Maanvi Singh

My boyfriend and I were together for over three years, and then we weren't. The days after the breakup involved lots of crying, and an embarrassing amount of Taylor Swift.

A couple of weeks later, once I was able to will myself out of sweatpants, my friend Eric — who was also coping with a breakup — came over for some IPAs and, of course, Taylor Swift singalongs.

We commiserated about how much life sucked, how lonely we felt and how we were losing sleep. We discussed what was wrong in each of our relationships and what was right.

What makes the perfect meal?

Most of us might envision a specific dish, or a certain ingredient — a fine steak cooked medium-rare, grandma's chicken curry or mom's hearty ratatouille.

Charles Spence thinks about the food, for sure. But he also thinks about everything else: the color and size of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room.

Young children are especially susceptible to the seasonal flu, and annual flu immunizations are the best way to protect them.

But many children under 9 require two doses of the vaccine to be fully protected, and only about half of those who need two doses get both. That's in addition to the one-third of children in the United States who don't get flu immunizations at all.

What'll it take to drive those numbers up? Simply texting parents a few reminders may help.

Even in the coldest months, we relish the refreshing, icy taste of peppermint — in seasonal treats like peppermint bark, peppermint schnapps, even peppermint beer.

Most of us don't remember our first two or three years of life — but our earliest experiences may stick with us for years and continue to influence us well into adulthood.

Just how they influence us and how much is a question that researchers are still trying to answer. Two studies look at how parents' behavior in those first years affects life decades later, and how differences in children's temperament play a role.

After you've seized all the deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, it's giveback time.

A recent dinner with my friends went something like this:

"Wait, who is going to take a Snapchat of all of us when our drinks arrive?"

"Oh no, I can't! My phone is dying."

"Guys, this is such a stereotypical millennial conversation. I am totally tweeting about this."

So I guess I understand why older folk fret that youngsters these days are losing out on authentic social connections because of social media.

Nobody gets enough sleep these days and everyone needs to work harder. Sometimes coffee just doesn't seem like it's enough. Thus the temptation to apply pharmacology to thinking smarter, faster and longer.

One option is modafinil, a prescription drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat narcolepsy. "I feel like a well-oiled machine 5 days a week on 5 hrs a night," one poster who uses modafinil writes on Reddit.

I have always loathed swallowing pills.

As a kid, I'd bury them under sofa cushions or hide them under carpets. I'd hide the pill under my tongue and spit it out later. My parents tried everything, including hiding tablets in food, but I was way too smart to fall for that.

Things have improved slightly since then. With adulthood comes the realization that we must all be prepared to take a few bitter pills.

But I still gag on Tylenols and crush up my antibiotics.

The flavors we savor are never just about taste.

Our taste buds allow us to distinguish the basic characteristics of food, like sweet, salty, bitter and sour. But we use our noses to sense more subtle flavors. Our sense of smell is what allows us to savor fine wines, delicately seasoned broths and complex curries.

So is it possible to trick our brains into thinking we're tasting something, when we're only just smelling it?

I write about health and health care, but even I'm not immune to the "young and invincible" mentality. My annual dental checkup is more than six months overdue.

A provision of the Affordable Care Act that took effect in 2010 aimed to make it easier for young adults to access preventive care by allowing them to stay on their parents' insurance until they turn 26. As of 2011, some 3 million young adults gained coverage through this provision.

So does this mean more young people are getting their annual checkups and cholesterol screenings?

For many of us, chicken soup can soothe the soul and mac and cheese can erase a bad day. We eat chocolate when we feel gloomy, or when we've been in the presence of a Dementor. And we eat chocolate ice cream to help us get over a bad breakup.

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