are probably like four or five, and then you move up the spectrum.

Then you’ve got something like an almond, which is going to be higher but not as high as cocoa or coconut, due to the healthier fats you’re going to find in cocoa or coconut, which is not going to be as high as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, which is not going to be as high as kale. If you’re focused on the far end of the spectrum, where you’re focused on the kale and the salmon and all that kind of good stuff —

Carrie: You can’t — it’s hard to overeat.

Jonathan: It’s nearly impossible. As you slide down that spectrum, it gets easier and easier to overeat. Remember, we’re not saying that calories don’t count; we’re saying that you don’t need to count calories. It’s a different thing. If you just were to eat vegetables and then drink 10,000 calories of melted butter, you would gain fat. Good thing, you won’t do that, so don’t worry about it, right?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to overeat; however, this is a lifestyle in which overeating is uncomfortable. When you have a lifestyle where it’s painful to do that which hurts you and pleasurable to do that which helps you, that’s when magic happens.

Carrie: However, if you do want to eat large quantities of spinach, I just posted a recipe for baked creamed spinach, SANE-baked creamed spinach, and I tell you, that stuff is the bomb, even though I say so myself. This comes from a former spinach hater. I ate four pounds of that over the weekend, and it was awesome. If you need more veggies, that’s a very good way to do it.

Jonathan: Really, Carrie, eating more veggies, eating a lot of food, focusing on where we are on that SANE-ity spectrum is really important. I had a recent example where I, just to be polite, really, I had to do this in a social situation — I really don’t enjoy eating inSANE food; it bothers me, obviously, given the position that I’m in.

But it would have been very socially inappropriate to not at least try this inSANE food, given the context I was in. I tried it, and it was amazing, it was delicious. And I knew at that point, after taking that bite, it was so easy for me to not eat any of it, to say, No, I’m fine. But then when I ate it, I was like, I want to eat all of that now, all of it.

Carrie: That’s because — what was it?

Jonathan: Well, I can’t say.

Carrie: I’ve been reading about this addiction, and inSANE food, although they don’t call it that in the studies, but inSANE food makes your addictive areas in your brain light up, just cha-ching.

Jonathan: Absolutely, OB wave receptors, yes.

Carrie: So there you are. See, even the Bailor is not immune; it was like his brain was going, Woo hoo, it’s good.

Jonathan: The reason I bring that up, Carrie, is the idea of if you eat the right kinds of foods, you won’t want to overeat. You are literally compelled, you are neurologically compelled, to continue to eat when you eat inSANE foods. It is not only because they don’t satisfy you, but also because of what they’re doing neurologically.

If you want to learn more about this, it’s called food palatability. A researcher out of University of Washington named Stephan Guyenet has a brilliant blog about this. For example, salmon is delicious, right? Most people agree salmon is delicious, quite delicious. Your baked spinach, delicious. But it doesn’t cause this visceral, animalistic, like, Oh, my God, I just have to eat like two pounds of salmon. Whereas you eat some fudge, and you’re like, I ate a pound of fudge, I want a second pound of fudge.

Carrie: Right now, yes.

Jonathan: You just don’t get that feeling when you eat SANE-ly. So the idea of, Can I overeat when I eat SANE-ly? When you’re eating optimally SANE-ly, you will feel so satisfied. Imagine being in a relationship with another person that is so satisfying that you’re now like, Wow, it’s hard to not cheat on them. It’s not hard. Why would you cheat on them? There’s no — what? It’s the same kind of way with SANE-ity; you’re not driven to overeat, there’s no motivation to.

Carrie: Right. I have had that exact same experience with food. When I eat SANE, the cravings are gone, I don’t want to overeat. The second I put one Pringle in my mouth, it’s all over.

Jonathan: It’s a cool experience in a sense that I don’t think we realize just how powerful of drugs these edible products are, until you can extract yourself. Until you can feel what it feels like to not be in the grips of these things, and then you, like, dip a toe in the water.

It’s like you’ve been in cold water your whole life and you really don’t realize how cold it is. You get out, you dry off, and then you dip a toe and you’re like, Good lord, that’s cold. Same kind of thing here is, if you don’t think sugar is addictive, stop eating sugar. See how easy that is. Then try to eat it again. You’ll be like, Oh, yep, that’s like an alcoholic who tried to give up alcohol.

Carrie: Agreed. Last night, I had cravings for sour cream and onion Pringles. I mean, I was going out of my mind. I didn’t have any because my house is completely SANE. I was going out of my mind.

Jonathan: Oh, no.

Carrie: So I made my cheesy biscuits. I’m growing chives in the garden, and I threw a whole bunch of fresh chives in there, and I made these cheesy- chive biscuits. I had one, and I was perfectly fine. Had I gone to the store and bought that tube of Pringles, the entire tube would have gone, and I would not have been able to stop once I started.

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Carrie: One cheesy-chive scone and I was fine. My brain calmed down, I was full, it was all goodness.

Jonathan: Literally, think about that, Carrie. A tube of Pringles probably has a few thousand calories in it.

Carrie: Don’t ask me to ever look, because I’d probably cry for a week.

Jonathan: My point is just think about that for a second, folks. You can eat thousands of calories of a substance and your body says, I want more. That is an abnormal response for the body. If you ate a thousand calories of SANE food, your body would be like, Stop, what are you doing? In fact, Carrie, I’ve had almost like a split personality with food and appetite in my brain at times, because I feel like I’m craving something, but I’m too full to really want it, if that makes any sense at all.

Carrie: It totally does. You should see me with a tube of Pringles. It’s insane, literally. It’s just like I cannot stop eating them until they’re gone. Yet, I’m not even enjoying it. It’s crazy. Anyway, I got through it last night with my cheese-and-chive scone.

Jonathan: Well, we started the podcast talking about sanitizing oatmeal and now we’ve seen how we can sanitize cravings for cheesy-chivey Pringles or whatever they were.

Carrie: Sour cream and onion, but yes.

Jonathan: There we go, so we can sanitize it all. Carrie, we’ve talked about oatmeal, we’ve talked about acne, we’ve talked about freeing ourselves from the desire to overeat. How are you feeling?

Carrie: Awesome.

Jonathan: Feeling good?

Carrie: Yes.

Jonathan: Are you going to bring me some of those cheesy-chivey biscuits?

Carrie: I could have brought you one today. What was I thinking?

Jonathan: I don’t know.

Carrie: I don’t know what I was thinking. Bad Carrie, bad, bad Carrie.

Jonathan: Next time.

Carrie: Next time.

Jonathan: Speaking of next time, listeners, we look forward to seeing you next time; and remember this week, and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. Chat with you soon.

This week we cover why oats aren’t SANE, how to cure what ails you, and explore the cause of and solution to overeating.