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mind less eating


A food psychologist has found that people overeat unconsciously, due to numerous factors. Studies show that larger plates result in larger servings. Also, watching television while eating leads to people eating 40 percent more food.

America is a nation of over-eaters. But according to one food expert, the reason we eat too much is all in our heads.

Busy lifestyles cause many people to over-eat without noticing. A problem Brian Wansink, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, calls “mindless eating.”

“We’re a nation of mindless eaters. We do so many things during the day that when it comes to food we can just nibble and nibble and nibble, and eat and eat and eat.” Dr. Wansink said.

Dr. Wansink says the mind is to blame for over eating, not always the stomach. And just choosing a different plate could stop over indulgence.

“Our studies show the bigger the plate is, the more people serve, typically to the level of about 25 to 28 percent more,” Dr. Wansink said.

Six ounces of pasta on an eight-inch plate, looks normal. But that same serving on a bigger plate barely looks like an appetizer — causing many people to dish out more. “The best way to mindlessly eat less is to get rid of your large plates, or get rid of your large serving bowls,” Dr. Wansink said.

Distracted television viewers also don’t pay attention to what’s in front of them. Studies show over 40 percent more food is eaten while watching TV.

“We often end up eating more because we simply eat to the pace of the program, or we eat until the program is over.” Dr. Wansink said.

Brian has made a career watching how people behave around food. His best advice? Don’t be fooled by hidden dangers of food and packaging.

BACKGROUND: Brian Wansink is a food psychologist at Cornell University who focuses on the how and why people eat. For instance, he can tell you if you get more beer from a tall skinny glass or a short fat glass. His Food and Brand Lab tries to help people eat more nutritiously and to help control how much they eat. An additional focus is on increasing the acceptance of soy foods and the consumption of fruits and vegetables. He oversees a series of test kitchens, restaurants and cooperating grocery stores to understand how consumers “choose and use” foods.

SIZE (AND SHAPE) MATTERS: Wansink and his colleagues conducted two studies of 167 people demonstrating that both children and adults pour and consume more juice when given a short, wide glass compared to those given a tall, narrow glass – although they believed the opposite to be true. Those with the short wide glasses poured 76% more juice than those with the tall slender glasses. The bias is caused by a visual illusion known as the vertical-horizontal illusion: we tend to focus on heights instead of widths, so we are more likely to over-pour into wide glasses while thinking we poured very little because of the shorter height.

FAT-FREE ISN’T CALORIE-FREE: Wansink has also found that people will eat more of a snack – even one they don’t like very much – if it is labeled “low fat.” IN fact, low-fat cookies, for example, only have about 30% fewer calories than regular cookies, while low-fat granola only has 12% fewer calories. In one study, people given low-fat granola ate 35% more – 192 extra calories – than those who thought they were eating regular granola. The low-fat label leads people to mindlessly overeat a product, while believing they are being “health-conscious.” Wansink’s advice: if you’re going to indulge, eat something you truly enjoy – just eat half as much of it.

SEE WHAT YOU EAT: The human stomach isn’t designed to keep accurate track of how much we have eaten. In fact, it takes about 20 minutes after we eat before our stomachs register that we are “full.” Visual cues are critical to controlling our much we eat, according to Wansink. Students participating in an all-you-can-eat chicken wing buffet ate continually if their tables were continually cleared, because they couldn’t see how many they’d already consumed. Here’s a handy tip for your next buffet: people who put everything on their plate before they sit down to eat – including dessert – eat about 14% less than people who take smaller amounts and go back for seconds or thirds. He also advises people not to eat snacks out of the box; put it into a separate dish and leave the box in the kitchen. You will eat less if you can see how much you’ve already eaten.

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6 Steps to Finding New Love


6 Steps to Finding New Love

by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

6 Steps to Finding New Love If your relationship has ended, you might be nervous about dipping your feet in the dating pool. Or you might worry that you’ll never find love again. Maybe you’ve even assumed that you’re just unlucky when it comes to love.

Relationship and family therapist Terri Orbuch, Ph.D, often hears people say they’ve lost hope. But she wants individuals to know that it’s absolutely possible to find a fulfilling partnership. For instance, in her 25-year study of 373 married couples, Orbuch found that 71 percent of divorced singles found love again.

Also, love has very little to do with luck. In fact, “there is a method to the love madness,” said Orbuch, who’s also author of the recently published book Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship.

She believes in working from the inside out. Before pursuing a new relationship, Orbuch stresses the importance of working on your own beliefs, emotions, behaviors and sense of self. She helps readers do just that in Finding Love Again, along with offering tips on everything from first dates to building a strong relationship.

Below, Orbuch discussed her six steps for seeking and finding a great relationship.

 

1. Adjust your expectations.

“Forget everything you know about relationships,” Orbuch said. That’s because you might be holding onto certain relationship myths and unrealistic expectations, which can set you up for failure and frustration, she said. (Frustration also can eat away at your happiness, according to Orbuch.)

For instance, it’s unrealistic to think that your partner will automatically know what you want and need — even after many years of marriage, Orbuch said. In the beginning, people simply don’t know each other that well, while over the years, people naturally change, and so do their wants and needs. (Remember that no one is a mind reader. If you want or need something, Orbuch said, you have to ask for it.)

Another common myth is that there’s a specific amount of time you have to wait before you start dating. However, according to Orbuch, there’s no scientific evidence to substantiate a certain timeframe. “Everyone is different.” Some people are ready to date right after a relationship ends, while others need more time to heal, she said.

2. Start with a clean slate.

In her study, Orbuch found that divorced singles who didn’t feel anything for their ex were more likely to find love. “In order to find love again, you need to emotionally separate or detach from previous or past relationships,” she said.

Remaining emotionally attached to the past prevents you from being fully present — and trusting someone else — and keeps you trapped in a cycle of negativity, she said. Everyone has emotional baggage. The key is to make sure that your baggage isn’t too heavy, she said.

For instance, in the book, Orbuch includes a helpful quiz with questions such as: Do you still keep photos of your ex, compare others to them or visit their social media sites?

According to Orbuch, one way to become emotionally neutral is to release your emotions in healthy ways, such as engaging in physical activities and social events; volunteering; writing an honest letter to your ex (that you never send); and getting creative with activities such as painting, gardening and playing music. What also helps is to share your story with loved ones and seek their support, she said.

3. Shake up your routine.

Orbuch suggested making one small and simple change and committing to it for 21 days. In her study, she found that divorced singles who cut their work hours by at least one hour a day were more likely to find love. Changing your routine can open up new opportunities to meet people and even revise how you see yourself, according to Orbuch.

4. Discover the real you.

After your relationship ends, “you need to step back and re-examine you,” Orbuch said. Before you can determine if you’re compatible with someone, you need to know who you really are, she said.

Your past relationship probably shaped your personality and preferences in some way. You no doubt compromised, changed and accepted certain traits, she said.

As Orbuch writes in her book, “Singles who find a long-lasting, successful partnership have one trait in common: they put the focus on who they are and what they want, rather than worrying about what others will think.”

To find out who you are, define your key life values. What matters most to you? For instance, how important is faith, your job or your health?

Orbuch also suggested making a list of the qualities you’d like in your partner — and to be specific. For instance, as she writes in the book, by “funny,” do you mean you’d like your partner to have a dry sense of humor or tell jokes or something else entirely? Getting specific helps you reflect and consider the true qualities you’d like in a mate — and not waste your time, she writes.

5. Start dating.

Again, it’s important to be hopeful. The divorced singles in Orbuch’s study who were hopeful were much more likely to find love.

In the beginning of your relationship, you want to “disclose or share parts of yourself gradually,” Orbuch said. Don’t spill your guts right away. This might seem obvious, but many people do just that: They reveal everythingimmediately because they assume that if their date or partner doesn’t like what they hear, then it’s “Too bad,” and they’re on to the next person, she said.

But a lot of information is overwhelming for anyone, especially when it’s about topics like your ex, kids and finances, she said.

Don’t try to sell yourself, either, Orbuch said. Dating isn’t about winning someone’s approval; it’s about about finding out if you’re compatible.

6. Determine if you’re in the right relationship, and keep it strong.

When evaluating your relationship, Orbuch suggests considering the following: Do you think in terms of “we” or “I”? Do you trust each other? Do you share similar values? Do you handle conflict effectively?

To keep your relationship strong, “empty your pet peeves pail frequently,” she said. Small annoyances add up — and can damage your relationship — so talk to your partner about what bothers you.

Also, “make sure that you recognize and affirm each other frequently over time,” she said. It’s all too easy to put your relationship on the back burner when other people and tasks require your immediate attention, such as your kids, parents, jobs, health and finances, she said. But just a sweet phrase or small behavior can go a long way.

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In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers’ Judgments


English: Sagittal MRI slice with highlighting ...

English: Sagittal MRI slice with highlighting (red) indicating the nucleus accumbens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The study, by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Georgia State University, appears in the July/August 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at mostly White psychiatrically healthy Americans ages 9 to 17 to determine what happens in the brains of preteens and teens at a time of significant change in social behavior. The youths looked at photos of peers and rated their interest in interacting with each one. Then they underwent a brain scan while reviewing the pictures and rated how much each young person in the picture might want to interact with them in return. The youths were told they would be matched with a peer for a chat after the scan.

The study found that in older girls (as compared to younger girls), brain regions (the nucleus accumbens, insula, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala) associated with social rewards and motivation, processing emotions, hormonal changes, and social memory responded differently when they thought about being judged by their peers, especially peers with whom they wanted to interact. These differences were not evident between younger and older boys.

“The findings offer a fresh perspective on how changes in the brain relate to changes in the way young people think and feel about how their peers view them,” according to Amanda E. Guyer, a research fellow at NIMH, who led the study. “They are relevant for parents, teachers, and clinicians who are trying to help teens adjust socially during adolescence. They may be especially relevant for girls, who are more likely than boys to feel anxious and depressed at this time.”

via In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers’ Judgments.

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Minor Stressful Events Can Cause Major Emotional Reactions


Minor Stressful Events Can Cause Major Emotional Reactions | Psych Central News

Minor Stressful Events Can Cause Major Emotional Reactions
By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 13, 2012
New research suggests that our response to stress may at times be overexaggerated because of the evolutionary development of the brain linking emotional responses to perceptions of stress.

As a result, mildly stressful situations can affect our perceptions in the same way as life-threatening ones.

In the study, researchers studied the effects of money loss — a stressful event for most everyone. Money loss, real or perceived, can cause significant outcomes as financial loss can lead to irrational behavior.

Researchers determined that the stress inflicted by a financial loss can alter our sense of reality, interfering with a true grasp of the situation.

The findings, found in the Journal of Neuroscience, may also have implications for our understanding of the neurological mechanisms underlying post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the study, researchers trained subjects using a classical conditioning method on situations involving money.

Subjects were asked to listen to a series of tones composed of three different notes. After hearing one note, they were told they had earned a certain sum; after a second note, they were informed that they had lost some of their money; and a third note was followed by the message that their bankroll would remain the same.

Researchers discovered subjects improved their ability to distinguish the musical notes when a note was tied to a gain, or at least to no loss. But when they heard the “lose money” note, they actually got worse at telling one note from the other.

As part of the study, researchers used functional MRI (fMRI) scans to observe brain areas involved in the learning task. Investigators discovered the amygdala, an area of the brain known to be associated with emotions, was strongly involved during the learning process.

Researchers also noted activity in another area in the front of the brain, which functions to moderate or lessen the emotional response. Subjects who exhibited stronger activity in this area showed less of a drop in their abilities to distinguish between tones.

Neuroscientist and chief investigator Rony Paz, Ph.D., said the research demonstrates the evolutionary aspects of the brain in response to stress.

Our brain has been trained to blur certain inputs – if the best response to the growl of a lion is to run quickly, it would be counterproductive to distinguish between different pitches of growl. Any similar sound should make us flee without thinking, Paz said.

“Unfortunately, that same blurring mechanism can be activated today in stress-inducing situations that are not life-threatening – like losing money – and this can harm us.”

An overreaction to stress may be quite serious. For instance, it may be involved in post-traumatic stress disorder. If sufferers are unable to distinguish between a stimulus that should cause a panic response and similar, but non-threatening, stimuli, they may experience strong emotional reactions in inappropriate situations.

This perceptional blurring may even expand over time to encompass a larger range of stimuli detrimentally expanding the stress response.

According to Paz, future research in planned to investigate this possibility in future research.

Source: Weizmann Institute

Stressed out man photo by shutterstock.

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6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently


6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently

6 Ways Men and Women Communicate Differently
By YOURTANGO EXPERTS

This guest article from YourTango was written by Richard Drobnick.

Men and women are different in many ways. They see the world through completely different perspectives. The key to understanding their differences is in the way that men and women communicate.

Here are six important communication differences that you should be aware of, to help improve your communications with your partner and make them smoother and more effective.

1. Why Talk?

He believes communication should have a clear purpose. Behind every conversation is a problem that needs solving or a point that needs to be made. Communication is used to get to the root of the dilemma as efficiently as possible.

She uses communication to discover how she is feeling and what it is she wants to say. She sees conversation as an act of sharing and an opportunity to increase intimacy with her partner. Through sharing, she releases negative feelings and solidifies her bond with the man she loves.

2. How Much Should You Say?

He prioritizes productivity and efficiency in his daily life, and conversation is no exception. When he tells a story he has already sorted through the muck in his own head, and shares only those details that he deems essential to the point of the story. He might wonder, “Why do women need to talk as much as they do?” Often he will interrupt a woman once he has heard enough to offer a solution.

She uses communication to explore and organize her thoughts — to discover the point of the story. She may not know what information is necessary or excessive until the words come spilling out. But a woman isn’t necessarily searching for a solution when she initiates a conversation. She’s looking for someone to listen and understand what she’s feeling.

3. What Does It Mean To Listen?

He is conditioned to listen actively. When a woman initiates conversation he assumes she is seeking his advice or assistance. He engages with the woman, filtering everything she’s saying through the lens of, “What can we actually do about this?” Learning to listen patiently — not just passively — doesn’t come easily to him.

She sees conversation as a productive end in and of itself. If she feels sufficiently heard or understood she may not need to take further action to resolve a problem or “make things better.” The fact that she has been listened to assuages her anxieties and dulls the pangs of negative feelings. Sharing with someone who understands and loves her heals her from the inside and equips her with the emotional tools necessary to handle the trials and tribulations of the outside world.

4. When She Is Feeling Down …

He will want to tackle her problems head on, like a fireman. He feels impatient to put the fire out as quickly as possible. For him, the quickest way to put the fire out is by giving solutions. Because he wants so badly to provide for his spouse, he may take her mood personally and defend himself. He might hear things literally, not realizing that when his spouse is upset she will use words as tools to explore and express difficult emotions.

By using words as tools to explore and express her difficult emotions when she is upset, she is able to process her negative emotions and let them go. She values support and nurture, and is most fulfilled by sharing, cooperation and community. When he shows interest in her by asking caring questions or expressing heartfelt concerns she feels loved and cared for. He is fulfilling her first primary love need.

5. When He Is Feeling Down …

He will often withdraw into his “cave” (becoming quiet and withdrawn) when he’s upset or stressed. A man’s “cave time” is like a short vacation: he reduces stress by forgetting about his problems and focusing on other things like watching television, reading the newspaper, or playing video games.

He might avoid communication with his spouse during times of duress. If she persists with nurturing questions or criticism, he withdraws even further, fearing that his partner doesn’t trust him to take care of business on his own. However, with her support and understanding, a man will return and be more emotionally available, caring, and loving.

She might interpret her spouse’s silence as a sign that she is failing him or that she’s losing him. She instinctively tries to nurture him through his problems by asking an abundance of caring questions. Or she may react defensively out of fear that her own need for healthy open communication is not being respected within the relationship.

Ultimately, she can do more for him by appreciating his space, which shows him that she trusts him to work out the problem on his own. Trusting is one of the greatest gifts she has to offer him. In the meantime she should do something nurturing for herself, so she won’t resent him when he emerges from his “cave time.”

6. Communication Breaks Down When …

He feels like he’s being told what to do. The most important thing to a man is doing a good job. When his competence is questioned he’ll not only feel hurt, but he’ll throw up a wall of resistance, and communication begins to breakdown. He thrives in an environment where he’s the expert. Rather than being told, “You should do X” he is likely to respond better to, “What do you think of X?” The trick to improving him is to resist telling him what to do.

She hears from her spouse that her problems aren’t as real and pressing as they seem in that very moment. Her spouse may mistakenly think he’s being helpful in providing “reality checks” like: “You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill” or “You’re getting overly emotional about it.” To her it feels like he is attempting to minimize her feelings or talk her out of having them.

Men and women desire to satisfy their partners, but they may miss the mark because it is truly difficult to understand and accept our partner’s different ways of communication. Men and women need education on these differences to help their relationships, so they do not end up in a frustrated state of resentment and feel stuck.

If a couple is feeling stuck, I suggest they read or listen to couples self-help books together. If the couple still feels stuck, then they should always seek professional counseling and get back on the road to better understanding and communication.

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Learning Works Best When You Rest


Learning Works Best When You Rest | Psych Central News

Learning Works Best When You Rest
By JANICE WOOD Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 25, 2012
A new study shows that sleeping soon after learning new material is best for recall.

Notre Dame psychologist Jessica Payne and colleagues studied 207 students who habitually slept for at least six hours each night. Participants were randomly assigned to study declarative, semantically related or unrelated word pairs at 9 a.m. or 9 p.m., and returned for testing 30 minutes, 12 hours or 24 hours later.

Declarative memory refers to the ability to consciously remember facts and events. It can be broken down into memory for events — known as episodic memory — and semantic memory, which is memory for facts about the world.

People routinely use both types of memory every day, such as recalling where we parked or learning how a colleague prefers to be addressed, Payne said.

At the 12-hour retest, memory was superior following a night of sleep compared to a day of wakefulness, she said.

However, this performance difference was a result of a pronounced deterioration in memory for unrelated word pairs, she said, noting there was no difference for related word pairs. At the 24-hour retest, with all subjects having received both a full night of sleep and a full day of wakefulness, memories were superior when sleep occurred shortly after learning, rather than following a full day of wakefulness.

“Our study confirms that sleeping directly after learning something new is beneficial for memory,” she said. “What’s novel about this study is that we tried to shine light on sleep’s influence on both types of declarative memory by studying semantically unrelated and related word pairs.”

“Since we found that sleeping soon after learning benefited both types of memory, this means that it would be a good thing to rehearse any information you need to remember just prior to going to bed,” she continued. “In some sense, you may be ‘telling’ the sleeping brain what to consolidate.”

Titled “Memory for Semantically Related and Unrelated Declarative Information: The Benefit of Sleep, the Cost of Wake,” the study was published March 22 in PLOS One.

Source: University of Notre Dame

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Sad Movies Make Many People Happy


Sad Movies Make Many People Happy | Psych Central News

Sad Movies Make Many People Happy
By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 28, 2012
New research helps explains why many people enjoy watching tragic movies or plays. Apparently, the emotional connection evoked by such stories helped viewers better appreciate their own close relationships, which in turn boosted their life happiness.

Thus, the paradox is that what seems like a negative experience — watching a sad story — can make people happier by bringing attention to some positive aspects in their own lives.

Tragic stories often focus on themes of eternal love, and this leads viewers to think about their loved ones and count their blessings,” said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

Researchers found movies that cause a viewer to think about their own situation and relationships are powerful.

Investigators found that the more an individual thought about their loved ones during the movie — in this case, the 2007 film “Atonement,” based on the award-winning novel by Ian McEwan — the greater the increase in their happiness.

However, viewers who had self-centered thoughts concerning the movie — such as “My life isn’t as bad as the characters in this movie” — did not see an increase in their happiness.

Knobloch-Westerwick said this study is one of the first to take a scientific approach to explaining why people enjoy fictional tragedies that make them sad.

“Philosophers have considered this question over the millennia, but there hasn’t been much scientific attention to the question,” she said.

Researchers studied 361 college students who viewed an abridged version of  “Atonement,” which involves two lovers who are separated and die as war casualties. Before and after viewing the movie, the respondents were asked several questions which measured how happy they were with their life.

They were also asked before, after and three times during the movie to rate how much they were feeling various emotions, including sadness.

After the movie, participants rated how much they enjoyed the movie and wrote about how the movie had led them to reflect on themselves, their goals, their relationships and life in general.

What people wrote about as a result of seeing the movie was a key in understanding why people enjoy viewing fictional tragedies, Knobloch-Westerwick said. People who experienced a greater increase in sadness while watching the movie were more likely to write about real people with whom they had close relationships, she said.

This in turn, increased participants’ life happiness after viewing, which was then related to more enjoyment of the movie.

“People seem to use tragedies as a way to reflect on the important relationships in their own life, to count their blessings,” she said. “That can help explain why tragedies are so popular with audiences, despite the sadness they induce.”

Surprisingly, the perception that movies may make people feel more happiness because they compare themselves to the characters portrayed and feel good that their own lives are not as bad — was not the case.

People whose thoughts after the movie were about themselves — rather than about their close relationships — did not experience an increase in life happiness.

“Tragedies don’t boost life happiness by making viewers think more about themselves. They appeal to people because they help them to appreciate their own relationships more,” she said.

But why would people have to get sad by watching a tragedy to feel grateful about relationships in their own lives? Knobloch-Westerwick said this fits with research in psychology that suggests negative moods make people more thoughtful.

Positive emotions are generally a signal that everything is fine, you don’t have to worry, you don’t have to think about issues in your life,” she said.

“But negative emotions, like sadness, make you think more critically about your situation. So seeing a tragic movie about star-crossed lovers may make you sad, but that will cause you to think more about your own close relationships and appreciate them more.”

Research has also shown that relationships are generally the major source of happiness in our lives, so it is no surprise that thinking about your loved ones would make you happier, she said.

“Tragedies bring to mind close relationships, which makes us happy.”

Source: Ohio State University

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