Tag: mdio

The Truth about the BMI

The Truth about the BMI

The Truth about the BMI

by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN, Whole Nutrition Services

 

BMI is a term you might have heard of — through either your doctor or a health article or maybe even your child’s teacher. If you don’t know what it is, the initials stand for Body Mass Index, and it is determined by making a calculation using your height and weight. The BMI categories are Underweight (any BMI less than 18.5), Normal (18.5-24.9), Overweight (25-29.9) and Obese (30 or more). These categories are taken very seriously by some in the medical community. The Harvard School of Medicine believes that measuring BMI can tell you if a person is at a “healthy weight,” while WebMD says “it’s important for your health to understand what it is and to know your number.”  Yet Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania researchers believe it does not accurately measure body fat content, or consider attributes like muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, race and gender. The BBC says that by itself, BMI can’t predict what diseases we will or won’t get.

I believe the BMI can be both misleading and quite damaging. This is something I speak about at length in the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet and my former blogs at Mom Dishes It Out and Laura Cipullo LLC. I certainly do not use it to measure my own, my clients’ or my children’s health.

The BMI reduces poor health to being caused by just one issue – weight. With its’ categories, it clumps bodies to fit into “healthy” and “not healthy” boxes when the science doesn’t always back that up. These categories can lead you to assume that everything above a 24.9 is a problem. But this is not proven. In adults, only BMI measurements of more than 35 or less than 18.5 are affiliated with higher mortality. In fact, as TIME points out,  “some studies show that people with higher BMI tend to be healthier and have lower premature death rates than those with lower BMI.” Overweight and healthy are not mutually exclusive categories. It is entirely possible to be both. And it is possible to be thin and unhealthy. Researchers from Oxford Brookes University discovered that more than a third of 3,000 people who were measured as having a “normal, healthy” BMI were potentially likely to have cardiovascular disease, something you might think only affects those who are overweight. Athletes also may naturally have a higher BMI, and even the CDC admits that it is not sure the overall BMI requirements should extend to them. The CDC’s list of health consequences associated with a high BMI also do not necessarily apply to everyone whose BMI is higher than 30: Mental illness, certain types of cancer, and low quality of life are a few of the things a person with a high BMI is supposedly at risk of, but I’m sure there are plenty of folks in this category who are living and will continue to live happy, healthy lives with BMIs over 30, and many affected by those issues who have a “normal” BMI.

You can see, then, how taking the BMI as gospel could lead you down a dangerous road. Your health choices are your own, but I would personally not see a healthcare professional who uses the BMI as a health tool.

Health is a complicated thing, and it’s not something that can always be relegated to numbers. We have to see the bigger picture, and that’s what the Health at Every Size movement is all about. BMIs can make a person obsessed with numbers, which is such a terrible thing to do to folks who already feel biased against for being a certain weight. People with eating disorders fight daily with an obsession to hit a certain number on a scale, and an obsession with hitting a BMI can lead to similar negative consequences. Dieting to get to a lower BMI can be physically dangerous as well. As I mentioned in the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet, “The famed Framingham Heart Study showed that weight cycling (aka yo-yoing) as a result of restrictive dieting is something that is indeed associated with higher mortality and cardiac disease. It’s actually healthier to be at a higher set weight than to allow your weight to fluctuate up and down by 20 pounds.” Putting pressure on your child to be at a certain BMI can set them up for an unhealthy relationship with food for life. Remember that as a parent you are a role model. Don’t put your child on any kind of fad diet in an effort to achieve any arbitrary weight goals. Body dissatisfaction, body shaming and eating disorders are some of the things a focus on BMI can do to kids.

That being said, you should know that there is a chance your child will get screened for BMI in school. One agency – the Institute of Medicine – endorses that, but others – including the CDC– do not. New York, Arkansas and California are some of the states that do BMI screening for children in schools. BMIs are also part of the FitnessGram. If your child does bring the results of a BMI screening from school, consider asking your child if they have any questions about this screening. Whatever you do, don’t place urgency on it and restrict your child. Be curious. Ask yourself questions such as, Is my child active on a daily basis? Does my child eat in respect to his/her body? Does my child eat all foods without guilt? Does my child hide their food? This is not a question of how many veggies are they eating. Rather, is your child getting caught up in using food or restricting food for emotional reasons? Any concern you have about your child’s health should be discussed with your pediatrician and/or registered dietitian specializing in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders or HAES. And always remember, choose healthcare professionals who share the same All Foods Fit, All Bodies Fit value system you do.

 

 

 

TM for Kids

TM for Kids

TM for Kids

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Pic courtesy of CoraViral.com

by Laura Cipullo and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Most people know David Lynch from his television show Twin Peaks, and films like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. However, quietly, over the years, he has also been an advocate, promoting Transcendental Meditation in schools, and among the homeless, veterans, and low-income families. According to Smithsonian Magazine1, Lynch began incorporating meditation in his own life to deal with depression and anger. Eventually, he started a foundation that funds meditation for children around the world.

As Smithsonian magazine describes it, Transcendental Meditation “is different from mindfulness, an umbrella term that can describe anything from breathing to guided visualization to drawing exercises. People who learn TM … are given a mantra, or sound, and a specific technique for using it. You repeat the mantra and, if all goes well, your mind settles down into a deep, expansive silence.” As with mindfulness, TM helps you focus on the moment, making it a natural stress reliever for today’s overscheduled, stressed-out kids. David Lynch’s program for children is called Quiet Time and it seems to be working. The University of Chicago looked at the program and discovered it lowered violence and made children happier everywhere from New York to San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Research is promising on the effect TM has in adults. “Studies on adults have linked TM practice with reduced stress-related problems such as strokes, heart attacks and high blood pressure,” the Smithsonian magazine says.  A few years back, a study showed TM helped with kids who have ADHD and assisting with brain function as a whole2. Mindfulness, we know, may help kids with math3, in addition to possibly lowering stress and relieving depression4. Yoga may also make kids with ADHD more attentive5. So it makes sense that more and more schools6 and other places like wellness centers and spas, are catching on to the potential benefits.

As you can imagine, I’m all in favor of this trend and happy David Lynch is behind this movement. Meditation cost nothing or very little, has no side effects, and has the potential to make our kids less stressed, smarter and happier. If your child’s school has a meditation, yoga or mindfulness program, sign them up! If not, see what you can do to get one going. In the years to come, these programs will likely become even more popular and I believe the change will be reflected in a new generation of well-adjusted kids.

If you are local to Bergen County, sign your children up for yoga and mindfulness at the L’ifestyle Lounge in Closter, NJ. Email Laura@LauraCipullo for class schedule.

And check out my recent appearance on ABC, talking about mindfulness and yoga for children.

References

1Rothenberg Gritz. (2016). Director David Lynch wants schools to teach Transcendental Meditation to reduce     stress. Smithsonian Magazine.

5Roeder, Jessica. Yoga therapy and children with ADHD. (2011). College of Medicine, University of Vermont.

Schools are now teaching kids — and their parents — how to deal with stress. The Washington Post.

Download our app for easy scheduling of yoga and nutrition in the NYC office.

 

 

Throwback Tuesday: Raising a Child to Love Their Body

Throwback Tuesday: Raising a Child to Love Their Body

Throwback Tuesday: Raising a Child to Love Their Body

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Image via Rafal Klermacz/Flickr

by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Our feelings about our body may be formed at an early age, and sometimes quite negatively. The National Eating Disorders Association found that 40 to 60 percent of kids 6 through 12 are already worried about how much they weigh, and 70 percent would like to weigh less. Attitudes that kids have at a young age can stay with them through the teen years and into adulthood, potentially setting them up for poor body image and perhaps even contributing to eating disorders.

What can moms do? My Healthy Habits book addresses this with a section on what to say and what not to say to encourage healthy body attitudes, but I also wanted to highlight a Mom Dishes it Out post written by Jennifer McGurk,  RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD. She offers 9 tips to getting your child to appreciate her body. Check out the post here or below.

Raising a Child to Love Their Body

By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

I was recently out with a group of “mom friends,” having one of those conversations talking about anything and everything related to our kids, all under 1 year old.  Our conversation turned into an honest discussion about raising our children to be anti-dieting, body image-loving, positive self-esteemed individuals.  My friends were worried about being a good example to their daughters, teaching self-esteem, and hoping that their girls will learn to love their bodies. These moms were especially worried about raising girls, but this is a topic for every mom- mothers of sons included! I claim to be an expert in this area, but it’s honestly something I’m concerned about too.  I had just talked about losing the last few pounds of my post-pregnancy weight 10 minutes before this part of the conversation came up. My point is that my advice for moms and dads is something I am going to be working on as well. I think moms can all learn from one another and support each other to raise confident children.

 

Here are my favorite tips:

  1. Eliminate fat talk:  Take a good look at yourself and your environment.  Do you criticize yourself in the mirror?  Do you complain about being “fat”?  Your kids will learn from you.  Eliminate this kind of dialogue in your life to other people and especially to yourself.
  2. Feel good about your body:  Replace the fat talk with positive talk.  Do something each day to make you feel good about your body.  One of my favorite tricks is something I heard from a therapist:  Take a tube of red lipstick and write on your mirror “I am beautiful because…” and everytime you look in your mirror, you have to answer the question.
  3. Model healthy behaviors with food:  Show your child a healthy relationship with food by eating balanced meals and snacks.  Don’t restrict and binge.  Have a wide variety of food in your diet, including food from all food groups, including nutritious and less nutritious foods.  Have desserts and fruits and vegetables in your life, and teach your child how to enjoy these foods in a healthy way.
  4. Make time to move with your family:  Exercise as a way to feel good, not just burn calories.  Pick an activity you love and make time for it.  Treat this as part of your self-care routine.
  5. Introduce the concepts of “hungry” and “full” as early as possible:  Children are born with the skill to stop eating when they are full but gradually lose this with environmental influence.  In order to prevent the dieting “restriction” mindset, it’s important to teach children it’s natural to eat when they are hungry.  Therefore, it will be natural to stop eating when full and satisfied.
  6. Do not label food (or yourself) as “good” and “bad”:  Every food is included in a healthy lifestyle, no matter what.  Restriction of “bad foods” can lead to bingeing.  Don’t say “oh I had a good/bad day” because nutrition is not all-or-nothing!
  7. Never force your child to clean his/her plate:  This will alter kid’s perception of how much they should eat.  If they don’t eat at this particular meal, there is always the next meal or snack to make up for missed food.
  8. Talk about how bodies come in all different shapes and sizes:  Respect other body types and talk about how people look different because everyone is unique and special.
  9. Spread the word:  I love movements like “Operation Beautiful”, which spread the message of positive self-esteem and self-worth.  Teach children to participate and have fun doing so!
Getting Your Children to Chill Out

Getting Your Children to Chill Out

Getting Your Children to Chill Out

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By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Kids are stressed out, and really, who can blame them? There’s the pressure to do well in school; to juggle household chores, a social life and extracurricular activities; to fit in with classmates; and to handle all the issues that come with a changing body. Managing that stress is important for feeling good in the moment, and the future: A recent University of Florida study found that kids who experienced three or more stressful occurrences were six times likelier to have physical or mental health issues or a learning disorder than those who did not.

Science backs the benefits of mindfulness when it comes to reducing stress and improving overall health. The University of Massachusetts School’s Mindfulness Program found that mindfulness leads to a 35% reduction in medical symptoms and a 40% reduction in psychological ones. Eating disorders are one example of a psychological issue that can be helped through mindful eating. According to Dr. Susan Albers, “During the past 20 years, studies have found that mindful eating can help you to reduce overeating and binge eating, lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI) and cope with chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia, and reduce anxious thoughts about food and your body.”

It doesn’t take long for mindfulness to show a result, either. Carnegie Mellon found that as little as 25 minutes of mindful meditation for three days helped stress. Yoga and meditation specifically help decrease stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine.

With all the research showing the benefits of mindfulness, it’s little wonder that schools are catching on and incorporating the concept on a regular basis. A recent Washington Post article reported on how public schools are teaching the concept of mindful eating. Children are getting in tune with their body’s hunger signals, learning to enjoy the flavors of food, and respect the cues the mind/body are relaying to them; they are also learning to respect what they are putting into their bodies, and to respect their bodies as a whole. This all can help prevent eating disorders in middle-school children, a population at high risk for these issues.

In the wake of the Newton tragedy, Dr. Stuart Ablon of Massachusetts General Hospital was brought to New York schools to conduct seminars for 3,000 school safety agents and police officers. Mindfulness — getting children to acknowledge and resolve their feelings — was a key component of the anti-violence program, as was yoga. The goal was for these agents and officers to talk to troubled children before resorting to punishing them.

Mindfulness and meditation are also becoming a part of private school health classes, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, and are used to strengthen children’s all-around emotional and intellectual wellness.

Spafinder took note of the Oakland-based Mindful Schools, a program that shows adults how to teach mindfulness to K-12 youth, helping over 300,000 children so far.

Beyond schools, mindfulness and general wellness for kids is taking center stage at hotels, spas and resorts, offering children a way to unwind at the same time their parents are enjoying a well-earned vacation.

And don’t forget to check your local meditation or yoga studio! You may be surprised to find they have children’s classes too (like MNDFL, a New York meditation studio not far from my new office). New York even has its own yoga studio just for kids. I recently filmed a news segment there on the very topic of mindfulness for children.

And while all these mindful-based resources are great for kids, it doesn’t mean kids will forge forward without parental support. I ask parents to take responsibility and please introduce, then maintain, mindful experiences at home. Breathing work, meditation apps, mindful eating (check out my books Healthy Habits and Women’s Health Body Clock Diet for more info) and mindfulness meditation are the most studied and effective strategies in the adult population and therefore a great place to start with the kiddies! Leading by example is also important. Consider how you role model gratitude, body acceptance, compassion and mindfulness in your own life. On a personal note, to aid in my own mindfulness journey and lead by example for my children, I decided and am now almost through my own yoga teacher training to become a Registered Yoga Teacher!

 

Throwback Thursday: The Many Alternatives to White Pasta

Throwback Thursday: The Many Alternatives to White Pasta

Throwback Thursday: The Many Alternatives to White Pasta

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Photo by NYMetroParents.com

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Did you know there’s more to pasta than just white? Pasta comes in so many different types of varieties these days, allowing us to expand our flavor horizons. There’s wheat-free soybean; Shirataki (an Asian pasta made from the root of the Amorphophallus Konjac plant); brown rice pasta; and buckwheat soba, a gluten-free Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour — just to name a few.

Whole wheat pasta has also become a popular alternative, and one that is easily found in your local supermarket. I have a great recipe on Mom Dishes It Out that showcases whole wheat pasta — Whole Wheat Pasta Primavera. The whole wheat adds fiber and complex carbs, and this dish also has peas, zucchini, and peppers as an easy way to increase your veggies. It’s a meal that is full of flavor, doesn’t take all that long to make, and serves four. It’s the ideal dish for a home-cooked Mother’s Day celebration, and a crowd-pleaser for vegetarian friends.

Whole Wheat Pasta Primavera

A delicious dinner made for Mother’s Day..for you or by you…need not be heavy!  Ease up on animal protein with this light and healthy, whole wheat pasta primavera dish! Add seasonal produce like cherry tomatoes, and herbs to naturally flavor this homemade meal.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips

1 cup frozen peas

1 zucchini, cut into quarters

1 onion,  sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound whole wheat farfalle (bowtie pasta)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet with heavy duty foil. In a large bowl, toss all of the vegetables with oil, salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Transfer the veggie mixture to the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake until veggies are cooked and tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, tender but still firm about 8-9 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside 1/2 cup of the liquid.

In a serving bowl, toss the pasta with the veggie mixture. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

For another spin on whole wheat pasta, try my vegan mac and cheese recipe with whole wheat elbows, voted one of the best vegan mac and cheese recipes by NY Metro Parent.

You can also make “pasta” out of the vegetable spaghetti squash. I have two recipes you can try featuring this food on Mom Dishes It Out: Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Basil and Garlic Shrimp with Spaghetti Squash and Spinach.

Try one or all of these fun alternatives to white pasta.  And report back on Twitter or Facebook if you enjoyed!

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