Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Do We Eat? A Neurobiological Perspective. Part III

In the first post, I explained that all voluntary actions are driven by a central action selection system in the mesolimbic area (the reward system).  This is the part of you that makes the decision to act, or not to act.  This system determines your overall motivation to obtain food, based on a variety of internal and external factors, for example hunger, the effort required to obtain food, and the sensory qualities of food/drink.  These factors are recognized and processed by a number of specialized 'modules' in the brain, and forwarded to the reward system where the decision to eat, or not to eat, is made.  Researchers divide food intake into two categories: 1) eating from a true energy need by the body (homeostatic eating), e.g. hunger, and 2) eating for other reasons (non-homeostatic eating), e.g. eating for social reasons or because the food tastes really good.

In the second post of the series, we explored how the brain regulates food intake on a meal-to meal basis based on feedback from the digestive system, and how food properties can influence this process.  The integrated gut-brain system that accomplishes this can be called the satiety system.

In this post, we'll explore the energy homeostasis system, which regulates energy balance (energy in vs. energy out) and body fatness on a long term basis.

The Energy Homeostasis System

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The Wait Is Over...

WOW!! Thanks for all the love, but it is crashing the website! {Not that I am complaining for a split second} Bear with us as we regroup...
{early bird sale still in the pipeline, we just have to get the glitches out so everything is PERFECT}

Blue and White Dining Room DIY

I am crazy about this room I first saw via The Pink Pagoda. When I researched it thinking it was very expensively done, I was very pleasantly surprised. The chairs are from Ikea. I suspect they are the Harry at $49.99 that they slipcovered in a blue and white stripe. One could also use Henriksdal for $89.99 that you can get with a long white slipcover. The really big surprise is that the slipcovers were stenciled with Chinoiserie designs. A fabulous DIY. The Stencil Library has a huge selection.

Eddielicious just left a comment about a wonderful Waverly blue and white Chinoiserie toile that is an indoor/outdoor fabric that could be used for the slipcovers in lieu of stencilling at $10.98 a yard. Thanks for the great find - link and photo at bottom of post.

For the dining table you could find a great vintage version or use the classic and budget friendly West Elm Parsons Dining Table in Chocolate Oak.

Roman shades take very little fabric (usually a couple yards per window) so they are a budget friendly choice. I have shown two blue and white Chinoiserie fabrics I like, but there are many options out there in every price range.



West Elm Parsons Dining Table

Yosca Blue

Robert Allen Full Sails

Waverly Palm Palace

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Prepare for launch...

With the launch of 2013 less than 24 hours away, I wish I were feeling like the photo above. Calm. Serene. Peace. Hmmm...that would be nice. Instead, I'm feeling like this:

So I am trying to do this:

But honestly I am only thinking this:

Thank goodness the Melissa dress is out tomorrow...will hide all manner of chocolate sins from today... 
#psithaspockets we go...

Why Do We Eat? A Neurobiological Perspective. Part II

In the last post, I explained that eating behavior is determined by a variety of factors, including hunger and a number of others that I'll gradually explore as we make our way through the series.  These factors are recognized by specialized brain 'modules' and forwarded to a central action selection system in the mesolimbic area (the reward system), which determines if they are collectively sufficient cause for action.  If so, they're forwarded to brain systems that directly drive the physical movements involved in seeking and consuming food (motor systems).

The term 'homeostasis' is important in biology.  Homeostasis is a process that attempts to keep a particular factor within a certain stable range.  The thermostat in your house is an example of a homeostatic system.  It reacts to upward or downward changes in a manner that keeps temperature in a comfortable range.  The human body also contains a thermostat that keeps internal temperature close to 98.6 F.  Many things are homeostatically regulated by the body, and one of them is energy status (how much energy the body has available for use).  Homeostasis of large-scale processes in the body is typically regulated by the brain.

We can divide the factors that determine feeding behavior into two categories, homeostatic and non-homeostatic.  Homeostatic eating is when food intake is driven by a true energy need, as perceived by the brain.  For the most part, this is eating in response to hunger.  Non-homeostatic eating is when food intake is driven by factors other than energy need, such as palatability, habitual meal time, and food cues (e.g. you just walked by a vending machine full of Flamin' Hot Cheetos).

We can divide energy homeostasis into two sub-categories: 1) the system that regulates short-term, meal-to-meal calorie intake, and 2) the system that regulates fat mass, the long-term energy reserve of the human body.  In this post, I'll give an overview of the process that regulates energy homeostasis on a short-term, meal-to-meal basis.

The Satiety System (Short-Term Energy Homeostasis)

The stomach of an adult human has a capacity of 2-4 liters.  In practice, people rarely eat that volume of food.  In fact, most of us feel completely stuffed long before we've reached full stomach capacity.  Why?

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Happy Birthday Kate

 It is my wonderful daughter Kate's birthday today. Wow does time fly when you are having fun!

Readers' Requests Series - Black and Chinoiserie

Chinoiserie and black are an ideal combination of elegance and sophistication. Black may be in the form of black painted walls, Chinoiserie wallpaper, a piece of black and gold lacquered furniture, a black and white toile fabric, a Chinese screen, or perhaps Chinese Chippendale chairs. Even if you adore color, an element of black in a room is a great way to ground the space and add contrast. Check out my Pinterest board on Black and Chinoiserie for more inspiration and ideas.

The Prevention Intention: A Mental Fitness Program

 By Mike Verano

“The part can never be well, unless the whole is well.” Plato

Despite frequent reports of increasing problems with obesity, one could easily make the argument that we are a culture obsessed with being in shape. Home gym equipment, diets of all varieties, an ever-growing list of medical tests and procedures, fitness centers that are open 24 hours—we’re surrounded by tools for keeping our bodies lean and toned.

But when it comes to mental fitness and keeping the mind in shape, things get a little flabby. Although we may focus on hitting the gym everyday or walking around the neighborhood before dinner, less attention may be given to dealing with our worries, fears and sadness. And, like physical fitness, ignoring our mental health can lead to things getting much worse. Before your periodic blues turn into depression, or your occasional worries into anxiety, consider a training program for your psyche and pump up your well-being and train your brain.

Here are some go-to methods for improving mental fitness that will allow you to exercise your right to have a sane life.


How much of your time is spent waiting? Psychological waiting—the mental state of believing that your happiness, fulfillment or sanity lie somewhere off in the future—may be keeping you from a joyful life. Restore your fitness in this area by returning to the present moment whenever you feel your mind spinning off toward the future. Without the psychological pull toward the next moment, we bring the quality of mindfulness—which research shows helps reduce stress and improve self-control—into whatever we do. By simply being mindful of our breathing we can turn distractions into meditative moments, and meditation has been shown to build bigger brains.

Know Pain, Know Gain

People involved in physical exercise are often encouraged to “feel the burn.” When it comes to our mental health, however, many of us feel burnt out and go to great lengths to become emotionally numb. We think, if it hurts, it can’t be good. But the experience of having the very things we are trying to avoid come back to defeat us in the end is called “ironic rebound.” Current research in psychology reaffirms the old psychoanalytical wisdom that facing these hurts decreases the chance that we are haunted by the same old ghosts. So think instead, “What we resist persists.” If you take the time to pause and reflect rather than fight or flee, your problems no longer seem so overwhelming.

Have a Spotter

At the gym, you would never try to lift heavy weights without someone there to act as a spotter. But when it comes to mental health, many of us internalize our problems, and quickly find ourselves under tremendous strain with no one within earshot. Too many people suffer in solitude from mental or emotional burdens, which can be lightened by simply spending time with supportive, caring people. Whether that person is a therapist, life coach, pastor, rabbi or the stylist who does your hair, it’s important to have someone in your corner willing to listen and provide feedback and encouragement.

Flexibility and Balance

Techniques such as yoga, tai-chi and dancing not only aid in physical conditioning but also improve one’s flexibility and balance—important characteristics for mental health, too. “Loosen up” hits at the heart of mental flexibility. People who do well at handling life’s twists and turns have the ability to twist and turn right along with it, freeing up energy that would otherwise be used up trying to stand one’s ground while that very ground rolls under our feet.

Balance comes when we realize that living in a culture of “everything in extreme,” guarantees that our suffering also takes on an edgier quality. When we stop mistaking excitement for happiness, we find pleasures, once only a blur due to our hyper lifestyle, all around.

Just like our physical health, it’s a good idea to have regular mental health check-ups. If the idea of seeing a therapist makes you uncomfortable or wary, you can start with the following self-inventory. If you find that you answer “no” to three or more of the following statements, it might be a good idea to get a second opinion from someone trained in mental fitness.

A Mental Health Self Examination

• Do you feel good about yourself?

• I find pleasure in everyday things

• I’m able to deal with most situations without feeling overwhelmed by emotions.

• I can bounce back after a setback.

• I’m able to forgive myself when I make mistakes.

• I set realistic expectations for myself.

• Do you feel comfortable with other people?

• I am able to consider how other people think and feel.

• I have personal relationships that are positive and fulfilling.

• I am able to trust others and believe that they trust me.

• I have healthy boundaries and do not let others take advantage of me.

• I regularly seek out support from others.

• Are you able to meet life’s demands?

• I address problems when they arise.

• I feel in control of my reactions to life events.

• I feel able to make changes to my surroundings in order to meet life’s demands.

• I do not fear the future.

• I feel I have the resources and energy to take on life’s challenges.

Mike Verano is a licensed therapist and EAP Specialist with REACH EAP & Workplace Solutions. He is also a cancer survivor and, most importantly, a grandfather.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Do We Eat? A Neurobiological Perspective. Part I

As with all voluntary movements, eating food is an expression of activity in the brain.  The brain integrates various inputs from around the body, and outside the body, and decides whether or not to execute the goal-directed behaviors of food seeking and consumption.  Research has uncovered a lot about how this process works, and in this series I'll give a simplified overview of what scientists have learned about how, and why, the brain decides to eat.

The Gatekeeper of Voluntary Behaviors

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You truly are what you EAT, DRINK, THINK, SAY, and DO!

1) LOVE YOURSELF enough to want better health thus a better life! This is a must for optimum health. Many people have "I'm not good enough" going on. Disappear that and love yourself healthily, knowing you deserve to look and feel your best! Trouble is, most do not even have any idea what their best is, as they have not seen it yet!

2) Eat only whole, plant based foods in their natural state. A raw eating plan floods the body with more nutrition than it can handle and thus creates energy, vitality, glowing skin and amazing health.

3) Drink pure, clean water that flushes and regenerates your cells. Our bodies are made up of a whole lot of water. When you continually replenish water lost and flood the cells with clean water, your body can operate much more efficiently!

4) Exercise every single day! Our bodies are made to move! Every organ and system in our body functions well, due to movement. It is a must for optimum health!

Move it or lose it!
5) Clean up your environment by choosing only products that are eco friendly for cleaning your home or applying to your skin. Think GREEN to lighten the body burden. Any food or product that you breathe in, put on your skin, smell, or taste is part of you. Choose organic whole food, eco friendly products and natural personal care.

6) Use only natural healing methods for any dis-ease you might be wanting to address. For me, this means FOOD! "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food". Hippocrates

Anything you do for your health that is not natural to the body, is harmful and will usually NOT promote healing, it just passifys the patient while the body heals itself. Be your own doctor and use natural healing methods.

7) Communicate well with others and nourish relationships.

We are designed to be IN relationship with others and communication is the lifeblood to those relationships.

8) Be conscious of, and meet, your spiritual needs! Knowing there is something way bigger than all of us that is in control of our lives, others lives, and this planet, makes all the difference in our world view, our happiness level and who we are as people. Read God's word daily!

9) Practice kindness and giving to others. It has been noted that when someone practices an act of kindness to another, his or her immune system is built stronger, the one who received the kindess experiences the same benefit as do any who witness such an act. There is greater happiness in giving to others than in receiving!

10) Cultivate healthy thoughts of gratitude each and every day.

Our brains cannot focus on all that is missing and negative in their life if they are in a practice of continual gratitude for all they have in their life, whether they view it as good or bad. Being grateful is powerful stuff!

If you just cannot seem to get where you want to be in your health, I can show you the way!

Love from my heathy heart to yours! Muah, Bette Bliss