Reading health articles can make you sick


Seriously? Well, yes. And make you a little nutty, too. Warnings, warnings, warnings, everywhere!

Is every person who thinks she is lacto-intolerant really intolerant, or does she just eat too much ice cream? Does every person who has gone off gluten really have a gluten allergy?

Every time our new Consumer Reports arrives in the mail, my family starts to scout the issue for warnings. A few months ago, a family member (I won’t mention which member) informed me that WE (italics and bold type are mine) should be washing our reusable supermarket bags every time we come home from the store because we could get sick from what was left from the last trip.

My reply was, “My constitution can take it. If you’re concerned, by all means, feel free to wash the bags every time.” Do I wash the bags? Sure, they can get pretty messy. But NOT every time.

Personally, I think getting stressed about kind of news flash is a waste of my energy. So are some others from this month:

More Kids May Be at Risk for High Blood Pressure

Study: Red meat increases colon cancer risk

Researchers Determine Average US Penis Size

These articles are either self-evident, or really, really old news.

On the other hand, obesity is rampant in this country, and everyone knows it, yet they still overeat. Everyone knows that smoking will shorten your life, yet people still smoke. No matter how many articles run in the newspaper and stories are on the television. (I always wonder how many obese people sit and watch “The Biggest Loser,” instead of taking a walk for a half hour.)

My attitude — use your common sense. For more info, check out this article:

The Nocebo Effect: Media Reports May Trigger Symptoms of a Disease

I’ll be interviewed Thursday, March 21, 2013 — 3:00 pm


Kristen Rzasa, national radio host, will be interviewing me at

We’ll be talking about hypnosis, stress reduction, weight loss and exercise.

If you can’t make it at 3:00, download the podcast. This is going to be fun!

The Great American Smokeout 2011

[originally posted 11/18/11]

Great American Smokeout – November 17, 2011

Yesterday, I hypnotized smokers for free at Occupy Wall Street (Ows) at Zuccotti Park to mark the Great American Smokeout. Altogether, 20 people quit, (I started a few days earlier to iron out any kinks in my project) sitting on a wall on Liberty Street in the cold, the rain, with sounds of chanting, sirens and drums in the background. At one point, I had a line of potential ex-smokers!

On Tuesday, when I heard that the police had “dismantled” OWS, my first reaction was, “Couldn’t they have waited until after the Great American Smokeout?” Coincidentally, 11/17 was also the 2 month anniversary of OWS. Undeterred, I brought my sign and my camera and set up shop. Many people took pictures of my sign:

GAS sign

Among many things I learned: it’s easier to hypnotize people in a park than you would think. Smokers came in many varieties. Some only smoked on the weekends when they drink, another smokes three packs a day. Predictably, he’s a truck driver. (He thought I was psychic, because I guessed it. The truth is, few people can smoke that much and work — except truck drivers.) One is on the construction crew building the 9/11 Memorial. All in all, this was a very gratifying project. As soon as I learn how to edit my video, I’ll post it!Update: “Vincent” sent me an email one year after the Great American Smokeout/OWS project to tell me that he’s still smoke-free and that he thinks that it’s possible his life was saved that day!

Hypnosis for Test Anxiety


I became a hypnotist because I was so impressed when it helped me with Test Anxiety. I used to get so upset when I took tests, that I made myself sick. Of course, this didn’t help. I’d get out of the test for a day, but I still had to take the test.

Three hypnosis sessions and I was managing quite well. (I still don’t like taking tests!) This was amazing to me. I took my comps senior year of college with no problems at all.

Now, a large part of my practice is helping students with test anxiety and focus when studying. The two of us only need to meet 3-4 times, but the students usually start to notice a difference in their behavior even earlier.

The New York Times printed and interesting article on this subject. Are we predestined to be a lousy test taker? Is it in our genes? (My roommate, Betsy, never got sick before exams the way I did.)

I don’t know the answer to those questions. But I DO know that you don’t have to suffer with the problem, whether or not you were programmed for it.

Near the end of their last session, I will asked my clients, “So, how was the test last Friday? (or How do you feel about your test this Friday?)” and the from my student is some version of “Yeah, I thought I’d be scared, but, like, you know, whatever.” THAT’S what I want to hear!

The link to the NYT article is below and I commented on the article.

Even Grammy Winners Suffer from Stage Fright — The smart ones, like Adele, consult a hypnotist!

Adele has consulted a Los Angeles hypnotist (sadly, not me, I’m in New York) to help her with stage fright caused by her upcoming performance at the Oscars.

Performance anxiety, stage fright, fear of public speaking — these are all the same. You can probably get rid of these fears in 2-3 hypnosis sessions. (maybe 4 session, if you are going to sing in front of millions of people and share the bill with Barbra Streisand)

Lose Weight by Changing Your Behavior —- Tip #8 Brush Your Teeth

And floss, too!
Ta DA!

Toothbrush  You are less likely to eat if you’ve brushed your teeth right after you finished eating your meal. You are also less likely to reach for the cookies or cake in the office lunchroom, too.

Keep toothpaste and a toothbrush in your purse, in your desk at work, your gym bag, even your car. Never be without a toothbrush and toothpaste. Make this a long-term habit.

If you are in a restaurant, get up and go to the restroom and brush your teeth as soon as you finish dinner. That way, if someone in your party orders dessert, you can practice saying, “No thank you, I just brushed my teeth.”

Before you go to a party – brush your teeth. You can postpone your attack on the h’ors d’oeuvres or the buffet for an hour. (and drink seltzer!)

(If you are prone to receding gums, brush gently, but you can still do it. Floss regularly.)

Soon, you will expect your mouth to feel clean ALL the time , so why muck it up?

How to Talk to a Smoker

As a hypnotist who specializes in smoking cessation, I receive several phone calls a month from frustrated, scared spouses, parents, grandparents and friends for advice on how to help the smoker in their lives quit. I feel their fear and frustration, but smokers quit when they are ready and nagging does not help.

Anyone who has a 13 year-old, or was a 13 year-old, knows that if you nag, the person who you are nagging will just dig his heels into the ground with a “Don’t tell me what to do” scowl. Stop nagging and use a different approach.

I submit the following tips on how to help the smoker in your life quit smoking.

1. In a short (five or ten minutes), poignant conversation, tell the smoker you care about him and you would do anything he asks to help him quit. This is not an intervention. You are telling him how smoking is impacting you and other people (even pets) in the smoker’s life. Be specific: “Our son smart enough now to know the dangers of smoking and he’s scared you are going to die.” “I don’t want to see you wither away from cancer.”

2. Promise that you will never, ever bring the subject of quitting smoking again, until he is ready to discuss it.

3. Renegotiate your terms. You are doing something hard – you are going to stop nagging. You now have the power to change the arrangement the two of you had. If the smoker smoked in the house, send him outside. If he smoked in the car, ask him to stop. If he’s already smoking outside, you can still change the terms to “never smoke where I can see you or smell you.” The operative word here is “negotiate.” If the smoker says no to your first offer, ask for something else.

4. If you are paying for the cigarettes, on any level, STOP. If your spouse or child is depending on you for an allowance or other funds, tell him you will not fund the smoking habit. Do the math with the smoker – “Cigarettes cost $7 a pack and you are smoking a pack a day. That’s $50 a week.” Deduct the amount of the cigarettes from the allowance. If you do not give him an allowance, but he lives rent free, start charging rent, at least the amount of the cigarettes. (Be fair and give him one month’s warning if you start charging rent.)

5. Do not use children to plead your case or nag for you. You may scare the child or scare her more than she already is. However, if the child has come to you asking, “Why doesn’t daddy quit smoking?” or “I’m afraid Grandpa is going to die because he smokes,” you may refer the child to the smoker to answer the question. “I don’t know the answer, but you can tell Grandpa how you feel about this.”

6. Do not offer to pay for the patches, acupuncture or hypnosis sessions because smokers may say to himself, “If it doesn’t work, it’s not costing me anything.” Smoking costs money and a smoker needs a financial incentive to quit. You can offer to reimburse the cost of the patches or sessions after he has been smoke-free for six months or a year.

7. Keep your promise not to nag.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

A new soup recipe!

This is a great soup for a really cold day, and it’s a cold one here in Stamford, CT.

Roasted Butternut Squash — delicious!

1 butternut peeled and cut into chunks. (scoop out the seeds)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons of smoked paprika (if you don’t have smoked paprika, skip it. Or change the cuisine by adding 2 teaspoons curry powder)
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Toss the squash pieces in a big bowl with the olive oil and spread them on a large cookie sheet. Put it in the oven for about 15 minutes.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan at medium heat.
Put the carrots, celery, onion and garlic in the melted butter and stir. Let the vegetables sweat — about 10 minutes. Don’t burn them. (I chop the vegetables in the food processor.)
After about 10 minutes, stir the squash pieces so that they brown a little bit on more than one side.

Add the lemon zest, and the paprika to the saucepan and stir.
Test the roasted squash by inserting a sharp knife in the biggest piece. If the squash is done, put the pieces in the saucepan with the other vegetables.
Add the stock and heat until just boiling. Reduce to simmer and cover for 20 minutes.
Saving the stock, strain the vegetables and process them until they are smooth. (you may need to do this in batches.)
Re-incorporate the smooth vegetables in the pot with the stock and stir.
Season with salt and pepper and top with crumbled blue cheese, if you’ve got it.
Voila! This soup freezes beautifully.

Lose Weight by Changing Your Behavior Tip #7 — DRINK SOMETHING

That’s right,
Drink something — 10 minutes before you eat. At least 8 oz!

Nothing alcoholic. No corn sweetener. No “Diet” anything.
Seems simple, doesn’t it. This is great especially if you are in the kitchen anyway. But if even you’re not, if you are in a restaurant or are a guest at someone else’s house, it’s a good way to calm down before you eat.

Looks good, doesn't it?

Looks good, doesn’t it?

This works no matter what meal you are eating, or even if you are just having a snack.
If you drink water, drink that; but a cup of tea or a glass of seltzer would be, too. (I’m not a big water drinker)
Mix it up, so you don’t feel deprived.
Why? Two reasons:

1. It will curb your appetite before you eat and

2. Many people mistake hunger for thirst. You may find out that you aren’t as hungry as you thought. You were just thirsty.

What to drink?
Some ideas –
-Club soda with a dash of Angostora bitters or an ounce of cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime and you’ll feel as though you’re having a cocktail.
-If you live in California or Seattle, put a shot of Elixir G (a cocktail mixer made with lemon and fresh ginger) in a glass of club soda. I’m addicted to the stuff and I have to have it shipped to me in Stamford.
-Stash Tea, available in supermarkets and at health food stores, makes a great, sweet-tasting tea that has NO calories: Licorice Spice! It’s fantastic and it makes great iced tea, too.