The data you don't need



  • Call me a slowpoke, but today it dawned on me.

    I'm a software developer by trade and by passion, and because of that, I'm a bit of a data junkie. For example, I keep hoarding receipts from grocery shops in hopes to use them to log my spending habits, then never get to do it, then trash them with a sigh. Repeat.

    When I got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus, I tried all sorts of logging my glucose meter readings, meals, and medications taken (so I don't forget to take them). There are apps for that. Needless to say, it did me no good. Being paranoid about data entry made me even more anxious, and the end result was that I damned it all and binged on food I liked without caring too much, until I started feeling like utter crap, my weight soared, and my productivity hovered around zero.

    Then it dawned on me that I was doing it wrong all the time. Lots of people are doing it wrong. There is a whole industry to keep you doing it wrong all the time. Fucking glucose log diary apps. Fucking apps for smartwatches. Fucking smartwatches per se. You know what's wrong with these apps?

    They make you laboriously enter all that data — what you eat, how much you eat, when you take your meds, your readings, your weight et fucking cetera — and all that data does is 1) sit there, 2) be used to draw nice charts. That's it. And the charts are mostly meaningless. They are worth jack shit when it comes to actually predicting things. They failed to recognize late evening meals do me no good (YMMV, of course). They fail to acknowledge nutritional ketosis as a thing, and count it in to any degree. They are good only at regurgitating things at me that I already know.

    Once I realized that, I just started observing myself without note-taking. Now I prick my finger three times a day at most (as opposed to 5-8 times). Instead of painstakingly counting carbohydrates, I just make sure I eat as little of them as possible. And you know what? My glucose control is excellent, I feel better, and I have much more peace of mind. Not to mention that my productivity went up.

    Why I'm even writing all that? Well, for one, I consider this a bit of a :wtf:-turned-success-story. Then again, there is so much hype about having all the data in the world to stay on top (whether you can process it to useful results or not), and it's so easy to get caught by it in mundane life, that I though it would be nice to throw in a use case where it clearly doesn't work.



  • @wft said:

    what you eat, how much you eat

    This helped me immensely to loose weight. Not so much eating less, but knowing how much the small meals affect me. And i know that i have a max limit of energy i can consume daily.
    I'm going with all the data i 'store' is valuable to me, but you seem to have it differently: good on you ;).



  • I have a far simpler system:

    if I feel like I could eat something meaty, or an egg, I'm hungry;
    if I feel like I couldn't eat that but would happily devour a chocolate donut or something like that, I'm not really hungry and it's just my brain fucking with me.


  • mod

    This is basically the concept behind "intuitive eating" -- your body knows what it needs better than charts or fad diets, so eat what you're hungry for until you don't hunger for it anymore. People coming off restrictive diets often binge on sugary foods they've been denied for ever, but then the forbidden fruit effect wears off, and they find themselves not craving sugar and fat nearly as often as they did before.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @wft said:

    Instead of painstakingly counting carbohydrates, I just make sure I eat as little of them as possible.

    Now, just think about how entire industries practically live on the fact that people consume (ahem) carbs by the shovelful. Be sure to stop by McDonald's for all-day breakfast! Don't forget to thank your local corn/wheat/soybean farmer afterwards. Did you pick up the epi-pens from CVS on your way home? Oh crap, you forgot to renew the Rx with your doctor, didn't you? Talk to him about your painful knees; I'm sure he'd be more than happy to recommend surgery.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    often binge on sugary foods they've been denied for ever, but then the forbidden fruit effect wears off, and they find themselves not craving sugar and fat nearly as often as they did before.
    Nah, not gonna happen with me.

    You see, eating carbohydrate-rich foods (which includes all kinds of bakery, potatoes, grains, etc) has two sides to it:

    1. It is yum yum yummy, so pleasant to just omnomnomnomnom it in large quantities
    2. I feel like shit afterwards, glucose is high, I don't fit my jeans anymore (and other diabetic complications lurking around the corner)

    When I abstain just for a few days even after binging like mad and swearing to myself "nevermore", and in a grocery shop I see a bakery stand, my brain rolls all ads for 1) it can come up with while conveniently forgetting 2). Like drugs. The bad effects are not pronounced enough to imprint heavily on the mind, while good effect look so pleasant they overshadow the risks.


  • mod

    Right, for you it's different because your body actually will crave things it can't have because it doesn't understand that it has diabetes. I was more generalizing for folks like myself who lack that particular wrinkle.

    There was a time I'd have said I'd never turn down chocolate, but I have like a bar and a half in my cabinet that I haven't felt like eating in the past two weeks.



  • Oooh, is this the official Diabetes oversharing thread? I've been diagnosed with type 1 last year. My doctors warned me that "you engineer types will want to measure and calculate everything exactly, which won't work for your body".

    Destroying a pound of pasta is now something bad I understand :unamused: (it's ok I'll eat just the cheese) but suddenly I'm supposed to know whether I want to go for a jog in the afternoon? You wanted to go for a swim? I shouldn't have taken that shot of insulin in the morning. (Well I could pop a few sugar drops and hope they'll make up the difference so I won't sink.)



  • Well, I rather meant to show that being a data junkie has many negative sides for it. And many diabetes apps kinda miss the point: they shouldn't just make you waste time entering data you already know and present it back to you as if you didn't know it, they should predict something useful out of it.

    Diabetes was just a convenient example.

    T2 sucks enough. T1 must be hell.



  • Another example of being overwhelmed with useless data: sync across devices and notifications.

    Someone sends you an email, and suddenly all gadgets capable of showing emails start ringing. It gets worse when there is a lag big enough between syncs that you think it's about separate events.

    Syncing is a convenience, superfluous notifications do nothing but contribute to anxiety. Can't they at Apple and Google make a mechanism of dismissing notifications across devices?

    I usually apply a very aggressive device silencing policy, but sometimes one may expect a Very Important Message any minute now.



  • @wft said:

    Then again, there is so much hype about having all the data in the world to stay on top (whether you can process it to useful results or not), and it's so easy to get caught by it in mundane life, that I though it would be nice to throw in a use case where it clearly doesn't work.

    My doctor has me recording my weight and a blood pressure reading each day. He does that for most of his patients (who are being treated for BP, at least). He's really impressed that I put it into a spreadsheet and have a graph. I'm not sure what most people do.

    In any case, it keeps me aware of the general state of things, which is good, but not sufficient. For one thing, I measure that stuff daily (unless I'm traveling or whatever, but I do the vast majority of days).



  • Your doctor may be able to predict something useful from the data you give to him; for example, he may tell your meds work, or they are not efficient based on the stats of other patients he gathers similar data from (something which you don't have access too). Also, he surely knows if correlation between your blood pressure level and weight implies causation. :smile:

    In any case, you or your doctor being able to deduce stuff you don't know as you gather data and predict new stuff that's going to happen to you from the graph is a Good Thing.

    I'm not monitored closely by a physician, and I'm expected to manage my condition myself, so I cannot predict useful stuff from data I gather; it's just a nice chart, that's it. OK, now I see I have a good glucose control, but that's what I was expecting from a ketogenic diet anyway. In my particular case, being a data junkie just added stress and wasted my time.



  • @wft said:

    Well, I rather meant to show that being a data junkie has many negative sides for it.

    I've never understood why healthy people would want know their heart-rate. Now that I have to measure glucose levels all the time I know that it's actually important to some people and why they would want to keep an eye on it.

    @wft said:

    And many diabetes apps kinda miss the point: they shouldn't just make you waste time entering data you already know and present it back to you as if you didn't know it

    So far I've had best results with tracking on paper because paper doesn't presume anything about how I live. Been meaning to check out the state of apps again at some point.

    @wft said:

    they should predict something useful out of it.

    I guess that's the tricky bit :smile:

    @wft said:

    T2 sucks enough. T1 must be hell.

    Just getting used to it as my natural insulin dwindles. If I do it right I will live healthier than if I didn't have it :grinning:



  • @boomzilla said:

    For one thing, I measure that stuff daily

    I do measurements daily, it's just that I don't log them (and when they skew, I usually know why). Also, I stopped worrying about them too much when they are in the green zone but not ideal enough.



  • @gleemonk said:

    Now that I have to measure glucose levels all the time I know that it's actually important to some people and why they would want to keep an eye on it.

    Now, here's a thing: most glucose meters lie to you, sometimes within 15 mg/dL (which can make a difference if your BG is low) if you try and measure it using different devices, even using the blood from the same prick.

    First, glucose is not distributed uniformly over your blood, and the blood is anything but like the test fluid they make to test the damn devices. Second, the devices are different. Third, you can't always afford sterile lab conditions, and the new meters that only want a tiny drop of your blood are damn sensitive to that.

    Until I stopped worrying too much about it, the differences would draw me crazy, just like a man with two clock can't be sure which one tells the correct time (or maybe they both lie).



  • @gleemonk said:

    I've never understood why healthy people would want know their heart-rate.

    Exactly this. Unless you do a lab experiment.


  • mod

    @gleemonk said:

    I've never understood why healthy people would want know their heart-rate.

    It makes a good indicator for stress: how often does my HR spike when I'm not intentionally exercising?



  • @wft said:

    Your doctor may be able to predict something useful from the data you give to him; for example, he may tell your meds work

    Oh, yeah, definitely. It's a reasonable amount of data to be collected and is useful.

    @wft said:

    In my particular case, being a data junkie just added stress and wasted my time.

    In your case, I think you were collecting a lot more stuff than I am. BP changes a lot over the day, so he's not worried by a particular high reading but the long term average. Weight is more stable / predictable over the course of a day.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    It makes a good indicator for stress: how often does my HR spike when I'm not intentionally exercising?
    And worrying about your heart rate is going to contribute to stress and confound your measurements. ;-)

    One thing: HR is about acute stress. Unless you have one of those neurological disorders that sometimes switch your organism to full-panic adrenaline rush mode for no apparent reason, I just fail to see how it helps with chronic stress (I'm no doctor, so a link would be appreciated).

    I was subject to chronic stress for the last 8 years or so, it did me no good. However, my heart was stable as Rolex, all the time. Given my metabolism is snail-slow, it was also pretty low on average, soaring only when my fat ass was climbing stairs. But it was still stress, considering my sleep disorders, impaired cognitive abilities, and near depressed moods coming from anxiety which I had all the time. Results? Healthy heart (I checked) despite being obese, and work burnout. :frowning:


  • mod

    See, I'm having a lot of work-related acute stress that's wearing me down, and it shows fairly clearly on my fitbit: it starts congratulating me for working out while I'm sitting at my desk :)



  • Like, your boss stealthily approaching you and then hitting the desk with all his might and shouting? O_o
    Sucks to have a job like this...


  • mod

    Nah, more like someone casually saying "So we're going to prod in an hour.... :)"

    More details in Yamirant.



  • @swayde said:

    This helped me immensely to loose [sic] weight. Not so much eating less, but knowing how much the small meals affect me.

    I used a tracker app to swap out the foods I was eating with better alternatives until I ended up with a meal plan that satisfies me and contains the right mix of nutrients.

    I ended up losing an average of 3.5 pounds per week for 24 weeks. I'm fairly convinced that it's mostly how much you eat. I broke every "fad rule" out there; my diet was 50% carbs, I didn't eat much for breakfast, I didn't put any foods "off limits", and I ignored stuff like glycemic index. Also, I didn't lose easy pounds. I was still losing more than three pounds per week when I was down to 175 pounds.

    My opinion is that it's not as important to create a meal plan that works as it is to create a meal plan that you can actually stick to. Failing to follow the plan is a much more common failure mode than having a bad plan. Yet, it seems that all the advice and all of the products address what to do rather than how to execute your plan.


  • :belt_onion:

    The first problem in the US diet is people do not consider fruits as food! Fruits are more expensive than most countries; maybe because they are shiny, equally sized among an entire shelf (how unlikely it is for nature to produce such uniform distribution) and are packaged individually :wtf: and with plastic covers and other non-eatable crap.
    Second problem is that yogurt (cultured food) is not appreciated in the culture.

    Fruits that have sugar taste good and fill the stomach. I could control my weight by eating lots of carrots like a :rabbit2:.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    it starts congratulating me for working out while I'm sitting at my desk :smile:

    :wtf:


  • :belt_onion:

    I bet it is this it is sometimes called restless syndrome but that is different



  • @dse said:

    Fruits are more expensive than most countries

    Hmmm... I'm in the US and I can currently get plums for 30 cents a pound and peaches for a dollar a pound. Sure raspberries are expensive, but whatever is currently in season is usually dirt cheap.

    @dse said:

    Second problem is that yogurt (cultured food) is not appreciated in the culture.

    When yogurt is on sale, they have a problem keeping it on the shelves. My local supermarkets all have at least 30 feet of the refrigerated aisle dedicated to yogurt.


  • sockdevs

    @Yamikuronue said:

    Nah, more like someone casually saying "So we're going to prod in an hour.... :)"



  • @wft said:

    Now, here's a thing: most glucose meters lie to you, sometimes within 15 mg/dL (which can make a difference if your BG is low) if you try and measure it using different devices, even using the blood from the same prick.

    Yeah, that shit varies a lot. That's something they don't advertize really. I still want to do a week where I measure using two devices to get a feeling for how big the systematic error and the variance really are. But then my natural lazyness kicks in and I wonder what the use could be. I guess I'm naturally immune to data :-)

    Actually doing GCM for a while helped me lot in understanding how unreliable it all is. The device and the blood measurements hardly ever agreed. No wonder they don't want to automate the whole process from measuereent to supply or we'd see dead people.

    @Yamikuronue said:

    It makes a good indicator for stress: how often does my HR spike when I'm not intentionally exercising?

    Now I want to see that too. I should get me hooked.


  • :belt_onion:

    @Jaime said:

    get plums for 30 cents a pound and peaches for a dollar a pound.

    It depends where you get them, supermarkets are on the expensive side but farmers market or seasonal markets are fine. If you go to some, you will see many non-English-speaking crowd because fruits are a main part of daily diet and for that you need lots of fruits not just a small basket.

    @Jaime said:

    When yogurt is on sale, they have a problem keeping it on the shelves. My local supermarkets all have at least 30 feet of the refrigerated aisle dedicated to yogurt.

    Do you eat yogurt with every meal? we do, and for that amount of consumption yogurt should be cheaper. It has to be plain yogurt, and it is really really cheap to make: Apply heat to full milk, stop before it starts foaming, let it cool until you can put your finger in it, then apply high quality high-fat yogurt to it, cover it in cloths and keep somewhere still for 12 hours.


  • mod

    @gleemonk said:

    Now I want to see that too



  • That must have been one important server; it takes a treadmill to get my heart rate up to 120bpm.



  • @dse said:

    The first problem in the US diet is people do not consider fruits as food! Fruits are more expensive than most countries; maybe because they are shiny, equally sized among an entire shelf (how unlikely it is for nature to produce such uniform distribution) and are packaged individually :wtf: and with plastic covers and other non-eatable crap.

    I don't care for fruit, but your description of how they're sold in the US doesn't match my experience. I mean...OK, maybe they're more uniform, I don't have a good data point to compare to internationally and I don't pay all that much attention to it in detail, though there seems to be a fair amount of variety among stuff when I have occasion to buy them. But the packaging is definitely not as you described in my experience.

    @dse said:

    Fruits that have sugar taste good and fill the stomach.

    I don't think they taste so good, which is why I don't like them. Though when converted to juice form, I tend to like them better.



  • @dse said:

    It depends where you get them, supermarkets are on the expensive side but farmers market or seasonal markets are fine.

    Where are you that this is true? Again, opposite of my experience.



  • @Yamikuronue said:

    Now I want one of those.


  • mod

    My understanding was the scope of what was down was "All of production. Everything. Nothing but 500 errors. And the West Coast just came online."

    Turned out to be a problem in the central database.




  • :wtf: how...?

    Oh, right, :minidisc: :horse:



  • @wft said:

    I usually apply a very aggressive device silencing policy



  • I actually changed the height so our screens use less paper, err, and it looked better squished.


  • :belt_onion:

    @boomzilla said:

    OK, maybe they're more uniform, I don't have a good data point to compare to internationally

    Anything in high quantities should show a normal distribution, if not, it is tampered with. But it is not hard to see, by looking at a fruit tree, or going to a local market that does not sort fruits.

    @boomzilla said:

    But the packaging is definitely not as you described in my experience.

    So you do not have plastic packs that fit each apple, or you do not put a sticker on each apple? I have seen this in Costco or Wholefoods anywhere. I cannot disagree though, this could be not a problem in suburbs for example.

    @boomzilla said:

    I don't think they taste so good, which is why I don't like them.

    I like steaks more of course, but it could be an acquired taste. I hate dr pepper, and I dislike cakes in the US and find them to be too sweet, but European bakeries are usually good. Or kids here do not like sour food, only sweet, but I remember as a kid I loved sour food.

    @boomzilla said:

    Where are you that this is true? Again, opposite of my experience.

    Certainly it is so in Mountain View or San Jose, but sure it could be different. Just make sure to count non-English-speaking people around you in the market (Asian, Mexican, ..) if there are not many of them then it is probably not the type of farmer's market I talk about.



  • @dse said:

    So you do not have plastic packs that fit each apple, or you do not put a sticker on each apple? I have seen this in Costco or Wholefoods anywhere. I cannot disagree though, this could be not a problem in suburbs for example.

    I don't go to either of those places, but I am in the 'burbs. Apples are piled up, like most of the other fruits and vegetables. They all have stickers for the convenience of ringing them up, but certainly not individually wrapped. Stuff like berries typically end up in a plastic box, you can buy bags of onions, potatoes, carrots and other stuff like that, I guess. Most stuff is just piled up there and you put as many as you want into a plastic bag.

    @dse said:

    I like steaks more of course, but it could be an acquired taste.

    I just have never particularly cared for fruit since I was a baby, apparently. It could also be a texture thing. I like various fruit juices.

    @dse said:

    Certainly it is so in Mountain View or San Jose, but sure it could be different.

    Lots of people there with more money than sense, so that doesn't surprise me too much.

    @dse said:

    Just make sure to count non-English-speaking people around you in the market (Asian, Mexican, ..) if there are not many of them then it is probably not the type of farmer's market I talk about.

    Every farmer's market I've been to has been decidedly SWPL. In my neighborhood, people of pallor like me are a fairly small minority, and there are always plenty of Central American immigrants at the "normal" grocery store that is closest to my house. There's also a more independent "world market" sort of place—not really upscale, but they have a much wider variety of everything, though at the expense of no generic brands and fewer varieties of any particular thing. Plenty of "non-English speaking" (South Asian is the other big immigrant population around here) people there, too.



  • @dse said:

    Certainly it is so in Mountain View or San Jose, but sure it could be different. Just make sure to count non-English-speaking people around you in the market (Asian, Mexican, ..) if there are not many of them then it is probably not the type of farmer's market I talk about.

    I live in the ultimate suburbia. My high school had one student that wasn't a white person of European descent.

    All of the produce sections of the local supermarkets look like a more organized version of a farmer's market. There are tables and bins of fruits and vegetables. Larger fruits do have a sticker with the product code, but smaller fruits and pretty much all vegetables are just sitting there to be purchased by the pound. Here's an actual picture of one:

    Farmer's markets around here usually put their product into various size baskets so they can sell by the container instead of having to weigh every customer's order. Example:

    I've never seen individually wrapped fruit.


  • :belt_onion:

    Alright then, I learned something new today. That mean as much I do not like to admit it, I live in my own bubble too. Maybe I should go and live in suburbs for a few months.



  • @Jaime said:

    I've never seen individually wrapped fruit.

    Cucumbers, for some reason. Some types of cabbage.



  • It really does depend on the store and where it is even amongst suburbs. King Soopers is the dominant chain where I live. Over the years I have been into ~12 of them, and the differences between them (all within ~50miles of each other) is quite remarkable.

    In one case, an entire third of the store is devoted to "organic" foods. The one closest to me, has about half an aisle. (these two are both in suburb communities of similar wealth).



  • Gee, either you must be overreacting easily, or people are gonna die if these servers don't work. Or your bosses nurture a kind of fear culture.



  • @wft said:

    T1 must be hell.

    Depends how used to it you are, once your life adjusts (@gleemonk said he was a recent diagnosis) it isn't all that bad.

    @wft said:

    most glucose meters lie to you, sometimes within 15 mg/dL

    Also there is a measuring error percentage. Is part of the reason you get different results retesting immediately. The point is to get good 'nough results.

    @gleemonk said:

    but suddenly I'm supposed to know whether I want to go for a jog in the afternoon? You wanted to go for a swim? I shouldn't have taken that shot of insulin in the morning. (Well I could pop a few sugar drops and hope they'll make up the difference so I won't sink.)

    Sounds like you are doing a mix of insulin types using a lean toward the longer acting stuff (or rather this sounds like considerations I was having back when doing Humalog, Novolog, and Lantis mixes rather than a pump) correct?



  • @wft said:

    I just started observing myself without note-taking. Now I prick my finger three times a day at most (as opposed to 5-8 times). Instead of painstakingly counting carbohydrates, I just make sure I eat as little of them as possible. And you know what? My glucose control is excellent, I feel better, and I have much more peace of mind. Not to mention that my productivity went up.

    +1

    You figured out what was important and acted on it. Most people can't seem to do that.

    @wft said:

    if I feel like I could eat something meaty, or an egg, I'm hungry;if I feel like I couldn't eat that but would happily devour a chocolate donut or something like that, I'm not really hungry and it's just my brain fucking with me.

    ++



  • My diet consists of smoke+coffee x3 until 13:39, subway sandwich, smoke+coffee, some mid afternoon snack and one dish dinner (steak & rice p.e.)

    My BMI is 21-22 suckers!

    Oh, I also walk 20mins back and forth daily to work. And the stairs on the train station... Is like ascending from hell.



  • @gleemonk said:

    I've been diagnosed with type 1 last year.

    Adult onset for Type I is quite rare, isn't it? IIUC, it usually indicates some sort of damage to the pancreas due to some outside force, or possibly an autoimmune condition. Am I right in that understanding?

    My father developed Type I diabetes in his late 30s (around 1983) and it was considered so unusual at the time that the doctors did a large number of tests to determine the cause, but never pinned it down. He tried to blame it on secondary exposure to defoliants during the Vietnam War (he was never in Vietnam himself, but he thought that handling patients being flown in from the field as a medical corpsman would be enough exposure to have significant consequences, a line of reasoning I was always rather sceptical of) but that was mainly part of his attempts to get his disability pension increased. Still, it was mysterious enough that the VA didn't dismiss the claim out of hand.

    While he was meticulous in tracking his blood sugar and insulin usage, the same can't be said about watching his diet. The fact that he lost a lot of weight when he first developed symptoms I think convinced him it wasn't entirely a bad thing, a delusion which you would think the frequent blackouts and trips to the hospital would have cured, but since he also had Narcissistic Personality Disorder in spades, convincing him he was wrong about anything was shovelling sand against the tide. He was convinced he could eat whatever he wanted as long as he 'balanced' it with enough insulin, which resulted in his sugar curve veering wildly hour by hour most days. It wasn't what killed him in the end - heart disease, which he knew about but never told anyone about or did anything to correct, did - but it surely contributed to it.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.