#AspergerSyndrome and #Holiday Loneliness

Banquo’s Ghost. At the feast.

Having Asperger Syndrome or autism can be especially hard at Thanksgiving or other holidays where all the neurotypicals expect to be invited to celebrate with family or friends. Not being invited is hard. Being invited, perhaps reluctantly, can make you feel like the ghost at every feast. Here are some of the problems we might go through:

  • Not being invited. It’s not always a form of discrimination that you can ‘protest’ about. With our lack of social skills we may not be sending off the secret social signals that we want to be friends or want to be invited to things. Our non-hosts may even think they are being tolerant of our differences in not inviting us to an event they think we don’t want to attend. I don’t really know what one can do when one is not invited, especially by family.
  • Being invited and not thinking it’s sincere.  The thing to remember is that neurotypical people can have problems with social skills too. Sometimes they invite us in a way we think indicates they don’t want us there— for example emailing to an account you check twice a year instead of picking up the phone. Or only inviting you through another family member who is supposed to be responsible for you. It’s hard to know what to do when you are wondering whether someone is hoping against hope you will stay away, and they won’t give you any clues that would let you know if you are really welcome.
  • Being invited with restrictions. Maybe you once had a ‘meltdown’ at Thanksgiving when you were nine, and you still are cautioned that you can come ONLY if you behave yourself now that you are 52. Or you loudly proclaimed your atheism when the others were saying grace or proclaimed your faith when the others were congratulating themselves on their atheism, you may be told you can come ONLY if you keep your opinions to yourself. Now, it is a social rule not to discuss religion or politics at any family or social event where opinions may be divided, but forgiveness is also an option, especially if the host knows about your autism spectrum disorder. We may need to do a lot of forgiving too, especially if forgiving slights and even insults is the only way to stay connected to your own family.
  • An invitation that is clearly charity. If you have been invited by someone you barely know because their family custom involves some ‘charity’ invites and they can’t find a homeless person this year, you may feel too awkward to come. It is socially awkward being someone else’s act of charity when you feel like a regular, normal person who ought to be invited to events for regular, normal reasons. But you might try accepting such an invitation if you feel up to handling the awkwardness, because accepting someone’s charity invitation could be your act of charity toward them.
  • An invitation that requires a money contribution that you can’t meet. Some families celebrate with restaurant food or catered food. If they want you to kick in money you don’t have, it may be easier to stay away than beg to attend at the group’s expense. There is not much an Aspie can do about this. Most of us are unemployed, on scanty disability or underemployed. And most families who buy Thanksgiving food pre-cooked do so in order to spare family members work.

If you are going to be spending Thanksgiving alone, you don’t have to be depressed or lonely. If you have a working DVD player you can perhaps rent a couple of movies so you can keep yourself distracted. Better yet, buy some new books you will save for the day.

Social media may not be much of a help when most of your social media buddies are spending time with their families and shouldn’t take time out to interact with you. But there may be others in your situation. You can interact with people like that— maybe even plan a social media ‘party.’ And of course if you have friends In Real Life who will also be alone, why not suggest a get-together? You don’t have to plan a full feast. You can just heat up frozen pizza or chicken wings or something easy.

Another good solution is if you can find someone who has an ‘in’ at the local soup kitchen or a church where they have turkey dinners for the poor and lonely. Being one of the people who is helping may be easier than going as a recipient of the charity. And you can be doing good as well as feeling less lonely.

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Intermittent Fasters must be prepared

If you decide to try intermittent fasting— fasting for less than a day— you have to be prepared. You have to be prepared with correct information about fasting— as in reading a good book about fasting such as The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore. You also need to be prepared in other ways. You need the right foods for fasting— both in the few things you are allowed to consume while fasting, and the foods you need for good ketogenic diet meals afterwards.

You may feel, after reading the fasting book by Dr. Fung, that you can do it with fasting alone, eating carb-containing meals during your eating times. After all, he got started in recommending fasting because some of his patients were not following the rules for a ketogenic diet— they would give up bread but not flatbread or noodles.

This is the big temptation of the Intermittent Fasting lifestyle— you get through your fasting time— perhaps you get ready to break your fast at 2pm instead of noon. And then you get tempted. You’ve eaten nothing for a lot of hours— and so don’t you deserve a donut? A candy bar? A slice of pizza? And actually when you do IF, you can get away with it sometimes. I’ve had a carby meal on days when I only ate one meal, and the next morning had an OK blood sugar. And then I did the same thing the next day, and ate more carbs because I was so hungry, and had bad blood sugar the next morning.

IF and a ketogenic diet go together. If you are on a ketogenic diet, you are less hungry because you don’t have carbs shooting up your blood sugar and making you hungry for more carbs. Very often when I was doing the Atkins diet, I’d skip a meal because I just wasn’t hungry. This is how some people get into IF. They start skipping breakfast because they are unhungry on their ketogenic diet, they learn about IF and they just formalize their meal-skipping into intermittent fasting.

Fasting does not have to be water alone. You can drink unsweetened coffee or tea. You can also have some broth. When you are feeling bad on a fast— or even on starting a ketogenic diet like Atkins induction— drinking a cup of broth can help. Part of that is the salt in most broths. If you make your own bone broth, be sure to add an appropriate amount of salt. I add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to a cup of bone broth.

Dr. Fung, in the fasting book, allows you to put a small amount of cream or oil in your coffee or tea. Kind of like bulletproof coffee, but with smaller amounts. You are allowed this once in every fasting day. This makes it less than a total fast, but some people really need this mini-bulletproof coffee or tea in order to make it through fasting, at least the first few times. It means you have to have coffee, tea and cream and/or oil in the house if you are starting a fast, also broth— either homemade bone broth, or the less-ideal commercial bouillon cubes or powder.

You also need to have the right foods in your house for a ketogenic friendly meal. I am in less than ideal health, and find that sometimes I just don’t have enough energy when the time comes to break the fast to cook a full ketogenic meal. I need to have some things that are easy to prepare or can be made ahead of time.

Right now, I’m making a lot of the chocolate milk recipe from Dana Carpender’s Fat Fast Cookbook (page 76). The original recipe calls for using canned full-fat coconut milk. I usually sub a little heavy whipping cream for some of the coconut milk, since I do eat dairy. But last time I used coconut milk alone and it was still good enough.

I also like to have cold cuts and cheese slices (not the wrapped-in-plastic American cheese) so I can make roll-ups— an easy low-carb answer to sandwiches. I always have cans of tuna in the house. I get the kind with olive oil as that is healthier.

My hope is to be well enough prepared to be able to eat ketogenic even when I’m tired or don’t feel like a lot of cooking. Last year I was sick for over a month and didn’t have any appetite— which was good because I couldn’t get out to the stores regularly and I couldn’t get people to drive me very often. I lost a lot of weight, but when my appetite started coming back I started buying bread and making myself sandwiches— which was a hard habit to kick.


My current fasting experience:

I’m trying to do Intermittent Fasting daily until at least 11am. I need to work more on quitting eating at a regular hour— I currently stop eating some time between 5pm and 8pm. Later eating gives me bad morning blood sugar. I tried a 24 hour fast one day when I had bad morning blood sugar. I went 26 hours, felt OK, and my blood sugar went down to a much more normal level. (I might point out that I am no longer on any blood sugar medications, which is why I don’t mention doctor visits before the fast to adjust meds.)

 

Do I really need to learn Chinese to write this character? & Celebrate

Right now I am occupied with outlining a science fiction novel, Tiberius Base. I’ve written some 51 pages, by hand, in a composition book. I’m following the instructions in K. M. Weiland’s Outlining your Novel Workbook, and so far it has been useful in developing characters, particularly the main character, a junior administrator at a starbase-under-construction, Ping Yuan.

I’ve been having an impulse to learn a little Chinese as a result. Chinese is the character Ping Yuan’s native language though he is fluent in interplanetary Trade Languages like Esperanto and Volapuk.

Foreign languages are kind of a Special Interest of mine, and I try to keep them under control— ‘you can’t buy a beginning Italian book until you have finished the beginning Serbian book.’ But I’ve also come to understand that starting a language project is one method I use to relate to fictional characters.

As a kid I was a massive Star Trek TOS fan—  before Star Trek needed initials. I particularly liked the junior officers, Sulu, Uhura and Chekov. As a result at various times I tried to learn Japanese, Swahili and Russian. Not a lot of results, but I do know the Swahili word for toilet and learned to identify Japanese writing from Chinese or Korean at an early age. I even know a few words of Russian, including one naughty word.

I have at various times used similar approaches to characters of my own creation. I have also deliberately given characters a certain linguistic background to match a language I was at the time interested in.

In my current project I’ve done some of that. Esperanto, a language which is a long term interest of mine (I have read books in it), is the Trade Language most used in my setting. I made some characters native speakers of German, which is my own ancestral language and one I studied in college. I can also read in German.

The character Ping Yuan was made Chinese for story-related reasons— he needs to be a communist-style ‘scientific atheist’ because another major character is a Catholic priest. But I think that learning a bit of Chinese does help— I’ve signed up for the Chinese lessons on a free language learning site and ordered the book that goes with the 50Languages free audio lessons.

Question: Do I think language learning in general is a good way for writers to relate to characters? It depends a lot on the writer. And on the character. But the language learning process can help you relate, and you will probably learning bits and pieces of your character’s culture as well. You might give it a try especially if your character’s culture is different from yours. (Or if you are a German-American like me, your character is too, and you’ve never tried learning a little German.)


This is also my Celebrate the Small Things blog hop post. As of this week it still seems like blog hop host Lexa Cain is not feeling well enough to participate, so prayers for her are still in order.

My celebration this week is about the 50 Languages free language learning materials. I discovered this years ago. It is sponsored by the Goethe Institute which used to encourage people to learn German. The 50 languages thing is really quite clever. The lessons are translated into the languages, and the learner picks out two— his own native language and the language he wants to learn— and can download the paired two-language audios. So— I can download some Chinese lessons with an English translation, but some Dutch speaker who wants to take Arabic lessons can get audios for that, too. It’s very helpful and great for homeschooling families who want to teach a language.

Keto Living: Dana Carpender’s new Fat Fast Cookbook

Dana Carpender the Low-Carb/Keto cookbook author had come out with her second Fat Fast cookbook and so of course I ordered a copy. I loved her other Fat Fast cookbook.

What is a fat fast? It’s not a real fast as taught by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Jason Fung in the Complete Guide to Fasting. Fat fasting is a temporary restricted diet designed by Dr. Robert Atkins, author of The Atkins Diet Revolution. The Fat Fast was designed for patients who were already on Atkins’ diet at the strict Induction level and who had stopped losing weight when they still had weight to lose. The Fat Fast was, like the Atkins diet itself, based on scientific research. It is a restricted calorie diet, unlike most low carb dieting, and featured food rich in (healthy) fats. It has been shown that people lose more weight eating more fat than eating carbs or protein.

Under Atkins there were about 3 or 4 food items you could eat on a fat fast, but when Dana Carpender tried the fat fast she started created recipes that fit the nutritional profile of fat fast foods.

In this new cookbook there are many new recipes. One problem I have with this book is many recipes have as a main ingredient Shirataki noodles. These noodles are a great low carb noodle substitute but they taste weird compared to real, carb-filled noodles. Also, they are hard to get. My local grocery doesn’t carry them so I have to go into town to get them. They also are hard to store. They can’t be frozen but must be refrigerated. In my fridge it is cold enough on the shelf I stored Shirataki on that a package was frozen and destroyed.

But on the good side there were other recipes that I do want to try. There is a recipe for low-carb chocolate milk based on full-fat coconut milk. I haven’t tried the coconut milk version but have tried one in which I replaced the coconut milk with heavy whipping cream.

There is also a recipe for Vichyssoise which uses cauliflower instead of potato. I’m going to try that recipe as soon as I can get to a grocery store that sells leeks— recipe also calls for one leek.

Now, I myself am not really planning to do a lot of fat fasting anytime soon. I do daily intermittent fasting in the overnight to morning period. But the fat fast recipes can also be a part of any LCHF ketogenic diet, which is what I eat (or should be eating) during my eating hours.

I think the best way to stick to a ketogenic diet is to have a lot of recipe books for ketogenic diets on hand. You don’t need to do lots of exotic recipes every day. Just find a few recipes you really like, and make them regularly. I personally stockpile ingredients for some of my favorite recipes so I can make them without a special trip to the store. This is important during the winter where I live, since during snowstorms we can’t always make trips to the store.


Saturday is the day of the week I cover healthy/ketogenic diet issues as well as intermittent fasting. Usually. If you want to know more about ketogenic diet and fasting, I recommend the podcasts of Jimmy Moore. He often has Doctors on his podcasts, and discusses the scientific research that backs up approaches like ketogenic diets or fasting. I listen to his podcasts on most days, it helps me keep on track.

Jimmy Moore’s Fasting Talk Podcast.

Jimmy Moore’s Other Podcasts.

Make a low-carb/ketogenic bread substitute

For the person on a ketogenic/low-carb diet, there are two kinds of substitutes for bread: the products that CLAIM to be low-carb but have grain/gluten ingredients and are only slightly better than regular bread, and the kind you can eat freely on a ketogenic diet and aren’t very bread-like.

The reason we don’t like REAL ketogenic bread is that we are addicted to the carb fix we get from bread. No carbs, no grains, no fix. It’s like asking a heroin addict to be content with a vitamin B-12 injection.

OK. Real ketogenic bread. The classic recipe was called Diet Revolution Rolls (and Diet Revolution Bread) in Dr. Atkins first book, Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. Google the recipe name and you can find the recipe, even a YouTube video that shows how to make it.

Diet Revolution Rolls require separation eggs and whipping up the egg whites. I know how to do this but I dislike it. It’s a chore, and if you get one little speck of egg yolk in your whites they won’t whip up.

So I came up with a new recipe. I call it ‘Dutch Baby Rolls’ since I adapted it from a recipe that uses Dutch Baby (a kind of big pancake) as a pizza crust. I just made it in my Yorkshire Pudding Pan in four servings and it came out very well. I have a small Yorkshire Pudding Pan — well, three of them— that I bought for making Diet Revolution Rolls in a variant sometimes called ‘Cloud Bread.’

So: you will need to get yourself a Yorkshire Pudding Pan to make this recipe. You might also try searching under Muffin Top Pan. Choose between pans on the size of the holes, and the depth of the holes. My pans have a depth of 1/2 inch, but I saw one with a 1 inch depth and am buying that. I use a 4 hole size since I bake in a small convection oven with the convection feature turned off.

The rolls in a batch of Dutch Baby Rolls will poof up and be high enough that you can slice each roll in half to use in making a sandwich. NOTE: if you whip up your batter and let it sit a long time, it won’t poof. If you accidentally set your oven for 325 and not 425, they will not poof. We like poof! Get it right.

The recipe is cut down from the Dutch Baby Pizza recipe on page 270 of Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich’s book ‘The Ketogenic Cookbook.’ Buy the book! (NOT an affiliate link.)

Dutch Baby Rolls

2 large eggs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoon unflavored egg white or whey protein powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or Herbamare (salt flavored with veggies)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Spray olive oil based pan spray on your Yorkshire pudding pan.
  3. Combine eggs, cream, protein powder and salt in bowl. Mix with electric mixer 1 minute.
  4. Pour batter into Yorkshire pudding pan. Fill holes not quite full. You don’t want a spill.
  5. Bake for about 15-16 minutes

Variations: you can substitute unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk for the cream if you can’t handle dairy. Also, you can sprinkle a few poppy seeds or sesame seeds on the top of each roll before baking.

Reheating instructions:
I store my rolls in the fridge, by the way.
Cut roll in half. Place cut side up on a cookie sheet. Preheat your oven to 325 F. Not 425 like above. Place a small pat butter on each half on the cut side. Bake 4-6 minutes. You don’t want to burn them.

Variation: Place bacon bits and a slice of your favorite cheese on the ‘bottom’ half of your Dutch Baby Roll. In 4-6 minutes at 325 F, your cheese should become melty. Easy substitute for grilled cheese!

Taste: I used to make a cream puff recipe which called for lots of flour. I ate them like they were rolls. I think Dutch Baby Rolls taste a little like that. They are great for days when all I want to eat is a sandwich or hamburger-with-bun.

A time for feasting, a time for fasting

Fasting

In ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’, the authors talk about the importance of feasting and fasting. In most traditional cultures there are both feasts and fasts. They balance each other out. But in our culture the fasting side is ignored and we feast, feast, feast. And then we get Type 2 diabetes and die. Or, if we are lucky, we learn about ketogenic diets and Intermittent Fasting and live.

The authors of ‘The  Complete Guide to Fasting’ recommend a ketogenic diet for your eating periods. A ketogenic diet has been scientifically proven to have a number of health benefits— unlike the low-calorie/low-fat fad diet which has been shown in scientific studies to slow your metabolism and raise your blood sugar.

One thing you need for your ketogenic diet is some good recipes so you can make some food that is permitted on your diet and tasty. The hardest part of ketogenic is that most of us have to start cooking our own meals. Dr. Atkins in his diet books claimed that you could order what you want at restaurants. We don’t have that kind of restaurant where I live. The restaurants I used to go to had amazing levels of trouble just remembering not to bring me toast or muffins when I asked them not to.

What I most need is recipes I can make again and again. I used to always make up a batch of devilled eggs for ketogenic meals. I made some with cheese and bacon bits added to the yolk mixture.

Then I used to make a recipe with tuna adapted from a recipe in one of Dr. Atkins’ recipe books, for ‘fish loaf’. I’ve adapted a lot over the years and now add in a bit of mushrooms and a small amount of peas. That makes the ‘tuna loaf’ taste a bit like my mom’s tuna casserole.

I have a few other recipes that are my staples. But it is hard to make my own keto meals nearly every day when I’m not fasting. I’ve always been planning to try freezing portions of some recipes to reheat on days when I can’t stand cooking but I haven’t gotten to doing that yet. I’m not one of those super-organized kitchen women.

Lately what I have been making often is crustless quiche. I’ve made several variations— one with bacon bits, one with mushrooms, and one with some shredded Gouda cheese for the cheese portion and some tuna.

Intermittent Fasting really helps because it cuts down on the number of meals I have to cook. Frankly, I’d rather make some hot tea in the morning than cook something and have to clean up after myself.

Intermittent Fasting: You are already doing it…..

Podcaster Jimmy Moore sometimes says that talking about fasting is like using another f-word in church. Not very popular. But the fact is that Intermittent Fasting— fasting for less than a day— shouldn’t be so scary. We all do it.

Let’s think of someone with the worst eating habits ever. This person snacks during most of their waking hours. But this person takes a break from eating every night during sleep. So– let’s say this person snacks from dinner until midnight and goes to bed. Wakes up just before 6, and by the stroke of 6 has breakfast-food in the mouth. Bad, huh? But that person has just done intermittent fasting from midnight to 6. A six-hour fast!

Yesterday on Jimmy Moore’s Fasting podcast he had a guest, Aarn Farmer,  who does intermittent fasting daily for a few more hours than six a day. And he has gone from over 400 lbs to about half that. (Jimmy Moore also used to weigh over 400.)

In my own practice I am going back on to an intermittent fasting routine. My problem is that when I do eat, I eat high-carb foods too often. Jimmy Moore recommends going on a good ketogenic, low-carb diet before adding fasting to your routine. A ketogenic diet makes you less hungry and many people find themselves skipping meals when they have been on lowcarb/ketogenic diets for a while. (Unfamiliar with Low-Carb/Ketogenic diets? Read the book Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and  Eric Westman, MD.)

Intermittent fasting is about increasing your non-eating hours. Many people on an Intermittent Fasting plan skip breakfast. Biologically, breakfast-time is our least-hungry time of day.

You can also increase your non-eating hours by stopping eating after supper— cutting out those post-supper snacks. By stopping eating at 6pm after dinner, and not starting eating again until the next day’s lunch, you cut a number of eating hours out of the day.

There are a lot of health benefits from fasting, including intermittent fasting. The details of some of these benefits can be found in the book The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Jason Fung. You will learn, for example, that you can have cups of unsweetened coffee or tea while fasting, or even cups of bone broth.

Aarn Farmer, Jimmy Moore’s podcast guest, recommends listening to a lot of podcasts about intermittent fasting or about the ketogenic diet to keep you inspired. I’ve been doing that myself. I listen to Jimmy Moore’s Fasting podcast— new episodes come out on Fridays— on days when I’m doing intermittent fasting and his other health and diet podcasts on other days.  Jimmy Moore’s podcasts are great because he often has medical doctors as guests or co-podcasters, and he frequently talks about medical research of interest to those who fast or follow ketogenic diets.

I must admit I am not that good at fasting yet. I often don’t fast for as many hours in a day as I had planned— I usually eat lunch around 11 or 12, and I have a hard time with not snacking after supper. I also haven’t finished any longer fasts yet. But I am hopeful I will improve. The amount of intermittent fasting I’m doing at the moment is helping to bring my blood sugar down. Not into the normal range yet, but it’s better than it was.