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Are You Helping your Kids to Cultivate a Healthy Relationship with Food – or Setting Them Up for Struggle? – Part II

[ Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 0 comments ]
By Annette Sloan

In the first post of this series, we learned why it’s best to avoid labeling foods as “good” and “bad.” Instead, parents can explain that there are “foods we eat more often” and “foods we eat less often.” This removes morality from the picture and stops us from connecting our self-worth with what we eat.

Our next DON’T and DO stem from my professional experience as a health coach for teen girls. This dynamic plays out when well-meaning parents try to guide their kids towards moderation and healthy choices. For the sake of simplicity, I refer to girls in this post, although this is certainly an issue that can affect boys as well.

DON’T: Make judgmental comments about what’s on your daughter’s plate.

“Do you really need another serving?” “Are you sure you want to eat that piece of cake?” “Wow, you must be really hungry.”

Before we dive into why these types of comments are harmful, I first want you to know that I get it. If one of your kids is on the heavy side, you want to do everything you can to help her reach a healthy weight. You know that life can be socially harder for heavy kids. And you worry about her future if she continues to gain weight into adulthood. Or, on the flip side, perhaps you have a healthy-weight daughter who is a dancer, gymnast, cheerleader – anything in that camp. For better or for worse, bodies that look a certain way are basically required in those arenas. You want your daughter to excel, which means fitting in with the norm.

Regardless of the undoubtedly valid reasons you have for expressing concern about what’s on your daughter’s plate, your comments are not doing any good. Even if they result in her eating less in that particular instance, in the long term, you’re most likely giving her a food complex. You’re telling her that she’s only “good” when she eats healthy foods in moderation. Even worse, the underlying message is that she is unworthy if her body is too big.

I’ve seen this dynamic play out first-hand. When we first started working together, Abby* (not her real name), a quiet, empathetic 16-year-old client, shared with me that she can’t remember ever NOT stressing about healthy eating. Her well-intentioned mom, who struggled with her weight when she was younger, had been adamant since Abby was born that her daughter would not have to face the same battle. She stressed healthy eating (and made comments about unhealthy choices) throughout Abby’s childhood. Over time, these comments led Abby to feel bad about herself – and then, paradoxically, she would seek comfort in food.

When I first met Abby, she expressed her frustration with her eating habits, telling me, “Every day I wake up telling myself that I will eat healthy today. But later in the day, it’s like my mind just turns off, and I find myself eating junk.” At the time, she had no idea why this habit had such a strong hold on her, and she beat herself up for being weak and unable to control her desire for junk food.

We’ve been working together for three months, and Abby is now beginning to understand the reasons behind her eating behaviors. Her mom’s constant comments created a deeply ingrained belief that her worthiness was connected with her weight and with how healthy (or unhealthy) her food choices were. (See Part 1 of this series). Whenever she felt stressed or unworthy, junk food was an easy source of comfort, made even more appealing by the fact that it was, on some level, “off limits.”

Abby now knows, intellectually, that her worthiness is not dependent on her weight or on what she eats. And she’s getting closer all the time to really believing this truth on a soul level – which is allowing her to slowly let go of her need to use food for comfort. Abby also found the courage to have an honest conversation with her mom, who has backed off and is now giving her daughter the space to find her own way.

[Side note: Please keep in mind that there is no room for blame in this situation. Abby’s mom was doing what she thought was best to help her daughter thrive. Now, with a new understanding, she’s taking a different approach. This is the journey we are all on – doing our best, learning from our mistakes, and making changes as we grow.]

DO: Model a healthy attitude, and make it easy and desirable for the whole family to eat well.

So, how do you encourage your kids to eat healthfully without giving them a complex? My suggestion is two-fold. First, try to model a healthy attitude. I like to think about it in terms of the 80/20 rule. A habit is something we’re doing 80% of the time. If you exercise on 8 out of 10 days, exercising is the norm, and your body will experience great benefit from that habit. Likewise, if you eat healthy foods 80% of the time, healthy eating is your habit, and your habits are what determine your long-term outcomes. What you do the other 20% of the time will have little impact on the big picture.

Practice modeling the attitudes of “I choose healthy foods most of the time because they give me energy and allow me to thrive,” AND “Sometimes I eat foods for the sole reason that they taste amazing – and that’s a valid choice as well.” Try not to express remorse or the idea that you’ve been “bad” when your choices aren’t so healthy. If you eat a cookie (or a few), enjoy them, and then move on to the next life experience. Keep in mind that your habits – what you do 80% of the time – will be the biggest determiner of your outcomes. The other 20% of the time? Enjoy, then let it go. [Note: I am not advocating gluttony here – but I do encourage you to allow yourself to take pleasure in foods that delight you, in a way that nourishes you on a soul level].

My second suggestion is to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Full disclosure: when I open the fridge and see fresh fruit, or carrots and hummus, or other healthy snacks I enjoy, it’s easy to choose them – unless I know that there are cookies in the pantry. If I know that there cookies in the pantry, I will most likely not even stop to consider the healthy options. Let’s face it – it’s much harder to make a healthy choice when tempting unhealthy options are readily available. My strategy to overcome this scenario? Simple: I rarely keep unhealthy foods around. When they’re not around, I don’t even think about them, and I’m totally content with my apple and almonds. Do your family the same favor – make the healthy choice the easy and desirable one.

In Part III of this series, Annette Sloan will share a third essential DO and DON’T for helping kids to cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Her business, (w)holehearted, specializes in compassionate health coaching for teen girls. She also offers mother-daughter bonding sessions that incorporate yoga, positive body image, and a healthy relationship with food. Learn more (and download your free report, “The Savvy Parent: Five Essential Practices for Role-Modeling a Happy, Healthy Relationship with Food,”) at www.healthyteengirls.com. Read the full story »
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Are you ready for a natural grocer in your community?

[ Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | 0 comments ]
By Thomas Spahr, NCCM Board Chair and Bluff Lake Resident

The Northeast Community Co-op Markety has made great strides since incorporating in late July. In just eleven weeks, we have grown to 392 members comprised of residents living in Stapleton, NW Aurora, Park Hill, Lowry, East Colfax, Montclair and beyond. Our team has been diligently finalizing the details of our business plan, building connections and partnerships with other food-based organizations in the Denver metro area, and exploring all opportunities for funding and viable locations. There is clearly enthusiasm and excitement for our project and we feel that we have an outstanding business concept that will meet the needs of our community while growing into a valuable neighborhood resource and institution.

The goal of our “Roots to Reality Fall Membership Drive” is to increase membership to over 850 and share the vision for our community-owned grocery store with a wider segment of the community. Achieving this goal is important so that all options remain on the table moving into next year. In order to open our doors by next fall, we expect that we will need a total of at least 1,500 members. Both of these benchmarks are within reach, we just need the full support of our community, which has repeatedly emphasized the want and desire for a natural grocer. If you or someone you know is on the fence about becoming a member of the food co-op, let me go over a few frequently asked questions with you.

What do I get as a member? Fame. Fortune. Bragging rights that you helped start one of the most innovative grocer concepts in the Denver Metro Area. Well…fame and fortune is probably a stretch, but you will get an ownership share of our co-op, which will help us obtain the capital we need to open. Besides the obvious benefit of finally having a grocery store that reflects the values of our community, our members will get to influence the store concept, vote on the Board of Directors, and down the road may get access to special discounts and end-of-the-year dividend shares that are not
available to non-members.

What is the ROI on my membership? There are many ways you can look at the return on investment for your membership. From a consumer standpoint, yes, you may get money back and savings over time. But there are more immediate ways to view the ROI on membership – I will identify three.

  1. If you are currently driving to Sprouts or Whole Foods once a week, you are likely spending        $100-200 a year on gas alone. Not to mention the additional time spent planning and travelling to these destinations. Regardless of income, time is everyone’s most finite resource. Why not invest in something that will free up more time to do things we enjoy?
  2. A study conducted in 2012 correlates an increase in walk score (see http://www.walkscore.com/) of 1 point into a $700-3,000 increase in property value. The logic is simple: homebuyers are attracted to access to unique, desirable, and walkable amenities. This is why homes prices in Highland, Wash Park, and Congress Park seem to have no ceiling. Since many of us will live within walking distance from the co-op, it is very possible that the co-op will increase our walk scores and affect an increase in our home values (see -http://www.ceosforcities.org/research/walking-the-walk/). Furthermore, every community in Denver can say they have good restaurants, shops and breweries, but we will be the only neighborhood that can tout its own community-owned grocery store.
  3.  A food co-op is a community wealth building strategy. It increases the ability of our community to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, expand the provision of public services, and ensure local economic stability. Corporate chains come and go (Circuit City, anyone?), but a co-op can continue to adapt and address the needs of our community as time changes it, keeping our money and our wealth firmly rooted in our neighborhood. 
Where will the co-op locate? We don’t know yet. We intend to locate somewhere in the area along
Montview or Central Park Blvd. While we love the potential, vision, and alignment of values with the Stanley Marketplace, Flightline Ventures is running against an aggressive timeline for development
that may conflict with our timeline to become adequately capitalized to sign a lease. We are currently
on track, but we have also evaluated other sites and have talked with other developers.

What happens to my money if the co-op never opens? Failure is not an option. Seriously. If Plan A doesn’t work out, we have Plans B-Z ready to go. There is already enough support in our community that we are sure we will be able to open our doors at some point. The better question is:

How soon can we open the doors? This entirely depends on how quickly our community is willing to invest. We have 392 households that have stood up and said “Yes! Let’s do this!” However, we need more members. As members, it is everyone’s responsibility to recruit additional members. Maybe a neighbor is still sitting on the fence. Maybe your friend wants to wait and see what happens down the road before buying in. Maybe someone you know just doesn’t know about the co-op yet. Regardless of excuses, this will not happen unless we can effectively engage our community and
convince others to join us. If you are already a member, share this with your friends, neighbors, community groups, workout buddies and anyone you know that would be interested. If you are not a member, what are you waiting for? You can sign up online at http://www.northeastco-op.org/membership.html. Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NortheastCommunityCoOpMarketCafe Questions? Email thomas@northeastco-op.org Read the full story »
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Are You Helping your Kids to Cultivate a Healthy Relationship with Food – or Setting Them Up for Struggle?

[ Wednesday, October 8, 2014 | 0 comments ]
By Annette Sloan

As a health-conscious mom, you want the best for your kids. You work hard to make sure they eat well and get plenty of exercise, because you want them to live long, happy, healthy lives. This is certainly a laudable goal – but have you ever stopped to ask yourself if your approach might be doing more harm than good?

As a health coach who has been on her own journey with food, I’ve learned that sometimes our well-intentioned efforts to promote healthy eating can backfire on us. In this first post of a three-part series, I share an essential DON’T and DO for helping your kids to cultivate a healthy relationship with food.

DON’T: Label foods as good and bad. Kale. Cupcakes. Blueberries. Candy. Admit it – as you read these four words, you automatically labeled each of these foods as “good” or “bad” in your mind. Of course you did, because we all do. We’ve learned that healthy foods are good and unhealthy foods are bad – and most likely, we’re teaching our kids this same mentality. When I was a wellness teacher, I certainly did. Here’s the catch: when we label foods as good or bad, we’re associating our food choices with morality. As in, “I was good; I had a salad for lunch,” and “I was bad; I ate fries last night.” Yes, certain foods offer more nutritional value than others – but WE are not good or bad as a result of what we eat. Our self-worth has nothing to do with our food choices. Do you see how this is a dangerous belief to teach our children? Our kids need to learn that they are worthy no matter what. (For more on this, check out BrenĂ© Brown’s book Daring Greatly). Labeling foods as good or bad has another unintended consequence – it makes the “bad” foods much more appealing. We’ve all had the experience of wanting something just because it was off limits. By calling unhealthy foods “bad,” we give them more power. Food companies are already doing everything they can to make junk food highly desirable to kids. Let’s not make their job even easier.

DO: Emphasize how healthy food makes you feel great. Luckily, all you have to do to change your messaging around healthy eating is implement a simple shift in language. Instead of labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” talk with your kids about foods to eat more often and foods to eat less often. Explain that your family eats nourishing, whole foods most of the time because these foods help kids and adults to thrive. A healthy diet gives kids the energy to play and to do well in school. It puts them in a great mood so that they get along with their siblings and friends. It helps them to grow big and strong. Ultimately, a diet made up of mostly healthy foods allows their inner light to shine.
On the flip side, explain to your kids that there is nothing wrong with unhealthy foods. They taste great and give us pleasure. However, your family chooses to eat these foods less often because they don’t nourish us the way healthy foods do. By shifting our language to foods we eat more often and foods we less often, and removing morality from the picture, we put food in its proper place. It’s a source of nourishment and pleasure – nothing more, nothing less.

In Part II of this series, I will share another essential DO and DON’T for helping kids to cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Her business, (w)holehearted, specializes in compassionate health coaching for teen girls. Learn more (and download your free report, “The Savvy Parent: Five Essential Practices for Role-Modeling a Happy, Healthy Relationship with Food,”) at www.healthyteengirls.com

Read the full story »
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To Do This Weekend : Stapleton Open Studios

[ Tuesday, September 23, 2014 | 0 comments ]

This week has been a whirlwind... if you're a Stapleton artist. That's because we've been working all summer making this weekend happen.  And now it's almost here! 

The second annual Stapleton Open Studios!

The (FREE!) self-guided tour will be September 27-28, 11AM – 5PM.  Drop in to any or all of the studios on the tour, and stop to listen to local musicians along the way.  There will be demonstrations, works-in-progress, and finished art pieces for you to see as the artists welcome you into their artistic process in an up close and personal way.  There are 20 different artists working in 10 different mediums from classic oil painting to mosaic to pottery to mixed media art jewelry.

Come get a start on your holiday gift lists, or just come see how we do it.  We can't wait to meet you!

Drop by Art & Framing At Stapleton in the 29th Avenue Town Center this week to grab your free official tour booklets and see a preview exhibit from many of the artists on the tour.

Or visit our website – StapletonOpenStudios.com – for a map.  

Katie Bradford Osborne is a Stapleton Mom and local professional artist.  She graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia with a degree in photography in 2009- the same year her daughter, Ana Gray, was born- and now pursues her passion of shooting women including maternity, boudoir, and her very favorite- Empower Her portraits- along with logo design and mixed media jewelry art under the umbrella of her business- The Roaring Artist.
Katie also offers Mamarazzi workshops and personal classes to local moms with DSLRs who are interested in more in-depth knowledge of their cameras and how to capture their children from behind the lens.  

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