Archive for November, 2010

Cyber Monday ? NOT! Best Gift Giving Ideas -Here!

November 30, 2010

Cyber Monday came and went.  It made me a little nervous; I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to get my act together so that I could buy my holiday gifts yesterday…Then I realized it was a bunch of hype and that I simply did not want any more pressure related to technology.  I did not have my list completed, had not looked at my finances and had not made any final decisions about what I would be purchasing for gifts for the season. The idea that I HAD to be prepared to order anything I might want to purchase and do it THAT DAY was just ridiculous…Don’t get me wrong. I like to get the best price and I am not saying people didn’t get some great bargains and save on merchandise…I simply didn’t want to be pressured into doing my shopping on Monday.

Over the weekend I asked my daughter and her boyfriend what they wanted for Christmas. They gave me a small  list and told me that they wanted everything USED if possible.  That’s right…they don’t want new items…they believe in extreme recycling…reduce, reuse, recycle. I respect their dedication to making the planet a better place.  So I guess I will be Freecycling.  Freecycle  allows you to give away your unneeded items and to request items that you need or want.   Here is the statement from the website explaining the philosophy:

Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,864 groups with 7,603,875 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

My other daughter requested that I make a donation to http://www.heifer.org.  Heifer.org allows people to make a contribution or purchase livestock or training for people in third world countries. This organization and its contributors/customers make a real difference and help to change people’s lives.   Many of us in this country are extremely fortunate.

I suggest that you might want to purchase from the organizations in this blog or make a contribution-each in the name of someone who is  on your Holiday gift list. There are thousands (if not millions) of organizations and non-profits who are worthy of your consideration and who would be thrilled to be considered.   Here are just a few:

The Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation, Inc. (HSF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation dedicated to improving the quality of life and quality of care for individuals and families affected by Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).

HS is an inflammatory skin disease that affects an estimated 1% of the population. The main features of HS include painful and chronically recurring, deep-seated follicular nodules, papules, pustules and abscesses, scarring, sinus tracts and recurrent discharge. The areas most commonly affected are under the arms, groin, buttocks, and under the breasts. The disease is variable and recurrent. It may present with solitary or multiple lesions in one area, with lesions in many areas, or in more severe cases may have large areas of skin affected by recurrent, draining lesions that are very difficult to heal.

Living Traditions  is dedicated to the celebration and continuity of community-based traditional Yiddish culture. Living Traditions brings the lush bounty of Yiddish culture to new generations in ways both inspiring and relevant to contemporary Jewish life.  Their annual KlezKamp brings together musicians who celebrate Klezmer music.  Go to http://www.livingtraditions.org.

http://www.kiva.org    helps entrepreneurs across the globe with low interest micro loans

http://www.braincake.org/canteen/?gclid=CL3_6-qgyaUCFRZy5QodRF7VYw

Can*TEEN puts girls in touch with resources, mentors, curriculum and each other. Can*TEEN inspires girls’ choices, helping them see science as a career and the way to make a difference in our world

www.thorncroft.org

Thorncroft Equestrian Center’s horseback riding programs are designed to educate equestrians of all ages and abilities in the enjoyment and care of the horse. The result of these experiences is a freer spirit developed within. The programs are also devised so that many levels of physical and mental abilities can benefit; handicapped individuals as well as able-bodied.

www.habitatforhumanity.org

builds homes for disadvantaged Americans. you can donate time or money.

http://www.brandywinepeace.com

works for peace

http://www.wilpf.org/

works for peace

http://www.delcopeacecenter.org

works for peace

http://www.freedomdogs.org       Freedom Dogs offers custom-trained specialty service dogs to wounded members of the military returning from armed conflict. It is reported that 40% of all returning troops suffer from PTSD. Many of these returning men and women are so mentally, physically or spiritually broken that they have little hope of returning to mainstream life. They use a huge number for suicide prevention.

www.plannedparenthood.org

provides information on reproductive health and also free contraception for teenagers

http://www.dreamcometrue.org/

Dream Come True’s mission is to promote and enrich the lives of children who are seriously, chronically or terminally ill.  We offer children with life threatening illnesses the chance to hope, dream and live their fantasies.

www.angel34.org/about/

helps fight against childhood cancer

www.prosper.com

helps people to get loans from individual Americans who offer a portion of the total loan amount requested

https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp

Please also remember your local food banks and local shelters. many people are in need this year.

This is MeddlingMom…

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2010

Gobble gobble! Turkey Day…holidays have such high expectations to live up to…we have all of the sweet, sentimental thoughts of holidays past (conveniently forgetting all of the tensions, fighting, whining, shopping for new clothing, dealing with the kids at the table and pressure on everyone).  I watched a new show The Talk the other day where they discussed holiday experiences and how the usual fare is good food and lots of tension…enough to go around to every person except those who are completely obtuse.

I am an idealist…which can be quite a pain to me and others…not completely based in reality, they tell me…Yes, I always see the glass as half full rather than half empty…So I always want everyone to get along and have peace and harmony.  I truly don’t understand people who don’t seek peace and harmony…why wouldn’t you want calm and happy people?  Funny, when I saw the segment of the show that addressed what is really normal at holiday gatherings, I took great comfort from hearing that fighting and discord are present at most family’s holiday functions…of course…it is normal.  It’s a little like the political parties.  There are different parties because there are different belief systems.  We are all individuals; we have our own thoughts, desires and ways of being.  We will express ourselves and be in conflict with some and in agreement with others.  It is inherent to NOT agree.  That’s what it means to be an individual….to be different from others.  The real miracle in life is when you actually DO AGREE and FEEL CONNECTED to another.  So when you hear that everything was just perfect, remember that you are likely hearing that statement from an idealist…someone not completely based in reality…someone who looks at the bright side of things.attempting to find common ground…..

Have a wonderful day with your family and friends (or alone if you choose). Eat all of your favorite foods and drinks. Don’t worry about whether everything is exactly as you think it should be.  Enjoy the warmth of being with those you love (or at least LIKE) and remember that it’s okay to disagree, but it’s not really KOSHER to be disagreeable! Most of all…please remember that the day is a day to give thanks for all that we have (and I am not talking about possessions) and to be present and to appreciate the good around us.

Yum! Yum!  Happy Thanksgiving!

This is MeddlingMom…

Whey Products Impact Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar-can be helpful!

November 21, 2010

Dr.Joseph Mercola has a wonderful newsletter.  Read his comments after the section below to see the distinction between the category of the product (whey) and the quality of specific types of whey. You have heard “the devil is in the details” throughout life and it is truly so when looking at what is beneficial to your health and what may be in the same category, but not really the same quality and benefit.

A study just published in the International Dairy Journal suggests whey protein beverages are effective at reducing blood pressure in people at risk for hypertension.

According to researchers:

“We found that whey protein beverages lowered BP only in individuals with previously high BP, but not in those with normal blood pressure …

These findings suggest that whey protein beverages had a normalizing effect on elevated BP and did not cause hypotension. This is important since hypotension can be a health concern in certain population groups,  such as young women and the elderly.”

The beneficial effects of whey protein may be related to its influence on nitric oxide production, which plays a role in blood pressure regulation.

Sources:

Read Dr. Joseph Mercola’s comments:

Clearly it is best to eat whole unprocessed foods. However, for many of us that just simply isn’t possible at all times. In many circumstances using a high-quality protein powder will be far superior to the other options that might be available to you.

After careful review it is very clear that whey is one of the highest quality protein powders.

Whey, a byproduct of milk and cheese, has been recommended since ancient times — as early as 420 B.C. by Hippocrates — and its sterling reputation continues to be further proven to this day.

Whey Protein is Beneficial for Your Heart and Blood Pressure

This latest study revealed that whey protein has a normalizing effect on blood pressure levels, reducing levels significantly in those at risk of hypertension. This may be due to whey’s impact on nitric oxide production, as nitric oxide helps your vessels maintain their elasticity and its suppression leads to increases in blood pressure.

This benefit extends not only to those with, or at risk of, high blood pressure; it’s important to maintain healthy blood pressure levels too.

One recent study found, for instance, that supplementation with the whey-derived peptide NOP-47 had a positive impact on vascular function in healthy people. Blood flow in the arm improved by 2.7 percent per minute following whey protein supplementation, but did not change for those in the control group who took a placebo.

So in choosing a protein powder as a meal replacement, protein source or exercise recovery drink, you’ll support healthy blood pressure levels just by choosing whey.

What Else Can Whey do for You?

There are numerous reasons to choose whey over other protein powders, even beyond its influence on your blood pressure. For instance, whey protein may:

  • Help your pancreas-produced insulin work more effectively, which helps maintain your blood sugar level after a meal
  • Promote healthy insulin secretion
  • Help to promote your optimal intake of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals needed for your overall wellness
  • Support your immune system, as it contains immunoglobulins
  • Help you preserve lean body tissue (particularly during exercise) as it delivers bioavailable amino acids and cysteine

Whey proteins are complex in and of themselves and each can provide you with even more distinct benefits, such as:

  • Beta-Lactoglobulin — may help your body better react to foods
  • Alpha-Lactalbumin — supports your immune system and may improve morning alertness
  • Glycomacropeptide — provides support against occasional digestive discomfort and stress
  • Lactoferrin — helps regulate your intestinal iron absorption and promotes healthy cell growth
  • Immunoglobulins — promotes your immune system and helps support your body’s natural detoxification processes
  • Bovine Serum Albumin — provides a source of essential amino acids
  • Lactoperoxidase –provides protective benefits for your system
  • Natural Growth Factors in Whey — aids your system in cell rejuvenation, muscle recovery after exercise, and energy function

Whey protein can also help optimize your production of glutathione, which is considered by many to be your body’s most powerful antioxidant.

Glutathione has the unique ability of maximizing the activity of all other antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, and the fresh veggies and fruits you eat. It also removes toxins from your cells and protects you from the damaging effects of radiation, chemicals, and environmental pollutants.

The optimal food source for maximizing your glutathione production is high-quality grass-fed whey protein.

Be Choosy When Choosing Whey

As with many food products and supplements on the market, all whey protein powders are not created equal.

When Consumer Reports recently tested 15 protein powders and drinks, they found three of them contained very worrisome levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead.

Clearly, getting a potentially toxic dose of heavy metals with your daily protein drink is not what you had in mind, which is why it’s so important to pay attention to the quality of your whey protein.

I cannot recommend using nearly any of the commercial whey protein shakes on the market, even if they’re not contaminated, however, because most contain whey protein derived from pasteurized, commercial dairy sources.

Unfortunately, pasteurized milk is almost entirely devoid of glutathione-producing compounds, so you’ll be missing out on this significant health benefit. Many commercial whey products are also artificially sweetened, making them useless from a health perspective.

So when selecting a whey product I strongly recommend making sure it has the following features:

  1. Whey is derived from grass-fed cows that are not treated with pesticides or hormones
  2. Cold processed, since heat destroys whey’s fragile molecular structure
  3. Whey protein concentrate, not protein isolates
  4. Sweetened naturally, not artificially, and low in carbohydrates
  5. Highly digestible — look for medium chain fatty acids (MCTs), not long chain fatty acids

As part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, I strongly believe that whey protein powder that meets the above criteria is a very healthful supplement to your diet, an excellent source of protein, and a powerful supporter of optimal health.

In fact, it’s been my daily breakfast for well over a year. It’s an excellent post-workout meal, and it keeps me going all morning long. Plus, I find it absolutely delicious!

Really? Bristol beats Brandy?

November 17, 2010

Dancing With the Stars has gone awry!  Read my blog from November 10, 2010…enough said!

Take a look at this video http://www.usmagazine.com/healthylifestyle/news/the-situation-offers-bristol-palin-magnum-condoms-20101611

Have you heard about IdeaPaint?

November 15, 2010
I have recently become aware of a great and fun new tool called IdeaPaint.  IdeaPaint turns any smooth surface into a high performance dry-erase canvas. No matter where you use it, big ideas follow.  Take a look at some of the enthusiasm about this product from people on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/IdeaPaint

IdeaPaintThere are a myriad of ways in which to use this technology…The idea of being able to write on a wall, to get people out of their seats and brainstorming in all sorts of situations is really fun! Imagine if they had IdeaPaint in the local train station and people could write notes to those who would be coming to the station later?  Or how great it would be to see local artists expressing themselves in a legal way….in doctor’s offices, maybe patients could write or draw on the walls while waiting to see the doctor…This could really make life’s dullest moments and activities much more enjoyable and bring people together!  It could get strangers to actually have eye contact with the person next to them on the bus, etc.  The possibilities are endless…http://www.ideapaint.com/workspacework/?utm_campaign=workspacework&utm_source=email

If you’d like to see some of the ways this item  is  being used take a look at some of these links. they are very worthwhile.

http://www.ideapaint.com/blog/bid/45149/Gensler-Uses-IdeaPaint-to-Discover-New-Ways-of-Thinking

http://www.ideapaint.com/home/ideapaint/

  • The family needs a better place to gather than in front of the TV. IdeaPaint can turn virtually anything you can paint into a high-performance dry-erase surface, giving your family a place to interact, communicate and fully explore your creativity. No matter where you use it, it can keep your family connected. Who knows, it may even help end the battle over the remote control.
 
Transform a child’s bedroom or playroom into a place to explore and express their creativity and imagination. Paint a toy box and make it more entertaining than everything inside of it. Use IdeaPaint to keep track of appointments, chores, shopping lists and all your important dates. IdeaPaint creates the perfect spot for the family to interact and keep up with each other’s busy lives.
Kids bedroom
Kitchen
Office
Playroom
Hallways
Doors
Refrigerators
Tables
Furniture
Laundry room
Cabinets
Storage Containers
 
 
IdeaPaint is the most flexible, durable and cost-effective dry-erase solution on the market. It can be applied to any smooth surface, outperforms and outlasts the leading dry-erase options and works better with all brands of dry-erase markers.
  Larger dry-erase surface for less $
  Just one coat
  Warranty-guaranteed
  No cracking, peeling, staining or yellowing
  No costly removal – just paint over it
  Uses fewer raw materials
  60 lbs less than other whiteboards its size
  Least expensive to ship and install
  Erases effortlessly
  As smooth as the surface you paint
  No seams
 
Awards
  Best of NeoCon Innovation
  Best of NeoCon Gold in Wall Treatments
  Building Magazine’s Grand Prize for Unique     Solutions
  Green Star Award from Interior Design     Magazine
  Metropolitan Home Design 100
 
Paper or plastic? Recycle or toss? It’s the everyday choices families make that can help protect our earth. Forget the mounds of sticky notes and rolls of craft paper. IdeaPaint lets your family communicate and get creative without harming a single tree. We’re the most environmentally friendly dry-erase product on the market.
Materials
 

Millions of worn out and unwanted whiteboards and blackboards end up in landfills each year. With IdeaPaint, there’s nothing to throw out. You apply it directly over the existing wall or surface in your home. When you’re ready for something new, just paint over it. IdeaPaint can even restore your old whiteboards and add years to their life.

IdeaPaint ships in small boxes and uses less packing materials than traditional whiteboards. And we don’t use valuable raw materials typically found in other dry-erase products. No wood, steel, aluminum, vinyl or resin—just paint.

Air Quality

 

Many dry-erase surfaces contain formaldehyde, which slowly releases gas and diminishes indoor air quality for the life of the product. IdeaPaint is formaldehyde-free, conforms to all U.S. EPA regulations (including California) and does not produce any harmful gas once it’s dry.

This looks to be a most versatile item that will be around for many years to come.   I hope you have fun with it!
This Is MeddlingMom

Jack LaLanne at age 95 – a health and fitness guru -still going strong!

November 14, 2010

I was thinking of writing about Jack LaLanne, the longtime  fitness guru…did you know that jumping jacks were named after Jack ? Take a look at this great video interview with him at age 95. What an inspiration!       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkdYrAQJu6g&NR=1&feature=fvwp

With all of the information we hear on a daily basis about health, nutrition and fitness, it seems Jack has had all of this information for many years.  We could have simply listened to him.

Take a look at this video of Jack’s TV show many years ago    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBVk071N88M&feature=related

There isn’t much more to say about all of this…take a look at the highlighted words and go into the links for a variety of people who can inspire you with real facts and tools to get healthier!

This is MeddlingMom…I don’t know about you, but I need to get moving!

Dancing With the Stars! how did this happen? Bristol Palin is one of the best?

November 10, 2010

Well here we are with the craziest turn of events this  season with Dancing With the Stars!  How is it possible that Bristol Palin has survived all of the cuts this far and wonderful dancers like Cheryl Burke and Rick Fox  or Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya  have been voted off?  This is frightening…not because this show is important to fulfilling the American  Dream, but because the results of the voting  and Bristols’s status in the contest are gifts from the disingenuous members of Operation Bristol, a get-out-the-vote movement of the Christian Right. They are hell-bent on securing the title for Bristol, regardless of her lack of talent and the fact that she is probably the least effective dancer this season.  Their votes are consistent with their lack of interest in truth and justice; they are, after all, followers of Sarah Palin, Bristol’s mother. It is hard to imagine that for any other contestant popularity could be the deciding factor. Should someone with much less talent than each of the other dancers possibly be in the finals? The scope of her dancing talent is limited and when her performance is compared to that of the other dancers, she really is not even in their league. This system isn’t working… Bristol’s is barely able to put on a good performance….yes, she is young and sweet….The problem is not who wins on this show; the real issue is that Sarah Palin and her followers are exposing the flawed system of the show and they are making a mockery of the entire show and its viewers ( as if the show isn’t a mockery anyway!).  Their “mama grisley” approach necessarily will make other voters feel hopeless about having an impact on who wins.  (Oh, my!)

The idea that Bristol Palin could actually end up winning this competition is chilling and hopefully the vapid American public will learn something if there is  such a conclusion…THESE TYPES OF SHOWS HAVE NO VALUE to a society that has poor test scores, failing schools, an enormous high school drop out rate, drug problems, poverty issues.  We should be having conversations about what is important to securing our country’s role as a leader in the world. We and our children could use more time talking about ideas than watching such folly.  Yes, I like watching the dancers and love the costumes, but we are accomplishing nothing with such programming….except to continue to PROVE that we  are the anti-intellectual, non-thinking society that we are…the latest nail polish and beauties (or Dancing With the Stars contestants) are NOT more important than actually THINKING  (about almost ANYTHING other than shows like this!)

This is MeddlingMom….

TALENT-Larimie Garcia

November 8, 2010

TALENT….take a look….

I’ve become aware of a talent in the past year, someone you should become familiar with….

Most know him as Larimie. He was raised in the California sunshine by other mammals in concrete dwellings nestled in a land of a thousand oaks. Nurtured by elders of his tribe, he grew up to be an eclectic creature. Guided by the deer and powered by the wolf, his keen sensibilities reflect an intrigue and interest of the harmonies and anomalies that exist in nature. His visions are inspired by ancient and contemporary cultures as well as structures, patterns and systems occurring in nature. Fragments of his experiences exist widely through media in the modern world. Larimie works in a range of media without limitations. From paper to pixels, he creates graphics and imagery for television, film, print, internet and fashion. He has packaged albums with compelling imagery for musicians known worldwide. Larimie’s insights have been cultivated by companies seeking more fulfillment and excitement in their brand. His art can been seen outside of his cavern in galleries and on the grittiest urban streets. Larimie continues to generate creative content and sublime art direction in new media and various visual experiences that surprise the imagination.

                  

                   mini_Paintings.jpg        

http://www.etsy.com/shop/larimie?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=App_Seller&utm_content=shops&utm_campaign=fb_seller_shop           

Larimie’s business, Gig, was founded in 1996 in Southern California. Larimie has produced packaging and logotypes for many recording artists such as Janet Jackson, The Black Crowes, Daniel Lanois, Sheryl Crow, k.d. lang, The Crystal Method,Porno for Pyros, Erasure and more.
He offers: art direction, design, content development, web design, motion design, logo + identity development, hand lettering + font creation, illustration, character design, photography, make-up and anything else you can imagine.

Larimie dabbles in media of all sorts – always seeking new forms of expression. From his studio in Southern California, he continues to produce hip print work, fine art, typefaces, web sites, motion graphics, photos, and make-up design. Companies of all sizes, bands, ad agencies, movie studios and art directors all across the world turn to Gig Design for creative solutions. 

Creative content creation and sublime art direction in new media + print visual experiences surprise the imagination. Gigspot works in a range of media without limitations. from paper to pixels, Gigspot creates graphics and imagery for television, film, print, internet and fashion.  

Larimie’s goals are to also include focusing  on his personal projects. He is currently working on a fine art piece. It will be a multimedia video installation called “return of the dark owl” He is also working on his new t-shirt company called WOOLVES. launching this before the 2010 holidays.  Some pictures are included below.        

woolves-tortura.jpg             woolves.jpg                                                                       

Main Hub to connect with Larimie is LarimieGarcia.com

Commercial Design work is at Gigspot.com 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gigspot

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/larimie

To see Larimie’s work…or to make a purchase, go to:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/larimie?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=App_Seller&utm_content=shops&utm_campaign=fb_seller_shop

Enjoy his work….this is MeddlingMom

Food Addiction: Could it Explain Why 70 Percent of America is Fat?

November 6, 2010

Food Addiction: Could it Explain Why 70 Percent of America is Fat?

OUR GOVERNMENT AND FOOD INDUSTRY both encourage more “personal responsibility” when it comes to battling the obesity epidemic and its associated diseases. They say people should exercise more self-control, make better choices, avoid over-eating, and reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed food. We are lead to believe there is no good food or bad food—that it’s all a matter of balance. This sounds good in theory, except for one thing …

New discoveries in science prove that industrial processed, sugar-, fat-, and salt-laden food—food that is made in plant, rather than grown on a plant, as Michael Pollan would say—is biologically addictive.

Imagine a foot high pile of broccoli, or a giant bowel of apple slices. Do you know anyone who would binge broccoli or apples? On other hand, imagine a mountain of potato chips or a whole bag of cookies, or a pint of ice cream. Those are easy to imagining vanishing in an unconscious, reptilian brain eating frenzy. Broccoli is not addictive, but cookies, chips, or soda absolutely can become addictive drugs.

The “just say no” approach to drug addiction hasn’t fared to well. It won’t work for our industrial food addiction either. Tell a cocaine or heroin addict or an alcoholic to “just say no” after that first snort, shot, or drink. It’s not that simple. There are specific biological mechanisms that drive addictive behavior. Nobody chooses to be a heroin addict, cokehead, or drunk. Nobody chooses to be fat either. The behaviors arise out of primitive neurochemical reward centers in the brain that override normal will power and overwhelm our ordinary biological signals that control hunger. Consider:

  • Why do cigarette smokers continue to smoke even though they know smoking will give them cancer and heart disease?
  • Why do less than 20 percent of alcoholics successfully quit drinking?
  • Why do most addicts continue to use cocaine and heroin despite their lives being destroyed?
  • Why does quitting caffeine lead to irritability and headaches?

It is because these substances are all biologically addictive.

Why is it so hard for obese people to lose weight despite the social stigma and health consequences such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer even though they have an intense desire to lose weight? It is not because they WANT to be fat. It is because certain types of food are addictive.

Food made of sugar, fat, and salt can be addictive. Especially when combined in secret ways the food industry will not share or make public. We are biologically wired to crave these foods and eat as much of them as possible. We all know about cravings, but what does the science tell us about food and addiction, and what are the legal and policy implications if certain food is, in fact, addictive?

The Science and Nature of Food Addiction

Let’s examine the research and the similarities between high-sugar, energy-dense, fatty and salty processed and junk food and cocaine, heroin, and nicotine. We’ll start by reviewing the diagnostic criteria for substance dependence or addiction found in the bible of psychiatric diagnosis—the DSM-IV and look at how that relates to food addiction.

  • Substance is taken in larger amount and for longer period than—a classic symptom in people who habitually overeat
  • Persistent desire or repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit—consider the repeated attempts at diet so many overweight people go through
  • Much time/activity is spent to obtain, use, or recover—those repeated attempts to lose weight take time
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced—I see this in many patients who are overweight or obese
  • Use continues despite knowledge of adverse consequences (e.g., failure to fulfill role obligation, use when physically hazardous)—anyone who is sick and fat wants to lose weight, but without help few are capable of making the dietary changes that would lead to this outcome
  • Tolerance (marked increase in amount; marked decrease in effect)—in other words you have to keep eating more and more just to feel “normal” or not experience withdrawal
  • Characteristic withdrawal symptoms; substance taken to relieve withdrawal—many people undergo a “healing crisis” that has many of the same symptoms as withdrawal when removing certain foods from their diet

Few of us are free from this addictive pattern. If you examine your own behavior and relationship to sugar, in particular, you will likely find that your behavior around sugar and the biological effects of overconsumption of sugar match up perfectly. Many of the criteria above are likely to apply to you.

We blame the fat person. But how can we blame a two-year-old for being fat? How much choice do they have?

Researchers from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity validated a “food addiction” scale(1).  Here are a few of the points on the scale that are used to determine if you have a food addiction. Does any of this sound familiar? If it does you may be an “industrial food addict.”

  1. I find that when I start eating certain foods, I end up eating much more than I had planned.
  2. Not eating certain types of food or cutting down on certain types of food is something I worry about.
  3. I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or lethargic from overeating.
  4. There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often or in such large quantities that I spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreational activities I enjoy.
  5. I kept consuming the same types of food or the same amount of food even though I was having emotional and/or physical problems.
  6. Over time, I have found that I need to eat more and more to get the feeling I want, such as reduced negative emotions or increased pleasure.
  7. I have had withdrawal symptoms when I cut down or stopped eating certain foods. (Please do NOT include withdrawal symptoms caused by cutting down on caffeinated beverages such as soda pop, coffee, tea, energy drinks, etc.) For example: Developing physical symptoms, feeling agitated, or feeling anxious.
  8. My behavior with respect to food and eating causes significant distress.
  9. I experience significant problems in my ability to function effectively (daily routine, job/school, social activities, family activities, health difficulties) because of food and eating.

Based on these criteria and others many of us, including most obese children, are “addicted” to industrial food.

Here are some of the scientific findings confirming that food can, indeed, be addictive(ii):

  1. Sugar stimulates the brain’s reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine exactly like other addictive drugs.
  2. Brain imagining (PET scans) shows that high-sugar and high-fat foods work just like heroin, opium, or morphine in the brain.(iii)
  3. Brain imaging (PET scans) shows that obese people and drug addicts have lower numbers of dopamine receptors, making them more likely to crave things that boost dopamine.
  4. Foods high in fat and sweets stimulate the release of the body’s own opioids (chemicals like morphine) in the brain.
  5. Drugs we use to block the brain’s receptors for heroin and morphine (naltrexone) also reduce the consumption and preference for sweet, high-fat foods in both normal weight and obese binge eaters.
  6. People (and rats) develop a tolerance to sugar—they need more and more of the substance to satisfy themselves—just like they do for drugs of abuse like alcohol or heroin.
  7. Obese individuals continue to eat large amounts of unhealthy foods despite severe social and personal negative consequences, just like addicts or alcoholics.
  8. Animals and humans experience “withdrawal” when suddenly cut off from sugar, just like addicts detoxifying from drugs.
  9. Just like drugs, after an initial period of “enjoyment” of the food the user no longer consumes them to get high, but to feel normal.

Remember the movie Super Size Me, where Morgan Spurlock ate three super-sized meals from McDonald’s every day? What struck me about that film was not that he gained 30 pounds or that his cholesterol went up, or even that he got a fatty liver. What was surprising was the portrait it painted of the addictive quality of the food he ate. At the beginning of the movie, when he ate his first supersized meal, he threw it up, just like a teenager who drinks too much alcohol at his first party. By the end of the movie, he only felt “well” when he ate that junk food. The rest of the time he felt depressed, exhausted, anxious, and irritable and lost his sex drive, just like an addict or smoker withdrawing from his drug. The food was clearly addictive.

This problems with food addiction are compound by the fact that food manufacturers refuse to release any internal data on how they put ingredients together to maximize consumption of their food products despite requests from researchers. In his book, The End of Overeating, David Kessler, MD, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, describes the science of how food is made into drugs by the creation of hyperpalatable foods the leads to neuro-chemical addiction.

This binging leads to profound physiological consequences that drive up calorie consumption and lead to weight gain. In a Harvard Study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, overweight adolescents consumed an extra 500 calories a day when allowed to eat junk food as compared to days when they weren’t allowed to eat junk food. They ate more because the food triggered cravings and addiction. Like an alcoholic after the first drink, once these kids started eating processed food full of the sugar, fat, and salt that triggered their brain’s reward centers, they couldn’t stop. They were like rats in a cage.(iv)

Stop and think about this for one minute. If you were to eat 500 more calories in a day, that would equal 182,500 calories a year. Let’s see … if you have to eat an extra 3500 calories to gain one pound, that’s a yearly weight gain of 52 pounds!

If high-sugar, high-fat, calorie-rich, nutrient-poor, processed, fast, junk food is indeed, addictive, what does that mean? How should that influence our approach to obesity? What implications does it have for government policies and regulation? Are there legal implications? If we are allowing and even promoting addictive substances in our children’s diets, how should we handle that?

I can assure you, Big Food isnt’ going to make any changes voluntarily. They would rather ignore this science. They have three mantras about food.

  1. It’s all about choice. Choosing what you eat is about personal responsibility. Government regulation controlling how you market food or what foods you can eat leads to a nanny state, food “fascists,” and interference with our civil liberties.
  2. There are no good foods and bad foods. It’s all about amount. So no specific foods can be blamed for the obesity epidemic.
  3. Focus on education about exercise not diet. As long as you burn off those calories, it shouldn’t matter what you eat.

Unfortunately, this is little more than propaganda from an industry interested in profit, not in nourishing the nation.

Do We Really Have a Choice About What We Eat?

The biggest sham in food industry strategy and government food policy is advocating and emphasizing individual choice and personal responsibility to solve our obesity and chronic disease epidemic. We are told if people just wouldn’t eat so much, exercised more, and took care of themselves, we would be fine. We don’t need to change our policies or environment. We don’t want the government telling us what to do. We want free choice.

But are your choices free, or is Big Food driving behavior through insidious marketing techniques?

The reality is that many people live in food deserts where they can’t buy an apple or carrot, or live in communities that have no sidewalks or where it is unsafe to be out walking. We blame the fat person. But how can we blame a two-year-old for being fat? How much choice do they have?

We live in toxic food environment, a nutritional wasteland. School lunchrooms and vending machines overflow with junk food and “sports drinks.” Most of us don’t even know what we’re eating. Fifty percent of meals are eaten outside the home and most home cooked meals are simply microwavable industrial food. Restaurants and chains provide no clear menu labeling. Did you know that a single order of Outback Steakhouse cheese fries is 2900 calories or a Starbucks venti mocha latte is 508 calories?

Environmental factors (like advertising, lack of menu labeling, and others) and the addictive properties of “industrial food” when added together override our normal biological or psychological control mechanisms. To pretend changing this is beyond the scope of government responsibility or that creating policy to help manage such environmental factors would lead to a “nanny state” is simply an excuse for Big Food to continue their unethical practices. Here are some ways we can change our food environment:

  • Build the real cost of industrial food into the price. Incude its impact on health care costs and lost productivity
  • Subsidize the production of fruits and vegetables. 80 percent of government subsidies presently go to soy and corn which are used to create much of the junk food we consume. We need to rethink subsidies and provide more for smaller farmers and a broader array of fruits and vegetables.
  • Incentivize supermarkets to open in poor communities. Poverty and obesity go hand in hand. One reason is the food deserts we see around the nation. Poor people have a right to high-quality food too. We need to create ways to provide it to them.
  • End food marketing to children. 50 other countries worldwide have done this, why haven’t we?
  • Change the school lunchroom. The national school lunch program in its present form is a travesty. Unless we want the next generation to be fatter and sicker than we are, we need better nutriton education and better food in our schools.
  • Build community support programs with a new workforce of community health workers. These people would be able to support individuals in making better food choices.

We can alter the default conditions in the environment that foster and promote addictive behavior.(v) It’s simply a matter of public and political will. If we don’t, we will face an ongoing epidemic of obesity and illness across the nation.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

References

(i) Gearhardt, A.N., Corbin, W.R., and K.D. 2009. Brownell. Preliminary validation of the Yale Food Addiction Scale. Appetite. 52(2): 430–436.

(ii) Colantuoni, C., Schwenker, J., McCarthy, P., et al. 2001. Excessive sugar intake alters binding to dopamine and mu-opioid receptors in the brain. Neuroreport. 12(16): 3549–3552.

(iii) Volkow, N.D., Wang, G.J., Fowler, J.S., et al. 2002. “Nonhedonic” food motivation in humans involves dopamine in the dorsal striatum and methylphenidate amplifies this effect. Synapse. 44(3): 175–180.

(iv) Ebbeling CB, Sinclair KB, Pereira MA, Garcia-Lago E, Feldman HA, Ludwig DS. Compensation for energy intake from fast food among overweight and lean adolescents. JAMA. 2004 Jun 16;291(23):2828-2833.

(v) Brownell, K.D., Kersh, R., Ludwig. D.S., et al. 2010. Personal responsibility and obesity: A constructive approach to a controversial issue. Health Aff (Millwood). 29(3): 379–387.

This is MeddlingMom…think about it…this is your life!  Have a good weekend!

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!!!

November 1, 2010

Tuesday is the big day-P-L-E-E-E-E-A-S- E   make sure you vote!

Whatever your party or affiliation, as Americans we have the responsibility to Vote EVERY TIME. So manysuffered, fought (both literally and figuratively) and died for us all to have the privilege to vote. We owe it to our predecessors to affirm what they have done for us, to appreciate what our troops continue to do for us…to protect our rights…one of those rights is to express our opinion and cast our votes freely in each election.

Take a moment to look at a clip from Rachel Maddow’s show last night. She lists the accomplishments of the Obama administration so far. It is impressive.   http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#39959392

Democracy is NOT a spectator sport. While it may appear to be fun to watch from the sidelines, we really are an inherent part of the process. Without our votes, there cannot be a conclusion or a winner in the process. Oh, it HAS been a weird and intense election season this year….all of the acrimony and rudeness…it has been exasperating and entertaining depending on the day and the particular speaker or candidate. The truths and untruths (who can tell which is which?) have been amazing and insane…difficult to listen to.   I understand from some of the longtime political analysts that campaigns and politics in this country have been similar to this year’s experience  for much of our history.

Having two parties necessarily REQUIRES the candidates and the voters to disagree because we have different points of view, goals and allegiances. Where is the fine line…..where can we draw it- between having differing views and the outright nastiness that can completely turn off voters? How does our way serve the country? Not well in my book. We already have a high percentage of voters who don’t vote-not to mention all of  those who are elligible and aren’t registered.

How did we come to this point and how do we turn this around? At this juncture, I say WHO CARES?  Just go out and VOTE and vote for the candidates who exhibit the qualities that will help our country to become stable once again.  Look at who appears to care about the country and our people.Vote for those who are genuinely seeking SOLUTIONS.  This country was founded by those who explored and who believed in solutions.

….and call your family, friends and neighbors…if you need to, take them to the polls to vote…your aid can make a huge difference!

This is MeddlingMom…Happy Election Day!


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