Doing Life Together

eatingYou are on your way to work and feel hungry. The morning rush caused you to skip breakfast.

You pass the bakery as you walk to your office. The smell of freshly baked croissants is tempting. As you look in the window, those croissants are lined up in a row, oozing with chocolate and inviting you to buy. But that isn’t part of your eating plan as you are trying to lose those 5 pounds you gained over the holidays.

You have to force the image out of your head. But should you?

Would it be better to think about that chocolate croissant, the smell, the slightly crunchy crust with a soft inside that melts in your mouth? You can see it, feel it, smell it and taste it going into your mouth!

Most dieters would say, STOP! Don’t do this to yourself. You will just make the craving worse.

But new research says maybe not. A study conducted at Carnegie Mellow University looked at what happens when you imagine eating food. The results confirm a very different approach than the conventional, “Don’t think about that food.”

Instead, researchers noted that when participants imagined consuming a desired food like that freshly baked croissant, allowed themselves to imagine eating and enjoying it, their cravings actually decreased and they ate less.

Yes, imagining the consumption of the food actually decreased appetite for it. Suppressing your desire for the food works against you. Imaging and experiencing may not be that much different.

The thinking behind this has to do with habituation. The more you imagine eating the food, the less motivation you actually have to eat it.

So next time you want that freshly baked croissant, try to imagine eating it and enjoying the experience. Your imagination just might lead you to eat less or not  at all.


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.