Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Manipulating Thoughts

As a human being, one of the few things you have some control over are your thoughts. Oh, you don't always choose every thought that come racing into conscious awareness, but as soon as you become aware of it you can make a choice. You can choose to wallow in whatever thought crossed your mind, hang onto it, ponder it, and make yourself almost sick (if it is a negative thought). That's definitely one option and many people select it, seeming to get some type of perverse pleasure in wallowing in loss and scarcity. There is another option, however. You can recognize the negative thought and say to yourself, "Oh, there's that old thought again. Let it go. Instead, you are thinking that although everyone experiences some loss in life, there are many other people who are still alive on this planet. There is still life out there. The best thing about the past is that it is in the past; the best thing about the future is that it is waiting right in front of you." Studies have shown that self-talk can be more effective when using the word "you" rather than "I." It's a way to depersonalize thoughts a bit and picture yourself collaborating with your brain to achieve a happy and productive life right now.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bandler's Suggestions

Bandler's view on how to recover successfully  from the death of a loved one has a lot to do with the pictures you place in working memory. Now that we know more about mirror neurons, that makes sense. For example, first, recall all the memories you can of the person who has died. Next sort through them and select all the good and happy memories. Put those in working memory and experience them as if they are happening right now in the present and in life-sized living color.  Choose to be happy in the midst of all those good memories, knowing that you carry them within you and will have them the rest of your life. You can access them any time you choose. Then, take a look at some of the sad pictures, but rather than viewing them in life-sized living color, see them with you present in the picture as if you were viewing them on a small black-and-white phone or iPad screen. As you look at the small B&W pictures, imagine that they are becoming even smaller; so small they are rather difficult to see. You can look at them any time you choose but how much more rewarding to look at the happy pictures in life-sized living color instead. Finally, see yourself honoring the memory of your loved one by living as fully and happily in the present as possible. Whenever you feel down with sad memories, repeat this process.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grief Recovery

It can be difficult to recover from the death of a person you love, especially if it is a drawn-out death. And  many people can get :stuck: recalling the funeral or memorial service, putting those pictures in working memory as if it is happening again now.  I was speaking with a man whose wife had died five years ago and he was caught in this grieving cycle. During our conversation I recalled the name of  David Bandler. You may know his as the father and co-creator of Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP. While not minimizing the pain of losing a loved one and of trying to get through the pain of death, he pointed out to individuals that the way in which they view their memories has a great deal to do with successful recovery. Hard as it may be to swallow, he also pointed out that to continue to remain stuck -- instead of healing and enjoying the people who are still alive -- is less than honoring to the memory of their loved one. Doing something to make a difference on this planet, in the name of their loved one, is much more desirable. More tomorrow.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Exercise and Blood Sugar

Back to the China Study and the benefits of exercise and managing one's blood sugar. Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said that lifestyle is the best medicine has been established by an impressively consistent array of research findings spanning populations and decades. Not only that, careful attention to eating well, being active, controlling weight, and avoiding tobacco has been shown to reduce the lifetime risk of all major chronic disease by 80 percent. "This study shows first, that an intervention focused particularly on diabetes prevention has generalized benefits," Katz said. "This is not very surprising, since the causal and protective factors for all of the prevalent chronic diseases are interrelated. The same diet and activity pattern that helps prevent diabetes does the same for cardiovascular disease," he added. "Second, and more surprising, this study suggests that a robust lifestyle intervention program of sufficient duration is a gift that keeps on giving, conferring benefit for years after it concludes," Katz said. "This offers important promise with regard to the cost-effectiveness of such interventions." So if you've been wondering whether developing a high-level-healthiness lifestyle is worth the work, my brain's opinion is "yes."  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure . . .
Guangwei Li, M.D., department of endocrinology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn.; April 3, 2014, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, online.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Glycemic Load (GL)

In America, as in some other countries, the serving size provided in many restaurants is enormous. Yes, you pay for the increased size and you pay for it not just in money. You pay in calories. The Glycemic Load (GL) of a food is an estimate of how much of that specific food raises blood glucose based on serving size.  The charts I've noticed use either one cup or a single average-sized fruit or present the GI or GL in terms of half a cup or a single small-sized fruit. Dried fruits are something else, however. Dried fruit listings are more likely to be ¼ cup because of density. Remember, think about your meal as a whole. Some foods in that meal will have a higher GI and/or a higher Glycemic Load. What is the average for the meal? It is low, medium, or high? If you google Glycemic Index or Glycemic Load, you can often find a great deal of helpful information on the internet. Be sure to note serving size so you can compare using some type of standardization. Did the chart use one cup or half a cup as the standardized comparison. Avoid agonizing over a specific food. For example, I love medjool dates. Yes, they contain glucose but they’re also reputed to have five times more protein than most other fruit. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one pitted date contains about 1.6 grams of fiber, which is 6% of the recommended daily intake. Because they are high in protein and fiber, dates can actually help curb hunger pangs.  Harvard Health Publications give dried dates, which are higher in sugar than fresh dates, a relatively low GI value of 42. When at home, I enjoy one or two medjools most days and usually have a couple of almonds at the same time to balance them out. And because my brain doesn’t feel deprived of something it loves, there is no push to overeat. Some of these tools can help you make healthy mindset decisions about what you put into your body. And Calories? More about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Glycemic Index GI)

Do you  use information from the Glycemic Index (GI) to help you select the foods you eat on a regular basis. The GI rates foods to show how much they raise blood sugar levels. The higher the blood sugar rise, the higher the position of the food on the Glycemic Index. Pure glucose, which I think of as pure refined sugar, has a GI of 100. No surprise, candy, sugar, cake, cookies, donuts and so on have a high GI, while many vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains have a lower GI. Different foods have differing effects on blood sugar levels and the effects can vary considerably. Some foods even have a range of GI numbers, depending on several factors. For example, sometimes how long a food is cooked can influence the GI. Pasta cooked ‘al dente’ has a lower GI than when it is cooked longer to softness. The riper the banana the higher the GI, because glucose content increases with ripeness. Sweet potatoes are lower on the GI than white potatoes. However, the way in which both types of potatoes are prepared can impact their position. I do not carry a GI with me when I grocery shop because I have a general sense of the position on the GI of common foods. For example, a plain baked version of either will have a much lower GI than those that are deep fried or slathered in butter or sour cream. The serving size can make a differences, as well. I've learned to pay attention to serving size. That's sometimes referred to as Glycemic Load (GL).  More on that tomorrow. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Diabetes Prevention and Stroke #2

Guangwei Li, M.D. and David Katz, M.D., M.P.H. followed 438 Chinese people with high blood sugar for 29 years (and compared them with a control group). The 438 individuals followed a nutrition and exercise program for six years and then were followed by researchers for an additional twenty-three years. What did they find? The incidence of death from cardiovascular disease in the control group who did not change their lifestyles was nearly 20% compared with only 12% in the study group. Death from any cause was about 38% in the control group and only 28% in the study group. (Note: previous research has shown that for people with type 2 diabetes, the risk of dying from heart conditions and stroke is more than twice that of people without diabetes.) According to Dr. Li, "These [new] findings provide yet further justification to implement lifestyle interventions in people with high blood sugar, as clinical and public health measures to control the long-term consequences of diabetes."
Guangwei Li, M.D., department of endocrinology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing; David Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, New Haven, Conn.; April 3, 2014, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, online.