We would like to wish Dr. Allen Menkin a most happy retirement. Dr. Menkin was one of the founding partners of Plaza Family Care, and has spent many years enriching the lives of children and parents, as well as the community at large. All of us here at Plaza feel very lucky to have worked with him, and he will be greatly missed. We wish him all the best!
Unfortunately, flu season is upon us. Cases of influenza A have been confirmed in our area, and there is sure to be more to follow. Your doctors here at Plaza would really rather not see you, or your child, in the pathetic throes of the flu just in time to ruin your holidays! Although we will do our best to help you if you get sick–as always–prevention is more effective than treatment when it comes to the flu (and many other ailments). If you have not done so already, please consider bringing yourself and your children in for flu vaccines. You can schedule an appointment for a flu shot in either office, and there are also flu clinics available to get you in and out quickly. We make a great effort to be flexible and work with your schedule, so that we can ensure that as many of our patients as possible get protected from this miserable illness.
All of your doctors here at Plaza are ready, willing and able to answer your medical questions in person or over the phone. However, since we know it is very tempting for a parent to Google their child’s symptoms or illnesses, we wanted to call your attention to the American Academy of Pediatrics website for parents: healthychildren.org. This is a very helpful “first stop” when you have questions about symptoms, illnesses, vaccines, your child’s development, or just about any other child health issue. The site has been greatly expanded in the past few years, and usually has links to additional resources, should you need them. The information comes from pediatric experts and can be counted on to be trustworthy–which can be hard to come by on the Internet!
DR. WALSH AND GINA CONSALVO, R.D. SPEAK AT NJ CHILD CARE ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
The American Academy of Pediatrics has one pediatrician in every state who serves as the liaison between child care organizations, state government, and the state and national chapters of the AAP. For New Jersey, that person is our own Dr. Kristen Walsh. Recently, Dr. Walsh and Gina Consalvo, R.D. (our dietitian here at Plaza) addressed the NJ Child Care Association at their semi-annual meeting. The Child Care Association comprises child care directors and owners across the state, as well as child care trainers and educators. This audience, made up of those who have the most influence over how child care centers in our state are managed, presented a great opportunity for Dr. Walsh and Gina to advocate for child health. The topic was obesity prevention in the child care setting. Dr. Walsh spoke about the prevalence of obesity among preschool children, as well as the medical consequences and the basics of prevention. Gina then addressed specific recommendations for improving nutrition in the child care setting, such as serving meals family-style and having adults model healthy eating behaviors.
Parents, if your kids attend a child care center, do you know what they are being served for meals? If not, ask the child care center for a menu and look for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Fried foods and sugar-sweetened beverages (fruit punch, lemonade, soda) should be served rarely or not at all. Ideally, children should have an outdoor play space and have plenty of time for physical activity. Children often spend a significant portion of their time in child care, and as parents, we can help our children by advocating for a healthy environment in the child care setting.
WHAT IS A HEALTHY WEIGHT?
Dr. Unnati Tailor, Family Medicine
Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best ways to avoid weight-related health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. But what exactly is a healthy body weight? A measurement based on your height and weight, called your body mass index or BMI, is considered to be a better measure of health risk than just your weight in pounds. In fact, the medical terms “overweight” and “obesity” are based on BMI values. A BMI between 25 and 30 is defined as overweight for adults, and a BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. (For children, BMI normal values are age-dependent). The higher your BMI, the greater your risk of developing a weight-related illness.
The main risk factor for obesity is overeating, or eating more calories than your body burns. Calories are the amount of energy in the food you eat. Some foods have more calories than others. For example, foods that are high in fat and sugar are also high in calories. If you eat more calories than your body uses, the extra calories will be stored as body fat. Other risk factors that contribute to obesity include age, being physically inactive, genetics (obesity can run in families), poor sleeping habits, certain medications and pregnancy.
What can you do to lose weight? The first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. He or she will help you develop a healthy eating and exercise plan in order to lose weight, improve your fitness, and decrease the chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes. Be sure to set realistic goals. Small changes can make a surprising difference in your health. Your doctor can offer practical suggestions that do not require a complete overhaul of your current way of life. In some cases, your physician may refer you to a nutrition specialist, such as a registered dietitian, for in-depth counseling about food choices. At Plaza, we are fortunate to have Gina Consalvo, R.D., who works with all age groups.
Losing weight is only half the battle. Keeping the weight off will require making permanent healthy changes to your lifestyle. A healthy diet that you can stick with, an exercise program that you enjoy, more daily activity, and the support of your friends, family, or outside group will be the keys to a successful weight-loss plan.
AVOIDING HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN
Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, NCC
The holiday season is a time to celebrate. Unfortunately, for many the holidays are also a time for overeating and weight gain. The festivities don’t have to leave you looking like Santa! By focusing on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun, weight gain can be avoided. Here are some helpful tips.
1. Always start with a healthy breakfast
It kick-starts your metabolism and is a great way to start your day with balance by combining whole grains, fiber, and fresh fruit.
2. Plan for snacks
Snacks are a good thing if they are healthy. Being overly hungry leads to overeating. Grab a 100- to 200-calorie snack containing whole grains, protein, and a little bit of fat. For example, a non-fat yogurt with fruit or a banana with peanut butter. Snacks help control your hunger and keep your judgment about eating intact so you can make better decisions and will be less likely to grab something that smells and looks good, but isn’t good for you.
3. Don’t skip meals
Eating every four hours throughout the day will help keep your metabolism revved up. Skipping meals doesn’t save you calories over the long haul, because by the time you sit down to eat, you’re ravenous, which leads to overeating. Skipping meals also causes your body to go into starvation mode, making it more likely that the calories consumed are stored as fat instead of being burned.
4. Dress strategically
Wearing fitted clothes provides a subconscious reminder to avoid overindulging, because your clothes will feel snug when you start to over eat versus clothing that stretches right along with your waistline. Another good strategy for women at holiday parties is to bring a clutch bag rather than one with a shoulder strap. If you have to hold your purse, you’ll be hard pressed to grab multiple appetizers.
5. Have a strategy ready for food pushers
Don’t feel pressured to eat everything. Just because it is there doesn’t mean you have to eat it. And you don’t have to over eat to be a good guest. Have polite comments ready for food pushers. Politely say, “No thank you, I’ve had enough. Everything is so delicious.” The host/hostess will appreciate the compliment and you will avoid overeating out of guilt.
6. Preplan your drinks
Limit your drinking to one or two drinks or alternate between drinks and water. Be mindful of the caloric value of your drink. Eggnog has about 450 calories per glass, which is the equivalent of nearly one full meal. Any hard alcohol on the rocks or mixed with club soda will be closer to 100 calories, as will most light beers or a glass of wine. No matter what your beverage of choice is, make sure you drink a lot of water too. Water will keep you hydrated and helps to fill you up and slow down your eating.
7. Pace yourself
Whether you put down your fork between bites, chew thoroughly, take a drink between bites or any other strategy, taking longer to eat helps you feel more satisfied with less food.
8. Bring a healthy dish
By offering to bring a healthy dish to a holiday gathering, you will be a great guest, and can be assured that you will have something to eat that you like and that is nutritious.
9. Practice healthy eating habits
Avoid or limit sauces made from cream, half-and-half and meat drippings. Instead choose broth-based or vegetable sauces. For salads, choose oil based salad dressings, like oil and vinegar or vinaigrette. Limit added fats by skipping the gravy and butter. If you feel hungry for a second helping, consider how much you’ve eaten and check in with your body. Good choices for seconds are vegetables and water.
10. Manage stress
Holidays can be a stressful time for many people and stress can contribute to weight gain in several ways. Make sure to set some personal time aside for rest, relaxation and leisure.
11. Listen to your body
It is easy to get distracted from signals of physical hunger and fullness at social gatherings. Make an effort to stay in tune with your body’s signals during holiday meals. If you feel satiated and comfortable, stop eating. Just because there is more food available, does not mean you need to eat more. For an added reminder, put your phone on vibrate and set a countdown timer for 20 or 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, check in with yourself and notice how you are feeling and what you are doing. Are you eating? If so, are you actually hungry? Are you eating to cope with emotions or to distract from stress? No judgment; just observation. Then set the timer again.
12. Eat mindfully
Survey the entire table before you take any food. Choose foods that look visually appealing or that you know you will like, and enjoy a small portion thoroughly. If the food you selected does not taste as good as you expected, stop eating it and choose something else. By giving yourself permission to eat a certain amount of food, you are much less likely to overeat later.
13. Keep up with exercise
Exercise will not only help burn calories, it will also keep your metabolism going throughout the day. An added benefit of exercise is that it boosts endorphins, which can be helpful for relieving holiday stress. Try to get an extra 20 minutes of exercise every day.
14. Get enough sleep
Studies have shown that poor sleep can increase appetite and caloric intake. Get enough sleep to avoid overeating and food cravings throughout the day.
15. Out of sight, out of mind
Wrap tempting foods in foil or in nontransparent containers. Place nutrient-dense foods toward the front of the refrigerator and cabinets. Reduce the accessibility of higher calorie, easy-to-eat foods and make them more difficult to reach.