Back to School, Back on an Eating Schedule

Summer is a time for backyard BBQs, apple pie, and ice cream. All the wonderful and tasty treats of the season are a part of that experience for everyone. Unfortunately, the party has come to an end. The school year is upon us and it is time to revert back to the never-ending cycle of breakfast-snack-lunch-dinner. While in some aspects this simplifies the age-old struggle of what and when to eat, there are some unique challenges that must be overcome to ensure a smooth and healthy transition into eating properly for the school year.

The school eating schedule is centered around your child’s academic day. For most, breakfast is the easiest. Regardless of your age, breakfast is an important part of your day so ensure it is a balanced meal of energy and mind stimulating foods such as natural fruit juices, dairy, and grains.

Snacks should be geared towards maintaining good sugar levels and energy so pack those fruits such as apples, bananas, and grapes.
Lunch is often the most challenging meal of the day for children. As a parent, you want to ensure your child has enough to sustain them until the end of the day providing just the right amount of food. A good hearty sandwich, a serving or two of fruit and vegetables is a good midday meal to carry them through the afternoon. A good, small sugary sweet goes a long way with lunch as it serves to satisfy a sweet tooth and act as a reward. Bringing lunch from home is a great opportunity for your child to learn proper nutrition, participate in food purchasing decisions, prepare their own lunches, and ultimately learn their bodies’ cues for hunger and fullness.

An alternative to bringing lunch (or breakfast) from home is the school cafeteria. Depending on your school district, the school cafeteria can be a healthy viable option or a verifiable nightmare for the health-conscious.  Many school lunches, even after the federal government regulations imposed healthier choices, continue to rely on prepackaged foods which are often fried. While the oil used is healthier, is not necessarily the best. Many school districts have added prepared salads or even salad bars, which are a wonderful addition to any cafeteria, though you may need to teach your child how to be salad bar savvy.

Your school district or school will have monthly menus posted online. Reviewing the lunch menus with your child is another opportunity to reinforce healthy eating decisions as well as evaluating the family meal planning. Many school cafeterias have extras such as fruit, chips, and ice cream. Like bringing snacks from home, some of these are good options and others should be eaten in moderation.

Well-fed students are not just happy students. Understanding your child’s hunger cycles and how to adapt to those cycles to the daily school schedule will help your child focus in the classroom. Whether you and your child are preparing lunch at home, utilizing the options in a school cafeteria, or a combination of the two, you are helping guarantee that your child will be more alert, motivated and ready to learn from the first bell to the dismissal bell.

Closet Eaters? Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Shedding some light on a little-known symptom of Binge Eating Disorder

Many Americans struggle with weight problems. National statistics tell us this much. Of those people, a certain percentage is further burdened with eating disorders. While anorexia and bulimia are well known, binge eating disorder (BED) has escaped the public notice. This condition leads a person to eat large quantities of food in a very short time. The implications to that person’s health are apparent and devastating. Worse still is a situation called closet eating wherein the person binge eats away from the notice of family and friends. This complication is closely tied to BED and escapes detection and potential assistance because of its clandestine nature.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

To understand closet eating one must first understand BED. Binge eating disorder is identified by several characteristics that include:

  • consuming more food than is normal over a period of 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • occurring more than once a week, often many times a week
  • eating when NOT hungry
  • eating far past the feeling of full to the point of discomfort

It is critical to note that BED is a recognized eating disorder with wide ranging impacts on a someone’s well being including feelings of guilt and depression, increased risk of obesity and many associated maladies such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. Individuals with this disorder do not exhibit the pattern of “binge and purge” that is seen in bulimia. People with BED experience bouts of sharp guilt about their bingeing as well as depression. The bingeing is commonly used as a coping mechanism to some stress in life and the practice can come on at any time in one’s life.

Closet Eating

Closet eating is closely tied to BED. Often, driven by shame, the person in question will binge while hiding from view. This can exhibit itself in small ways such as hiding food in odd places, bingeing before meals and devouring leftovers soon after a meal. A closet eater often times can be seen eating very little when others are around and then binge once they are alone. Outsiders may note that they never see any overeating or bingeing but also that the individual does not seem to lose weight. Other behaviors of a closet eater include stopping to eat fast food after eating out with friends, eating meals in the privacy and seclusion of their room and late night raids on the fridge.

Friends and loved ones of a person who shows these signs should be aware that closet eating is a symptom of BED. The person in question may or may not be aware that they, in fact, have this condition. It is therefore important to be informed and aware of BED and closet eating because his or her health may be at serious risk from this sinister duo.

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.