Friday, 20 June 2014

Overweight and obesity in our children... Let's talk about it

By Ines Astudillo (APD)
We well know that childhood overweight and obesity is a concerning health problem in Australia. Up to 1 in 4 school-aged children in New South Wales are overweight or obese. Carrying excess body fat increases the risk of developing ongoing health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease. It can also come with negative social and psychological consequences such as bullying and low self esteem issues.
Overweight and obesity can be a sensitive issue and discussion of weight in relation to children needs to be handled with care. Parents have a huge load of responsibilities, juggling work, finances, their own health, relationships, life, and raising little people. Understandably for some parents, their child’s weight issue can be overwhelming, confronting and can leave them feeling like they are failing. Clearly, with the known influences of our changing society on obesity, and obesity being a worldwide problem, parents are not the sole bearers of responsibility.

So how do I know if my child is overweight or obese? 

With an increasingly overweight and obese society, it can be difficult to work out whether a child is overweight when using visual comparisons.  A useful screening tool is the Body Mass Index (BMI)-for-age percentile which is based on a child’s height and weight, and is sex specific. This tool is a reliable indicator of body fat and is helpful to identify a possible weight issue; however, interpretation requires care and further in-depth assessment by a health professional such as a GP or dietitian.

Does my child need to lose weight? 

Each child is different and the approach to weight management should be individualised to the child. Although this is a weight issue, in general weight and weight loss should not be the focus. The take home message for children and families is the importance of adopting healthy lifestyle habits for a healthy weight for the long term. That is learning how to eat healthily and get plenty of physical activity as a lifestyle change, rather than trying to lose weight with unsustainable ‘dieting’ and excessive restrictions.
What steps can I take to start better lifestyle habits? Seeking the support of a health professional may be the first step to assess your child properly. Here are some questions that may be helpful to start a health focus: 
  • Is your child due for a growth progress check-up? 
  • Is your child eating nutritious foods that promote healthy growth and development? 
  • Are they getting at least one hour of physical activity every day? 
  • Do they drink enough water?

Here are 3 tips for healthier lifestyle habits:

1.    Create an environment at home that makes a healthy food choice easy - Stock the fridge and cupboards with nutritious foods from the 5 food groups (refer to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating for more information). If you choose to offer ‘discretionary’ or optional foods, buy these only sometimes (less than once per week) and in small amounts or packets.

2.     Pack a healthy lunch box:
* A healthy sandwich using wholegrain bread, lean protein and salad vegetables
* A piece of fruit and a calcium rich food e.g. milk, yoghurt, cheese or alternative
* Vegetables e.g. cut up sticks of celery, capsicum, cucumber, carrot, cherry tomatoes
* a healthy extra e.g. healthy homemade vegetable muffin

3.     Offer food and lead by example - It makes sense that the research shows that parents are the most effective agents of change. Parents do have the ability to change and shape children’s eating and physical activity behaviours. Certainly, children cannot be made to eat foods that they do not want to. However, children model behaviour and so a parent can offer healthy foods and show their child what to do with the food, how to eat it and enjoy it. Remember it can take over 20 times of offering a food before the child can interact with and accept the food, and finally eat it.

What can I do?

Make an appointment with Ines to discuss changes that you and your family can implement to help your child develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Ines prefers to see parents/carers alone initially.

Smoked Salmon Pasta + Smoked Salmon Wraps

Using your dinner leftovers for lunch the next day doesn’t have to mean eating exactly the same meal again. Savvy recipe planning means that you can use mostly the same ingredients for a different recipe.
Try these ideas to easily turn dinner one day into lunch the next and in the process use up your leftovers

Smoked salmon pasta with Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Ingredients are listed for 1 person meal, but you can multiply the recipe as many times as you like!
40g dried penne pasta (cook according to package
2tbsn Philly spreadable Cream Cheese
50g smoked salmon, diced
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp capers
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
2 handfuls of Baby spinach or rocket
Serve with a salad or add extra veges to the dish.
Cook penne according to package directions.  In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, salmon, lemon zest, capers and dill.  Once penne has cooked to al dente, combine penne with sauce.  Comb through spinach or rocket at the end.  Experiment with added zucchini, broccoli or cherry tomato halves.  Serve with a large salad.
Dairy free variations:
Substitute Philly with Soy cream cheese (we love Garlic & Herb Cream Sheese, available at Dr Earth Newtown)

Tomorrow’s Lunch
Smoked salmon wraps
Wholemeal wraps (1 per person)
50g smoked salmon, diced
1 tsp capers
2tbspn Philly Cream Cheese
1 tspn lemon juice + zest
Rocket or spinach
Chopped salad eg cucumber, cherry tomato, capsicum, mushroom

Combine cream cheese, capers, lemon juice and zest.  Spread the cream cheese mixture onto a wholemeal wrap and top with smoked salmon,  rocket or spinach and plenty of salad.  Roll each wrap tightly

Living from the inside out

Our guest post is courtesy of James Brett, Transformational Coach

Living from the inside out
by James Brett, Inspire Yourself Now
We live in a world where we are brought up to believe if we get the right things on the outside house, car, job, relationships, possessions that we’ll become happier and happier. Somehow all these material and external things that we can chase after have a direct link to our levels of happiness and wellbeing. All the research shows that actually even though we live in a world where we are getting more and more of the stuff we think we need, our levels of happiness have not increased.
Michael Norton, an Associate Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School, collated all the research on this subject and found the following ‘But we have research that stuff isn’t good for you. It doesn’t make you unhappy, but it doesn’t make you happy’.
This must mean that our wellbeing is not coming directly from our possessions and there must be a hidden variable?
On a deeper psychological level our ability to experience things comes directly from our own thoughts about something. If we reflect on this for a moment.....
We know we can all have different thoughts about the same thing, and have a different feeling about it too.... The sun worshipper who gets upset with rain, the gardener who gets excited with the first drops.
The rain actually has no meaning, and it is only
our thoughts about it that make a difference........
If this was false then we would all feel the same way about everything. We know from our experiences every day that we all have different preferences, thoughts and feelings about life.
Rather than seeing life each day like it is coming at us through a camera lens, we see it like a painting. Each of us getting a different interpretation via thought, moment to moment.....
Painting by Alex Meade
THOUGHT is the missing variable....
We are living in the feeling of our thinking moment to moment, rather than the feeling of the world.
When we start to align ourselves to this understanding we start to live from the inside out. Our wellbeing is coming from within rather than under the misunderstanding that it is linked to something external.
‘Thought creates the world and then says I didn’t do it’ David Bohm, Quantum Physicist
Many forms of psychology make their stand in trying to control the structure and content of thought. In my deeper explorations I have come to see thought itself as a simple pulse of energy, transient and arbitrary. It is only our intent that gives it meaning and it is an impossible task trying to control our thinking all of the time.
Enlisting the ‘Thought Police’ can work for short bursts before the very thoughts you are trying to control chain together overwhelming the mind.

What if rather than trying to control our thinking, we started to align ourselves to the true nature of our psychological experience.
Our wellbeing and happiness is always present, just like the blue sky that is always there, even when it is obscured by a storm of thinking.
When we see for ourselves the true nature of thought, life becomes more effortless, we stop trying to control, and we allow the natural system to recalibrate. The clouds clear and our mind quietens.
When we realize our happiness isn’t dependent on the things we have, we stop chasing after things and start living from the inside out. The natural implication is we spend more time in the present moment, where we can enjoy more, where we can be at our best and make the biggest difference to ourselves and those around us.
The funny thing is that when you start to live like this, goals matter less than ever, but you achieve them even more consistently than ever before.

James Brett is a Transformational Coach, who bases his coaching on the inside out paradigm and coaches from this grounding. Having trained initially in Neuro Semantics, NLP and coaching through the structure and content of thought he now works upstream looking at the nature of our human experience. This is the place where transformational shifts occur which are effortless and permanent giving you greater access to wellbeing, resilience, creativity and insight.