Doing Life Together

woman eatingEvery day Sally vows she will not eat herself sick. But today is no different. She is distressed, eating past full and feeling as if she has no control. Sally suffers from Binge Eating Disorder (BED) which has been recognized as a psychiatric disorder.

To date, there are no medications approved for treating BED. But a recent study looked at using a medication known to treatment ADHD (Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder) to also treat moderate to severe BED. The medication, Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate), was found to reduce binge eating days when given at higher  doses (50-70 mg). The participants who took the drug also lost more weight and improved their functioning.

The concerns are that Vyvanse is a “highly addictive” schedule II amphetamine with the potential of a a number of adverse reactions. Patients have to weigh the risk of side effects with this type of treatment. Furthermore, this is only one study.

Right now, I would be cautious about recommending this as a treatment for BED. I don’t see a medication approach as the first line of defense in the treatment of this disorder. At least not at this point. Replication studies need to be conducted and other non medication approaches tried.

Binge Eating Disorder is typically treated with psychotherapy (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). Not only does a person need to reduce binges, but also learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food and eating. Medications do not teach those skills.

Will this be a helpful approach in the future? First, we need more studies. 2) We need to look at addiction rates 3) We need to track side effects as some are very serious.

drinkingIn the throws of January, college students begin dreaming about Spring Break. Those plans often include partying on a beach with nonstop drinking.

Binge drinking is “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours” (NIAAA).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines binge drinking as drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days. NIH estimates that four out of five college students drink. Out of those who drink, about half binge drink. And events like Spring Break, frat parties and sporting events bring out the partying.

The problem is that this type of drinking is often normalized–just plain fun! But today 6 people will die of alcohol poisoning.

An unintended consequence of binge drinking is death! Without sounding like an alarmist, I don’t think people realize the dangers of binge drinking.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that every day, six persons, mostly men, die in the United States due to alcohol poisoning related to binge drinking. The macho, “I can drink you under the table,” attitude could end someone’s life.

Furthermore, Spring Break, partying through the night and weekend drinking binges land young adults in the emergency rooms of too many hospitals. Because of the glamour and general acceptance of underage drinking in college, coeds are not thinking that alcohol in high doses can lead to poisoning.

A high blood alcohol content impacts major areas of the brain associated with respiration, heart beat and temperature control. When someone has too high a blood alcohol content, breathing becomes difficult, your heart rate slows, and the body becomes clammy. The brain dulls, vomiting can occur causing a person to choke, seizures may occur as well as unconsciousness which can lead to death.

So of you are a college student or anyone who thinks that partying like a rock star is just plain fun, think again and be responsible. It could save your life!


ID-10032497My mom used to tell me to put a hat on my baby when the weather was cold. I used to argue, “Mom, babies don’t catch colds from the cold. They get them from viruses. I’m not putting a hat on the baby.”

But now it seems that my mom could have been on to something. Could the cold weather actually play a role in catching a cold?

Researchers at Yale University recently published a paper (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) that looked at how cooler temperatures affect the nose when viruses present. The idea is that cells in the nose may not fight off viruses as well in the cold. So they tried a series of experiments on mice and exposed them to a rhinovirus at different temperatures.

In the study, researchers tracked the ability of specific enzyme receptors within the nose cells to fight off a rhinovirus they introduced. They found that at cooler temperatures, the cells failed to detect the intruding virus and alert the immune system to fight. At higher temperatures, the cells did their job and fought off the virus.

The mice study raises the possibility that inhaling cooler air could lower the resistance of cells lining the nasal cavity to fight off viruses.

But wait mom…these were mice.The virus was adapted and altered to work with them. The effects may not be the same for humans. So until they try this on humans, we can’t say this is true for us!

Still, maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to throw out mom’s age old advice. What do I lose if I put a hat on the baby in the cold? Mom could be right and we argue less.

Lose it for lifeWe all know that the number on the scale isn’t suppose to define us, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking about how much we weigh on any given day. And the number often influences our mood.

So how often should we weigh? Every day, once a week, once a month? The answer depends on your goal–to maintain, lose, or to work on developing a healthy relationship with food.

When to weigh: The best time is right when you wake up. You’ve been resting all night without any hydration or extra calories, so the morning weight should be the most consistent and typically the lowest. And Wednesday is a good day as it is midweek, not right after the weekend where heavier consumption may occur.

How often? If you look at the obesity research, the recommendation is usually to weigh once a week. Keeping track of your food and triggers and then evaluating yourself once a week on a scale usually works to keep weight in line.

To lose weight. The recommendation is to weigh about three times a week. In my book, Lose it For Life, we looked at the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks more than 10,000 people in the U.S. who have lost and kept off significant weight for long periods. Those people tend to weigh regularly which seems a bit counterintuitive. The reason is that regular weigh ins help you accurately track weight loss. You can see if you are losing, need to cut out a few more calories, or make adjustments. And a little gain doesn’t go unnoticed until it is 10 pounds. Regular weighing is good feedback for your weight loss plan.

If you have an eating disorder: Jumping on the scales regularly is not a good idea. In fact, we try to discourage daily weighings unless you are in a hospital having your food prescribed through a refeeding program. Your body naturally fluctuates in weight so daily weigh ins can be discouraging. In addition, daily weigh ins tend to reinforce obsession with the weight number rather than focusing on healthy eating habits.

How often you weigh then depends on your goal. To maintain, weekly. To lose and stay on top of your efforts, two to three times weekly. To treat an eating disorder, work with your therapist. Your goal is to become less number focused and more healthy eating focused.