Are You Right or Happy?

1002645_750430854975010_433043976_nI think of the conundrum often – since I am a married man. I know I am right. Or so I perceive that I am right and this is the crucible. Perception.

I can still be right in my mind and not have to exert my ego to control the situation and the person. Using my ego would be wrong and thereby discount my rightness. I recall my dad saying, “You can be so right that you are wrong.” True words.

Now, after years of alchemy, also known as marital counseling and mental walkabouts, I choose happy. And happy is a choice. Rather happy is more of a verb.

I write this as we raise our children in a home with different people and different perceptions. Stop being right and start being happy so your children know what joy is like. When you stop you will see that your kids show you everyday what joy is about.

Glucose vs. Fructose – Switching On The Addiction Switch

sugar-cubesGlucose and fructose are both simple sugars–and equal parts of each is the recipe for table sugar. High-fructose corn syrup is a bit more intensely sweet because it’s made up of 55% fructose. But scientists have long suspected there are differences in the way the human body processes these two forms of carbohydrate. A study published in the March 2011 issue of the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism raises more questions than it answers.

Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University scanned the brains of nine healthy, normal-weight  subjects in the minutes after each got an infusion of equal volumes of glucose, of fructose and of saline. The brain scans aimed to capture activity in a relatively small swath of the human brain in and around the hypothalamus, which plays a key but complex role in setting appetite levels and directing production of metabolic hormones.

The researchers found that “cortical control areas”–broad swaths of gray matter that surrounded the hypothalamus — responded quite differently to the infusion of fructose than they did to glucose. Across the limited regions of the brain they scanned, Purnell and his colleagues saw that glucose significantly raised the level of neural activity for about 20 minutes following the infusion. Fructose had the opposite effect, causing activity in the same areas to drop and stay low for 20 minutes after the infusion. Saline–the control condition in this trial–had no effect either way.

What does a different response in “cortical control areas” mean? Within some of the “cortical control areas” where differences were seen, lie some important neural real estate, including regions where notions of reward and addiction are processed. As scientists have a closer look in future studies, they should be able to zero in on which specific areas are affected differently by the two forms of sugar.

What’s Your Feeding Style?

Meals to parentingby

Feeding is arguably one of the most time-consuming and grueling jobs of parenthood.  Often thankless, and plagued with parental insecurity and low confidence, parents struggle and muddle through the process of feeding their children. Here is a sobering statistic:  throughout an 18 year childhood, a parent will feed their child over 28,000 times (assuming age-appropriate meals and snacks). The effort to feed a child can be overwhelming…planning, procuring, preparing, serving, and cleaning up.

Parent feeding styles, and their impact, warrant attention, particularly when you look at the magnitude of feeding interactions throughout a child’s life.

Researchers suggest that feeding styles, or the attitudes and actions a parent uses in the process of feeding their child, closely mirror parenting styles.  Did you know that each parent has a style of their own when it comes to feeding?  And while one style is generally used most of the time, all the parenting styles can overlap and mingle.

Our feeding styles also tend to mimic our own experiences as a child;  they are deeply ingrained, and our “go to” method for feeding our own children.  In other words, parent feeding styles reflect childhood experiences with food and eating.  In the current climate of childhood obesity, it is sobering to think about the feeding styles that our current generation of children may be using with their future offspring.

There are four parenting styles and as an extension of this, feeding styles:

Authoritarian, also known as “parent-centered” parenting.  In the realm of feeding, this style is associated with “The Clean Your Plate Club”, where rules about eating predominate, from trying foods to completing a meal. Dessert is contingent upon eating dinner.  Parents plate the food for their children.  Eating is directed by the parent, rather than self-directed by the child.  A child’s true feelings and subsequent actions about food and eating may be hidden, while potential animosity and compensatory behaviors build around eating.  Weight problems, both underweight and overweight, are correlated with this parenting style.

Permissive, also known as “The ‘Yes’ Parent”.  A parent with this parenting style feeds their child in a similar fashion: even though “no” or limitations may be the first response, “yes” ultimately reigns.  The classic example of this is the mother who is attempting to manage the vocal child in the grocery store who wants candy at the checkout stand.  He begs and begs, hearing, “no, no, no…well….okay, I guess so.”  Children of permissive feeders may become overweight, as research shows that the limits on calorie-dense foods may be unlimited.

Neglectful parenting, when aligned with feeding, often produces the ill-prepared parent: irregular shopping, empty cabinets and refrigerators, and no plan for meals. Food and eating may lack importance for the parent, and that may transcend to feeding their child.  Children who experience this feeding style may feel insecure about food and eating, and unsure about when they will have their next meal, if they will like it, and if it will be enough.  These children may become overly focused on food and frequently question the details around mealtime.

Authoritative, or the “Love with Limits” parenting style, promotes independent thinking and self-regulation within the child, but also sets boundaries within which the child is expected to operate. The authoritative feeder determines the details around the meal (what will be served, when it will happen, and where it will be served), but allows the child to decide if they will eat what is prepared, and how much they will eat.  Trust and boundaries are the basis of this parent feeding style.  Children who have authoritative parents in the home tend to be leaner, good at self-regulating their food consumption, and feel secure with food and eating.  The most current research advocates this style of parenting/feeding as an effective childhood obesity prevention approach.

So, mom and dad, what’s your feeding style and how is it affecting your child?

Smoking when pregnant may lead to behavior problems in kids

Tobacco exposure and behavior issuesBy MICHELLE CASTILLO

Smoking during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of a miscarriage, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), certain birth defects like a cleft lip or palate and premature birth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.

New research is adding “conduct disorders” to that list of health risks. Mothers who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to have children who had behavioral issues, a new study found.

“The evidence is emerging that smoking in pregnancy and the frequency of smoking in pregnancy is correlated with developmental outcomes after (children) are born,” senior author Gordon Harold, professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Leicester in England, said to Reuters.

The CDC estimates that 13 percent of women smoked during their last three months of pregnancy. A 2012 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed that an even higher amount, 21.8 percent of white women aged 15 to 44, smoked while pregnant. Black and Hispanic women’s rates lingered around 14.2 and 6.5 percent respectively.

Smoking has already been linked to increased risk of mental health problems for children. A 2011 Pediatrics study found children who had behavioral problems — including learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral and conduct disorders — were more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke while they were growing up. In addition, kids who had a smoker in the home had a 50 percent increase in having two or three neurobehavioral disorders. However, it was unclear in the Pediatrics study if the moms had smoked through their pregnancy.

For the new research, doctors looked at three studies — the Christchurch Health and Development Study (a long-running study that includes biological and adopted children), the Early Growth and Development Study (an adoption-at-birth study), and the Cardiff IVF Study (an adoption-at-conception study among genetically-related families and genetically-unrelated families) — for data.

The adopted children were included in order to examine the role of genetics versus environment and different parenting styles.

Researchers asked the mothers whether they had smoked cigarettes during pregnancy and how many they smoked per day. They also asked parents and teachers to report any behavioral problems the child exhibited between the ages of four and 10. They then scored the behavior of each child, with 100 being average and a higher number indicating more behavioral problems. Children who were born to biological mothers who did not smoke scored a 99 on average. Children born to biological mothers who smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day scored a 104 on average.

When researchers looked at the data from birth mothers of adoptive children, they saw similar problem patterns in kids whose genetic mothers smoked while pregnant. The same behavioral issues were seen even for mothers who got a donor egg through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and were not genetically-related to the children they gave birth to.

“It’s illuminating the prenatal period as having an ongoing influence on outcomes,” Harold said.

Theodore Slotkin, a professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, added in anaccompanying editorial published in the same issue that the study just adds more evidence that smoking during pregnancy can only harm the fetus.

“Thus, the conclusion is incontrovertible: Prenatal tobacco smoke exposure contributes significantly to subsequent conduct disorder in the offspring,” he wrote. “Considering the relationship of conduct problems to poor school performance, social isolation, and juvenile and adult incarceration, the negative impact on the affected individuals’ quality of life and, ultimately, on society as whole, cannot be underestimated.”

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry on July 24.