Postpartum Weight Loss – 3 Strategies for New Mothers

Have you recently brought a beautiful baby into this world? Well, wow! You have just done something incredible!

Let’s consider your body, the changes it’s gone through, and, look at three key strategies to get back to great tone and a healthy weight.

As you began your journey through pregnancy, you were diligent in maintaining proper nutrition throughout your pregnancy to support you and your child’s needs.

Then you underwent the powerful, sudden and extremely physical process of giving birth, whether by natural or medical means.

Your body has gone through a dramatic transformation.

Here are three strategies to remember as you begin your post-birth weight loss journey: Taking it easy on yourself, prioritizing your health, and balancing nutrition and exercise.

1. Take it easy on yourself
Recognize that your body has gone through a nine-month transformation culminating in the climactic encore of the birth of your child. Because your body has gone through a nine-month transformation, returning to your pre-pregnancy form may take a little time. Your body will need time to recover from the actual birthing process, particularly if you had any health complications or medical procedures.

2. Prioritize your physical and mental wellness
It should be about you and not what others think of you. Aspire to be the best possible version of yourself instead of comparing yourself to others or an ideal based on society’s projected picture of perfection.

Adopt a maintain a healthy lifestyle that prioritizes your well-being while taking into consideration your post-pregnancy needs and a healthy weight and appearance will follow.
3. Balance Nutrition and Exercise
As with any weight management journey, you will have a two-pronged approach: nutrition and exercise. Let’s go through a few key points for each that are relevant to postpartum wellness:

When it comes to nutrition, a key rule is to pay attention to your body.

Eat when you’re hungry. You may be eating more frequently than you’re used to, but your body is letting you know. Just focus on healthy options AND to pay attention to how much you are eating each time.

If you never were much of a meal planner before, this may be a good time to start. Initiating meal planning at this time helps particularly during the trials and joys and caring for your small child. It will also help you create a healthy example as your child grows.

If you are breastfeeding, then keep in mind that you should follow similar nutritional choices that you had made during your pregnancy. Research from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) indicates that breastfeeding can help accelerate weight loss, but recommends a daily multivitamin, an extra 300-500 calories per day for milk production, and three additional servings of protein to preserve lean body mass.
You can make extensive use of your freezer for a few things: when you’re to tired to cook, to control portion sizes (particularly for those sweet cravings), to avoid unhealthy temptations, and to reduce the temptation of ordering out.
Prior to incorporating any exercise regime, it is imperative that you discuss your personal physical issues with your doctor and progress slowly.

As with any exercise plan, you should focus on your whole body, and not just target your abdominal region specifically.

Beyond this, there are two major areas that you may have to contend with:
     • the separation of your large abdominal muscles known as diastasis recti
     • a weakened pelvic floor

Similar to your meal planning strategy, make your exercise a daily activity, incorporate your child into your routine whenever possible, and ensure that you have comfortable appropriate clothing to give you quality support.

Simple activities that may take some time include:
     • walking (with your baby and/or your dog)
     • deep, full-body breathing, incorporating all of your abdominal muscles.
     • Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor
     • dancing
     • baby-friendly gyms (whether it is a mother-baby fitness class or a gym that provides childcare)
As your child begins to eat more solid foods, you reduce or stop breastfeeding, and your major back and abdominal muscle groups have strengthened, you can reassess your exercise activities, goals, and timeline. At this point, you may shift to a strategic weight management plan to get back to your pre-pregnancy figure.

10 Ways to Get Those Calories Burned Without a Trip to the Gym

Want a slimmer body?  Know you need to burn more calories but not making it to the gym in spite of your best intentions?  You’re not alone!   Fitting time in the gym between work, commuting, family, chores, friends, and sleep is a big challenge for many of us!

Fortunately, relief is at hand when you realize that there are many ways to up your activity and daily calorie burning without a gym.  Read along for a great list of 10 ways to do just that!

Before getting to that list, though, consider three important points:

First, though, remember it’s possible to out-eat any activity level and still not lose weight so controlling your food intake is still important.

Second, be clear on both the health and weight loss results you want. What are your goals? Mobility Weight loss? Strength building? Increasing your fitness level might require a structured exercise program but that’s a topic for another blog.  Here you are looking purely at the calorie burning benefits of activity so you can be flexible.

Third, for most of us, starting small is the way to go. Increase your activity progressively so your body can adjust. It may be easier than you think to increase your NEAT (Non-Exercise activity thermogenesis), or all those daily activities that aren’t that vigorous.

So, here’s our list of 10 ways to burn calories without the gym:
  1. singing in the shower or on your commute
  2. some of those basic inside household chores: cleaning, laundry, sweeping, cooking
  3. some of those basic outside household chores: yard work or gardening
  4. low impact activities that use your mind and body: hopscotch, jump rope, darts, badminton, charades, mini golf, bowling, dance)
  5. regular walks, perhaps with your dog or window shopping
  6. practice good posture 
  7. fidget
  8. basic stretching
  9. get chilled to make your body shiver
  10. use apps to help track your movements 

Think about how your typical day flows, keeping these activities in mind, and imagine progressively adding more of these activities to burn more calories on a daily basis.

How can you add NEAT movements into your day? An early morning, lunchtime, or after dinner stroll? A screen break to stretch and socialize? Seated exercises at your desk or on the couch? Active social activities? Singing and dancing along as you complete various tasks?

The more you move, the more your body uses energy. While these activities won’t necessarily burn a lot of calories, the increased mobility often will make you want to do more. And you don’t need a gym to do them.

What other calorie-burning activities can you think of? Share in the comments!

Need Help with Weight Loss? 5 Ways to Stay Accountable

Want to lose weight? Then you need to set up an accountability system.  For most, accountability is absolutely imperative when it comes to your weight loss journey.

What is accountability? To be accountable means to be subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something. Or at least, that is what the dictionary says.

Accountability comes in many guises:  Here we will look at 5 accountability methods: self-accountability, sharing your goals, social media & going public, group support, and working with professionals.

Sometimes you need to psyche yourself out. It can start with writing out a personal contract of what you want to do and the steps to achieve it.

At the end of the day, you want to feel proud that you have accomplished something toward your weight loss goal. Did you stick to your meal plan? Did you meet the 10,000 steps goal? Did you write out that meal plan for the week? Did you log every bite you took? Did you weigh yourself? Or try on your favorite jeans? Or measure your waistline?

When you start logging all of this information (and there are many apps for weight loss accountability), you can begin to assess your lifestyle, and assess your needs and wants. Reviewing this information can provide immense satisfaction as to how far you have come as well as allow you to make adjustments to life’s hurdles.
Sharing Your Goals
Perhaps it simply takes verbally stating a goal to help you stay on track. Sharing with friends and family your goals will keep your goals at the forefront of your mind. When friends and family tempt you to stray, you can remind them of your goals, and vice versa.

Social Media and Going Public
Some are very private with your weight management challenges, but maybe you are the type who wants or needs encouragement and support from others. Luckily the Internet and social media provide many avenues for you to share your journey: blogging, videos, Facebook, Twitter. This public accountability is a reminder that everyone has their own weight challenges and your public sharing can be an inspiration to them and to you.
Group Support
Maybe you need a more formal support group for your weight management challenges. You may have a unique medical condition with medications that make things difficult. Or you may want to get to know people locally or online that can share with you what works for them. Many support groups address the mental challenges that come with weight management. Regular interactions can help you become more accountable for your health choices.

Group support can take the guise of team challenges for weight loss. From the variety of television shows to businesses taking an interest in employee health and well being, team challenges can provide time within your daily routine to support one another.

Another aspect of group support can be a workout buddy. This person may simply watch your children so that you can go to the gym. Or she could be like your favorite high school coach that can say just the right thing to motivate you for that last hill to climb. He can be that person waiting for you at the gym before work. Or she can be that person a text message away when you’re thinking about the latest seasonal latte at the coffee shop.

Work with Professionals
Professionals in weight management come in many guises such as lifestyle coaches, dietitians, and personal trainers.

A step further is when you decide to work with a specific weight management plan, which will often provide a combination of these kinds of services to help you. Much like a follow-up visit to the doctor, regular appointments with your weight management experts will guarantee that certain information is being documented and evaluated regularly to help you stay on track and to make adjustments accordingly.

3 Ways Online Grocery Shopping Can Help with Weight Loss

Online grocery shopping is more than just a trend: it is an opportunity to redefine how we interact with our food!

There are many benefits to online grocery shopping including placing orders at any time of day or night, opting for delivery versus curbside pick-up, online comparison shopping, avoiding checkout lines.
Beyond this, online grocery shopping can be your ally in weight management, health, and wellness!

Think about it. 

When was the last time you went to the grocery store?

Did you make a list and stick to it? Did you have coupons at your finger-tips?

Or, rather, did you wander all over the store to find what you needed? If so, did you really make the best choices? Or were you drawn in by the snack aisles?

How much time do you spend trying to decipher small print on food labels?

So, you see, when it comes to your weight management, online grocery shopping can be a boon in three key ways:
Time • Meal Planning • Impulse Control

We all want more time to do the things we want. So we can create that by being more efficient with the time spent on what we need to do. While you still need to make your grocery list, including alternative items, you can manage time better by placing orders at your convenience. You can arrange to have your groceries delivered or arrange for curbside pickup. Either option will decrease the number of errands you may have to run on a given day.

What will you do with that extra time not spent wandering around the grocery store? Maybe you can pick up a yoga class the local recreational center? Or join a local kickball team through the recreational league? With one less concern, you can better focus on your child’s soccer game or music recital or have some extra personal time to enjoy the latest bestseller.
Meal Planning
You’ve still got to decide what you are going to eat. Your meal planning strategy is knowing what you already have, what other ingredients you need, and any substitutions you will accept. Some online sites may already have certain items grouped together, such as all the ingredients for “taco night” available at the click of a button.

Whenever you may be dealing with fresh produce, you may want to give further instructions regarding the ripeness of certain items to the person shopping on your behalf.

Impulse Control
While online shopping doesn’t completely eliminate impulsive food choices, you can avoid some of the pitfalls created by your local grocery store: the smell of the rotisserie chicken in the deli, end caps of the aisles filled with seasonal or sale items, the colorful pastries near the entrance, the scattering of free samples throughout the store. The sights and smells won’t come through your screen to tempt you, hungry or not.

Online grocery shopping won’t completely erase your food shopping activities. You may still want to visit the local farmer’s market to see what’s new. You may still have that local CSA subscription. You may still need to swing by the store to pick up some things you forgot and perhaps can’t live without. But online grocery shopping can help you focus on other important things in your life, particularly in meeting your weight management goals.

Talk to a weight management expert to explore how to incorporate online grocery shopping into your weight management plan that meets your nutritional needs.

25 Quotes to Motivate You to Stay Active

Need an occasional gentle nudge to keep the activities in your life that promote health and well-being?

Here are a few sayings to lean on for a reminder of the importance to keep moving:

  1. Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do. – Oprah Winfrey
  2. Don’t count the days, make the days count. — Muhammad Ali
  3. Fit is not a destination; it is a way of life. - Anonymous
  4. Work Out. Eat Well. Be Patient. Your body will reward you - Anonymous
  5. You won’t always love the workout, but you will always love the result. - Anonymous
  6. Results happen over time, not overnight. Work hard, stay consistent, and be patient. - Anonymous
  7. You’ve always been beautiful. Now you’re just deciding to be healthier, fitter, faster and stronger. Remember that. - Anonymous
  8. It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs. - Anonymous
  9. You don’t get what you wish for. You get what you work for. - Anonymous
  10. It’s not about being the best. It’s about being better than you were yesterday. - Anonymous
  11. Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t. —Jerry Rice
  12. The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination. —Tommy Lasorda
  13. If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done. —Thomas Jefferson
  14. When you feel like quitting, think about why you started. - Anonymous
  15. Create healthy habits, not restrictions. - Anonymous
  16. Strive for progress, not perfection. - Anonymous
  17. All great achievements require time. – Maya Angelou
  18. Every day is another chance to get stronger, to eat better, to live healthier, and to be the best version of you. - Anonymous
  19. Small progress is still progress. - Anonymous
  20. I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it. - Art Williams
  21. Always keep moving, even if you’re just walking. - Anonymous
  22. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. - Anonymous
  23. Fitness is not about being better than someone else…it’s about being better than you used to be. - Anonymous
  24. A healthy outside starts from the inside. - Anonymous
  25. It never gets easier. You just get stronger. - Anonymous

25 Quotes to Inspire You to Eat Healthier

One of the most important ways to take care of yourself and your body is to eat healthier. We are all human and society can pulls you in an unhealthy direction, so sometimes you may need a little motivation to stay the course.

So, here are some healthy reminders to  feed your body the fuel to be the best you possible..

  1. You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients. – Julia Child
  2. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. – Michael Pollan
  3. The greatest wealth is Health. Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it. - Josh Billings
  4. A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.  - Spanish Proverb
  5. Don’t eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. There are a great many food-like items in the supermarket your ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food.. stay away from these.  - Michael Pollan
  6. Health is a relationship between you and your body. - Terri Guillemets
  7. It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician. - Meryl Streep
  8. To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art. - Francois de La Rochefoucauld
  9. If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live? - Anonymous
  10. The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind. - Gilbert K. Chesterton
  11. The spirit cannot endure the body when overfed, but, if underfed, the body cannot endure the spirit. - St. Frances de Sales
  12. Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. - Jim Davis
  13. Health of body and mind is a great blessing, if we can bear it. - John Henry Cardinal Newman
  14. Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments. - Bethenny Frankel
  15. The easiest diet is, you know, eat vegetables, eat fresh food. Just a really sensible healthy diet like you read about all the time. - Drew Carey
  16. Healthy people eating healthy food should never need to take an antibiotic. - Joel Fuhrman
  17. Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. - Hippocrates
  18. Eating healthy and keeping hydrated does wonders; it centers my mood and helps me keep a sharp mind. - Betsy Landin
  19. Just because you’re not sick doesn’t mean you’re healthy. - Anonymous
  20. Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favor compared with the products of nature, the living cell of the plant, the final result of the rays of the sun, the mother of all life. - T. A. Edison
  21. High-tech tomatoes. Mysterious milk. Supersquash. Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Or is it going to eat us? - Annita Manning
  22. Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. - Albert Einstein
  23. Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body. - Anonymous
  24. Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. - Doug Larson
  25. Your body is a temple, but only if you treat it as one. - Astrid Alauda

Childhood Obesity: the Epidemic You Can Do Something About!

Let’s not mince words. Childhood Obesity is not just a problem. It is literally an epidemic.

How do we know this?
According to the American Heart Association, “about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese” and “the prevalence of obesity in children more than tripled from 1971 to 2011.” The child obesity epidemic that has been plaguing our society for decades isn’t getting the attention that it needs.

Why is childhood obesity such a concern?
Obesity means there is excess fat and that fat can creates chronic health conditions. Obesity in children actually leads to higher risks for health conditions previously associated with adults! Childhood obesity often leads to obesity in adults. The problem snowballs. Costs associated with health problems stemming from obesity further tax the already overburdened health care system.

Need more statistics to be convinced this is a problem for all of us?
The most recent study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) notes the following:

  • The prevalence of obesity has remained fairly stable at about 17% and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among Hispanics (21.9%) and non-Hispanic blacks (19.5%) than among non-Hispanic whites (14.7%).
  • The prevalence of obesity was lower in non-Hispanic Asian youth (8.6%) than in youth who were non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, or Hispanic.
  • The prevalence of obesity was 8.9% among 2- to 5-year-olds compared with 17.5% of 6- to 11-year-olds and 20.5% of 12- to 19-year-olds. Childhood obesity is also more common among certain populations.

Where does childhood obesity start? 
Does it start via the influence of obese adults? Does it start with lifestyle and health decisions made by pregnant women? Does it start with the home environment of a heavier child? Not to discount personal responsibility, but factors like these have contributed to the systemic conditions that enabled the childhood obesity epidemic.

Many factors beyond a child’s control contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic.
How is the obesity of a child defined?
Childhood obesity is determined by a child Body Mass Index that factors in height, weight, age, and gender. A pediatrician will also incorporate family health history and lifestyle in making a diagnosis.

Who can help turn this epidemic around? 

Everyone! Parents, schools, communities and businesses, municipal and federal governments.

Whether your child is obese or not, you, as a parent or guardian, have the most influence on your child’s physical health. It all starts with what you know: what you know about childhood obesity, what you know about nutrition, what you know about your child’s unique growth and development as well as any medical conditions.
While recognizing obesity as a major health concern, parents often overlook the possibility their child may be obese often until the child is in middle or high school.
Some children may require more advanced weight management. In which case, parents should consult health care professionals for the best way to proceed.

As a family, you can make healthier food choices, grocery purchases, and meal planning, as well as creating and maintaining an active lifestyle. Be a good model for a healthy lifestyle yourself to lay clear tracks for your child to follow.

Outside of the home, school is where children spend the bulk of their time. And outside a dog, a book is a child’s best friend. After all, inside a dog, it is too dark to read.

Schools provide a unique setting for positively influencing children.

  • Just as with parents, teachers can role model with their own behavior, as well as teaching courses that address nutrition and physical education.
  • School nurses provide feedback by measuring the child’s body mass index, the sharing of which may motivate for positive change or, conversely, have a negative effect on a child’s perceptions of him/herself. 
  • The decisions on what is provided in school cafeterias and vending machines influence the ease of access to healthy food choices for students. Parents and guardians can play a role in this by monitoring what is available and insisting on good nutrition.

Communities and Local Businesses

Many non-profit organizations and Early Care and Education (ECE) centers provide after school activities and snacks for children. Local recreational leagues provide opportunities for children to engage in sports. Many local businesses also promote health and wellness options to employees, allowing parents to be role models for their children.

Medical providers, specifically pediatricians, have a unique role in diagnosing childhood obesity, as well as following up with recommendations for laboratory screening tests, dietitians and nutritionists, and other referrals. This is especially important as more and more children being found to have a higher risk of being diagnosed with chronic health conditions previously found primarily in adults. These can include Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, bone and joint pain.

Municipal Governments
Your local city, county, and state governments provide unique scenarios that can affect the childhood obesity epidemic. Think of the number of community centers and parks available, the zoning for rural, commercial, or residential use of land and buildings within a community; the transportation options available for residents, and the variety of healthy initiatives.

Your active participation, from voting for relevant measures to becoming a local leader, can help create an environment that promotes health and wellness for the overall community, and, by extension, help reduce childhood obesity.

Federal Government
At the federal level, there are many challenges to change the society for the better. For example, programs such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), help individuals and families in dire economic circumstances to get proper nutrition.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitor food production and importation, accurate information on food labels, as well as regularly reviewing and updating the US Dietary Guidelines and creating federal health initiatives such as Choose My Plate and Let’s Move!

Many special interest groups represent the food industry: the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, the Sugar Association, the National Corn Growers Association, and the American Dairy Association, for example. These groups often lobby the federal government for changes in public policy that affect the quality and accessibility to healthy food choices across America.

Active participation in monitoring lobbying groups as well as advocating for changes in federal policy can help create a healthier world.

Still think you can’t help change the childhood obesity epidemic? 

While prevention ultimately is the key, changes at all levels of society from policymakers to food production to the individual choices for you and your family will help defeat the childhood obesity epidemic.

The Benefits of Medically-Supervised Weight Loss

Weight loss can be frustrating.  Have you have tried every conceivable fad for losing weight and had none work? There is a key reason most of them don’t work, so read on.

The concept of dieting isn’t new. Society sets a standard for beauty. Many try to emulate it. Society’s concept of beauty has affected many areas especially the cosmetic industry, food production and medicine to change your body.

Just thinking about the many dieting options, from Low Fat to South Beach to Paleo, is mind-boggling. While they might be repackaged and updated according to the changes in nutritional research and food product development, they are most often set up for broad, sweeping generalizations about health and weight loss.
So they neglect the most fundamental aspect of weight loss: the unique circumstance of each individual. The inventor of one of these mass market programs may or may not know basic nutritional truths but one thing is for sure: they don’t know YOU.

Physician-supervised weight loss to the rescue. A physician skilled in bariatric medicine can play an unparalleled role in your weight loss journey.
Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that focuses on weight loss, obesity, and related disorders. 
A proper physician-supervised program begins with assessment then flows to planning and management.
This process begins with an initial assessment. In a medically-supervised weight management process, physicians explore you as a whole person.

The physician will want to know about your past: this might include things like your past medical conditions, your past mental states, your family medical conditions, your past attempts at weight management, and, particularly your weight and exercise history.

Many complicated medical problems are related to weight issues, such as sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. 
The physician will also want to know about you at that moment: It’s obviously important to know your current medical conditions and medications (some of which may contribute to weight gain), and this can also include assessing your current mental state, and your current motivation for weight management. A variety of measures and laboratory testing may play a role in establishing a baseline from which you will make progress.
Laboratory results may reveal previously undiagnosed medical concerns like pre-diabetes, low thyroid levels, fatty liver, cholesterol abnormalities and others.
Once all of this information has been compiled, the physician can create a weight management plan tailored specifically to you, your motivation, your lifestyle, and your weight management goals. Physicians may recommend any combination of the following:

  • Behavior modifications, particularly focusing on diet (nutrition, meal planning, food label education) and exercise.
  • Prepackaged meal replacements and/or supplements designed to meet your daily nutritional requirements. 
  • Pharmacotherapy - a physician’s secret weapon, prescribing medications to help with weight loss that may be necessary due other medical conditions and/or difficulty achieving goals using other methods.

The third step of medically-supervised weight loss is the close monitoring of your progress as you physically and mentally adapt to your new weight management plan. Your physician will monitor these changes, your reaction to prescribed medications, and adjust your program accordingly. If you are taking medications for other health conditions, they may initiate a dialogue with your other healthcare providers accordingly.

Physicians may recommend additional activities that address the mental challenges of weight loss. Support from other patients/clients who are also undergoing similar weight loss journeys helps keep you focused and motivated to follow through with your weight loss and maintenance plan. Sharing your failures and triumphs binds you together.

Physicians know that weight loss is more than willpower and that there are many medical issues that are caused or compounded by extra weight. Medically supervised weight loss programs make individualized, customized programs with expert guidance and supervision possible, to empower you to become the healthiest possible version of yourself.

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.

5 Nutrition Myths You Might Still Believe

Say What?

There is a lot  of information out there about health and proper nutrition, particularly when it comes to weight loss. It is hard to wade through it all. Sometimes we find out that health practices we have been doing for years have been harming our bodies in other ways. We could all use a reminder from time to time regarding nutrition myths that continue to persist.

Myth: All calories are the same.
Reality: When we talk about calories, we are talking about energy. Our bodies convert the foods we eat into the energy our body needs to conduct even the most basic processes. Your body derives different nutrients from different kinds of food, such as sugar from an orange, fiber from oats, or protein from chicken. Some of those calories are consumed in the digestive process, other calories are stored for energy, and others regulate hormone production. Where your calories come from is just as important as how many calories you consume.

Myth: Eating at night will make you fat.
Reality: There are many reasons people think this is true: dinner is often the largest meal of the day, many people are less physically active in the evenings, and sleep is the primary nighttime activity.  Just because your body is at rest, however, does not mean that your body is not using energy to regulate many biological processes.

Myth: You should avoid all fats to lose weight. 
Reality: Your body needs fat, but there are different kinds of fat. Some fats are healthier for you than others. You have heard the following terms: saturated fats, artificial fats, trans fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. You are familiar with the foods associated with fats: animal proteins, egg yolks, avocado, nuts, fish, and a variety of cooking oils. These fats and foods are often linked to your cholesterol levels, some in negative and some in positive ways. Fats can not only make you feel full but also make you feel full longer. It is important to evaluate your overall health and the amount and kinds of healthy fats that your body really needs, which can actually help you get closer to your weight loss goals!

Myth: You can only get your daily hydration with 8 glasses of water a day.
Reality: Without a doubt, water is vital for survival. But hydration doesn’t just have to come from drinking water. Any beverage, from your coffee to your post-workout protein drink, will contribute to your daily hydration. Water-dense foods, like cucumbers, watermelons, and oranges, also contribute to daily hydration.

Myth: The best weight-loss eating schedule is several small meals a day.
Reality: There are many factors that can affect your daily eating schedule: recognizing when you are hungry and eating then, your daily work schedule that may or may not allow you to eat on the job, your mood, behaviors that may be symptoms of an eating disorder, and medications and/or health issues that affect the triggers for hunger and satiety. In reality, you need to pick the best eating pattern that fits your lifestyle, and look at each meal as an opportunity to control the amount of calories you consume. 

Proper nutrition is vital to your overall health and well-being. It becomes even more important when you have weight loss goals. Knowing the facts will help you stay on your weight loss journey!

Keeping Teachers Healthy!

The life of a teacher is a unique mix of lesson plans, departmental meetings, teaching, grading, parent-teacher meetings, classroom management, club advising, coaching, and competitions. When school is in session, it’s go, go, go! Throughout the chaotic school year, many teachers make their students a priority – sometimes at their own expense.

As do some in other professions, teachers often neglect their health during the hectic school day and throughout the school year. One difficult-to-deal-with consequence of that neglect may be unwanted weight gain.

Unlike other professions, teaching provides a summer break, a time for rest and rejuvenation. While teachers may pick up summer teaching, alternative employment, or work to maintain their accreditation, summer also is a time for teachers to refocus their energies on physical and mental health and well-being.

An oft-heard complaint from teachers is that the syllabi and lesson plans sometimes create more work than actually teaching the course. Creating a detailed course-curriculum is actually a boon for teachers looking to develop their own health, wellness, or weight-loss plan – and summer is the optimum time to do it!
As with any course, it begins with setting up objectives and goals. Some of these may be vague, but as you develop your personal “weight loss course,” you can begin to focus on some specifics.

With some achievable objectives in place, you can begin to look at activities to help you achieve those goals as well as creating a realistic timeframe in which to accomplish them.
You don’t have to do it alone, either. Weight loss experts can help you create a personalized “syllabus and lesson plan” for your weight loss goals. 

Now it’s time for your personal health education. With fewer duties and responsibilities, summer is a great time to ease into your “course.” Then you can adapt your syllabus and lesson plan to help you stay on track throughout the school year.

During the teacher workdays prior to the start of the school year, you can adjust to being back in the classroom and adapt your weight loss plan within the school building.

For example, you may be able to keep a small refrigerator in your office versus visiting the teachers' lounge. You can also evaluate the offerings of the vending machine, and examine the weekly and monthly breakfast and lunch menus for the school cafeteria. 
Just as you adapt your lessons to the learning speed of the children, or plan fewer classes due to natural disasters, you will also be able to adapt weight loss activities, goals and timelines when the unexpected occurs. The unexpected could be as simple as a teacher appreciation luncheon or a colleague who shares her birthday cake. 

As variable as your daily schedule can be, your weight loss lesson plan can be designed for these kinds of fluctuations.  

Regardless of the challenges within your school day, it is important to keep your health as a priority. When you do that, you are better prepared to handle any classroom situation that comes your way.

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.

The Recurring Relationship: Your Food and Your Mood

Have you ever had something happen and your reaction is to reach for something to eat? Sluggish? Sad? Cranky? Depressed? Bored? Fatigued?
Did you raid the pantry? Or visit the vending machine? Or the local coffee shop? Did you reach for a candy bar, an energy drink, crackers, some fruit, or a bag of chips? Known as emotional eating, these are moods that can affect your food choices.

Your brain and your stomach are in constant communication; but that shouldn’t come as any surprise. Your brain regulates everything going on in your body all the time. Your brain needs energy to keep everything going, which means your brain keeps talking to your stomach. What, when, and how often you eat can both chemically and physiologically alter your brain and can profoundly alter both your emotional and physical well-being, in the short- and long-term.

Whenever there is an imbalance in your body, your brain will send signals to your stomach to correct the imbalance with cravings for the nutrients in certain foods.

Sometimes, however, your body is searching for short-term solutions that is associated with emotional eating. As your emotional relationship with food can be a very complex one, certain meals or foods, through sight, smell, and taste, can evoke certain memories, which in turn influence your emotional response. This can be related to many mood disorders like depression as well as more serious health concerns, such as diabetes and thyroid imbalances. The relationship among mood disorders, brain function, and particularly diets filled with processed foods have long been studied by physicians, nutritionists, and weight management specialists.
If your moods can influence your food choices, then the opposite is also possible. Your food choices can affect your mood. Yes, that afternoon break for coffee alleviated your sluggishness. You also knew that you would need a nap after eating that Thanksgiving turkey.
Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. - Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine
Taking care of your mood with food can be as simple as consciously introducing some basic nutrition approaches into your lifestyle, which can have positive, long-term impact on your overall health.
  1. Identify foods that make you feel worse such as those with artificial food ingredients. Slowly eliminate those foods from your diet and replace them with healthier choices.
  2. Examine your daily eating schedule. Make adjustments so that you get the right foods exactly when your body needs them. This may be a simple as adding a healthy mid-morning snack because your work schedule requires you to take a later lunch; or ensuring that you eat a light breakfast before you leave in the morning. 
  3. Incorporate balanced food choices that maximize positive moods according to your specific nutritional requirements. Mood boosters include proteins, vitamins, and fiber. Think dark chocolate, coffee, bananas, eggs, leafy greens. 

These changes will help your body, and specifically your stomach, produce more serotonin, which your brain will use to mediate mood and regulate your sleep and appetite.

Improving your mood by making smart food choices is one of the best decisions to make for your health and well-being.

Contact your local Metabolic Medical Center to implement the best weight management program for your emotional needs.