Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Mean Girls or Is It Mean Boys?

posted by Linda Mintle

ID-10075688Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Mean Girls. If so, you remember the popular clique of girls who ruled the social scene by backstabbing and being verbally mean to anyone they didn’t like. The movie reminds most of us of those one or two girls in middle school who could use their verbal aggression to put us in our place.

Boys don’t do this, right? It’s just the girls who use their verbal skills to talk behind your back. Boys are more physical. They prefer to beat you up physically, not verbally. At least that is how we typically think, but is it true? Are boys less mean?

Research published in Aggressive Behavior disputes this notion. Boys, it appears, use both their physical and relationship aggression to be mean, more so then girls. Surveys were given to 620 students asking them about their behavior. According to the seven-year long study, physical and relational aggression were more common in boys.

As you might guess, sixth to eighth grade proved to be the worse time for these types of aggression. Fortunately, the meanness drops off in high school with the senior year the best.

And did you know that the author of the book, Mean Girls, which the movie was based on, also wrote a sequel for boys? Yet, we didn’t hear much about that topic as a sequel. Based on the study, Mean Boys would be a good sequel!

So if you are a parent, teacher or someone who works with teens, keep in mind that boys use rejection, rumors, social exclusion and relationship aggression even more than girls. The stereotype of girls being the means ones, doesn’t hold. Relationship aggression for both boys and girls is an issue that needs to be addressed. Both genders need to work on being positive with their peers.



The paper, published in Aggressive Behavior, is available online at

Could Visualizing Food Make You Eat Less?

posted by Linda Mintle

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.


Treating Binge Eating With Medication?

posted by Linda Mintle

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.

Is Binge Drinking Just College Fun?

posted by Linda Mintle

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!


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