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Health
05/13/2010
IconWhen I was on a working trip to New York City, some of my staff and I popped into a very lovely open-air sort of restaurant for lunch.' The menu was huge in size (I always wonder how they have all that food on hand), and I noticed something I had never, ever seen before: calorie counts between the description of the food and the price!I read each and every calorie count and was shocked at how unbelievably caloric many of the foods were that I had thought were healthy.' An appetizer of fried calamari had more calories than one should have in a whole day!' Even the veggie meals were stuffed with extra calories from oil, cheese and sauces.' Oh my!Talk about being "scared straight," like those kids in front of convicts who warn them to clean up their acts.' I immediately selected the healthiest thing I could find (boring, but healthy), ending up with a turkey sandwich on rye with lettuce and tomato - no mayo and no dressing, but with some salt, because I normally have low blood pressure.' I give callers high blood pressure, but mine is usually low.'New York City was the first place in the country, I believe, to require calorie posting.' What have we learned from this experiment?Researchers at New York University and Yale discovered that, although 9 out of 10 people who saw the calorie counts claimed they "made healthier choices as a result," when the researchers checked the receipts afterward, they found that people, had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer had before the labeling law went into effect in July, 2008.The lead research scientist said, "I think it does show us that labels are not enough." What?' What else do you want to do?' Send in the calorie police?' On cityfile.com, someone made a suggestion that restaurants could have scales for people to weigh themselves before sitting down to dinner (ohhhh, what' rude reminder!) or they should post pictures of what you're going to look like if you have that lasagna in addition to' bread, butter or olive oil, a big salad with a cup of dressing and then cheesecake to wrap it up!So, if calorie postings have no impact, except for the people who already are careful and appropriate in their healthy food choices, then what is the point of continuing them?' I still think it's a good idea to continue.' Perhaps with patience, we will see people care about their bodies and their health as much as their family, friends and relatives do, and as much as the taxpayers who are not overweight and are forced to be burdened by the rising health costs brought on by illnesses associated with obesity. More >>

Tags: Eat Less-Move MoreHealthNutritionObesityPersonal Responsibility
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05/13/2010
IconPeople are being murdered every day in the United States.' However, some of these murders capture the public's attention more than others.' Hugely fascinating and frightening has been the recent murder of the female Yale University graduate student, whose body was found stuffed into a wall in the Yale University biology lab on the day she was to be married.' Perhaps it was the imminent nuptials which made people more sympathetic, or perhaps it was that one is ultimately not safe anywhere that made people respond so viscerally to this particular news story.A 10 year old girl called me shortly after that story broke out, because she was now quite scared about everything.' Her fear only started, however, when she was in a movie theater bathroom stall and a woman came in, screaming and pounding on the doors, ostensibly looking for some other child.' Since that incident, my young caller had been scared.' Her mother was listening in when I validated this child's feelings by saying "You are perfectly correct in being scared.' It is true that there are bad people who are willing to hurt you and that you are sometimes not even safe in your own home." Paradoxically, that calmed her down!' Why?' Perhaps it seems to you that that comment would make her more upset.' Nope.' I validated her worst fears, and in doing so, helped her to put them in proper proportion.' If everyone is lying to you because of good intentions, you have to escalate to get them to confirm reality.' This child did not have to bounce off walls anymore.' Someone believed her that life is not completely safe.I continued by reminding her that she was becoming an adult.' Adults deal with truth, and the truth is that we are not always safe.' Adults need to be aware of that and, instead of just being freaked out about it,, they need to prepare for it:' locking the doors, watching who is near your car in a parking lot, learning some self-defense, being careful about where you go with people you don't know, and on and on.Evil is a part of life; danger is a part of life.' People need to know and respect that fact and be armed with information and reasonable plans to deal with these facts.'A little bit of paranoia is a good thing.' It keeps you prepared. Too much paranoia inhibits one from living life at all.'Don't hide the fact of evil and danger from your children.' Teach them how to recognize them and then what to do. More >>

Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenFearHealthMental HealthParentingPersonal Responsibility
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05/13/2010
IconThere's a new TV series that debuted two weeks ago called "Glee." The title refers to a high school glee club, and that's as child-friendly as this show gets.' It should be rated "A," for Adults Only.'That said, this show kept my jaw dropped for half an hour.' Every possible stereotype can be found in "Glee," and frankly, it's hilarious.' The show is an equal opportunity offender of delicate senses, and is basically politically incorrect.The Glee Club is run by a former student of the high school, Mr. Shuester, who is married to a blonde, self-centered woman who obviously never read "The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands." The Glee Club consists of a nice Jewish girl, an Asian girl, a sassy, large black girl, a gay male, a boy in a wheelchair, and a brain-dimmed jock.'An uber-feminist cheerleading coach/teacher loathes any attempt of the Glee Club to gain prominence and take attention and financial support away from the cheerleaders, who are known as the "Cheer-i-os."' She is vulgar and mean to the nth degree, and very funny because she's so over the top.' In talking to Mr. Shuester, she says that (as she did with her elderly mother), he should "euthanize" the glee club program.' That's a terrible thing to say!' But delivered by this actress (Jane Lynch), it's hilarious.The cheerleaders (all gorgeous, of course) also run the Celibacy Club, where they practice humping their boyfriends with balloons in between them.' If a balloon pops, an angel cries.' They espouse "teasing, but not pleasing."' It's obviously religious-based, and so religion is a bit put down by this group.The nice Jewish girl from the Glee Club sounds like someone out of Planned Parenthood - i.e., "kids are gonna do it anyway, so we might as well give 'em condoms," and (with the Glee Club) performs a very gross performance of a rap song called "Push It," with lotsa bumping and grinding.' Of course, the student "body" now wishes to join the Glee Club in droves.'The guidance counselor is germ phobic and very hot for Mr. Shuester, whose wife is pretending to be pregnant.' It seems clear that Mr. Shuester is unhappy with his demanding, self-centered wife, and these two have an attraction.' However, the guidance counselor is a decent sort, and decides to date someone else, and not entertain her feelings for him.So, this program goes back and forth from anti-religion/liberal sexual values for teens to the moral considerations of not engaging in an affair with a married man.'Everyone will find something offensive, but, I've got to say, it is funny.' It's on Fox, Wednesdays at 9PM Eastern/Pacific. More >>

Tags: Bad Childhood - Good LifeBad Childhood-Good LifeHealthInternet-MediaInternet/MediaTelevision
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05/13/2010
IconAn Australian newspaper columnist mocked actor Russell Crowe for smoking and chowing down on three tacos and a soft drink during a recent bike ride.' Specifically, her piece was entitled: 'Smokes and Fatty Foods ' The Fitness Regime for Rusty.' No, he didn't throw a bike at her (like he threw a phone at a hotel employee several years ago).' Instead, he challenged her to a bike ride.' She went on the 12 mile ride through the city, struggling to keep up, and then she fell off her bike.' She persevered and finished the ride, and had compliments for 'Rusty.'' Instead of gloating (she revealed), the actor was gracious and concerned about her: '...the perfect gentleman as he rolled up my trousers to check on my knee.' Well, the actor has trimmed down of late, and bike riding is probably a part of his new health regimen, but, c'mon, biking with your trainer and scarfing down tacos, sugary sodas and dragging on a cigarette earned him that headline.' That he could outride a non-rider doesn't change the truth:' what he did was very unhealthy.' And considering that two thirds of Americans (Crowe is Australian) are fat or obese because they move less and eat more, it would have been better if he had owned up to the error of his gastronomical ways. More >>

Tags: divorceEat Less-Move MoreHealthObesity
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Tags: fearHealthMarriageMental HealthPersonal Responsibility
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05/13/2010
IconMice kept on a diet that is healthy (but absolutely no fun at all) in which their caloric intake was restricted to only 70% of what's considered "normal" lived 30 to 40% longer than the usual lifespan.' The only downside of this restriction was that the mice were less fertile than their non-restricted counterparts.'Most people can't restrict calories for long, so, according to the New York Times , scientists are trying to find a drug that tricks the body into thinking it's eating fewer calories.' The problem is that all of these restricted calorie experiments are done on captive mice, who are selected for quick breeding and who are fed on rich diets.' A low-calorie diet could be much closer to the diet that mice are adapted to in the wild, extending their life simply because it is much healthier for them.' Mice don't live that long, anyway.' Humans have a longer life span, and that extended duration of time on the planet leaves us more vulnerable to cancers.So, after 20 years of experimenting with caloric restriction on monkeys in captivity, studies found the monkeys were healthier (i.e., they had fewer incidents of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease), but their life span was not significantly longer.' Eating more prudently than we generally do, therefore, was good for quality of life, but not for quantity of life.And that's the point of my taking on this issue in the first place.' People call my radio program knowing they're probably going to die of some particular terminal disease they have.' They call me, because they're spending each day suffering emotionally over the realization that they will soon be dead.' My response to one woman in this situation was to wake up each morning and yell out loud: "Damn - I'm not dead!' Today, I'm gonna LIVE OUT LOUD!!!" The point of our being upset about death is the realization that we've lost all we value in life.' So, take each day that you're not dead to live life to the fullest.' Enjoy that day you're not dead.' Don't waste one precious moment of it.Come to think of it, that's good advice for everyone, since at different times, and at different rates, we're all terminal.' Don't waste one minute of life. More >>

Tags: AttitudeCharacter, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceCommon SenseHealthMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityPurposeValues
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Tags: AttitudeCharacter, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceCommon SenseHealthMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityPurposeValues
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05/13/2010
IconAntidepressant drug use in the United States doubled between 1998 and 2005, according to a report in The Archives of General Psychiatry.' But I'm telling you that there is no way in the world that the incidence of profound depression doubled in that same period.' No way.About 13 million people (or 6% of the population) were prescribed an antidepressant in 1996.' By 2006, that number rose to more than 27 million people.' Again, there's no way that the incidence of profound depression increased that much.'Try this number on for size:' more than 164 million prescriptions were written in 2008, totaling almost $10 BILLION in US sales.' Unlike the incidence of profound depression, I believe that the incidence of making money off prescriptions for depression did indeed double between 1996 and 2005.As a licensed psychotherapist, I can tell you with great candor that the psychological and pharmaceutical communities have a huge investment in income - plain and simple.' It's been amazing to me (and I have commented on this publicly for thirty years) how there are trends in diagnoses and grandiose treatments.' For a while, everyone was agoraphobic; then every adult claimed to have some level of ADD; then there was a trend toward multiple personality disorder.' Now, being bi-polar is the illness of choice, or so it seems.I'm going to state the obvious: yes , there are people clinically depressed to such a severe level that medicine might be the difference between life and suicide.' I have recommended interim treatment for people who seem to be suffering profoundly.However, this "doubling" issue is occurring for a number of reasons:' 1) trends in the psych industry; 2) money-making efforts by pharmaceutical companies (notice all the TV commercials); 3) the growing weakness of the American public to deal with frustrations and setbacks; 4) the social acceptance of copping to a mental illness to explain various personality/behavioral issues; 5) insurance companies not paying for psychotherapy (requiring high out-of-pocket expenses for treatment).' The bottom line?' Numerous studies show that therapy is as effective (if not more effective) than drug use alone.I've become more and more concerned about people trying to "cure" what is normal.' I've said this on my program many times:' being sad and deflated over job or love losses is normal ; having childhood disruptions in one's life is normal ; hanging on to them as an identity, attempt at attention, and as a cop-out for responsibilities is not accepting (and not enduring) what is normal .'A sixteen year old male called my radio program the other day.' He was sad that "the love of his life" dumped him, and he didn't see any future for himself.' I told him that what he was calling the "love of his life" at 16 was not what he would choose as the love of his life at 26.' I also told him that this adolescent "drama" was normal , and that he would go through it a number of times, before he truly recognized who would ultimately be the "love of his life."' His attitude lightened up as he began to understand what normal meant.' I told him to distract himself with sports (releasing powerful endorphins) and friends, without harping on his situation, and it would pass...until the next time.' That is just simply what life is like.We have people who can't take a joke, can't tolerate a difference of opinion (after George W. Bush was re-elected, a psychologist in my area published an article talking about the massive depression in his patients who were Democrats - I was stunned and horrified that people would seek therapy for an election disappointment), who call everything "harassment," who go through difficulties and say that the rest of their lives are "ruined" because of that event, who say they can't function anymore in life because somebody pushed them too close to their actual potential, and so on.'Frankly, I worry that Americans are getting spiritually and psychologically weaker - voluntarily - because victimhood is attractive, and because there is a group for every type of victim that will help them to prolong the suffering. More >>

Tags: ChildrenHealthMental HealthParentingPersonal Responsibility
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05/13/2010
IconLast Monday, I stayed up late to watch " Dance Your Ass Off ," a new reality series on Oxygen.' I've said many times (and I stand by it), I loathe even the concept of what has been called "reality TV."' I find it generally exploitive, humiliating, demeaning, mean, stupid and guilty of lowering the American consciousness to sub-basement levels.' People are embarrassed, made fun of, attacked, and dismissed with a cavalier attitude of so-called judges or peered out.' These shows make it to air, because they're cheap to produce and because there seems to be no end to the appetite of some of the American public to lick their lips when others are behaving badly or grossly, or when people are being "thrown to the lions."When I heard there was a new TV show in which overweight people would compete in dancing, I thought this would be seriously sickening.' What a scenario for making fun of people!' " Dance Your Ass Off " has some of the elements of the typically disgusting reality format:' judges who have "not too judicious" comments, and someone who gets thrown out after some weeks.' But there is much more to this show in particular (in spite of the spicy title).'The scores are not only for their dancing (they're trained and choreographed by a professional dancer), but for how much weight they lose .' They all have access to a nutritionist who guides them in cooking and food choices and portion sizes.' So at the end of the Olympics-like scoring from 1 to 10 for the quality of their dancing that week, the percentage of weight lost that week is added to their individual score.' Therefore, a person could have been graded poorly for their dance program, but if they lost 5% of their body weight, they potentially could win the whole night!I like that this is just not a typical exploitation of people small or too big.' It's a real challenge for these people to get fit, lose weight, practice dancing, and perform.' The most significant part of the entire program that I appreciated was that there was no competition between these folks.' They all support each other in losing weight and doing their best.' There are no mean manipulations in order to throw somebody off the island or forced fights just for entertainment's sake.' These people work hard, and become quite committed to being fit.It's funny.' I thought this would be an utterly disgusting display, and it turns out it's one which is quite benevolent and fun to watch.' Seeing these folks working very hard in spite of their extra weight and lack of fitness is admirable and not something to giggle about.' Most of the time, the contestants behave quite respectfully when the judges are not that complimentary (and I think the judges are often out of order making demands of non-dancers who are overweight).' Nonetheless, overall, this show is quite supportive of the right behaviors. More >>

Tags: Eat Less-Move MoreHealthObesity
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05/13/2010
IconI got this email from a self-described former "bad" wife, and I'll let it speak for itself: Dear Dr. Laura: Some people are recovering alcoholics.' I am a recovering bad wife.' I don't know much about the 12 step programs, but from the little TV I watch, I recall that the first step is to recognize that you have a problem, so here I go: My name is S., and I am a bad wife.' My addiction is not alcohol.' My addiction is the "blame-it-all-on-the-husband" or "take-it-all-out-on-the-husband addiction. I know you've described all of my symptoms much better than I can and much more eloquently in "The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands," and that you've also given me the solutions to become a better wife, but I think my first step needs to be acknowledging my problem. I acknowledge that I have too much on my plate, and that I cannot do it all well, and that my husband's needs and desires have been at the bottom of my priority list for a long time.' People will tell you I am a really nice person, always ready to help, and yet the one person I should be caring about the most (my husband), does not get the respect, the love, and the care that he deserves. As of today, I am no longer a bad wife.' I am a recovering bad wife, and I vow to be the girlfriend and wife my husband deserves. Thank you, Dr. Laura, for hammering good sense into my head. S. More >>

Tags: dietEat Less-Move MoreHealthMarriageSocial Issues
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