Category Archives: Mindfulness

Parents, Be Mindful Even On Halloween

halloweencandyTempting as it may be to let loose a bit and let your kids go with all the rainbow colors of candy, parents must remember that too much sugar has actual consequences to a child’s health.

It is not just the sugar rush that we’re talking about. Sugar has a much more negative effect on the body that is important for us to know.

teeth

Dental decay is an obvious one. Sugar is known to speed up breakdown of teeth as it fuels the bad bacteria in the month. Though kids naturally lose their baby teeth, it is important to take care of them as you would permanent ones as the bacteria on the surface of baby teeth can attack the healthy ones still under the gum surface, which can adversely affect their growth by the time they’re ready to come out.

Study also finds sugar lowers the immune system to up to five hours after consumption.[1]

Ever notice that close to midnight or when you’ve been up all night, eating sweets has the effect of making your throat scratchy and making you feel like you’re coming down with something? That’s because sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bad bacteria in our bodies.

badsugarSugar as fructose  and glucose that are in abundance in Halloween candy also has the effect of make one feel famished. Muching on sweets makes your brain resist leptin, which is the protein that help signal the body that it is full. Anytime sweets are introduced in the diet, it makes it easier to eat too much. Partnered with the fact that sugar is highly addictive[2], it can lead to complications and diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Though Halloween is just one night a year, letting kids loose on sugar, and having candy in the cookie jar for weeks after, can introduce kids to sugar eating habits and that would be extremely harmful for them in the long run.

Here are a few tips to make this Halloween a little less about the sugar and a bit more about the fun:

Consider giving out inedible treats like Halloween accessories as glow sticks, colorful bracelets, and bubble bottles that they can have fun with while out in the streets at night. Just remember not to give out things that little kids can choke on.

bracelets

Have the tradition of a contest of who can bring home the most candy. That way, kids will have the motivation not to eat any of the candy until they get home, so that you may a handle on what and how much sweets your kids actually consume.

trick or treatThough a bit more out of the way, if you are visiting houses of people you actually know, like friends or relatives, have a deal with them to give out healthier treats to your kids, or prepare something you yourself approve of, and hand them out to house owners before you set out for the night with your kids. It’ll just be between adults.

Remember that sweets during Halloween can just be a portion of the fun. Make other fun highlights such as creating costumes, decorating, and storytelling with your kids, that will focus more on the activities rather than the sweets.

Mother and Daughter Painting a Pumpkin

References:

[1] The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Albert Sanchez, J. L. Reeser, H. S. Lau, P. Y. Yahiku, R. E. Willard, P. J. McMillan, S. Y. Cho, A. R. Magie, and U. D. Register. – Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. – The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc. 1973., Copyright © 1973,http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract\

[2]The Skinny on Obesity – UCTV Prime http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=23717

 

It’s Your Lunch – Enjoy It!

I asked one of my close friends to try out the HAPIfork. He’s a very gracious yet highly “go-getter” person, a Type A Driver VP of Sales, well over 6 feet tall who puts away a high-energy, big man’s amount of food. I sincerely wondered whether the fork vibrating as he ate quickly (er… very quickly) would make him want to chuck the fork across the room.

His response was that it was definitely annoying. He wasn’t sure what to do when it vibrated – I suspect he was eating so quickly that he couldn’t slow down enough for it to wait 8 seconds between bites. (The forks that are for sale will have adjustable intervals.) But he added that he liked the idea of slowing down mid-day, of really enjoying his lunch. He felt it was something he cherished that he didn’t always remember to do.

I like the idea of slowing down and smelling the roses in the middle of the day.

It was he who suggested “It’s your lunch – enjoy it!” Because it was his lunch, and — even someone who hates being held back by anything or anyone — extracting all the value he possibly could from his lunch was very appealing.

As it turns out, Larry Magid had the same type of experience.

HAPIfork Dissassembled

The prototypes have been in the hands of some of the more lucky HAPILABS staff, and that includes me!

How the Fork Works

In short: pretty simply. I turn it on by depressing a button at the base. Then I eat with it, just exactly like using a regular fork. It vibrates if it goes into my mouth more frequently than its setting (currently 8 seconds). If it vibrates, I wait a little bit before the next bite to make sure that it doesn’t vibrate again. Mostly it just reminds me, “Another forkful already?”

My Experience So Far

First, yes of course I’m biased! But I’ll give you my impression and you can decide to be as skeptical as you wish.

Well as it turns out, I think odd things! For example, one time when the fork vibrated I caught myself thinking “NO – wait! That’s not fair! That last bite was tiny – I have more room in mouth….!”  And then I realized, “Oh just hang on, the point is not to stuff as much food into my mouth as fast as possible after all, is it?” Hmmmm.

HAPIfork dissassembled

The HAPIfork comes apart easily for washing.

It feels a little bit like what I guess my roommate’s dog experienced during clicker training. I don’t really have to work hard at being mindful, because the fork reminds me to be mindful at a visceral level, like body awareness. Of course I get my rewards when the fork does NOT vibrate, so it’s not exactly the same. So it is like the fork is training me to be more mindful automatically. I know that sounds like a paradox, but so it goes.

The Fork

So many people have asked about cleaning the fork that I have a photo here of it disassembled. The outer casing is dishwasher safe.

The inner part of the fork slips out easily.

I also am a picky person when it comes to the weight of the utensil. I  was a little bit concerned about the circumference, but despite the fact I have small hands (I’m just under 5′ tall, or 1.51m), it was fine to eat with and I liked the weight.

Mindful Eating Means Eating Less

It turns out that you don’t even have to concentrate hard to reap the portion control benefits of mindfulness!

At HAPILABS, we’ve recently been talking about some work done at Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab by Dr. Andrew Geier, Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. Paul Rozin. It’s a paradox: you can be both mindful and mindless at the same time.

The idea of this research was to figure out how to stop mindless snacking by introducing mindfulness without having to fundamentally overhaul someone’s eating behavior. The researchers did a simple experiment: they brought students in to watch a movie, and served them tubes of Lays Stackables, some of which contained chips dyed red at regular intervals.

Cornell food and brand lab Brian Wansink

Cornell Food and Brand Lab Director Brian Wansink. Photo Credit: Robin Wishna

Some people had tubes with no red chips at all, and others had a red chip at every serving size, and another at every two-servings. So there were three types of potato chip tubes: one with no red chips, one with a red chip every 7 chips, and another with a red chip every 14 chips. (There was a second experiment to verify and expand on the first with the no-red-chip tubes, and then tubes with red chips every 5 chips and every 10 chips.)

As it turns out, college students can go through a lot of chips! But when they ran across the red chips, they stopped. In fact, the students who encountered red chips ate about 50% less than their peers without red chips. And more than that, the ones who had red chips were very good at estimating how many total chips they ate. Their estimates were off by less than one chip, compared to the group without red chips – they underestimated by over a dozen, nearly a third of the total chips eaten!

Think about it: Being “off” when you guess how much you eat by nearly ⅓ is like thinking you are taking in a daily dose of 2000 calories, but it’s really 3000.

In one class, the divider chips were simply dyed red and students were told the chips were left over from a past experiment. In the other class, it was a tomato basil chip and students believed they were participating in a study to test food companies’ new flavor-mixing strategy.

There was a plausible reason given for finding the red chips, but the students didn’t know that they were being tested on consumption. Yet, the wider the spacing of the red chips, the more people ate.

Original Publication: Red potato chips: Segmentation cues can substantially decrease food intake.