Mindful Eating

A Mindful Approach to Eating: Week 1

The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach is committed to helping individuals and families develop the tools for living every day more satisfied. We know that happiness is connected to finding a rhythm to life that makes sense and is sustainable.

Despite the fact that a relationship with food is a part of both our daily routine and deeply ingrained individual and family traditions, it remains an aspect over which very few people feel that they have mastery. There are many reasons for this, but in my opinion, one of the major problems is that there is just too much advice available about what we should be eating that it’s impossible to make sense of it all. The importance of a healthy diet for physical and emotional wellbeing is not in dispute, but knowing what to do or who to believe is much less clear. The confusion created by all the information available is not to the advantage of the individual.

This flood of information is in response to the demand and people’s willingness to allot a significant amount of resources in attempts to master how they nourish their body.  There are so many conversations going on about what to eat and how to eat: paleo versus vegan, low glycemic versus starch based, six small meals a day versus intermittent fasting, juices versus bowls, fish versus mercury. The list goes on and on. Sorting through all this is overwhelming and leaves people feeling like they are missing the key to achieving their goals.

Mindfulness is an approach to eating that moves beyond a “diet plan” and offers opportunity to recalibrate our appetite.

There is so much information about how you should eat, what you should eat, and when you should eat that it’s difficult to know what’s really useful. The potential for your investment into a plan that is not effective gives short-lived results or leaves you with consequences to your overall health, which is a fear everyone has. People are tired of food trends and buying supplements that, as a nation, have not made us healthier and happier.

Diets that eliminate food groups or strictly reduce calories leave people feeling resentful, unsatisfied, and generally do not lead to long-term health outcomes. Additionally, it can be counterproductive to move towards a category of eating that is judgmental or judged as extreme by others.

    Try implementing this tip this week:

    -Let your body guide your eating.

    Hunger is an important cue.  So is satiety.

    It takes your body about 20 minutes to feel full during a meal. It meal time is shorter, the signal will be missed and overeating will happen.  

    When pressed for time, consider eating a replica (in size and content) of a healthful meal you like, that fills you up and keeps you satisfied.

    Eating calorie dense foods quickly tricks your mind into thinking you need much more of it than you do.  You also get a huge mental reward (similar to sex or winning) when you eat foods high in fat. This makes it a very seductive option at the moment you want a quick boost in mood.

    This is also what makes it risky to use food as a reward for children. It does not take long for this phenomenon to become a craving.  This pattern sets you up to repeatedly turn to food for emotional reasons rather than in response to hunger that comes from your belly.

    It may take some time for your stomach and your brain to start communicating effectively again, but it will happen if you keep up the tips discussed in this series! 

    Theresa Randazzo-Burton, MD
    Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist

    Mother and Daughter on Beach

    Exercising For Two?

    We’ve all heard of the phrase “Eating for Two” while pregnant, but have you heard of the phrase “Exercising for Two”? If you haven’t, you’re in good company. 

    There are many benefits to staying active while your baby is growing. Exercise and fitness are important while you are pregnant, because in addition to caring for your physical and emotional health, you are giving your baby the healthiest start possible.

    Luckily, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided some guidelines to help staying active during pregnancy safe and easy to understand. 

    The CDC recommends that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

    • Aerobic activity is one in which you move large muscles of the body
    • Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating
    • You still can talk normally, but you cannot sing.

    You can divide the 150 minutes into 30-minute workouts on five days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts throughout each day. If you are new to exercise, start out slowly and gradually increase your activity.  

    During your pregnancy you are certainly going to have times when your body is going to tell you that you need to relax, kick up your feet and take it easy. It makes sense. You’re growing a human after all! 

    For me, I had terrible morning sickness for the first 15 weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter. It was hard to get moving when spurts of nausea hit, but I found that getting out and going for a walk—or taking a barre class—would minimize my nausea and improve my mood.

    The ACOG is spreading the word that if you are healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it is safe to continue or start most types of exercise with a few modifications. 

    Now, if I haven’t convinced you yet, here are some facts to consider.

    Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits you and your fetus in these key ways:

    •  It reduces back pain. 
    •  It eases constipation.
    •  It can decrease your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and Cesarean delivery.
    •  It promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy. 
    •  It improves your overall general fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels. 
    • It helps you lose that stubborn baby weight after your baby is born.

    Although every pregnancy is different and you need to discuss exercise with your obstetrician, for many women, physical activity does not increase their risk of miscarriage, low birth weight or early delivery.

    Here are four things you can do to make exercise during pregnancy as safe as possible: 

    1. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout to avoid dehydration. Signs of this include dizziness, a racing or pounding heart, and urinating only small amounts or having urine that is dark yellow.
    2. Wear a sports bra that gives lots of support. Later in pregnancy, a belly support belt may reduce discomfort while walking or running. Ask your doctor if this is right for you.
    3. Avoid becoming overheated, especially in the first trimester. Drink cool fluids, wear loose-fitting clothing, and exercise in a temperature-controlled room. Do not exercise outside when it is very hot or humid.
    4. Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. Both of these positions can decrease the amount of blood returning to your heart and may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.

    If your OB-GYN gives you the green light to exercise, you can decide together on an exercise routine that fits your needs and is safe during pregnancy. There are prenatal barre, yoga and pilates classes designed for pregnant women that teach modified poses to accommodate a pregnant woman’s shifting balance.

    You should avoid poses that require you to be still or lie on your back for long periods. If you are an experienced runner, jogger, or racquet-sports player, you may be able to keep doing these activities during pregnancy.

    There are some women out there who, because of medical reasons, should not exercise during their pregnancy.  Specifically, the ACOG clearly warns women with the following conditions or pregnancy complications not to exercise during pregnancy:

    • Certain types of heart and lung diseases
    • Cervical insufficiency or cerclage
    • Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) with risk factors for preterm labor
    • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy
    • Preterm labor or ruptured membranes (your water has broken) during this pregnancy
    • Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
    • Severe anemia

    As you can tell, I am passionate about this very real and current topic in my own life. I experienced a lot of benefits of staying active throughout my pregnancy and into the postpartum period, as well. And I want to lend support to other women as they strive to balance fitness, fatigue and body changes during their pregnancy. 

    So get after it!

    Talk to your doctor, and find the activity that best interests you. And although you may need to make modifications here and there, your body and your baby will benefit greatly.

    Let’s make this whole “Exercising for Two” phrase an actual thing!


    Amy-Katherine Ahrberg, RN, BSN

    Exercise Nurse Specialist 

    The Grove at The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach

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    Family on Cliffside

    Listening to the Little Things

    Let’s Put an End to Bullying

    “How did I miss this?  Why didn’t he tell me what was happening?  If I had known sooner, I could have done something! “ As parents, we try hard to avoid getting out of sync with our family.  We have all found ourselves wondering how to encourage our kids to talk to us about the issues they face.  While we may feel helpless or even unwanted at times, the good news is children really do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help with tough decisions. Getting them to talk is probably easier than you think, it’s just a matter of creating some time and space to connect.  Spending 10-15 minutes a day talking with your kids reassures them that you are available and attentive. If you want to hear about the big things happening in your child’s life, you have to listen to the little things.  

    For some families, conversation about daily life, classes, activities, friends, and hobbies comes easily and the topics flow.  Other families may feel out of practice, uncomfortable, or artificial when they try to communicate. Breaking the ice, or getting back to face-to-face communication is worth trying.  Chances are your child (yes, even your teenager) has also been longing to connect with you.

    Here are some ideas to help start conversations about your child’s daily life and feelings: 

    • What was one good thing that happened today? Any bad things?
    • What is lunch time like at your school? Who do you sit with? What do you talk about?
    • What is it like to ride the school bus?
    • What are you good at? What would do you like best about yourself?
    • How does your teacher handle problems in the classroom?  Do you think those methods are effective?

    When It comes to bullying, having a foundation of good communication and a feeling of security at home can literally be life saving!  Talking about bullying directly is an important step in understanding how this issue might be affecting your child or the school your child attends. Even if your child is not directly involved in bullying, an environment where bullying thrives can put everyone at risk.  The solutions to bullying depend largely on the bystanders deciding their school should be a place where every student feels safe. We can teach our children this message both directly and indirectly when we talk with them. There are no right or wrong ways to address these topics, but it is important to encourage kids to speak honestly. Assure kids they are not alone in addressing any problems that arise.

    You can start having conversations at home with questions like these:

    • What does “bullying” mean to you?
    • Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
    • Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
    • Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
    • What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
    • Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
    • What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
    • Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
    • Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?

    Expert Tip: Try listening without planning a reply.  Instead, focus on trying to understand how your child is processing and feeling. If you don’t know how to reply, ask your child how you can help.  You may be surprised by the answer. Finding out what would feel helpful goes a long way towards encouraging them to continue talking.

    We tune into our children when we listen to answers from questions like the ones above.  We show our children that they have valuable thoughts in their mind and those thoughts can turn into words and actions, which have the power to impact others.  A child who believes in their own ability is not likely to bully others or tolerate bullying around them.

    We spend so much time away from our children that it’s important to continually learn about how teachers, friends, social media and other influences are shaping and changing who they are.  When we listen, we stay tuned into the person they are becoming and we send them the message that they are worth knowing. A child who believes that they are worth knowing, worth our time, worth out effort, worth our support is as bullyproof as can be.

    There are simple ways to keep up-to-date with kids’ lives.  This is especially important for parents who split time with another caregiver or who travel and are away from home often.

    Tips for staying up-to-date with your child’s life:

    • Read class newsletters and school flyers. Talk about them at home.
    • Check out the school website
    • Attend school events and parent nights
    • Greet the bus driver
    • Meet teachers and counselors or reach out by email

    When we take time to talk with our children, we provide an example of how to listen, solve problems, and consider others.  The antidote to bullying is building kids who feel capable, confident, and worthwhile. Kids who receive this message at home share it with others.  

    Theresa Randazzo-Burton, MD
    Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist

    Follow our Blog for more on this series.  Dr. Burton will visit topics related to bullying in more detail in weeks to come.  She will tackle the topics of cyberbullying, helping your child form a peer group, identifying bullying at home, bully proofing, bouncing back from bullying, and more.  Check with the Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach this fall to join our Bouncing Back Group for kids to have experienced bullying.  

    Additional Resources:

    stopbullying.gov logoNational Anti Bullying Logo Anti-Bullying Logo

    Family at Beach

    Happy Healthy American Families

    Families are managing a lot of different things in 2018. There are work schedules, school schedules, after school schedules, medical appointments, play dates, and a variety of other things that can pop up on a family calendar from week to week. At the Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach, we are creating a place for families to come and enjoy time together whether it is for a class, appointment, or family event. We know that family health and wellness increases when intentional time is spent together and positive memories are made.

    In America, a lot of money is spent on our health care. According to the Center for Disease Control, the per person cost for health care is around $9,990.  For perspective on what this cost was a few decades ago, in the 1960’s the per person cost was for health care was $146. This cost has been increasing every decade since the 1960’s. Not many people get excited talking about money or budgeting. It is important; however, to have these conversations from time to time so that we can identify opportunity for improvement. America currently spends about 17.8% of our total budget on health care costs while in 1960 we were spending about 5% of our total budget on health care costs. Finding ways to keep this number from continuing to increase will benefit individuals, families, and our country as a whole.

    The current American culture is very different from the culture of the 1960’s. Some of the changes include an increase in access to fast food restaurants, changes in the the way food is made, and increase in drinking sugary and caffeinated beverages.  We are exposed to a lot of messages about food and fitness. It gets confusing! Many of the current trends, habits, and lifestyles are not leading to a healthier America. The marketing of many food companies and fitness programs is very convincing: what they have is something you need! Most of us have a diet or fitness trend that pops into our mind when we think about health and wellness. How do we sort through all the different messages about health and wellness when it seems there is a new diet or lifestyle to follow every month?

    We have the opportunity to shape children and adolescents dietary preferences and lifestyle routines while they are living in our homes. Did you know a lot of children have difficulty identifying different fruits and veggies? The youngest among us are growing up in homes without consistent exposure to food in its natural form. Being in the kitchen, cooking, and creating is a wonderful opportunity for children and parents to enjoy time together while increasing their health and wellness.

    Creating a home that is filled with health promoting foods and activities takes the fear and guesswork out of meeting your own personal needs and the needs of your children. A few things you can try are listed below:

    • Take an inventory of what’s in your pantry and refrigerator
    • Schedule time for meal planning
    • Have your kids contribute ideas for snacks and meals
    • Introduce new foods one at a time, try and pair them with an old favorite
      • Steamed broccoli with mashed potatoes
      • Carrots  with hummus
    • Schedule time for grocery shopping
    • Schedule time for meal prepping. This includes washing, cutting, and pre-measuring meal ingredients so that when you want to make something it takes less work!
    • Include children and adolescents in meal prep
      • Research shows that children and adolescents are more likely to eat something they have helped prepare
    • Have a family meeting to review what’s working
    • Plan re-peat meals! You don’t have to create all new meals each week

    At the Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach, we seek to have open conversations about health, nutrition, wellness, and fitness. We focus on supportive do-able solutions! Children and adults are faced with daily decisions and opportunities to nourish their bodies and minds. By learning patterns that are enjoyable and health promoting, individuals and families are creating healthy habits with lifelong benefits.  Follow our blog for more posts in this series on nutrition and wellness. Look for future posts on family friendly meals, navigating nutrition labels, lunch box solutions, travel friendly snack packs, and more! Join us for exciting events this fall including meal planning, taste testing, sauces and dressing your kids will love, batch cooking, and of course, holiday baking!

    Center for Disease Control. (2017). National center for health statistics. Health, United States, 2016: With chartbook on long-term trends in health. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus16.pdf#093