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How addictive are carbs really?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Well, it depends on the person. For some people they don't seem to be addictive at all. Unfortunately I'm not in that group. For those people who find carbs addictive often not all carbs are equally addictive. For me the most addictive is sugar and other glucose or fructose-based sweeteners, with the exception of honey (eating too much of it makes me feel sick). Also equally addictive is wheat in most forms.
Rice, beans, starchy food like potatoes or tapioca and most grains don't tempt me at all. For those people that find themselves addicted to carbs I believe more and more that this addiction can be even harder to get over than prescription pain killers or alcohol.
The reason may be that these addictive carbs are much harder to avoid in our environment. We may not have them in our house but we seem them all the time and even smell them when we walk on any busy street, shopping mall, at work, in restaurants, anywhere people eat (which in the US is EVERYWHERE).
In addition most people still do not believe that there is such a thing as a carb addiction and therefore do not extend the same courtesy they would give a dry alcoholic drug addict. This often includes family members that are well-meaning but thoughtless when they invite us to join them for a high-carb treat.
Drugs that are legal and addictive foods are generally considered safer by most people, even though looking at statistics of people getting sick or dying may tell another story.
I'm very good at avoiding my trigger foods at home, but occasionally can't resist the sugary stuff when at a party. Rather than feeling guilty over my failure I have decided to simply go back to eating what is healthy for me as soon as possible.
Unfortunately every time I have to get back on track I go through withdrawal (mostly of sugar) again. It is annoying and makes me grumpy and physically tired for a couple of days at least. Once I have "kicked the habit" again it all does not seem like such a big deal any more and sugar looks quite innocent and not even very interesting, leading me to believe over short or long that having it very occasionally is really not so bad. But I guess alcoholics experience the same thing. It takes a number of repetitions for most of us to be done with our problem carbs for good. I will do very well for several months and suddenly decide that a certain situation justifies a "little going off track". And in a sense it is not that big a deal. I know what to do to get back on track, weight gain is not a problem in the short term and within a few days I'm back to normal functioning, my energy levels return, my mood improves, my sleep improves, the brain fog goes away. But I can't help comparing this to having the flu. Would I do something intentionally to get the flu a couple of times a year just for a short moment of pleasure? Maybe it's not worth it to have the occasional "treat", whether it's a gluten-free brownie, store-bought ice cream or gourmet chocolate (with the exception of very dark chocolate that is very low in sugar).
What do you think?

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RONNIEHUEY 9/13/2013 11:19AM

    emoticon

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CHIPLEY_FL 9/13/2013 8:41AM

    I'm right there with you. but it's doable.

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EJOY-EVELYN 9/12/2013 12:34AM

    I'm sorry to see that it is such a problem many people like you who would prefer to see less carbs when with friends and associates. I must admit, when I'm most apt to eat mindlessly, it is because of a favorite carb (more salty, but sweet seems to somewhat hold me captive, as well).

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JANETELIZABETH1 9/11/2013 4:58PM

    I think it helps (to stay away from) if eating them makes you ill or sick!! That's the only thing that has worked for me!

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LINDIEMAE 9/10/2013 11:25PM

    Sugar is addictive, and cancer cells LOVE sugar - but is it the processed sugar you are addicted to, or sugar in its natural form? I have found with iliminating or trying to iliminate gluten, I tend to reach out to the gluten free products that I normally would not want. All of a sudden, I need that cookie, or candy or what have you. I've gained weight, not lost, and struggling. Tonight I wanted fried chicken - but settled for my wheat belly cook book bison stew ( beef ) but the craving for the chicken will be back, like quitting smoking, its taking some getting used to and some adjustments. ANY kind of addiction is difficult to over come, especially if its replaced with another addiction that can be as bad. Wishing you luck with that. Perhaps you can plan your next sneak attack er sweet attack and have something from a more natural sourse of sweetening, and at events, b ring your own, how I handle that one, is I do not know the hygiene of the person and that takes care of that !! emoticon

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HOUNDLOVER1 9/10/2013 4:50PM

    Thanks everyone for your thoughtful feedback. I'm planning to respond to some of you individually soon. Hopefully we can have a great exchange of ideas.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Birgit

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JLKL1980 9/10/2013 4:25PM

    I can really identify with this blog. And if I splurge on a carby dessert, like ice cream, I suffer a headache within a few hours and it even goes into the next day.

The carb sensitivity seems to have gotten worse as I reached my fifties. Need to keep them below 50 or 60 grams.

Great Blog!



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CHRISTASP 9/10/2013 1:05PM

    Oh, I can relate to much if not all that you said. Except I don't manage to do without sugar / wheat for months at a time.
It is indeed so that I stop eating sugar, feel (much) better, and then 'forget' how bad it really is to have it and get lured by having 'just a bit' and then the whole thing starts all over again. I get very tired of going through withdrawal again and again AND still, I cannot see myself cutting sugar out for good. Indeed the fact that it is found all over society, and we see it all the time, is a big problem.
Wheat is less of a problem for me. I can have it in small amounts and don't get triggered into eating more and more of it. But if I eat two or more slices of wheat bread I find it makes me binge and it seems toincrease some complaints I have.
So I don't have to be so scared of 'hidden wheat'. I do eat bread, but it's spelt bread; I find that my body responds very differently (better) to spelt than to wheat.

When you said that things like rice and beans are no problem for you, does that mean you don't have them, or that you can have them but not get triggered into eating more, having negative effects on body and mood, etc?

Comment edited on: 9/10/2013 1:08:24 PM

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EXOTEC 9/10/2013 10:27AM

    I'm a terrible carb addict, too. Mine tends to take the bread-y version. I started off to say, "luckily..." but I'm not sure that's really the case. I have every bit as much trouble with bread and starchy things as others do with chocolate, or sweets in general (believe it or not). A bakery is pure hell for me. I can only control the compulsion by staying strictly OUT of it. And bread aisles at the grocery. Even the smell of that processed bread, through the plastic wrapper, makes me want to load up one of everything and binge like a fool.

It really IS an addiction. And, like you, when I've been "good" for some period of time, I don't remember that I really can't indulge as I'd like. I do still have tiny amounts of things -- such as half a piece of toast with my breakfast ( I eat soft-boiled eggs almost every morning, and "have" (?) to have the bread to soak up the eggy juice)... or I will eat a small portion of the veggies I know I shouldn't have (peas, rarely corn, beets, sweet potatoes, rare tablespoon of white potato, baked beans...) - but in general, I strictly avoid the things I want desperately, because I know I can't control the compulsion which becomes a monster before I've even ingested the entire piece of whatever-it-is I'm cheating with.

Luckily (and this is really a "luckily"), my body does help me, albeit after-the-fact, by making me truly sick when I succumb. A bite here and there I can handle, at least so far as not getting sick. But when I cave and really indulge - a sandwich, a muffin or roll, a (whole) baked potato, mac-n-cheese... ohhhh. The agony! It goes as far as my upper intestines and stubbornly refuses to progress. Can we say, "fermentation"? I'm punished. And then I remember why I can't allow myself these "treats" which end up being torments. The next temptation carries less compulsion, thankfully. I'm not yet completely past it... but I get stronger every time I can recall that carb-sickness and reject it.

It's so true about addictions. You wouldn't expect a recovering alcoholic to be able to allow themselves "just one swallow." A drug addict can't take "just one hit" to get them past some stressful situation, or party indulgence. No one (knowing they're trying to make those good changes in their lives) would tempt them, or harass them that they're being "antisocial" if they won't join in "the fun" for the sake of their companions or the situation. Why is that behaviour acceptable to apply to people who are trying to make healthy dietary changes in their lives? why would others, especially those who profess to love or care about us, put us in this position? I simply cannot fathom it. I explain my purpose repeatedly and calmly... and resent every repetition of it, and know that there will never be an end to it. The next time, I'll have to go through the whole rigarmarole again. And if I "cop some attitude," whose fault you KNOW that is!

I wish there was a way to reach those people en masse... the public in general. Would they change their tactics? well, probably not. A few might. Some may not even realize the pressure they're adding to others' efforts. Oblivion seems to be ubiquitous in society these days. But although it's good to be able to share our mutual frustration here, where it NEEDS to be shared is with those who *aren't* here, who are contributing to the problem. And I don't know how that will ever be accomplished.

Thanks for a great blog.
Luck to all of us in our various "addictions"!

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ERIN1957 9/10/2013 10:24AM

    For me they are truly trouble and I know I have an addiction to them. I am talking grain based carbs or chemically based carbs like processed anything.
I have to go zero, no in between for me. Won't even have them in our home.
To get off them a challenge to stay off them is as equally hard.
Zero tolerance.

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MSKRIS7 9/10/2013 10:19AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DOVESEYES 9/10/2013 7:50AM

    I eat a little of what I like -Dark chocolate and cake ---- hardly eat any carbs at all except in fruit .

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WEARINGTHIN 9/10/2013 3:40AM

    I think you got to the crux of why addictions work. Yes, you have something innocently enough, until, over time, it becomes a full blown problem. You get away from it, and once again it seems very innocent and harmless, you try it, And on and on, etc. I think eventually a sort of wisdom can come on, and you can handle those indulgences and make adjustments as you go. Good luck to you. Glenn

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ANGYAS 9/10/2013 2:40AM

    Yes! I have the same issues. ;)
Hopefully some day I`ll overcome my sweet tooth ;) emoticon emoticon

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CINDYTW 9/10/2013 1:55AM

  They are very addictive!! I can say that I have been and my friends are total carb junkies that I can't seem to get through to! Pasta and bread are not everything in this life!!

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NASFKAB 9/10/2013 1:42AM

  just finding substitutes is so hard thank you for this great blog

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THE_SHAKESHAFT 9/10/2013 1:31AM

    Carbs are definitely addictive but only when sugar or salt are involved :)

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NOWYOUDIDIT 9/10/2013 12:25AM

    Boy I don't know if the withdrawal is worth it. And believe me I've cheated enough to know! emoticon
I'm working so hard to find enough new foods to replace those I cheat with. It is slow going- but eventually!!
emoticon emoticon

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And another blog post about Ketosis by Dr. Peter Attia, just published

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

eatingacademy.com/sports-and-nutriti
on/ketones-carbohydrates-can-co-exist?
utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_camp
aign=ketones-carbohydrates-can-co-exist

I am hoping for a good discussion on this one. emoticon

Birgit

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUSSELL_40 9/24/2013 3:52PM

    This makes a lot of sense to me. Sometimes I have an extra apple, or a side of veggies after working out hard ( for me ), doing a bike ride, swimming laps or playing basketball. Once I even had a gatorade. I never got cravings, or gained weight, which if I did this on a day I just took an easy 45 minute walk, would happen once I get over about 80 total carbs. I am diabetic, so I tend to stay low on my blood glucose ( 70-80 ), and find that exercise lowers this also. I can eat more carbs and stay at a 75 b.g. if I exercise harder.

So the idea of eating some extra carbs, and staying in ketosis seems possible. It would have to be rare. I don't think most of us work out hard enough to be able to eat 100 extra grams of carbs, but we also won't gain 8 lbs of weight from swelling, since we don't damage our bodies so much. So I can have 120 total grams of carbs on a day I work out vigorously, and I may stay the same weight, but more importantly, I don't get the cravings, or weight gain I get when I kick myself out of ketosis.

I gain 3-5 lbs if I eat off plan. It is mostly water weight, and I find I can get back into ketosis in about 18-24 hours, depending on how bad I cheat. First I have to burn off the glucose, and then the glycogen, so the more I have carbs, the longer it takes to get through them, and back to burning fat.

Maybe I missed something, or maybe because I am diabetic, I have actually measured weight loss versus blood glucose levels, but I didn't think anything in this article was news. It seems obvious to me that if you maintain at 50 grams a day, and ate 20 grams a day, or exercised vigorously to drop glycogen levels, that you could save up some carbs, and have 20 on day 1, and 80 on day 2, and average the 50 over the 2 days. Also, since my blood sugars drop a lot if I play basketball, I know I am working deeper into ketosis. If I play for 45 minutes, my blood glucose will drop below 60, and I have to eat some carbs , or I get a low blood sugar.

As a diabetic I am more sensitive, and have a built in opportunity to get a deficit, which may be why I stay in ketosis at such a high level of carbs, but also have such a weight gain if I cheat. My blood glucose can be 40 or 400 in 2 hours.

If my b.g. is low, then I would need to eat some carbs to get it back to 80+, and it seems to me that what Peter Attia is doing is trying to replicate this in a non-diabetic body. Since most people won't get that low, he creates a deficit with extreme exercise. All I need to do is skip breakfast, or cut carbs..lol.

This is one of the reasons why I think all diabetics should be on low carb. It actually works better for us. For the rest of you, you're going to have to go on a 110 mile bike ride to get depleted.. sorry.

I do wonder if someone eating 5 grams a day for a week, could then have a day at 100 grams, and stay in ketosis. Would they have a deficit, or would the body produce enough glucose over a 24 hour period to prevent a deficit. Maybe for the average healthy person, it has to be a rapid depletion, and then eat the extra carbs, before the body produces glucose.

I don't think the average person is going to work out that hard, just so they can have a slice of birthday cake . They could work out a lot after a cheat to get back into ketosis quicker though. Of course, they wouldn't have stayed in ketosis this way.

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COYOTE07 9/14/2013 3:40PM

    Thanks for the link. Peter is definitely a "keto geek" and there is lots of good information here. There has been a good book published recently that is also quite technical but there is a great summary at: http://diagnosisdiet.com/what-cause
s-cancer/
I am on a restricted ketogenic diet for the treatment of cancer and while I like the idea of exercising in order to be able to eat more carbs and proteins, I have been advised that intense exercise can can actually spark the production of proteins that cancer patients are trying to reduce. "Walk don't run" was the mantra I was given, which was a tough one since I was a dedicated runner before the diagnosis.
I'm heading over to the Low-carb forum where I can offer some advice to those just starting and share tips with those of you on the keto path.


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HOUNDLOVER1 8/29/2013 8:08PM

    I'm still in the process of working my way through this blog post. Peter Attia is not always easy to understand but usually has valuable info. If I understand this right he is saying that higher levels of exercise allow higher carb levels while still staying in ketosis. The whys are not entirely clear to me yet.

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NASFKAB 8/29/2013 6:39PM

  interesting

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WOUBBIE 8/28/2013 12:04PM

    Hmmm. I think his title is rather misleading - he never really addresses the title question in any direct way. However, I did appreciate the links at the bottom. I'll have to follow up on those when I have more time.

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JLKL1980 8/28/2013 11:42AM

    Interesting - naturally, it had me refiguring my nutritional tracker formulas. ha ha

Good article - I saved the website to my favorites.

Comment edited on: 8/28/2013 11:43:03 AM

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BRILLIANTAQUA 8/28/2013 9:06AM

    So, if I want to indulge in some carbs I should go work out like crazy first? ;)

Love your blog, btw. I'm new to NK & am finding your posts really helpful.

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BROADBRUSH 8/28/2013 7:51AM

    THIS is a lot to 'digest' if you will pardon the pun.
i have been interested in this particular method of weight loss for years and have been on many low/no carb regimes.
i have never achieved a state of ketosis. the most i have achieved is the lightest color on the scale with the keto stix.
also i feel very horrible without my usual fruits/salads daily.
everyone on most regimes lost twice/three times the amount of weight in the same amount of time as myself. for every one pound down for me - it was three to five for them.
chemically and biologically it sounds like a great solution - but unfortunately it just does not work with MY biology.
having stated all that - i have for the past 30 years stayed away from white flour, processed foods and sugars - including the hidden stuff in condiments etc which i do not use.
i have to state again that we are being lied to so often and duped with almost everything we buy at the store. i have a small garden in the summer - and try to freeze stuff in season.
this is war fare!!!! good luck BB

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MARYJOANNA 8/28/2013 5:57AM

  This is too difficult for me to understand by reading. If someone could explain it to me in person I could perhaps understand it.

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JSTETSER 8/28/2013 5:43AM

    Thanks a lot for this post.
I will have to take some time later to read it, but I'll be back to discuss it when I fully digest the material.

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Is Ketosis dangerous? Ketosis - a misunderstood state

Monday, August 26, 2013

Here are the promised links about ketosis and how it works from an expert in the field:

This article is an intro to the topic.

eatingacademy.com/nutrition/ketosis-
advantaged-or-misunderstood-state-part-i

This article explains the difference between ketosis and ketoacidosis

eatingacademy.com/nutrition/is-ketos
is-dangerous


I hope this explains the basics and answers some of the questions about ketosis.

Birgit

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

M77355 8/26/2013 9:57PM

    Thank you for providing this info!

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SILVERWITCH59 8/26/2013 8:49PM

    emoticon

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WOUBBIE 8/26/2013 8:16PM

    Great links. I'm becoming a real Attia fan these days. His TED talk really put him over the top!

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VALI_T 8/26/2013 4:27PM

    Thank you for the information

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MADEIT3 8/26/2013 1:29PM

    Thanks for taking the time to do this.

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AKHEIDI 8/26/2013 12:46PM

    Thank you- I like reading about such things but don't often have the time to go looking for them.

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NASFKAB 8/26/2013 12:43PM

  thanks

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Back to Ketosis

Monday, August 26, 2013

It was about time after I spent the summer eating plenty of fruit and the occasional piece of chocolate or ice cream with sugar.
My blood sugar level responded accordingly. My Ha1c level was up to 6.0 a week ago. I was a bit surprised since my carb levels were still not terribly high, definitely under 100 and many times under 80 grams/day. My body is clearly not made for a lot of carbs.
I did exercise less but not a lot less.
In any case, I am planning to reverse this trend as quickly as possible and am happy to report that I'm back in ketosis as of this morning. My hope is to get my Ha1c under 5.7 in the next 3 months. This should be possible if I can increase my exercise to about 90 minutes a day, incl. strength training 3 times/week and running or swimming 6 times/week.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HOUNDLOVER1 8/26/2013 11:52AM

    Thanks for the comments. I am going to post a link in my next blog about ketosis and the difference to keto-acidosis, a condition in uncontrolled diabetes where ketones flood the body in very high numbers uncontrolled. Nutritional ketosis produces very small levels of ketones by comparison that are no danger to health, quite the opposite, they allow fueling the body in a very healthy way.
Ketosis has to do with the body changing from burning glucose as the preferred fuel to burning fat and ketones as the preferred fuel. It is what the Paleo diet, the Atkins diet and other low-carb/high-fat diets are based on.
This is the perfect diet for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes and also for people with cholesterol issues and heart issues It can in most cases eliminate the need for oral diabetes medications and insulin if practiced for life.

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WOUBBIE 8/26/2013 10:21AM

    I need to tighten up my diet as well this fall. I only have one kid at home now, so cooking just got WAY easier. I mostly just need to focus on preparation. If I have the right things available I'll eat them instead of the not-right things. ;)

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NELLJONES 8/26/2013 7:43AM

    Ketosis can become ketoacidosis in diabetics. Have a care.

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JSTETSER 8/26/2013 6:00AM

    How do you DO Ketosis?
Is it a diet that you use?
I am very interested because my glucose readings have been in the 120's and I need to get them back down.
Being back in school, bringing a lunch that I prepare helps a lot, but I am interested in how people successfully use ketosis.

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WEARINGTHIN 8/26/2013 1:46AM

    Good luck in your new efforts. Glenn

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GMO's for animals?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

This article is about the consequences that GMO corn and soy have on animals. Even if you are a vegan, check this out for your pet's benefit.


www.organicconsumers.org/articles/ar
ticle_28062.cfm


Birgit

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BEAUTIFUL_REINA 8/21/2013 10:51PM

    I just start feeling so hopeless about our food and our animals food. What to do about the crazy state this country has gotten into. Nothing matters but money...

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-LINDA_S 8/10/2013 11:38AM

    I read it and it broke my heart. Surely farmers can't want to produce deformed and dying animals. This needs to be better publicized. I'm glad that natural pet foods are being advertized more, though.

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LOSER05 8/9/2013 11:06AM

    emoticon

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NOWYOUDIDIT 8/8/2013 10:25PM

    I knew this from cows and CJD. And we're killing our dogs bodies- food allergies- skin diseases. Just my humble opinion. emoticon

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SILVERWITCH59 8/8/2013 9:42PM

    emoticon

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EXOTEC 8/8/2013 9:26PM

    It's horrific for the animals... but what they eat comes right down the line. We eat them, which means we're also ingesting and suffering the effects of their poor diet.

You have to wonder, rhetorically, where it's all going to end.
If at all.

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MELIS_24 8/8/2013 8:05PM

    "I see humans but not humanity". So, so sad. Thanks for posting.

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NASFKAB 8/8/2013 7:14PM

  thanks

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WOUBBIE 8/8/2013 7:14PM

    emoticon
This is so disheartening.

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