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.