No More School! No More Books! No More School Lunches! What to Cook?

What to do with your child’s diet when school is out and they are no longer on a regular eating schedule

It’s summertime in the Lowcountry and all parents know what that means: heat, humidity, backyard BBQ’s, and your kids are around a great deal more. What do you feed them? From letting them eat you out of house and home to putting them on your personal eating schedule, there are many critical decisions to be made regarding your child’s health. Summer is a great time to instill better eating habits and increase overall health and wellness through increasing outdoor activity in the nice weather and such.

But, what should those better eating habits be? What is the best for your child’s physical condition?

The first thing to consider is the fact that your child’s eating schedule changes drastically in the summer. During the school year there is an almost ironclad schedule of breakfast, lunch and snack times built into the school day. For almost ten months out of the year they are locked into this. With the boundless freedom of summer, they are open to eating potentially whenever and in particular whatever they wish. This can lead to some poor choices on their part without your parental guidance.

It is important to understand that your child’s age and stage of development greatly impacts their dietary needs in order to stay fit and well. Younger kids have a vastly different set of dietary needs than say a teenager.
Childhood obesity has risen to a point of national awareness and is one of the top causes of health problems in young people today. When starting to form up a summer diet and eating routine for your child it is always best to consult your pediatrician or family doctor. When you visit the Metabolic Medical Center you and your child will be cared for by licensed physicians with a great deal of experience and training. 

As with all things concerning children, parents and guardians must be an active and positive part of the process. Your children take their lead from you; and as the adult, you must be the one thinking and acting on their behalf for their physical and emotional well-being.

Eating well and maintaining a healthy weight will help your child pursue all the summertime activities available. Make it a family affair. Contact your local Metabolic Medical Center and begin creating those unforgettable summertime memories with your children through a specialized weight management program for children and adolescents.

Eight Strategies for Keeping Your Comfort Food

Comfort food. It comes in many guises.

Sweet. Salty. Cheesy. Chocolaty. Carbs. 
Sometimes comfort food is seasonal, and sometimes not. Comfort foods can come with a steep personal price tag.  
It is important to identify why you want comfort food when you crave it. Comfort foods are usually associated with positive memories. Oftentimes you eat comfort foods to reconnect with those pleasant feelings to counteract other emotions like stress, anger, boredom, emptiness, depression, childhood habits, social influences, rejection, isolation, or facing a difficult decision.

Your comfort foods aren’t inherently bad, but they often contain ingredients that can become addictive. When your body craves the sugars or salts from your favorite comfort foods, you often fall prey to those cravings and begin a cycle of guilt that can change your associations with your comfort food. This may even lead to a vicious cycle of overeating.
For anyone who struggles with weight management and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, comfort foods become a source of conflict. On the one hand, you need and want those positive associations. However, the nutritional values of your favorite comfort foods may sabotage your weight management goals. When this happens, and it happens to even the most dedicated among you, it is time to revisit your weight management strategies and lifestyle goals.
1. Identify the scenarios that make you reach for those comfort foods.
2. Find recipes of those comfort foods that can be made at home.
3. Learn simple, healthy substitutions in those favorite dishes.
4. Remove the temptations from the house.
5. Change the daily routine to avoid the shopping when the cravings flare up.
6. Order alternatives, healthy versions, and/or half-portions at your favorite caf├ęs and restaurants.
7. Lean on friends and family to help create a supportive environment that promotes healthy choices for everyone so much so that it becomes the norm.
8. Create new positive associations with your favorite comfort foods.

Your favorite comfort foods play an important role in your emotional well being. As you make healthy lifestyle changes such as exercise and weight management, your comfort foods can continue to be a source of pleasure. Contact the weight management specialists at your local Metabolic Medical Center for guidance in adapting your comfort foods into your weight management strategies.

6 Tips to Use Your CSA Share for Weight Management

The foundation of every weight management program includes making smart decisions about the food that you eat.

The simple steps begin with incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into daily meals.

This means regular trips to the grocery store, the local farmers market, and shares through your local your community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm.

A CSA is a model in which a local farm accepts subscriptions at the beginning of the growing season, and provides shares of fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season. They work on providing quality foods and fostering as strong relationship between producers and consumers.

How can you use a CSA share to help with your weight management? 
  1. Know that not all of your produce will come from your local CSA. Some items are simply not native to the region you live. Farms are also subject to the whims of the weather, such as drought or excessive rain.
  2. Know what is typically in season in your area. CSA farms will generally let you know when to expect certain items.
  3. Explore creative recipes and maximize your nutrition.
  4. Talk to your farm about quantities. You may want extra portions for canning, drying, freezing, and future meal planning.
  5. Find out if your farm offers extras like eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products.  
  6. Investigate if your CSA has organic options available. USDA 100% Certified Organic produce is also non-genetically modified (non-GMO), and often grown without harmful pesticides.  
Let your local Metabolic Medical Center help you create an individualized weight management plan, incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables from a local CSA in your area:

Columbia Area:
          • Gruber Family CSA
          • Fair Acres Homestead
          • City Roots

Beaufort/Bluffton Area:
          • Pinckney’s Produce
          • Rest Park Farm

Greater Charleston Area:
          • Ambrose Family Farm
          • Legare Farms
          • Compost in My Shoe
          • Sol Haven Farm
          • Freeman Farms Produce
          • Thackeray Farms
          • Rosebank Farms

Murrell’s Inlet/Myrtle Beach Area:
          • Sugarcoat Farms
          • Millgrove Farms
          • Haiden’s Harvest
          • Dickson’s Organics

Stickers on Your Produce: What Do the Numbers Mean?

You have probably given very little thought to those little stickers on the fresh produce you buy at the grocery store.

Indeed, they are of little use to you unless you are a store wanting to track exactly which produce is being purchased, and how much.

Known in the industry as PLU (Price-Look Up) codes, these numbers have been developed by the International Federation of Produce Standards (IFPS).

In the United States, PLU codes must have certified FDA compliant adhesives for direct food contact. PLU codes identify fruit and vegetables according to four factors:

  • commodity - kind of produce, such as a standard onion
  • variety - more details of a kind of produce, such as a Vidalia onion
  • growing methodology- organic or non-organic
  • size - large or small

What does a PLU code mean for you, the consumer?

  • The biggest trend in local produce is to identify something is organic. PLU codes that are 5 digits long, beginning with the number 9, indicate a product is organic. 
  • PLU codes no longer indicate whether items are non-genetically modified (non-GMO), although US Department of Agriculture requires that any item listed as 100% Certified Organic must also be non-GMO.

    Non-GMO does not necessarily mean organic. Non-GMO fruits and vegetables may be treated with conventional pesticides and therefore not meet the USDA 100% Certified Organic requirements.

    There are guides available to help you navigate not only companies but also specific foods, including fruits and vegetables, that are non-GMO. A PLU code will not help you decipher a non-GMO item.
  • It is also important to remember that not all retailers use PLU codes. If you are searching for organic fruits and vegetables, looking for PLU codes can be unreliable. However, retailers recognize the growing market in organic fruits and vegetables and often place the organic produce in a separate, easily identifiable section.

Keeping you’re health as your number one priority begins with eating healthy. You can optimize your food choices by selecting organic and non-GMO foods. The Environmental Working Groups provide a comprehensive list of typical fruits and vegetables, typical agricultural pesticide use, and recommendations on organic fruits and vegetables.

If you don’t have these resources at your finger tips on your next grocery shopping trip, just head for the clearly labeled organic section of your produce department or check for the 5-digit PLU codes.

Contact your local Metabolic Medical Center for guidance on incorporating organic fruits and vegetables into your individualized weight management plan.