The Struggle of Self-Control

Food cravings – we all get them. But why are some so hard to control? While the answer to this question may seemingly be that we crave the foods we love most and cannot get enough of them simply because they taste so great, the science behind cravings is actually much more complicated. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), published a study in 2002 that investigated the neurological connections between food-addiction and dopamine, one of the brain’s neurotransmitters that help to control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. She found that when people were presented with their favorite foods, but not allowed to eat them, they experienced dopamine surges through the part of their brains involved with wanting and craving called the striatum area. In addition, the dopamine traveled through the areas of their brain that is involved in habit and addiction.

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Ask the Expert—Dr. Izzy Lira

Q: I’m thinking of supplementing my diet with protein drinks. Can you provide some insight into the different types?

A: The types of protein used in protein powders can be divided into two categories: protein from animals and protein from vegetables. Animal proteins include milk protein derivatives like whey and casein, goat’s milk, and egg white protein. Vegetable proteins include soy, rice, pea, and hemp proteins.

Nutritionally and taste-wise, animal proteins are superior to vegetable proteins and far more popular, especially whey protein. Before whey gained popularity, egg white protein was the favored form of protein supplement because

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Ask the Expert—Erin Holt

Q:Do you have any tips for having a positive body image? I have struggled with it for years and I’m exhausted.

A: Self-Acceptance is an ACTION.

Imagine you’re standing in front of a full-length mirror. Naked. You have been asked to gaze at yourself for two minutes.

Now take a quick inventory of the feelings that were aroused by this suggestion. Did you feel curious or afraid? Interested or hesitant? Willing or unwilling? Or did you reject the whole idea as something you would absolutely never do? Imagining the experience gives you an indication of your level of self-acceptance. Actually doing it will tell you even more.

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Food for Mood

A recent survey found that rude behavior is more common now than it was 30 years ago. Another study found 16 million Americans admitting to having occasional explosive outbursts of rage. Although there are inherent mental disorders that are not caused by diet, there are studies that point to the food-mood connection.

Sociologists and nutritionists blame two factors: the mounting stresses of modern life and the deterioration in eating habits. Unfortunately, the more stressed we get (and who doesn’t experience stress in their life), the more our eating habits slide. We skip meals or delay them until our hunger is so strong that the nearest fast food find seems like the easiest and quickest response.

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10 Steps to Help You Get Ready for Spring Break

Some how it happens every year- one minute you are wearing layer upon layer, feasting on comfort food and sipping hot cocoa near a warm fire on the couch, and the next the sun has reappeared and it is time to slip back into that itty-bitty bikini. No matter how hard we try, it seems that those itty-bitty bikinis become even more itty-bitty after a holiday season’s worth of lounging and indulging. While it is important to enjoy and indulge during the holidays, moderation is key in order to avoid falling into “panic mode” weeks before Spring Break.

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Television Epidemic

Television entertainment is one of America’s favorite past-times. With the average U.S. adult spending about five hours per day in front of the TV, it comes as no surprise that children are beginning to fall into this pattern as well. While television can be very useful at times for busy parents who need help keeping their children busy, in excess it can be extremely destructive to a child’s wellbeing. The Harvard School of Public Health has conducted studies that have found a strong association between the rising childhood obesity rates and the increasingly extended periods of time that children are spending sitting in front of the TV. They found that the more TV children watch, the more likely they are to be at risk for obesity throughout their childhood, as well as adulthood.

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A Minimal Commitment

The past two months, my training partner and running coach Rob DeCou has written about minimalist training for the “Are You Tough Enough?” ultramarathon. Yeah, that means I am the poor schmuck that got talked into running a 65-mile foot race through the mountains behind Santa Barbara. No, I’m not exactly sure what I have gotten myself into. And yes, I do know that we are crazy.

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