Is Your Tween Hiding Her Lunch?

REAL GRANDMOM ASKS: My 11 year old granddaughter is hiding her sandwiches and lunchables that are packed for her lunch in her room; sometimes before she even leaves for school. She takes a bite out of the sandwich or lunchable and puts in back in the container and seals it up, then hides it in her room. She doesn’t have an explanation for this and you can tell she is embarrassed when you talk to her about it. None of the food is new or disliked, that is why this is such a puzzle to us. My daughter is going bonkers over this and I simply don’t know how to advice her. Maddie has hidden evidence of “sneaked” food before when she was very young but this is a new behavior.What do you think? 

Thanks,

 

Debbie A., a perplexed Grammy

 

REAL MOM LAURA ANSWERS:

Thank you Debbie for your heartfelt question.  I am sure many other grandparents and parents share in your sincere concern for both their daughters and their  granddaughters. There are a few things you can do without alarming your granddaughter. Be sure to keep this a confidential as possible. It is  a very sensitive subject and privacy will help to ensure your granddaughter’s privacy and thus minimize any shame or embarrassment. I will answer the question directed at a mom (or dad) since mom (or the primary caregiver) will need to do the follow through.

In general when any tween is hiding food, consider checking in with the school nurse or guidance counselor (in private) to see if your tween is:

A)   Eating a different type of food at school?

B)   Eating any lunch at school?

C)   Attending lunch at school (some students hide during the lunch period to avoid social anxiety, bullying or to enable skipping the meal for restriction purposes)?

This will give you a better idea of what is happening for your daughter.  There are many things to consider such as is your child:

A)   Embarrassed to bring a home packed lunch?

B)   Perhaps your child doesn’t like the way their food smells?

C)   Perhaps your child is uncomfortable with their changing tween body?

D)   Has anyone said anything to your tween to make them feel shameful of their body?

E)   Is your child restricting their intake in effort to gain a false sense of control due to changes in friends, family, school…?

F)    Is your tween newly aware of her body and thus restricting her intake to prevent it from maturation? 

Next and most importantly, sit down with this wonderful child and let them know you are there to listen. Let them know you promise not to be angry (if you truly do) and can help to support them. Validation is the most important piece. Moms don’t need to solve every problem rather we just need to listen.  Tell your tween you love them and are there for them when they feel ready to share. Giving your tween an unbiased outlet and a few hugs may get them to be honest with you.

If your tween is not ready to confide, you can also offer to take the tween food shopping to see if that helps to resolve the issue. This may give you a better sense of what is going on if your tween actually takes you on the offer.

If the issue continues, it is best to have your tween see a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (therapist specializing in eating disorders) or a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian (RD specializing in eating disorders). This accreditation is only given to experts trained in the  prevention and treatment of eating disorders by the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (www.iaedp.com).

100 Is the Loneliest Number

Several years ago, after I got married and settled into my current job, I started experiencing asthma-like attacks. I’d be walking home on a cold night and the next thing I knew I’d be trying to clear my throat and find that I wasn’t able to. I’d have a dry cough, a wheeze, and sweat pouring down my forehead. If I ran across the street because the walk signal was changing, I’d spend the next five minutes trying to catch my breath, sometimes finding that I couldn’t. I ended up in the emergency room two or three times. I started seeing a new doctor who put me on Advair. I worried that I would be asthmatic for the rest of my life—or at least every allergy season.

My doctor had another suggestion: he told me to lose 100 pounds. Well, what he actually said was, “you need to lose 50 to 100 pounds.” I was floored. Fifty to 100 pounds? Although his voice remained flat, it felt like an indictment. Like I was guilty of some horrible crime, and he was condemning me.

I confess that what followed was a long period of denial. I searched my reflection in the mirror, and didn’t see that I was overweight. Or at least not so heavy that I should have trouble breathing. I still looked like me, and I enjoyed dressing in cute clothes from Old Navy and the Gap. I needed to lose 100 pounds? Really? I thought about Richard Simmons, I thought about diet plans and exercise DVDs and gastric bypass surgery, and I wondered, am I going to have to do all of that?

Around the same time, my husband and I started trying to get pregnant. We gave it a few months and found it wasn’t happening easily. Consultations with specialists led to a similar recommendation: Lose weight—as much as you can. No constructive advice beyond that. There must be a sense among those in the medical community—and maybe even more widely—that overweight people know why we’re heavy and what we’re doing to cause it, and that we can just decide to stop that behavior. It’s as though they think we’re all hiding Oreos under our beds or having lunch at McDonald’s every day. I have never been a junk-food junkie, and I had absolutely no idea how to lose weight

I wanted to have a baby so badly that I did the best I could. I gave up pizza. I skipped meals. I ate mostly salads. And, I grumbled. I felt deprived and I’d get angry when family members arranged dinners at Italian restaurants where I stared at the food telling myself I wasn’t allowed to eat it. I lost about 15 pounds. And then I had a baby. And then I had another. And then I was out of the baby-making business and back where I started. The weight came back and I was back on Advair. When I looked in the mirror all I could see was someone who needed to lose 100 pounds.

I didn’t want to go back to withholding my favorite foods from myself—that had felt awful. I couldn’t let the denial derail me, either. So, this is what I told myself: Right now I am where I am. I can see myself as I am. And, I want to be the best version of myself I can be.

I found a dietician, bought an exercise bike and installed a calorie-counting app on my iPhone. In time I learned that losing weight wasn’t about withholding food from myself. I didn’t have to give up pizza. What I had to give up was the shame. Seriously. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. So true, I’ll say it again: Give up the shame. I saw that the only way I was going to change my weight was to change my thinking.

My biggest breakthrough came when I attended a support group with other women who had food and eating issues—including some who withheld food from themselves. I was so amazed to see what we had in common. The denial. The voices in our heads telling us not to eat the foods we craved. The feeling of being alone. I told everyone there that my doctor wanted me to lose 100 pounds. I said it out loud. I’m even saying it here, because I am no longer ashamed of it. That 100-pound benchmark no longer feels like a curse or a judgment. It’s just one doctor’s recommendation for optimizing my health.
After getting an exercise routine going and finding foods that made me feel satisfied and nourished, I saw a marked improvement in my overall health. Maybe I’ll lose 100 pounds over time. Maybe not. But, every day I am where I am. I am the best version of myself that I can be right now. And, I can breathe!

 

About Rebecca: 

Rebecca Weiss is a writer, mom of two, and director of communications for a New York City auction house. In 2012 she started a fitness and wellness journey. She is a monthly contributor to Mom Dishes It Out.

A Cup of Self-Love

Love is in the air—or is it? For some, Valentine’s Day may feel like the whole world is staring you down. Marked by chocolates, flowers and couples holding hands, for some, remember that Valentine’s Day is still just like any other day. And like any other day, we have the ability to control our thoughts and how we feel about ourselves. It is a day that emphasizes love. So, whether you’re celebrating the day with a significant other, your friends, your children, or by yourself… celebrate the love you offer, and most of all—self-love! 

Ways to Enjoy a Cup of Self-Love:

  • Dedicate some time to volunteer for a cause you are passionate about
  • Explore your inner chef… cook dinner for the friends you love!
  • Relax with a yoga class 
  • Take something off your bucket list – Has there been a pottery-making or dance class you’ve been meaning to try?
  • Enjoy a “Me Day” – A visit to the Spa/Beauty salon
  • Foster positive self-esteem and positive body-image – List atleast 5 things that you love about yourself and focus on these positive qualities.
  • Try a new recipe and share the sweets – We like Red Velvet Cake Bites with Fresh Raspberries!

Snack: It's Not A Five-Letter Word

“Know that there are no ‘good’ snacks or ‘bad’ snacks. To develop a healthy and neutral relationship with food, incorporate all foods in moderation.” – Laura Cipullo, RD

By Guest Blogger: Rebecca Weiss

When I was growing up every woman I knew was on a diet. My mother, my grandmother, my aunt, my next-door neighbor, my babysitters… And while each of them had their own approach—the grapefruit diet, the no white food diet, the fruit and rice diet—they all shunned one common evil: Snacking. Yes, all of your weight problems could be traced back to between-meal snacks. Snacks were bad. Snacks were a sign of your lack of willpower. Snacks were making you fat.

My mother made sure we never had cookies or junk food in the house, lest my brother and I snack on them when we came home from school in the afternoons. Instead there were whole-wheat crackers, peanut butter, and fruit. But I avoided them as much as I could, thinking that I was required to go without food until dinnertime, which was around 7 or 7:30 every night. Given that lunch was around noon, I would become very hungry after my walk home and then sit on the couch watching Charlie’s Angels re-runs trying not to think about the crackers in the kitchen.

More times than not, I broke down and had something to eat. And, in my hunger and feeling of “If I’m going to eat when I shouldn’t, I’m going to enjoy it,” I would grab the box of crackers and eat the whole thing. Or eat half a jar of peanut butter with a spoon. Then I felt guilty about my lack of willpower. 

Over the decades attitudes toward snacks and snacking changed. Suddenly snacks were allowed, even encouraged, because they helped keep blood sugar consistent during the day and kept you from feeling so hungry you’d be inclined to overeat. This was great news in a way, but I still didn’t know how to snack. Was a candy bar a snack? The ads on TV seemed to suggest that. What about Snackwells? Snack packs? Is anything with the word “snack” on it actually a good snack?

I remember when the first 100-calorie versions of popular cookies and crackers showed up. The problem with these was that somehow eating 100 calories worth of Oreos or 100 calories worth of Wheat Thins just made me feel more hungry. It would launch an entire afternoon of craving more sweet or more salty.

Working with a dietician helped me come up with healthy snacking strategies. First of all get rid of the guilt. Snacking isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s part of nourishing yourself. People who snack aren’t lacking willpower, they’re listening to their bodies and responding with something to alleviate real hunger.

Turns out, it wasn’t what I was eating that was undermining my good snacking habits, it’s what I wasn’t eating—protein. You don’t find much of that in a candy bar, or Oreos or Wheat Thins. And, that’s why those foods were just making me more hungry. Over time I came up with a list of go-to snack foods that always satisfy. These include Greek yogurt, low-fat string cheese (which is great with grapes or other fruit), microwaved edamame, and protein bars. While peanut butter is a good source of protein, I find I can’t stop eating it once I start, so I generally avoid it. Most of these snacks have between 140 and 200 calories a serving, which is better than 100 empty calories any day. And, none of them have the word “snack” on them.

 

About Rebecca: 

Rebecca Weiss is a writer, mom of two, and director of communications for a New York City auction house. In 2012 she started a fitness and wellness journey.

Keep Your Family Moving…Yoga and More

As you know if you read this Mom Dishes It Out blog on a regular basis, I have two sons who are picky eaters. But what you may not know is that my two picky eaters are not only exposed to various foods but various forms of movement as well. As a young child, I remember my mom doing her leg lifts to Jane Fonda on the TV. I also remember a magnet on the refrigerator that read something like: “Don’t break your DIET! Don’t open the frig!”

I always viewed my parents as being overweight. Now I look back at old pictures and think: “Wow, they were so much smaller in the 70s and 80s than now in 2013!” Back then, we were a pretty active family. We always went camping during the summer, hiking on weekends, and skiing in the winter. Mind you, my parents did not ski. But they definitely helped us children to be active. Eventually—and unfortunately—they became inactive. They stopped camping, hiking and even doing little Jane Fonda-like exercises. They became the parents that hung their clothes on the exercise bike. They’d pay for gym memberships for an entire year, but never go!

On the other hand, I kept active through school sports and then later via gym memberships. In college, I was blessed with opportunities to rock climb, mountain bike, backpack, and snowshoe through the Rocky Mountains along with other great physical activities. My dad was ecstatic that I loved the outdoors like he had when he was young…and gladly footed the bills for all of my expensive equipment. And I was happy to experience the thrills as well as the sense of accomplishment these activities brought me. 

Well, now I’m a parent too. But I don’t have the luxury of a home in the suburbs with a big backyard. This is my choice! For a variety of important reasons, my family and I choose to live in New York City. What I do maintain is a true love of movement. I also know how critical it is for parents to role model healthy behaviors such as active movement on a daily basis. This does not necessarily mean pumping weights at the gym or sweating it out on the stepper in LuLu Lemon!

My father never hiked, biked or camped with weight loss or even heart health in mind. He did so for enjoyment only. Unfortunately for my dad—and my mom too—they stopped enjoying the activities. And they stopped engaging in them! Of course, they should have continued for health reasons.

Well, I persisted and still continue to be active today. I must admit, however, that I did at one point get lost and confused. I was exercising—especially running—for a calorie burn rather than enjoyment and overall health. Thankfully, I didn’t get lost for too long. Believe it or not, an injury forced my introduction to new types of movement and a renewed adoration for moving to increase my energy, to decrease my stress levels, to balance my body, and to straighten my posture. And to just have fun while keeping my heart healthy and my body efficient.

I want to pass this love of movement on to my kids. I think I have passed it on to my husband, who didn’t exercise at all when I met him…in part because he hated running. He now spins and practices yoga because he tried these activities with me and loved them. Together we have taken the kids hiking, skiing and on active family vacations through the mountains of Colorado. Just the other day I heard my son Bobby tell my mother that I had just retuned from spinning and then he corrected himself and said: “Oh no, I mean Pilates.” Not only does this create dialogue around physical activity, but our boys, just like any other children, observe that their mommy and daddy enjoy different physical activities for different reasons and with different people. 

For example, while pregnant with each of my boys, I practiced yoga and Pilates. Unable to find a prenatal yoga class six years ago, I found a yoga instructor willing to barter with me instead. I would provide nutrition education and she would provide yoga in my home. Well, it has become the best deal ever because for years now, my sons have watched my husband and me practice yoga together. Sometimes they even join the session, but for just a few minutes. However, this past week was different. Our yoga instructor, Jen G, came to the apartment for a session. My husband joined in and so did my children. It was the cutest thing ever. All four of us were doing yoga together. And the boys lasted for 30 minutes! It was definitely not the most de-stressing yoga session, but it was absolutely the most fun. When thinking about our family yoga session, I also realized that not only has movement positively affected our lives as a family, but yoga specifically has also helped me to teach the boys to take a deep breath and “Om” when they’re frustrated or just need to let off some steam.

As parents we are endlessly prompted to role model healthy behaviors and to exercise for our own health. Just remember that all of our behaviors—whether healthy or not—are indeed observed and then reenacted. Please don’t ever connect exercise with weight loss because your children will come to think about it as negative, dreadful and fruitless. Rather, explain how exercise helps to guarantee their health.

We have the ability to help our children to love their bodies and love to move…and ultimately move for the right reasons. As a mother and a dietitian, I encourage parents to teach their children to be physically active for strength, heart health, strong bones, stress relief, and most importantly, fun. Remember, the best exercises are those that we enjoy and want to do again and again. So don’t wait! Get up right now. Grab your kids and go to the ice-skating rink…or wherever your family can share some healthy and fun-filled physical activities.

What this Mom Achieved in 2012: Rediscovering Food As Fuel, Not Comfort

Guest Blogger Rebecca W. shares her experience of having Gestational Diabetes twice, as well as the healthier lifestyle changes she’s made along her journey.

I had Gestational Diabetes—twice. That’s two times in my life that I have lived as a diabetic for weeks at a time. I counted carbs. I tested my blood sugar four times a day. I injected insulin before bedtime every night up until my scheduled c-sections.

During those times I enjoyed commiserating with other GD moms on chat boards and online forums. Much of the posts were venting along the lines of, “How do you have a baby shower and not eat a piece of cake?” There were long threads about what we would eat once our babies were born and the hormones causing our under-active pancreases leveled out. McDonald’s was high on the list for most, doughnuts, too. I just wanted a Carvel ice cream cake. And, once I was back home from the hospital, that’s exactly what I ate. Five nights in a row. For dinner.

Of course, food feels like a comfort at times like that. A newborn in the house, and the loss of personal freedom and spontaneity is a shock to the system. Add to that the nesting instinct, the fact that celebrations are usually accompanied by sweets, and the need to eat more calories so you have enough energy to breastfeed, and, basically, all of the lessons I learned while living with GD I unlearned quickly. Twice. The doctor’s cautions about how I now had a 50-50 chance of developing Type-2 diabetes? I put them out of my mind.

Life with small children can be a bit of a blur. My husband and I put most of our time and energy into feeding, bathing, shuttling, teaching and soothing our kids. We missed showers of our own, trips with friends, after-work drinks and time together as adults. Something we never skipped? Meals. In fact, going out to eat was one of the easiest activities for us. The kids loved to order food—even if they didn’t usually eat most of it—and they loved the attention of the waitstaff at most places, the crayons and the placemats with puzzles, the free sliced bananas they bring at Cheesecake Factory, and most of all, getting to watch videos on mommy or daddy’s phone while the adults have 10 minutes to talk without interruption. We stretched those meals out as much as we could, because once they were over it was back home to the messy living room, foiled naptimes and laundry.

I had a mental list of all the things I wanted to do in the hours after my kids went to bed: Take a yoga class, ride my exercise bike, keep a journal, have naked time with my husband, catch up with old friends over the phone, get a babysitter and see a movie. But I did none of these. Instead, every night for the better part of four years I put my kids to bed, sat down in front of the TV or the computer and ate bananas and peanut butter. The ritual of stirring the all-natural peanut butter and then drizzling it over the banana (or sometimes my fingers) was so pleasing I had no idea how much I was eating. And, because we buy almost everything at Costco, there was always at least one more jar in the cabinet.

There were mornings—at least once or twice a month—when I woke with what felt like a terrible hangover. I was headachy and nauseated. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises, needed to stay horizontal, went to the bathroom every 20 minutes. Were these migraines? Menstrual cycle-related episodes? I can’t say for sure, but once the 8 to 10 PM peanut butter binges stopped, so did the headaches.

In order to stop eating the peanut butter, I went through a multi-step process. First I had to acknowledge how much I was eating. I had to ask myself if I was eating because I was hungry, which led to admitting that although I was not indeed hungry, I was eating anyway. And then, the really hard part, I had to figure out the reasons I was eating the peanut butter: I was bored and felt deprived. I wanted something for myself. A treat. Something that was just for me.

I knew I had to find other ways of satisfying myself. And then I realized that I already had a list of them. I now ride my exercise bike five or six nights a week, regularly write in my journal, see my husband naked, and go to the movies almost every Thursday night. And when I talk to my old friends on the phone, I tell them about all of this because I know a lot of them are struggling too.

I’d like to say that I did all of this to counter those chances of acquiring Type-2 diabetes, but that wasn’t it. I did it because I wanted to feel better. I don’t have headaches anymore. I’m not bored or feeling deprived. I have things that are just for me, and they do make me feel better. If I was on one of those chat boards now, I don’t think I’d be obsessing over ice cream cake anymore. I could list a dozen things I’d like for myself, and not one of them is food.

Building More Than Just Healthy Habits: Self-Empowerment and Confidence

Moms and Dads, what does “building healthy habits” mean to you? Is it about changing the foods we eat or incorporating more physical activities into our families’ daily lives? While these are certainly important factors, building healthy habits is about more than just food and exercise.

Please take a second to read the personal account of a young lady’s journey, whose self-driven nature drove her to make healthier lifestyle modifications.

“Growing up in the South, cooking was always a huge part of my life, unfortunately it was not always the healthiest cooking.  Three years ago, I decided to make a positive change in my life. I threw out the processed foods and swapped the takeout for healthy meals I made at home. My love for healthy eating and lifestyles also impacted my professional career.  I worked in fashion for over 7 years and decided to follow my true passion and am now pursing a degree in Pediatric Nutrition.  I am a believer that if you expose children to healthy foods from a young age they are more prone to develop and maintain healthy eating habits in their adult life. I believe that cooking and nutrition should be fun.  It does not have to be a challenge to eat healthy, nutritious meals, instead you can turn it into quality family time and get everyone involved!

 Stefanie

As Stefanie’s story shows, building healthy habits includes building self-confidence, motivation and empowermentkey components that we, and our children needto lead a happy and healthy lifestyle. Her inspiring story tells us that as parents and caregivers, we have the ability to influence our children’s relationship with foods and to start them on the track towards leading a healthier lifestyle. In addition to setting a foundation and equipping our children with the tools they’ll need to maintain healthy eating habits, we can help them build self-confidence, motivation and empowerment along the way.

Helping our children build healthier habits can be challenging, but not impossible. For guidance and additional tools, I have developed a Healthy Habits Program to help children and their educators educate children of all shapes and sizes on how to make appropriate nutrition choices for the rest of their lives. For more information, details about the Healthy Habits Program can be accessed here. 

Congratulations to Our "Intuitive Eating" Winners!

Congratulations to our “Intuitive Eating” winners, Melissa Cadle and Cara L. Sachs!

Congratulations on winning a copy of Intuitive Eating by  Evelyn Tribole M.S., RD. and Elyse Resch M.S., R.D., F.A., D.A —A book that encourages the Non-Diet Approach and a lifestyle towards healthy eating.

Tweet @MomDishesItOut with your info or email us at cipulloRD@aol.com

Thanks for playing and remember to check back every week for our Monday Giveaway!

"My Body, My Food, My Way"

Moms and daughters, teens and tweens: Read with love and follow with care…This week’s post features a piece entitled “My Body, My Food, My Way”

 

Food is for fuel, not love.

Photo Credit: Chris Blakeley via Compfight cc

Parents, here is a letter wrote by one of my clients. May it be a lesson to all parents and policy makers that children are worthy and beautiful no matter what size they are. Children should not be put on diets, restricted or told they are not okay because they have a belly, thicker legs, or are hungrier than their siblings. Research and my clients prove that restriction and dieting causes binging, self-loathing and obesity. Read this letter and think what you can do to tell your children that they are special no matter what. Find words to encourage your children to internally regulate their portions based on hunger and fullness. Teach your children that success is balance, trying something, not perfecting it. Tell your children your love is unconditional.

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

At 34 years old I am finally coming to value my worth, my body and my needs. As you know I have struggled with my identity, my weight and my self worth since we did weight watchers together at age 12.

After, 11 years of therapy, and a few months of nutrition counseling, I have finally realized, food is not my problem. My problem is I have lumped food and feelings into the same pot. I used to eat for love, for protection, to feel safe, to prevent myself from failing, to comfort my loneliness every weekend, to feel I deserved.

But, now I am finally learning to separate food from feelings. I am learning to feed myself and feed myself foods based on how they physically make me feel rather than how they emotionally make me feel or not feel. I have started to exercise for enjoyment and am slowly realizing I am worthy even though I am not what you have deemed skinny.  I have started to rebuild my foundation and nurture myself.  I am learning to accept that what makes me beautiful is not the number on the scale or the size of my jeans, but how I treat myself and how I allow other people to treat me.  Mom and Dad, I know you didn’t mean to do this to me, but you never focused on what made me okay, worthy or beautiful. I need you to know the real me that I am getting to know, the woman who is funny and beautiful, who is smart and in control of her life.  You see, I never needed all of the food, I just needed your acceptance.  But now I am learning to accept myself and now I am realizing I don’t need the food anymore.

With Love,
Your Daughter