More about food

December 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

My monthly psychology journal came in the mail earlier this week. I was pleased to see that…guess what?!? “Evidence is mounting that microorganisms in the gut affect mental health”! The article was entitled, “The Future of Psychobiotics,” and it was written by Kirsten Weir.

There were ideas in the article that link to the material I was talking about when I wrote about psychoneuroimmunology earlier. One thing Ms. Weir mentioned was that “People with gastrointestinal disorders have higher-than-average rates of neuropsychiatric problems such as bipolar disorder and depression…”

We all need to make our guts as healthy as possible to give the bacteria and any other microbes we need a place where they can thrive. Probiotics can play an important part in this quest, especially after taking an antibiotic for a week or more. Antibiotics kill any bacteria they run into, whether they are bacteria we need or they are the ones making us sick. After we recover from an infection, we need to replenish the good bacteria so our systems can work like they are supposed to.

Speaking of our systems working like they are supposed to…I think I mentioned before that my trainer said that in order to figure out how much protein we need, just divide our weight in half. I started calculating, and I had been eating plenty of protein if I weighed about 70 pounds. Let me tell you, I weigh more than that.

So this week, I’ve been trying to consume more protein. I am convinced that it is impossible to do without supplements! And when I use the supplements, I feel so full, I’m eating less. I’m very excited about the prospect of the possibility of losing weight. I gained weight when I was going to graduate school, because I basically sat down for four years. I was under a lot of stress, and snacked a lot. But fifteen years later, none of that weight is gone.

I decided that if I’m going to talk about how important it is to sleep well and eat right, I’d better be doing it myself.

I am good about getting my eight hours of sleep, because I had insomnia for decades before they found a medication that worked for me. And as you know, loss of sleep is cumulative, so I have some pretty weird neurological symptoms going on before they figured out I was dealing with extreme sleep deprivation. I am good now! If I miss sleep during the night, I try to free up some time to take a nap so I don’t get behind.

Since changing everything to have a healthier life is difficult, please try to select one thing you was to work on. Let me know how it goes, and we can try to encourage each other.

Okay! I have to go work out!

“I’m against medication”

November 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

This is a difficult subject for me to talk about. Parents have the right to say whether their child is put on medication or not. That’s fine.

That said, if a child has diabetes, most parents would give their children whatever medication they needed. With diagnoses that fall under the “mental health” category, however, parents often just say, “I’m against medication.” I confess I sometimes want to ask them, “Really? When you have a headache, you don’t take Tylenol or ibuprofen?” But that would not be kind.

The most frequent diagnosis that I hear that with is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

I understand that there are doctors that might prescribe medication too quickly. I understand that many behaviors associated with ADHD might be improved with better parenting techniques. I also understand, however, that when a neuropsychological evaluation indicates the presence of ADHD, it’s not something that kids can just “tough it out.”

Young people with untreated ADHD have a higher incidence of dropping out of school early. They have a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse, as they are self-medicating.

Even if they are being treated, students with ADHD can get labeled as being lazy because they don’t turn in their assignments. They can get labeled as unmotivated because they have difficulty getting started on projects.

The front part of the brain is what I call our “inner adult.” It helps us make good decisions. It helps us prioritize tasks, doing the most important thing first. It helps us stay focused. Those are the tasks that are often termed “executive functioning,” and with ADHD, they don’t work well.

These students often don’t turn in assignments because they didn’t remember. They started towards the front of the room to hand in their assignment, then someone said something that distracted them, and they forgot about their assignment. If you think that’s silly, have you ever walked upstairs to do something, then forgot what you were going to do when you got up there? Or opened the refrigerator then forgot what you got in there for?

What happens is on the way up the stairs, we start thinking of something else. We become distracted. Students with ADHD experience that even more than typical. So many parents come to me and say, “I must have memory problems because I can’t seem to remember anything.”

Usually, it’s not a memory problem, but the fact that they are working full time, trying to run a household (including buying groceries, paying the bills, cleaning…), keeping up with the schedules of two or more children…. Their lives are distracting. Society promotes multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is anti-focus. I believe the whole popular wave of mindfulness is an effort to be able to learn to focus again.

If the general population finds it difficult to stay focused, imagine what it must be like to have ADHD!

I think we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve had a task to do that was going to take focus. It’s 11:00 at night, and we just say, “Oh, I’ll wait until the morning to do it.” Individuals with ADHD are at 11:00 p.m. all the time. Nearly every task they need to do is going to take more effort than most people would need to put forth. If they seem “unmotivated,” it’s because it’s 11:00 for them. It’s likely not because they don’t care.

Young people with ADHD often can’t stop the impulse to (add just about anything here). Problems arise when they’ve dropped out of school, they develop a negative opinion about themselves, and they believe they might as well commit crimes. Okay, that might not be the actual order of events, but they do tend to have a negative opinion about themselves, and it is not unusual for them to engage in criminal activities. I worked at a school once where the students had severe behavior problems. Most of them had parole officers, and the majority of them had diagnoses of ADHD.

On the other side of that is the parents’ option to fill the prescription the doctor gives them to help their children’s brains. By giving their children medication for ADHD, the chance for success increases, and the chances of dropping out and getting into drugs or alcohol decrease. Why would parents choose not to increase the odds of success for their children?

Seeing negative things in others makes us sad; seeing positive things can make us happier

October 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

There have been many parents who come to me and share concerns about their children, but in the process I hear comments about significant others as well.

The task of raising children is monumental, but in working so hard to keep them from doing things that are wrong, sometimes we forget to notice the things they do well. We become hypercritical, and that overflows into being hypercritical of significant people in our lives, and even strangers.

Years ago, I caught myself seeing the shoes left in the middle of the living room floor and letting the frustration start in my stomach. Once it starts, it’s difficult to stop. I’d start to see all the other things he left out and make myself angry. The reality was that I had just as many things out, but my own messes didn’t both me. I knew I had plans to pick them up, but for some reason, I guess I didn’t think he planned to pick his own things up. That was silly of me.

For example: if my husband put the dishes in the dishwasher and didn’t put the food away, I would focus on the food that didn’t get put away rather than the fact that he put the dishes in the dishwasher. I would focus on what made me unhappy rather than what made me happy. How many wives would be thrilled if their spouse would put the dishes in the dishwasher? Over time, I have worked to focus on the wonderful things he does. When I get aggravated, I work even harder to remember the good things. I believe I am a happier person than I used to be.

I believe there is a direct link between being thankful and being happy. It would be like when we have a nice house, instead of being thankful, we look at houses that are bigger or fancier. That fosters jealousy and unhappiness. If I have a home, I need to be thankful for it, being aware that there are those who have no home.

The same attitude applies to our children.

If your children come home from school and tell you about their days, be thankful! It supports their brain growth and strengthens the relationship between you. They might go on a bit or have difficulty being efficient in their story telling, but that is to be expected (depending on age, of course).      What often happens is that children come home wanting to talk…and eat. They chatter and make a mess in the kitchen. Now on one hand, yes, they need to learn to clean up their messes. But what I’m trying to describe is that many parents focus on the mess and not on the fact that their children loves them enough to share their day.

There is always something good to see. As we point out these things to our children, they blossom. They want attention from us. If we give them positive attention, they will work to be more positive. Given negative attention, they will be more negative.

For an experiment, count how many times you tell your child no in a given day. I used to say it a lot. Now I try to say yes whenever I can. Try to make “No” be the exception not the rule, unless, of course, it’s a safety issue.

One of the worst things parents can do, though, is to say “no” over and over again, then cave. That teaches their children that if they just nag enough, they will get their way. I’ve seen/heard it happen so many times! If you so no, please stick to it! A tangent of that is if you offer fifteen more minutes of play time, and the child begs for twenty, reduce your offer to ten. Negotiating might be a good thing to learn, but not if it undermines your authority. Yes, children do need to learn how to make decisions and deal with consequences. So offer choices. Offer two choices that are both fine with you. That way they get to choose, and you see a result that you can live with.