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Mindful Eating

A Mindful Approach to Eating: Week 3

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.

Today, most people are focused on reducing or restricting their caloric intake in America. Americans are discontent with their health and their bodies. They eat on the go, eat food prepared by others, and they eat alone or while multitasking much more than they would like.  Most importantly, they’ve become disconnected from the ingredients in their food. When we put these factors together, they have put their bodies at a disadvantage and taken away its ability to auto regulate.

If you are generally unsatisfied with your relationship with food and eating, then developing a broader appreciation for how your food was grown, harvested, processed and packaged may be the next step. Being aware of how the food came to your plate is important.

These things sound simple, and much of it is common sense, but there are good reasons we ignore our relationship with food. 

Change is hard.

We are comfortable with our habits and anything new takes more time and energy, even when we are motivated. We settle into familiar patterns for which there are proven outcomes–we already know the results for how we have been living.  Happy or not with those results, living with the status quo seems easier than taking a chance on something unknown. Experimenting with something new opens up the possibility of failure. We are very motivated to avoid feeling like we have failed.

This brings me to my next point.

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.

Mindfulness is an approach to eating that moves beyond a “diet plan” and offers opportunity to recalibrate our appetite. Here is a summary of the tips from this series including two new ones for this week:

      Try implementing the following tips this week:

      1. 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.  If 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 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.  It may take some time for your stomach and your brain to start communicating effectively again, but it will happen if you keep up these tips.

      2. Make mealtime a sensory experience.

      Take time to really chew your food, breaking it down to a consistency where the flavor comes through.  This is also great for digestion! Food that is appealing to the eye and smells appetizing sets the tone for a fulfilling meal. The texture, temperature, combinations of flavors are pieces of information that help you feel more satisfied with the food you are eating.  The more senses used to take in the meal, the more meaningful it will be. We are less likely to eat too much and we are more likely to make wise choices.

      3. Share your meal with someone, someone you like, if possible.  

      Good conversation, stimulating ideas, shared enjoyment makes food more memorable and meets your need for sustenance in ways that can’t come for food.  Humans need connection: it fills us with positive emotions. Isolations is much more likely to lead to overeating.

      4. Choose nutritionally rich food that are sustainable.

      Eating a diet high in a variety of nutrients provides more energy, keeps away cravings, and supports health. There is a great deal of misinformation about where nutrients come from and how much we actually need. Dr. Fuhrman published a handy guide, “Nutritarian Handbook and ANDI Food Scoring Guide,” with rankings of the most nutritious foods.  You guessed it, the most nutritious foods are all green! When available, buy local and seasonal food. It will taste better and drastically reduce the carbon footprint.

      5. Eat and only eat at mealtimes.

      Other than good conversation, try not to multitask during meals.  When your attention is on something else, you are not registering what you eat.  Your getting the gist of it now, this leads to eating more food, eating less well, and disconnects your mind from your gut.  

      6. Eat at specific, scheduled meal times.  

      Help your body get on a schedule to manage hunger and regulate your digestion.  Setting aside a time to eat also sends you the message that nourishing yourself is a worthwhile effort.  Putting sometime and some thought into preparation or presentation will pay off. When you create something, you cherish it.  Your loved ones also get the message that you believe nourishing them is important. Not many more gestures help the parent-child relationship more than this one.  

      I cannot encourage this step more strongly as a physician and as a child-psychiatrist. If you are only able to implement one step, this is the one. This does not mean you must be a gourmet.  Many semi-prepared options or even take out options are healthful and if served on plates, even paper plates, at the table, this will do the trick.

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

      Mindful Eating

      A Mindful Approach to Eating: Week 2

      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.

      As we have come to associate what we eat with who we are, we have become more dissociated from how we are eating and the actual food by which we are nourished. It’s easy to understand how this could have happened when we think about how quickly food went from being scarce to being in overabundance. It’s pretty simple to fill a plate with calorie-dense foods for most Americans today, but this was not something most of our great grandparents could say.

      As a nation, we simply have not had time to adapt our relationship with food as our identity has shifted. Today, in a world where we can grow or import anything from anywhere (at least for the time being), it seems that what we are missing out on the practice of thinking about how we are feeding our appetites.

      So, let’s step back and take a look at process rather than content.

      This is mindful eating.

      Start to think about how you eat. 

      Take a moment to note what comes to mind when you ask yourself this question:

      “How do I eat?”

      Common answers are:

      “Whenever I can”

      “On the go”

      “Whatever’s in the lunch line”

      “Fast”

      “Alone”

      “Between shifts”

      “While watching TV”

      It’s likely that some of the above answers might resonate with you, these factors have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing and are key to the success of whatever approach to eating you take or strategy you have for nourishing your body. 

      Mindful eating, in its simplest form, is turning some (or all) of your attention to the meal at hand with the goal of fully understanding and engaging in the experience.

      Core Ideas of Mindful Eating:

      • Let your body rather than your emotions guide your eating
      • Stay aware of your sensory experiences while eating
      • Share the experience with others
      • Choose nutritionally rich and sustainable foods
      • Focus on eating only while you are actually eating
      • Carve out specific times for meals.

        Try implementing this tip this week:

        Make mealtime a sensory experience.

        Take time to really chew your food, breaking it down to a consistency where the flavor comes through.  This is also great for digestion!

        Food that is appealing to the eye and smells appetizing sets the tone for a fulfilling meal. The texture, temperature, combinations of flavors are pieces of information that help you feel more satisfied with the food you are eating.  

        The more senses used to take in the meal, the more meaningful it will be. We are less likely to eat too much and we are more likely to make wise choices.

        Share your meal with someone, someone you like, if possible.  

        Good conversation, stimulating ideas, shared enjoyment makes food more memorable and meets your need for sustenance in ways that can’t come for food.  Humans need connection: it fills us with positive emotions. Isolations is much more likely to lead to overeating.

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

        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

          Beach Tree - Sunset

          World Suicide Prevention Day

           

           

           

          Join me, today and everyday, in the fight to prevent suicide. The battle is here in our community and we all need to reach out to those who are suffering with life threatening emotional pain. Suicidal thoughts should never be dismissed or minimized. They always represent a treatable condition. Any emergency room in the country can direct someone to the care they need. If you are worried about someone, speak up, get help, don’t wait. Let’s get rid of stigma and become beacons of hope.

          Dr. Burton-Dr. Burton

          The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Suicide Resource Center has valuable information for families: ACCAP Family and Youth Resources

          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

          The Grove at Ponte Vendra Beach, Logo

          American Heritage and Psychiatry

          Common Messages to Help us Navigate the Crisis at the Border

          The ideals around which we have founded this nation and raised our families are dear to all of us.  We are fortunate to have been born in a nation where we can raise our children in relatively safe and secure communities and change our situation, station, or life when we choose.  When people around the world long for this freedom for their children they may make the choice to leave their land and journey to the United States of America. History has given us direction and psychiatry has given us understanding about how we can form and maintain a rich and diverse melting-pot as a nation.  


          “…Give me your tired, your poor,

          Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

          The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

          Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.

          I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

          Emma Lazarus 1883


          American Heritage

          In the 1860s, French anti-slavery activist Edouard de Laboulaye suggested that France gift of the
          statue, “Liberty Enlightening the World” to commemorate the alliance between the U.S. and France during the American Revolution and the end of slavery in the U.S. after the Civil War. In order to raise money to construct the monument’s base, the poet, Emma Lazarus wrote the famous sonnet “The New Colossus” for a Statue of Liberty fundraiser in 1883.  Concurrently, the “Great Wave of Immigration” had begun and between 1880 and  1920, 23.5 million persons immigrated to the U.S..  The poet was inspired by her experiences with Russian Jews detained by immigration officials on Ward Island and included a new facet of liberty in her interpretation of what the statue could mean. In the years since, though the statue would take on many additional layers of meaning, the link between it and immigration  solidified. 

          America is a nation of immigrants, but we have struggled with our identity.  My own  family came to the United States in 1966 from a small town in Italy, looking for a better life, hoping to find the “American dream”.  Many of you have stories of immigration, renewal, hope, and pride going back just a generation or so. We are the beneficiary of what freedom and opportunity has to offer.   This is the America where we are raising children together with the values we want to uphold. It is hopeful to believe in our commitment to liberty, justice, and freedom for all. It can be difficult to conceptualize that this same invitation is not extended to everyone.    

          We have always returned to the vision that the U.S. shall be a place of refuge in the World.  However, in May 2018, the U.S. began  enforcing a “zero-tolerance policy” to prosecute anyone crossing the border, including those who may seek asylum.  This policy determines that families apprehended at the border be separated, with parents being contained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and children being sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. It is estimated that 658 children were separated from their parents in May.  

          We have misinterpreted fundamental concepts of helping others, building alliances, and protecting our future when we do harm to those least able to care for themselves.  Children coming to the United States from Northern Latin America are traumatized, depleted and most vulnerable. They are fleeing a degree of danger and violence that is difficult for U.S citizens to understand, because despite our struggles, most of us can access safety and justice when we need it. It is important to understand the meaning and impact of the policy separating children from their parents.

          The Consequences of Separating Children from Parents:

          Disrupted Attachments

          In psychiatry we use the term attachment to describe the secure structure of a relationship between a child and caregiver. It is the portal through which the child learns to experience him/her self, others, and the world around them. The quality of the attachment translates into how the child relates and reacts to everything in ways that both subtle and overt. When the attachment is disrupted, the ripples into the child’s development and future and significant.

          A healthy attachment is described as a reciprocal, enduring, emotional connection between a child and his/her primary caregiver(s). This develops from care that is attuned and responsive to the child’s physical and emotional needs. A secure attachment is an essential building block of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Characteristics such as empathy, capacity to love, and inhibition of aggression are all related to a child’s sense of secure attachment in the world.

          When this attachment is disrupted through a variety of circumstances such as the abrupt loss of or extended separation from a parent, child abuse or neglect, the child is at risk of attachment related problems.

          Attachment Related Problems:

          Problems with Interpersonal Relationships:

          • lack of trust in caregivers or adults in positions of authority
          • resistance to nurturance or guidance
          • difficulty giving and receiving genuine affection or love

          Problems with Emotional Functioning:

          • minimal ability to recognize the emotions of others
          • poor emotional regulation (moodiness, extreme fluctuations in emotions, “falling apart” when faced with stress)
          • low self-esteem

          Behavior Problems:

          • demanding, clingy, and/or overt or covert over-controlling behavior
          • temper tantrums and poor self-control
          • regressed behavior, problems with speech, problems with eating
          • chronic lying and Stealing
          • property destruction and aggression
          • impulsivity

          Problems with Cognitive/Moral Development:

          • lack of understanding of cause and effect
          • decreased abstract thinking
          • limited compassion, empathy, and remorse
          • difficulty concentrating and attending to school related tasks

          Currently, The U.S. has enacted a policy with potentially devastating consequences to children.  The types of injuries that we are causing can be permanent, pervasive, and exceptionally difficult to treat.  Repair of early life trauma, particularly the abrupt severing of contact between child and parent, without understanding, without predictability, and without promise of reunion causes irrevocable damage.   The cost to these children and the future that unfolds along with them will be astronomical and beyond any justification for the current policy.

          It is important to remember that these children may not demonstrate full signs and symptoms of their injuries at this time.  It is not until they reach a place where safety is more certain that that they begin to demonstrate the full impact of the trauma.  As a nation, we have an opportunity to either begin to heal or to further deepen the psychological wounds this children bring with them across our border. The United States has the capacity to offer a restorative and corrective experience to our neighbors, community, and within this nation.  We can rebuild the trust of these children. We can offer security. We have the opportunity to demonstrate that the world can be more good than bad. 

          As we look for solutions for families at our border it becomes increasingly important that we remember the lessons from the past. In medicine and psychiatry, not all things are certain; however, there are concepts that are universally accepted and foundational to healthy development. Supporting attachments between parents and children honors who we are as a people and builds upon the original principals of our nation.

           

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

           

          Resources:

          American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Policy_Statements/2018/Separating_Immigrant_Children_From_Their_Families

          Quick Facts:Disrupted Attachment. An Information Booklet For Parents/Guardians and Child Serving Professionals in Chittenden County, Vermont http://studentsfirstproject.org/wp-content/uploads/attachment-booklet-for-parents-guardians-and-child-serving-professionals.pdf

          Posted. June 1, 2018. They Are (Still) Refugees: People Continue to Flee Violence in Latin American Countries.  

          PEW Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/03/key-findings-about-u-s-immigrants/

          August 2, 2017. TIME Magazine. Author: OLIVIA B. WAXMAN:The Poem on the Statue of Liberty Was ‘Added Later’ But There’s More to That Story

          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

          Bringing the Message of Memorial Day Home

          The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach honors fallen heroes on Memorial Day.

          Since the Civil War, Americans have been gathering on Memorial Day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. This national holiday heralds the summer season and reminds all Americans to take a moment to remember the sacrifice of our valiant military service members, first responders and their families. We have continued a tradition of laying wreaths and placing flags to honor these great men and women. We also show appreciation and reverence for the families and communities who have personally lost a loved one in the line of duty. Memorial Day is a day of both celebration and grief, accounting for the honor of our heroes and reflecting on their tragic loss. The meaning of Memorial Day is to reach out in support of all the soldiers and their families who have sacrificed so much for the freedom and privilege held by our nation.

          Photo and Caption Credit: The History Channel PBS.org

          Commemorate Memorial Day with you Family

          Display the American Flag – On Memorial Day, the U.S. flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon. In the morning, the flag should be raised momentarily to the top and then lowered to half-staff.

          Visit a Site of Remembrance – Many Americans make special flower arrangements and deliver them as a family to grave sites of their loved ones and ancestors.

          Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance –  Americans still wherever they are at 3:00 p.m. to take a moment of silence to remember and honor the fallen.

          Look for an Event Honoring Local Veterans – The Memorial Day holiday is a great time to let local veterans know that we appreciate their sacrifice and that they have not been forgotten.

          Attend Memorial Day Parades – The Memorial Day parade is a time-honored tradition in cities and towns across America. Neighbors come together to remember with pride those who sacrificed so much for our country.

          Learn about our Nation’s Memorials –  Take a trip or read about our national memorials in Washington, D.C. and around the country.

          Remember Family and American History –  Read about your family history, look at old photographs and teach your children about ancestors, especially those who died in the service of their nation.  Consider reading Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or other patriotic speeches by presidents and leaders of the armed services.

          Don some Memorial Day PoppiesThe tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day was inspired by the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrea. War worker Moina Michael made a personal pledge to always wear red silk poppies as an emblem of “keeping the faith with all who died,” and began a tradition that was adopted in the United States, England, France, Australia and more than 50 other countries.

           

          In Flanders Fields

          John McCrae, 1872 – 1918

          In Flanders fields the poppies blow

          Between the crosses, row on row,

          That mark our place, and in the sky,

          The larks, still bravely singing, fly,

          Scarce heard amid the guns below.

           

          We are the dead; short days ago

          We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

          Loved and were loved, and now we lie

          In Flanders fields.

           

          Take up our quarrel with the foe!

          To you from failing hands we throw

          The torch; be yours to hold it high!

          If ye break faith with us who die

          We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

          In Flanders fields.

          Family on Bench

          Stop Bullying

          Let’s Put an End to Bullying

          Kids in the US attend school for 180 days a year!  Half of our childrens’ waking hours from Monday to Friday are spent in classrooms with peers and teachers.  We hope, watch, and wait to see if the people who share our son’s or daughter’s time are going to think he/she is as wonderful as we do! The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach believes that children and teens need a safe and supportive educational environment to achieve their academic potential.  We are beginning a series of blog posts to help arm parents, kids, and educators in our community with tools to prevent, recognize, intervene and bounce back from bullying.

          STop Bullying Colorful Hand

          This week we look to www.stopbullying.gov/what-you-can-do/teens/index.html for evidence based steps in preventing bullying. Kids take their cues from the adults in their life about how to view bullying.  Parents, teachers, coaches, and administrators serve a vital role in setting the scene at school. We are going to walk through the these prevention guidelines week by week and then move on to intervention and recovery.

          Preventions and What You Can Do:

          • Talk about what bullying is and give some examples.  Tell kids bullying is not tolerated on or off campus and the everyone has a role in preventing it.  Make sure kids know who they can go to at school to report something they see happening and that they can make an anonymous report.  Take a look below for our first expanded discussion.
          • Talk to your child’s school about how they prevent bullying and ask if they have a campaign or curriculum they offer specific grade-levels  struggling with bullying concerns.
          • If your child has already been involved with bullying, talk with a specialist about building resilience. It is important for kids to unlearn the bully or victim role before starting a new grade or school to keep the pattern from continuing.
          • Check in with kids periodically.  Listen to their experiences about making and keeping friends. Ask about school.  Understand their concerns about fitting-in, being well-liked, and having a place at school they feel accepted.
          • Foster Interests and Hobbies. Special activities can boost confidence, help kids find like-minded friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
          • Be a good role model!  Kids learn from observing social behavior.  When they see how parents treat one another, principals treat teachers, and coaches treat the opposing team, they are crafting scripts for life.  Examples of adults and peers treating each other with kindness and respect are the best weapon we have against bullying.

          Bullying: Know it when you see it!

          Children who are able to identify bullying can learn to stand up for themselves and others.  Kids often need grown-ups to help them talk about difficult or embarrassing topics. They also need adults to give them the space and permission to talk.  When they have this, they can safely respond to bullying and get help.

          • Step 1: Help your child identify bullying when it happens.  Ask them to tell you about bullying or if they have seen it at school or on TV.  Physical bullying like pushing, stealing, tripping, threatening with weapons, and acts of intimidation happens on school campuses everyday. However, bullying is often more subtle than pulling someone’s hair or taking their lunch money.  It is often a very personal and shameful. See if your child can identify name calling, rumor spreading, turning peers against someone, pointing and laughing, and intentionally making it unpopular to like someone as bullying.
          • Step 2: Help your child identify trusted adults at school, at home, at camp, and any other place they spend time.  Don’t take for granted that they know who to talk to or that you want them to speak-up. Kids, particularly if they are dealing with a bit of depression or anxiety, can erroneously believe that their problems are not important enough to share.
          • Step 3: Let your child know that it is brave to speak-up about bullying.  Help them step away from the stigma. It takes a lot of courage for a kid to admit to an adult that they are being bullied!  Secretly they may fear that an adult or parent won’t take them seriously or will view them as weak. Their worst fear is that the adult will agree with the things the bully has said or done. In my experience, this is the largest barrier to kids reporting bullying to their parents.
          • Step 4: Tell you child that no one is allowed to hurt them, just as they are not permitted to hurt anyone else.  Let them know that they deserve to be treated with dignity and that the adults at school and in the community believe this also.  Adults will take steps to address when bullying is identified. Most importantly, tell your child that if they inform you of bullying, you will NEVER MAKE THEM SIT DOWN WITH THE BULLY TO TALK IT OUT.  This does not help and is not recommended.  Bullying prevention is accomplished through the bystander effect: when enough kids believe they deserve to go to a school where everyone feels safe and accepted, they will stand-up for that belief.  Building this culture into educational settings, athletic programs, extracurricular activities, and our homes is the treatment for bullying problems in a community.
          • Step 5: Remember that parents are not expected to have all the answers to challenges children face.  Give comfort, support, and advice, even if you can’t solve the problem directly. Children are not always looking for solutions, in fact jumping to problem solving before understanding their experience can be invalidating.  Let them know what they feel makes sense.  Ask them what they think would help–problem solve together.
          • Step 6: Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently, if they find themselves in the middle of a bullying situation.  If it’s something more complicated or dangerous, find strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work.

          Additional Resources:

          stopbullying.gov logo  National Anti Bullying Logo  Anti-Bullying Logo

          Follow our Blog for more on this series.  We will visit these topics in more detail in weeks to come.  The Retreat at Ponte Vedra Beach 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 experiencing bullying.

          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