Sunday, October 31, 2010

How stress can affect your health

        I am almost certain that each and every one of us has been in some type of situation that made us experience stress.  Whether it be school, your job, personal relationships, etc.  In some way, shape or form, we have all been exposed to stress.  Every one even has their own ways of coping through or with stress.  Some people exercise, some talk with friends or family, and some even resort, unfortunately, to alcohol, cigarettes and even drugs.  But either way, this is how we react when we are put in a stressful situation. 
        When you cope in unsuccessful ways, it can lead to many medical issues, illnesses and diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, weight gain/loss and even depression, too.  The amount of stress each of us experiences on a day to day basis is likely to increase the chance of one of this "stress related" conditions.  
        As humans, our body is prepared to experience and deal with stress.  And actually, stress is not necessarily always negative.  Positive stress can keep us alert in situations and ready to avoid danger if it occurs.  The reason is becomes negative is when someone experiences challenges that are continuous, with no relief or relaxation.  The result= an overworked person and stress related tension, according to one of my favorite websites, ""  
        Remember, stress affects us all in some way or another, and every one is capable of dealing with it.  Exercise if it makes you feel better, talk with someone who will listen to your problems, learn to relax with various techniques (yoga and mediation are popular these days!), and most importantly- take care of yourself and your body.  Get enough sleep, eat healthy and avoid alcohol and eating unhealthy and don't overeat when you're stressed- it will make you feel worse!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Prison Stress

Chapter 7 in our book was very informative because it talked about stress and I’m sure we all experience it every now and then. In general, stress is related to both external and internal factors. I recently did research and came across an article about suicidal inmates in correctional facilities. Ten years ago suicide was the 11th leading cause of death; there were almost 30,000 suicide deaths. This averages that every 17.5 minutes someone committed suicide. People who are under a lot of stress, have low self-esteem, and/or cannot solve their life problems are more likely to indulge in suicidal behavior. In the journal, Using Trained Inmate Observers for Suicide Watch in a Federal Correctional Setting, authors Jeffery Bates, Art Beeler, and Gary Junker (2005) research suicide in correctional settings and if trained inmate observers can help reduce suicide rates inside the facility. Feeling abandoned is sometimes what inmates feel when they have been locked up. In today’s economy a lot of people’s finances are unstable and having a family member or significant other in a correctional facility is an extra cost. The inconvenience of having to support an inmate can sometimes cause the family to turn their backs on the inmate. Studies have shown that inmates who do not have outside support are at greater risk for committing suicide. Without a loved one to call, write letters to, or even have visits from, the inmate now has to look for other forms of activities. Research shows that inmates who do not engage in recreational activities are at risk for having suicidal behaviors. Individuals who are incarcerated are more likely to suffer from a mental illness, which can also increase the risk for suicide (p. 20).
The journal study consisted of eighty-two suicide watches of thirty-seven individuals. Observing was done over two consecutive twelve week intervals. The sample included eighteen African Americans, ten Caucasians, and nine Hispanics. 51% of the participants were diagnosed with some form of psychosis, and 24% were diagnosed to have personality disorders. The study was done at a Federal Bureau of Prisons medical Referral Center; these centers are helped for federal inmates because they provide physical and mental health care. As inmates are on suicidal watch, they are continuously monitored by TV and direct observation; they also are checked on every fifteen minutes by a nurse and a correctional officer. These suicide watches often lead to staff members having numerous hours of overtime pay. In order to participate in IOP, an inmate is assessed by correctional officers and a mental health staff member. After an in-depth background check, all possible candidates undergo a four hour initial training session. IOP was used to evaluate if suicidal inmates who were being observed behaved differently under the supervision of trained inmates. The first part of the observation was done by staff and the second part was completed by the trained inmates. The results showed that inmates who are observed directly tend to have more suicidal behavior. It is implied that there are fewer opportunities for staff manipulation if suicidal inmates are directly observed by peers. The IOP allows for contact between the suicidal inmate and observer. Such contact between peers has been suggested as a helpful strategy in reducing self-injurious behavior among inmates. Trained inmates who observed inmates with a psychotic disorder were on suicide watch significantly longer than inmates who were not. Results show that those inmates who were presumably suicidal weren’t suicidal, but were actually delusional. Being observed by a trained inmate made them less stressed and it was easier for them to cope with the prison environment.

Has Your Exercise Program Become Redundant?

For many, working out can become a monotonous act…doing the same routines day in and day out; especially when you are attempting to do it alone, but there is a solution to this dilemma and its adding music that motivates you to move to your repertoire. Bartlett discusses the physiological effects of upbeat tunes in chapter six of our text, and it was revealed that such stimulating music produces an increase in heart-rate, muscle tension, electrodermal responses, respiration rate, and blood pressure, which are all positive responses when engaging in physical exercise, but it does even more this.

Dr. Kravitz, from the University of New Mexico has discovered that music tempi increases motivation which encourages participants to engage in physical activity for longer periods of time and such tempi also has a relaxing effect which allows these participants to ignore discomfort signals from increased respiration. According to Kravitz, “Researchers found that subjects who exercised at 40% intensity and listened to self-selected music had a lower rating of perceived exertion than those who did not listen to music. “ In examining arousal regulation the sports journal had introduced the idea that music alters emotional and physiological arousal and therefore can be used prior to competitions or training activities as a stimulant or can also be used as a sedative to calm anxious feelings that may hinder performance.

Music has the unique ability to push a person forward during a workout…You can say it’s your motivational coach cheering you on from the sidelines while at the same time giving you an energy boost to keep you moving along. I know from personal experience there is a marked difference in my overall performance when having music versus not having it or listening to something undesirable. With upbeat music I enjoy I lose track of time, I’m focused on my end goal…I’m in the zone; without it I get distracted, but most importantly bored and wind up ending my session half way through. So plug in those radios and iPods, pick up the tempo, and power through.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Text Messaging…Has it Become an Addiction?

Many within the field of psychology believe so and it is an addiction that can greatly affect the productivity of the addicted while also being potentially life threatening. The population that seems to be most impacted by this is our young people. Statistical data has revealed that daily text messaging among American teens has shot up in the past 18 months, from 38% of teen’s texting friends daily in February of 2008 to 54% of teens texting daily in September 2009. And it's not just frequency – teens are sending enormous quantities of text messages a day. Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day, or 1,500 texts a month, and one in three send more than 100 texts a day, or more than 3,000 texts a month. Older teen girls ages 14-17 lead the charge on text messaging, averaging 100 messages a day for the entire cohort. The youngest teen boys are the most resistant to texting – averaging 20 messages per day (Lenhart & Purcell, 2010).

These statistics are astounding, but are not limited to the United States. In the United Kingdom the same trends are emerging at alarming rates, so much so that Dr. David Collins, head of the Priory in London has dedicated a section on his clinics website solely to technology addictions. So why is this happening? Why are our young people becoming victims to the addictive nature of text messaging (and the virtual world in general)? Dr. Collins suggests the reasons stem from emotional difficulties, depression, stress and anxiety; and according to Dr. Landry, like with every other addiction this addiction is created in the brain when a certain activity or product stimulates the release of the hormone dopamine, which then creates a pleasurable chemical rush through the body.

There are no cures for this phenomenon, but Landry proposes in the case of text messaging addiction cognitive therapy would be the best option, and perhaps this is true for some cases, however, I believe that the parents of these younger individuals have the greatest power in the sense that they can give these teens cell phones without a text option…what a novel idea, aye? In denying the temptation you force your child to actually verbalize and communicate with the world (at least in one area). In doing so these parents have the opportunity to maybe break such isolating cycles and in regards to teen drivers they just might be protecting/saving the life of the innocent bystander who comes in contact with their children. Nearly 50 percent of teens admit to text messaging while driving -- an unnerving statistic that now rivals driving and drinking in terms of danger and prevalence. I don’t know what you think, but for me the choice is a relatively easy one.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Innonce in Eating

How many times have you innocently taken an extra piece of cake? Have you ever done it? I have done it before. My cake flavor of choice: Chocolate! Well I’m sure we have all, at one point time, deliberately taken an additional serving of our favorite type of food. During the act we exhibit a great deal of contentment and pleasantness. Because why else would we continue to eat it, the first serving must have been very good and appetizing. . For instance, cephalic responses occur when you smell food, and react physiologically to the food depending on the level of insulin, body's need for sugar and last time ate.

In other words, physiologically need can be a reason why you might want another piece of cake. As a result, of the glucose level being very low, to the point that your body needs the sugar. In other words, the body's homeostasis was disturbed with the lack of sugar intake. Due to the set point being unbalance the body goes through unpleasantness physiologically. Since the cake contains the sugar, which is what the body was needs at the period in time.To alleviate the unpleasantness the person will intake what's needed. As a result alliesthesia can occur, during this process the body will restore itself and return to normal (of level of insulin). The body returning to normalcy becomes physiologically pleasant.

Alliesthesia is the change in a person's physiological state to unpleasant or pleasant. When the body is converts unpleasantness to pleasantness, alliesthesia creates that motivation and gives pleasure with the restoration of the homeostasis. Serving yourself that piece of delicious, rich, chocolate cake can be because your body was needing it, or because your body was wanting it? That's a very good question. It shouldn't mean your committing an act of crime because you decide to take an extra piece of cake. Perhaps, is an occurrence of palatabity, a hedonic value of how nice or pleasurable it is or looks based on texture, flavor, aroma, and availability.

So which is it, you may say. The exact answer I don't know. The extra slice of cake to meant to become physiologically pleasant? or to meant to become psychologically indulged.
I can answer, for myself, that I will take the extra piece to indulge myself always when it will be pleasant.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stress-Induced Eating

Obesity is an escalating problem for many Americans. High sugar and fatty foods are quickly and easily accessible at any hour of the day or night. For many people eating has become a way of reducing stress. An article I came across looked at the possibility of a body and brain interaction as the cause for stress eating. When a person suffers from stress they seek out rich foods. Why is that?

Our bodies contain a hormone called cortisol which is produced in response to stress. People who suffer from chronic stress are producing high levels of cortisol which tells the body to go into survival mode in turn causing increased anxiety and ultimately depression. Left to its own devices, the long-term anxiety set off by chronic stress would use up all of the energy reserves in the body. But fatty and high sugar foods build up reserves which help the body survive.

The high levels of cortisol released in the body during chronic stress actually direct the excess calories you intake straight to your abdomen, where they get deposited as fat. Because of its location, abdominal fat has privileged access to the liver which allows it to be quickly mobilized for energy. These fat deposits serve an important purpose. They emit a metabolic signal that is then sent to the brain which tells it to shut off the stress response.

These findings hopefully can be correlated to the weight gain produced by anti-depressants as a side effect and further studied in order to develop a cure for chronic stress through the inhibition of the cortisol hormone thus preventing the accumulation of abdominal fat.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

how hungry is hungry?

After reviewing this website, I began to analyze what my idea of hunger really is. I definitely love to eat. I will say I'm starving when I'm feeling the slightest bit hungry. When I actually haven't eaten in awhile, it's like the end of the world. So now I'm left wondering, how hungry is hungry? I can eat mostly any time of the day and like I said, I will complain of hunger more than I probably should. But at what point am I really in need of food so desperately? I watch crazy survival shows where people live a week without food and I cannot even begin to imagine what that is even like. However, it does make me think I'm probably not as "hungry" as I claim to be.

I then thought about why I get hungry.I understand hunger occurs when food is absent from your stomach but after thinking about it I get hungry for many different reasons. When my friends are eating, I'm hungry. When I'm bored, I'm hungry. When I'm stressed, definitely hungry. I'm truly starting to believe eating is hardly to survive anymore, especially for me. It becomes very social now that I think about it. Everyday my friends and I eat together and talk or go out on the weekends to dinner.

When it comes to being full, that is also a different story. I always catch myself eating even when I know I'm completely stuffed! I never could understand why I needed that overly full, stuffed feeling. I'm now trying to tell myself to take half home automatically so I do not overeat! Reading over this hunger scale is now giving me another outlook on being full and how "hungry" I should and shouldn't be.

Monday, October 18, 2010

ADD, Anger, Violence and Suicide

First question, where did I get this? In one of the lectures there was a short video about the production of dopamine and how it relates to attention spans and motivation to pay attention. Second question, What on earth can I mean by the title?

According to research done by Dr. Amen, there is a type of ADD that contributes to (and was the inspiration for) the title. “Type 4: Temporal Lobe ADD” p111 (“Healing ADD”). “People with temporal lobe ADD show decreased activity in the temporal lobes, along with reduced blood flow to the pre frontal cortex during concentration tasks. Associated with domestic violence and suicide, this type of ADD can ruin a family.” (p111) The blood flow to certain parts of the brain helps influence motivation, and cases such as these tend to have had head trauma at some point in their lives that damage the functioning of the brain. (p111). One case was of a normal 21-year old male (p120) who after suffering brain trauma (2 years previously, in that time which he became less personable and angry) committed suicide. This aggression (towards self and others) seems to be caused by trauma to the left temporal lobe (p121).

The motivation for this came from that particular lecture and Dr. Amen’s “Healing ADD” which I purchased in hopes of understanding my own ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder, Type 2: Inattentive, which means I am not hyperactive). This relates to motivation because many of those who have my type of ADD, Dr. Amen describes as “They are frequently thought of as couch potatoes who have trouble finding interest or motivation in their lives.” P93.

I’ve always been more behavioral-cognitive in the beliefs I held about behavior, though I realized how drastically I underestimated the brain! With SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) Dr. Amen examined the blood flow and discovered not two but six types of Attention Deficit Disorder. (I don't suppose this tidbit really relates to motivation, I just thought it was interesting) While I don't believe this accounts for all laziness and lack of motivation, it was interesting to see how blood flow to areas of the brain changed behavior, similar to the case of Phineaus Gage. Who, after having a metal rod go through his head, went from what was noted to be a nice person to an angry and otherwise disagreeable person.

Amen, D.G. (2001). Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 6 Types of ADD . New York: the Penguin Group.

Sensory-Specific Satiety and Quantity of Food: No Match for TGIFriday's

I don't necessarily mean to advertise, but:
I have to admit, it's a good deal. If I hadn't been working there for over three years and wasn't sick of all their food, I'd be going there for this. Almost every table that I serve, AT LEAST one person goes for it. And out of the x amount of people I serve that night, maybe 4 or 5 will ask for boxes to take something home. That's about 5% of the guests. Most eat all three courses, no problem.

Getting three courses for $13, obviously large quantity for a small price is what entices us about this offer. Quantity is a factor that motivates our food intake. It's been observed that as the size of the portions increase, the amount of food increases correspondingly. As we saw with the Bottomless Soup Bowl experiment, and with the macaroni-and-cheese experiment in the book, the portion determined how much was eaten. I notice this every single time I work to know this is a valid observation. For those who order the 3-for-12.99, they end up eating a significant amount more than those who just order themselves an entree. Because they have 3 courses, their portion is obviously a lot larger. So whether or not they are just as full as the person who ordered just the entree or not, they continue to eat because the food is accessible and enjoyable. The more food that's ordered, the more potential you have to eat it, and chances are, you will.

Another reason that contributes to why all 3 courses are usually finished and enjoyed is due to sensory-specific satiety. "Serving only one dish or eating the same food repeatedly is enough to blunt anyone's appetite"; the more of a variation of foods we get to eat, the more we enjoy those foods individually and collectively. If the 3 courses consisted of an appetizer of spaghetti, followed by another serving of spaghetti, and then spaghetti for dessert, it's highly doubtful they'd finish the second serving, or even like it as much as the first, and let alone touch the third. However, because all 3 courses at Friday's vary in taste, we enjoy this experience more and feel as if we ate an overall balanced meal. We tend to get sick of the same flavor if it's all we are tasting over and over, and Friday's makes sure that doesn't happen.

Unfortunately, I am a culprit to serving fatty, unhealthy, over-portioned foods for a living. I engage in watching people eat beyond satiety, and yet continue to serve them course after course. However, I know it's the quantity and variety of foods that we offer that motivates them to continue to eat, so I don't stop them because I figure it's okay to treat yourself once in a while. It's our everyday regulars that I'm worried about.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is Social Networking a PRO or is it a CON?

We all know about the latest success of, but before Facebook it was It’s obvious how social network sites grew towards their fortune and fame. Users became addicted! Their popularity grew from people being attracted which caused others to “spread the word." But before these big time networking sites, people spent a lot of time blogging similar to! The term blog stems from the word web log, and these have existed since the internet has been invented.

Procrastinating is found among heavy Facebook users. According to an article written by Megan Rizzo, Facebook can be a big waste of time. She believes these Facebook habits are almost impossible to break! Some people even go on Facebook in the workplace, which may put their jobs in jeopardy.

As a 21yr old college student, I am glad I’ve noticed the hazards of social networking. I plan to acquire a good job someday so I must be aware of my social network surroundings at all times. Also, the relationships I have with people will define me as a “Social Networker.”

To demonstrate my interest in the Childhood Obesity Dilemma, I’ve created my very own social network. My website is a way for American’s to become educated on the benefits of achieving Wellness. I now advertise it on and most of my friends know I’m serious about my career.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Strange Addictions

Due to the addictive qualities of harsh drugs, alcohol and cigarettes it is easy to understand why some people find themselves surrounded with nothing but their addictions. However how do we explain addictions to substances or activities that have no addictive properties? What is there to say to those who eat chalk or toilet paper?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flow and motivation

  After watching Martin Seligman's lecture on positive psychology I decided to look into what he meant by the term "Flow". The concept of flow was proposed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as a state in which someone is fully immersed in an experience with the feeling of spontaneous joy. In flow one is focus motivated and experiences the moment fully without thinking about the future or the past. Some examples of flow include a musician in an improvisation solo, an athlete being in the zone, a child playing video games, or a doctor of physics solving a complicated math problem.
     To achieve flow it is important to find an activity challenging enough without being anxiety producing and easy enough to not find boring and mundane. If there is a right balance one will experience flow and gradually become better at the activity. An example of this is when learning a sport such as tennis it is better to play against people who are near your skill level. If one constantly loses to more experienced players they will likely give up out of frustration. Another example of this is when learning a new mathematical concept. Someone attempting to learn calculus without previous knowledge of algebra will likely give up to the challenge while a doctor in physics may find elementary math boring.
     Most people during their lives have experienced flow. My most fulfilling experiences of flow have been on stage acting in my high school plays. While performing I was neither bored or stressed and felt completely present with a heightened  sense of awareness. It would be best for people to find were they experience this state to live a more fulfilling and joyful life.

Addicted to the Internet

The internet can be pretty addicting. There is an endless amount of information to explore, people to talk to, magazines/books to read and videos to watch. The amount of internet usage has become so popular that basically every cell phone comes with internet now. Even game systems and tv are able to surf the web now. People can easily get sucked in for hours at a time and cause you to waste your day away. This has been seen as more of an issue as the years go by and although there is not a technical disorder formed, researchers are definitely looking into this problem a bit more. The term they used to refer to the internet overuse is pathological computer use. Clearly there is not an officially recognized disorder that is known yet, but they do have support groups and couseling for this "problem".

Doesn't it seem kind of silly? The world we live in has become very digital which I don't think is a terrible thing. I just think we lost the ability to communicate with one another. Instead of a phone call, e-mails and chatting online has become the more popular way of communication even though many things are interpreted the wrong way through the internet.

Are you reallying laughing out loud when you send "lol" to someone? And how do you understand the tone of the conversation if it is meant to be a worrisome comment and someone takes it as being rude?

Another aspect of the computer which I found to be pretty interesting is the fact that people are becoming more and more lazy, that now we have to abbreviate entire sentences! I am sure many of us are guilty of doing so. (ex: TTYL = Talk to you later.) Maybe this wouldn't be so bad, but students and even adults are starting to use this computer lingo in school work, professional letters, etc. You know it is becoming an issue when a student is writing a research paper a uses words like "ur" instead of "your" or "u" instead of "you". Does this necessarily mean there is an addiction forming? Of course not. Maybe people just need to get out a little more and spend some time elsewhere. Plus, it'll save your eye sight!

Social drive to overeating continued...

Social drive to overeating

We all know we need food in order to survive as human beings. Food provides energy and nutrients in order to keep us healthy and alive. As we learned in class, we have a natural motive to maintain homeostasis or regulation in the body. For example, if you haven’t eaten for a few hours, you may experience physiological symptoms like blood sugar dropping, iron level dropping, dizzy or weak feeling, or your stomach growling for the world to hear. These symptoms are telling your body that it needs nutrients, which motivates you to find food. (Deckers103-110)

Once you have accomplished your goal of finding food there are multiple ways your body can detect that you are full. Studies done with rats and infants have shown that the body can detect when they have had a certain amount of calories regardless of the portion size. Studies have also shown that nutrients in the blood send can release hormones such as CCK, which signals to your brain that you are full and to stop eating So why do so many of us over eat or eat when we are not even hungry? (Deckers 113-117)

Food is something that can be very pleasurable to anyone. To satisfy one’s hunger and maintain homeostasis can be produce a pleasurable feeling. However, just reaching homeostasis is not the only thing that drives someone to eat. The appearance, smell, and taste of food can motivate someone to eat even when they are not hungry. Recently, my friends and I fasted for the day before we went out for a friend’s birthday. The amazing Italian restaurant served delicious and fresh food in large beautiful portions. The food was so good we ate until our stomachs hurt and there was still food left over. Even though we could barely move when we got home, we had to eat some birthday cake after smelling it throughout the house. We naturally crave foods that are high in fat and sugar content because they provide us with the most energy and faster satisfaction. My friend’s birthday dinner was no exception. (Deckers 117-124)


Alliesthesia refers to changes in a person's milieu interieur that determine whether a stimulus is judges as pleasant or unpleasant.  It is stimuli and behaviors that restore homeostasis feel pleasant while those that disrupt homeostasis feel unpleasant.  An example of this would be drink and eating.  Drinking and eating are pleasureable when thierst and hungry because those activities restore homeostatis.  An example would be a person's need for water.  Depending on how much water they need at a certain time, that depends on the pleasure level that water will have.  For example if a person was extremely thirsty, they would desrcibe drinking water as "delicious" or "exquisite".  Alliesthesia motivated the person to drink to restore their body's water level. 

Alliesthesia always affects something called thermoregulation.  Thermoregilation deals with regulating the body's temperature.  The book talks about and example that explains the role of alliesthesia.  It involves participants submerging their hands in either cold water or warm water.  Participants put their hands in a range of either cold or warm water and rated the baths on an unpleasantess-pleasantness scale.  Ratings of the water baths dependeed on the participants core body temperature.  The participants who were cold judged the cooler baths as unpleasant and the warmer baths as pleasant.  The participants who were warm judged the cooler baths as pleasant and the warmer baths as unpleasant.  Participants who had normal core body temperature judged a water bath as unpleasant only when it deviated greatly from normal skin temperature.  Baths that restore body temperature to homeostasis are those that feel pleasant.  Baths are felt to be unpleasant if they cause actual body temperature to deviate further from set point temperature.

Is Food Survival?

     It is certainly interesting to note the way in which individuals go about the act of food prepartion. It depends on circumstances and settings when it boils down to decisions. The color, texture, temperature, shape are a few of many decisions that go into planning a meal. I feel that we may be confused at times when we are thinking of what exactly would be palatable to us at that time. There are different situations when we eat, whether it be for pleasure, boredom, or survival.

     Throughout the world there are certain countries as to where they cannot eat as frivolously as more well off countries can. In those particular situations those individuals eat based on survival, rather than pure pleasure. It is interesting to note that if cultures were to interact for the first time in another culture many would be suprised at the amount of food cunsumption a day and food choice. I do not think Americans  think what it would be like to actually hunt their dinner. The world does seem like an unfair place at times based on the mere fact that not everyone can live with an abundance of food. When it comes to the theory of Charles Darwin, he has be known to say it is all up to the survival of the fittest.

      Based on the video watched in class about portion size, it was interesting to note that we never really pay attention to our tummy telling us if we are full or not. It seems like the average individual finishes all that it is put on the plate. Due to the lack of time it takes for our senses to pick up on fullness, many continue to eat past the portion allotted for that individuals body. The appearance of food definitely plays a part in the whole act of consumption. Individuals should certainly spend more time planning their meal portion size and listen to the cue of our sense of being full.

asian overeaters
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Tuna Taste Aversion

Taste aversions are so interesting to me. I personally have a taste aversion to sea food. I know, I know how could anyone not like sea food right? Well I defiantly have some aversion to it. I hate the smell, I hate how it looks, and I especially hate how it tastes. When I was younger I used to eat it all the time. My mom often talks about how my brother and I would eat all of the fish she would make before my dad got home and she would have to yell at us to stop, I however refuse to believe such a thing ever happened. The only sea food I didn't have an aversion to was Tuna Fish. I actually Used to like it a lot. Until recently that is. I would eat tuna fish all the time. Tuna fish salads, tuna fish sandwiches, and tuna fish on crackers. I used to love it. Then one fateful day I was eating a delicious tuna fish salad that I made myself. I had carefully prepared the tuna and shredded it properly, took my time. I sat down to watch my favorite daytime show, The Price is Right, and halfway through my salad I took a bite and there was something hard, and sharp, and well just not ok, in my mouth. I freaked out and spit out everything. There was a bone in my tuns fish. The shock of having something I didn't expect in my mouth completely ruined my love for tuna fish salads, and for a while salads all together. Even The Price is Right had caught some backlash from the incident.
The point of my horrifying story, you might not find it horrifying but I sure did, is that people develop aversions in a matter of seconds. From the time it took me to take that bite to the second I spit it out I no longer could eat tuna fish. Now I understand not all tuna will have bones in it but for me it has been ruined forever. There is a permanent fear linked to it and there is nothing I can do to make it go away. Well I suppose I could go to therapy and one day I would work through my fear and finally be able to eat tuna again, but it's not that big of a deal to me. Its really fascinating to watch an aversion develop.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Addicted to Nicotine

When we were talking about addiction during the last class, the first thing that came to mind was this recent story of a 2-year-old Indonesian baby smoking 40 cigarettes a day. This is obviously mind blowing to think a child can actually have the ability to light a cigarette and feel addicted to them at such a young age. What is even more disturbing is the parents allowing this behavior, saying that their son is “perfectly healthy.”

Disregarding the ignorance of this terribly sad situation, this story tells that the addiction takes on a life of its’ own. It was stated in the clip that he would “bang his head against the wall” if he didn't have cigarettes throughout the day. This not only tells us how bad cigarettes are for a human being, but a natural reaction to the withdraw of such a highly addictive substance. Luckily, because this baby is so young, the addiction will be able to decrease slowly but surely while he is in treatment. The scary thing about it is it’s even harder when we are adults, to quit this addiction.

Nicotine is one of the worst addictions in the world. It is legal and tolerated to a certain point, but now, more than ever, there is more awareness for the affects of smoking. There are billboards, commercials and committees dedicated to stopping this deadly habit. In the words of my Personality Psychology professor, “If you haven’t started, don’t try it and if you are smoking, quit.” It’s a terrible habit to fall into, but a lifelong reward for those who overcome their nicotine addictions.

Your Brain on Dopamine and Gambline

Gambling is a risk. Because the result of that risk is unknown and there may be a chance to win back lost wages, people gamble. The sights and sounds of the casino start to excite the person and dopamine surges. Dopamine is a “feel good” chemical released by the brain. Then the real gambling begins. When gambling the brain releases even more dopamine which causes a feeling of satisfaction and excitement. So, when dopamine is released then lessens the craving for more dopamine rises again. To obtain the release of dopamine, that person gambles even more. This is a vicious cycle that many people get caught up in. They can lose money, jobs, and family because of it. One way that is shown to help with this addiction is by taking the medication Naltrexone.

Infant's Innate Food Preferences

Infants are born neophobics, instinctively afraid of anything new and prefer to eat what is familiar to them. It is clear that humans have an innate preference for sweet flavors and an aversive reaction to sour and bitter flavors. Studies have been done on newborns during the first few hours and days of life. It was found that infants prefer sweet tasting foods over sour or bitter tasting foods. The evidence of preference of sweet flavors was observed through the facial expressions that were made.

Desor & Associates (1973) found that infants would also eat more of a sweet-tasting substance. This led to some questions in my mind: Is breast milk sweet? And could this be why infants have an innate preference for sweet-tasting substances? Could this preference be a form of survival? Infants require the food source, breast milk for adequate nutrition and to aid in their growth and development. Most doctors will recommend a mother to breastfeed over using formula. I thought that maybe this preference for sweet-flavored substances was a normal survival instinct to avoid ingestion of potentially harmful foods. I thought about it and did some research and found that it really did depend on what the mother’s diet was that was breastfeeding her child. The article I read also found a link between breast milk flavor and what a child’s food preference would be in the future. Researchers suggest that flavors from varieties of food transferred through breast milk can have an influence on the foods children will eat in their transition to eating solid foods. The article discusses how infants can develop early food acceptance patterns if the mother’s diet includes a variety of foods.

Here are the interesting articles I read:

Breast Milk Flavor May Affect How a Child Eats

Food Acceptance Patterns

Tastes and smells

I for one do not see myself as a picky eater, growing up my mother thought otherwise. In class we learned about how the textures, smells, and tastes of foods can trigger what we like and what we don’t like. Sometimes the nastiest looking food could be the best food you ever tasted! I for one HATE the feeling of jell-o, pudding, or yogurt. It may smell good and even at times look good but when I put it in my mouth the feeling is gagging. Just to have that slimy and jiggling feeling in my mouth should be something no one should feel. Now smelling food is different. I think sauerkraut has an awful smell but taste so good, but if you bring melon or cantaloupe near me I will flip! They smell so bad I’ve tried liking it but I can’t. If any other fruit comes near it I can taste it right when I bite into it and can’t eat it.

Parents have a tough time sometimes to get their kids to eat the foods they provide them. Nutrition is important to a growing kid and thankfully these days there are certain drinks parents can give their kids to fill in the gaps of fruits and vegetables kids won’t eat. Many kids just look at a food and because the way is looks or smells will not touch it. Peas for an example they are little, green, bumpy balls, and to a kid it may look interesting to try. But wants it goes in the taste and texture is disapproving therefore they may think all green things taste the same. Some parents though think of cute little ways to get their children to eat foods. My favorite is from the scene of A Christmas Story; Randy won’t eat his food and makes a little jingle, “Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf. I hate meatloaf.” Than Mrs. Parker thinks of a way he will eat it by making him think he is a “little piggy”.


Recently in the book I read about drugs and alcohol and how it affects the brain. Last semester I did research on women and what the alcohol consumption men want actually want them to drink. On college campus there are often social gatherings where drugs and alcohol can be found; some people use this as a way to fit in. I think women think with their brains and not with their hearts with it comes to social drinking. Alcohol misuse and abuse has been happening on college campuses for decades now. People know the effect alcohol has on the human body but still consume it. The study conducted by Jessica Cail, Justin F. Hummer, Joseph W. LaBric, and Andrew Lac (2009) researches how women drink more than they did in the past.

There have been plenty of studies that have proven that women physiological make up can’t tolerate consuming the same amount of alcohol as men’s can. In this study women were asked how much alcohol they think men like women to drink. Men were asked how much alcohol they prefer women to drink. Both sexes’ answers were compared and contrasted. They hypothesized that female college students would overestimate the amount of alcohol that male students want them to drink, and that these expectations would be associated with their drinking behavior over and above their perceptions of other women’s drinking. (p. 158).

Women who drink more to for social status will be shocked to learn that men prefer women who drink lighter at social events. The study found that college women do overestimate the amount of alcohol male peers want a college woman to drink. Results showed that men preferred women who they were dating to drink less than their friends and sexual partners. One suggestion for this result may be men don’t want their significant other drinking more at social events around their peers. Alcohol affects women differently than it does men. A drunken girlfriend may be more of an embarrassment than if the female was a friend or sexual partner. Results also show that women believe men like when women drink at risky levels. Women need to remember their appearance is a representation of their self worth.

Cail, J., Hummer, J., LaBric, J., & Lac, A. (2009). What men want: the role of reflective opposite- sex normative preferences in alcohol use among college women., 23 (1), 157-162.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Usually when we are hungry, our stomachs make funny noises like "growling" by telling us so.  When we are full, we can usually feel pretty content with the amount of food we have consumed.  In our notes, we saw a chart that showed the ratings of hunger, the desire to eat, and the amount expected to eat increased with hours of deprivation and decreased with eating.

Feeling full is somewhat of a different story.  It takes your body about 15-20 minutes until you realize that you are actually full.  So, if you consume your food at a slower pace, you will know when it is that you are feeling full and content.  Some of us love food so much, including sweets, fats and the food we "know and love," that we enjoy eating so much more and consume much more than what we really should be taking in.  

You're favorite food is placed in front of you right now.  How delicious does it smell?  Can you taste it already?  This is better known as our Cephalic responses.  These are the physiological reactions to the sight and aroma of food.  Seeing and smelling the food makes us even more hungry, maybe sometimes makes us salivate, and even gets our insulin going.  

Remember the clip of the bottomless soup?  This goes to say that the more food a person is given, the more food a person will eat.  If it is in front of us, it is natural for us to eat it....and keep eating and eating and eating.  The people who were given the bottomless soup bowls ate much more than those who had the regular bowls.  This is another reason that so many people in our country are overweight.  We are given such large portions in today's day and age, that if we are even given "smaller" portions (NORMAL SIZE PORTIONS!), we are not satisfied and only want to eat more.

There is a saying that says, "Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs."  This is another way of saying that you desire more than you can actually eat or handle.  I, like others, do this so often that it has become sort of a habit.  Many of us eat whenever it is convenient, not necessarily on some type of schedule, so when it actually comes time to eat, we feel the need to load up on so much food, when in reality- we will only eat a portion of it (Unless, however, we devour it within 5 minutes!).  


Portion Control

As discussed in class today, environment does play a significant role on our food consumption. I researched an article that compared the restaurant food portions of the United States with France. Findings show that although France may consume higher amounts of fat, food portions are significantly smaller. The size of American food portions at restaurants contribute greatly to the obesity epidemic. When one is out at a restaurant with friends, or family members their capacity to eat will be greater because eating becomes an entertaining factor. One will more likely continue to eat even though they are full.

Check out the article on American Portions and France Portions:

I used to be one to eat late at night and have three large meals instead of smaller meals, but I successfully changed my eating patterns. I now eat slower and smaller meals during the course of the day. By eating slower it decreases my food intake because I learned in previous psychology courses that it takes twenty minutes for the brain to realize that your stomach is full.