The Importance of Snacks!  

By Bethany Whitemyer

Most children, and many adults, cannot stay full from meal to meal and are going to need a snack at some point mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  Snacks can make up a big portion of a young child’s food for the day, so be sure to consider them as carefully as you do meals.  When you look at snacks as mini-meals, you will avoid giving your child empty calories and you will promote healthy eating.  Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind about your children’s snacks:

Be Prepared

We all know children are going to get hungry! Plan ahead so that you have the food you want your child to eat on hand. Packing snacks to take along with you on a day trip is more cost effective than having to grab something while you’re out and will help your family make better choices. When my family is on the go and we haven’t planned ahead, we often end up running into a fast food place or a convenience store for a snack and probably not eating as well as we usually do! Be mindful of the timing of snacks too. Offer a snack a few hours after breakfast or time your snacks on your lunch schedule. If you know that lunch is going to be at 1:00, offer a snack about 2 hours before lunch time. Watch out for the timing of afternoon snacks too. Plan them a couple of hours before dinner to improve your chances of having everyone hungry for dinner.

Pack Protein

Some great snack worthy sources of protein are cheese cubes or slices, yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken or tuna salad, sunflower seed butter and hardboiled eggs. Adding any of these protein sources will help your child stay full longer and there’s a better likelihood of making it to your next meal without needing another snack.

Add Fruits and Vegetables

Your child should be eating at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable at every snack. If you’re reading this on a South Shore Organics page, you don’t need any convincing to add more fruits and vegetables to your family’s diet.  Just don’t forget about adding them at snack times as well as mealtimes.

Watch Portion Size

Be aware of portion sizes by putting food into a bowl, a cup, or onto a plate. Don’t let your child eat crackers, pretzels, cereal, or chips out of a bag or box. It’s too easy to over-eat when you can’t see how much of something you start and end with. Kids don’t always have a great sense of appropriate serving sizes so you will need to help them see how much they’re eating. Check the label if you need more information about the serving size. If your child is hungry after eating a serving of one type of food (like crackers) offer them another snack from another category of food (like grapes, or a yogurt).

Build Healthy Eating Habits

Your children should be sitting down while they eat and drink. Eating and drinking while walking, running, or playing can cause choking and tooth damage (think of tripping while drinking from a water bottle). Limit distractions when you can so that he/she can focus on eating instead of on the TV or a game.

Be Aware of What Your Child is Drinking

Make sure that they’re not filling up on milk or juice at snack times. You want them to be hydrated, but not so full that they don’t eat a variety of foods.

Bethany Whitemyer is the Center Director at the Bright Horizons in Pembroke, MA. She and her family, husband David and sons Evan and Lucas, live in Rockland, MA.

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Never Miss a Monday: Find your instant motivation for exercise

instantexercise

Motivation is a funny thing…it can wax and wane depending on what’s happening in our lives at the moment. At first, just the idea of having a fitter body would motivate you to get in your regular weekly exercise sessions, but then other priorities crop up and next thing you know the same goal that had you sweating it out just a few weeks ago doesn’t hold as much sway. The goal is the same so what gives? For many of us, it has to do on how we are viewing exercise/physical activity in the first place.

“Refreshed”, “rejuvenated”, “energized”, “centered”, these are just a few words people will use to describe how they feel after some type of physical activity, whether it is a 10-minute walk around the block or a weight-lifting session at the gym. These are immediate rewards you can use to motivate you to fit in some type of physical activity on a regular basis. And for days when you’re feeling sluggish, overwhelmed or just out of sorts, it can be especially crucial to call upon these instant inspirations to get out the door for some stress-busting activities, no matter your fitness goals.

To reframe your exercise perspective, take a few minutes after your next bout of activity and be mindful on how you feel. What words would you use to describe these feelings? As you go through your day afterwards, do you notice yourself in a more focused state? Do you feel empowered? Make a mental note, or even better, write these down and post in plain sight. Start to internalize these instant motivators so that you find yourself viewing exercise not as another to-do item but as a daily necessity for your overall well-being, your body and mind will thank you.

Be Well,
Terry

Flourishing Workplaces

N2F bagAround eighteen months ago, we officially launched Nourish to Flourish, our workplace wellness program.  As an extension of what we do with our home deliveries, we thought: imagine how cool it would be if we reached out to employers to offer a local and organic veggie bag for staff, delivered right to their place of work as an initiative to enable people who work full time to access fresh local and organic fruits and veggies if they want to? Everybody wins. The employer wins – they facilitate healthy eating and don’t even have to do anything other than make space for a drop off site, the employee wins, they have convenient access to local farms and sustainably grown food, and our farmers benefit because they have a steady and reliable market they can confidently grow for.  Win-win-win!

The program has really taken off, we are delighted to say. I crunched some numbers and we have exposed participants to over 75 different fruits and veggies over the course of the year, and last year spent nearly $80,000 with local farms, we also provided over 600 recipes! There is no way to quantify in numbers the impact we have had in other ways, for example, some of our Flourishers (that’s what we call Nourish to Flourish participants) did not know how to cook when they joined the program. And now, just a few months in, they can recognize and love garlic scapes and know what to do with kohlrabi! Some of our Flourishers have lost weight, they feel better, and almost all of them are trying new things. Another immeasurable benefit is the sharing of information. We’ve had emails from participants who are trying composting now, because of a newsletter, or learned about GMO’s because of a blog we shared, and best of all, when they meet around the water cooler, the discussion inevitably turns to what they did with their kale. Our fresh food community has expanded.

The other benefit too, is the impact on our community. And I am not just talking about the dollar value of what has been re-invested, or the jobs that have been created, but, again, the less measurable benefits. The expanded farm operations, improved farm viability, security of open spaces within our community, and organic agriculture is less taxing on the land so fewer pesticides and fungicides in our soil, water, and air. And of course, the drastically reduced carbon footprint of a local food system.

Although we started out approaching workplaces, schools have caught on! Bright Horizons in particular has multiple locations dotting the South Shore.  They offer this program to all their staff, and to all the parents with children in their care. It is an awesome way, I think, for a school to not only talk about sustainability, and teach young children how to live sustainable lives, but to lead by example. Bethany Whitemyer is a teacher at the Pembroke location.  As a customer, she will often open her bag in front of her young students and talk about what is in it (did it grow on a tree, under the ground, on a bush? Is it a fruit? Does it have seeds? What color is it on the inside?).  She also writes a blog for us on how to encourage children to eat more fresh foods. This isn’t the only initiative Bright Horizons undertakes, but it is one I have been able to witness first hand.

We recently added the first healthy ‘add on’ to the service: eggs, and we have more in store.  We are in the process of designing a wellness/local food website (since I am now far more experienced in websites than I ever considered I would be).  We want to offer coffee shares from a local roaster, bread from a local baker, and possibly some cheeses. This will all evolve over the next year. And the absolute best thing about the program is that it is 100% scalable over time.  In other words, there are no limitations to how many companies we can service within our geographical area, or how many people we can reach with our locally based, farm supported, sustainable food system.  It is not like a market with so many parking spaces, or a location that draws customers from an immediate area, we go to them!

I’ve said ‘we’ a lot during this email, and that is because our team is marvelous! Terry LaMonica is a certified wellness coach and has been with us since the beginning.  Michelle Berry is a new addition to the Nourish to Flourish team and is an anchor for all that goes on. Maryann, our payment coordinator. Our drivers, Elliot and Michael are unbelievably committed, our packers, Hazel, Laurie, and Alyssa (and often any of the rest of us), take great care to ensure every bag is carefully prepared, and of course, all our farmers who spend months growing and nurturing, and finally harvesting the beautiful food we eat. I am deeply appreciative for each and every aspect and contributing hand, from farm, to table.

Never Miss a Monday – Get comfortable getting uncomfortable

uncomfortableIt seems that there is an innate desire in people to move forward, to grow, to improve upon their current condition. Many times though that desire does not translate into action. We have our comfort zones, our routines that get us through our days and weeks often with ease. These have an important part in our lives, especially if we are feeling overwhelmed or during times of stress. But what happens when we spend too much time in our comfort zones…well, we get comfortable.

Growth, learning, progress…they all require stepping out of your comfort zone and changing things up. People who are continually realizing their goals often have the same fears and concerns that people who don’t try to make that leap. The difference is that they’ve put themselves in enough situations where they’ve become confident in being able to handle discomfort. If you want to be the person that you truly envision, you need to get comfortable getting uncomfortable.

Find one ambition you often dream of but have never made a move towards because of fear, whether it’s fear of failure, fear in not knowing how to begin, fear of being embarrassed, etc, and choose just one step towards that goal that you’ll complete in the next 14 days. Go to a gym for the first time, cook a new recipe with unfamiliar ingredients, sign-up for a music class, visit a part of your city/state that you’ve never ventured to before, strike up a conversation with a fellow commuter. Choose to act like the person you want to be, expecting the discomfort, but pushing through it until you come out the other side of it. This may take a few steps, a couple of leaps, some falls too of course, but all of those will lead you to a new and improved comfort zone.

Never Miss a Monday: Let’s Review!

Let's reviewWe are hit week-in and week-out with information, often much of it not registering as we “swipe” past the next article, headline, post, tweet, etc. This seemed like the perfect time to revisit our recent NMAM tips (see list below) to help reinforce some lessons learned, and to also allow you to catch up on a few you may have missed. Check out our blog. “A Fresh Take on a Healthy Community” [https://ssonourishtoflourish.wordpress.com/…/never-miss-a-…/] for all things NMAM!

1.Never Miss a Monday!
2.Create a Healthy snack list and post at home and the office. Bonus if
you add a calendar reminder!
3.Make dark chocolate a go-to for sweet cravings. Be sure it is high-quality and minimally processed for antioxidant benefits!
4.Make a daily eating deadline.
5.Just park. And walk.
6.Add a veggie 1st course to dinnertime!
7.Create a short, goal-specific mantra, repeat daily!
8.Exercise…add it up!
9.Count down the “days” to reach your wellness goals
10.The state of your bed is the state of your head.
11.Have a healthy “lunch”…at breakfast!
12.For a healthy whole grain product, look for a 10:1 carb-to-fiber ratio.
13.Pin down your thoughts to ease stress and sleep better.
14.Sitting is only to take a rest from moving.
15.Daydream your way to wellness.

The (Un)Sustainability of Global Agriculture

drought2Adapted from Berkshire Organics Newsletter

In February of this year, news agencies around the world reported on research conducted by a team made up of NASA, Cornell, and Columbia University scientists which studied past droughts and climate models in an effort to estimate future drought risk. The team analyzed a drought severity index and two soil moisture data sets from 17 climate models, the results of which indicated that making little to no change in our carbon emissions would result in an 80% chance that an extended drought will strike between 2050 and 2099. According to the study, which was published in the journal ‘Science Advances’, “…droughts in the Southwest and Central Plains during the last half of this century could be drier and longer than drought conditions seen in those regions in the last 1,000 years.” This potential “mega-drought” would result in significant loss of soil moisture that could span generations — up to ten times longer than a normal three-year drought. Ben Cook, lead author of the study and climate scientist at NASA warns that, “Natural droughts like the 1930s Dust Bowl and the current drought in the Southwest have historically lasted maybe a decade or a little less. [Our] results are saying that we’re going to get a drought similar to those events, but it is probably going to last at least 30 to 35 years.”

These droughts are projected to hit the Southwest and the Midwest — two of the main food providers in the United States. The chronic water shortages that are anticipated in these regions would make both farming and ranching nearly impossible. California is already in the midst of its worst drought in over 1200 years, and we are currently experiencing the impact that this has had on the prices and availability of crops like almonds and avocados. As this image from last summer shows, it was the driest year yet in California’s continuing drought, with severity increasing at an alarming rate.statedrought

Continued water shortages in the American southwest — as well as other drought-prone areas around the world — have the potential to threaten food security everywhere. Next week we will examine how climate change could potentially impact the global food supply, as well as discuss some of the positive changes that we can make now to help create a more sustainable food future.

  • “CA Drought: 2014.” Image. International Business Times-31 July 2014
  • Fears, D. “A‘ Megadrought Will Grip U.S. in the Coming Decades, NASA Researchers Say.” The Washington Post-12 Feb 2015
  • Nelson, et al. “Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation.” International Food Policy Research Institute- 2009
  • Northon, K. “NASA Study Finds Carbon Emissions Could Dramatically Increase Risk of U.S. Megadroughts.” NASA.com-12 Feb 2015
  • Nuccitelli, D. “NASA Climate Study Warns of Unprecedented North American Drought.” The Guardian-16 Feb 2015

 

Memories are made of this . . .

table settingBy Pam Denholm

There are SO many challenges facing our children today, words have to be one of them.  Technology is progressing at an alarming rate, changing our lifestyle dramatically in the process.  Never before in human history has one generation experienced as much change in how we spend our time and how people communicate and relate to each other, as ours.  Language has been deeply affected, what methods we use, the very words we use, and how they are strung together to relay a message is evolving at light speed.  Succinct, sincere, eloquent use of language is becoming more and more of a rarity.  Penmanship is almost extinct.  A heart-felt handwritten note on monogrammed note paper was replaced by a mass-produced Hallmark card, and now ‘upgraded’ to an abbreviated emoji-dotted text message.

And we can’t escape it.  We can’t exclude technology from our lives.  How can we prepare our children for what the world is becoming, by alienating them from it?  We serve them better by helping them learn to appreciate what technology can do for us, but to self-regulate how they embrace it, and be mindful of what they say and how they say it.  Teaching our children how to communicate (in complete sentences no less), has never been so important.

One of the biggest assets any parent has in their arsenal of parenting tools, is actually, for a change, a free one.  And it is not something that has to happen every day, or even every week.  Here it is, you ready?  Lean in:  break bread together.  Sharing a meal with your children on a regular basis, as a family, with no distractions is all it takes.  Imagine, the TV is off, cell phones are in the other room, it’s just you and the kids, with a meal laid out before you, and some conversation.  And, can I ask you a question?  If you sit for a minute, and truly imagine it, how does it make you feel?  I, at first, imagined a quiet room with no distractions, clinking dinnerware and four people looking at each other, and I didn’t like it.  And what’s more, I will confess that it was actually necessary for me to have a couple conversation starters in my pocket, like: what was your favorite thing about your day?

If you have kids of a school going age, with afternoon activities, housework, or even studies, a part-time or full-time job thrown in the mix – it becomes routine to bark orders, rally the troops to get here on time, or there.  We have text conversations about what is happening, how their day went, or what their best friend said, who needs to be picked up, but how often do we actually slow down enough, to make time to sit together for some actual eye-contact and real conversation?  How often do we give our kids the stage, while we sit and just listen?  Without being on the other end of the phone, or having the distraction of driving while talking, running through to do lists in your head, or doing some other necessary chore.  Just sitting, looking them in the eye, and listening.  How will our children learn to communicate if at home, we succumb to the same affliction sweeping the globe? Gathering around a table regularly will teach your children how to tell stories, have compassion for another family member who has had a bad day, learn to wait their turn, learn to listen, learn to slow down, learn to give somebody their time, their ear, learn to tell jokes, learn to laugh with each other, and yes, how to talk in complete sentences free from emoji’s.  You can expect to get to know each other a little better, marvel at your little one’s sense of humor, enjoy hearing the details otherwise lost in brevity, and connect and relate to each other on a more intimate level.

Try it, once a month, once a week, three nights a week – whatever works for you.  Cook a meal at home, cook it together, throw something on the grill, order-in, set the table, don’t set the table, make it an occasion, make it casual, light candles, don’t: that’s all in the details.  The most important thing is that you share a meal, and you face each other.  Shoulder to shoulder just won’t do.  And start a conversation!  It’s about validation, connection, being part of a whole . . . surprisingly, your meals will evolve.  I am not saying they will always be stress-free romantic poster-image family events, but they will definitely become a meaningful occasion you will all look forward to, and the occasions will morph into some sort of family tradition that your children will cherish when they venture out into the world on their own.  Your children will keep with them always, the magic you created when gathering family to share a meal, and have a conversation . . .

 

Never Miss a Monday – Daydream your way to wellness

Daydream

For all you daydreamers out there, keep your head in the clouds. Despite what you may have been told growing up, daydreaming has many benefits, from lifting moods to enhancing empathy. (http://www.lifeadvancer.com/daydreaming-enhances-memory-and-boosts-creativity) From a wellness coaching perspective, daydreaming is a key element in not only formulating your wellness vision but it also acts as a reinforcement, adding to your motivation to continue down the path.

Take 10 minutes to yourself, sit in a quiet area, and allow yourself to daydream on what is important to you when it comes to your wellness. When formulating your wellness vision, nothing is off-limits. Use this as your own personal brainstorming session, allowing thoughts to come into your mind, creating connections, evoking feelings, until you start to really visualize what your own personal wellness looks and feels like.

As you work towards this vision with relevant goals and activities, be sure to schedule time weekly for this daydreaming session, allowing those positive emotions to buoy you on your journey. You may find that the vision changes slightly as you continue down your path, no worries, continue to allow these sessions to help sharpen your vision and goals, and even create new paths for you to venture down. But no matter what path you follow, be sure to always make time for your daydreams.

Sweet Dreams!

GMO’s: A Broad Update

On May 23rd, Millions Against Monsanto protests popped up in 421 cities, in 48 countries, across 6 continents. As with last years’ protest, concerns were voiced about glyphosphate being carcinogenic, and neonicotinoids decimating bee populations. This year, however, protestors had three new issues on the agenda: opposition of the DARK act, opposition to trade deals being fast tracked through the House of Representatives, and opposition to the use of a USDA non-GMO label. While some might look at this list of concerns and miss the connections to Monsanto – and Big Ag/Big Food in general – they are all actually very closely related.

The DARK act (Deny Americans the Right to Know act) is a name assigned to critics for what is actually The Safe and Accurate Food Labelling Act, was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) in 2014 in an effort to block any federal or state action requiring labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients (GMO’s). It is a measure that would overrule the legislation which has passed in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont to create labelling laws. The DARK act puts the FDA at the helm (aka the ex-Monsanto employee landing ground). A press release from Rep. Mike Pompeo’s website states ‘The Safe and Accurate Food Labelling Act of 2015 will ensure that America’s farmers will continue to be able to innovate and improve the quality and quantity of their crops and provide nutritious, affordable food on families’ tables both here and across the world’. It goes on to say that ‘Without . . . this legislation, a patchwork of state GMO labeling laws could mislead consumers and increase food prices for families’. Of course, those who are not well-versed on the subject might have a fear-based response. What? Higher prices at the grocery store? Nutritionally deficient food? People will go hungry? I always believe, before you hear the message, follow the money – and it might surprise you to know that Rep. Pompeo’s campaigns have been funded by the very industry groups that will benefit the most from the act. The fact of the matter is that labelling is not going to drive up food costs, it hasn’t in countries where labelling already takes place. Food will not be fewer nutrients dense, and more people won’t go hungry. In actual fact, GMO crops have been around for 20 years, and across the board we are more nutrient deficient than ever, and we have not seen significant drop offs in the statistics for number of people who are starving either.

As far as trade deals being fast-tracked – The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been strongly opposed by a wide variety of politicians and activists who are against corporate influence on decisions made within our government, and abroad. The first attempt to fast-track the deal was rejected, but the Senate just passed a streamlined version. While there is certainly a great deal more to the bill, it does also expand trade in ways that will give more power to corporations like Monsanto.

Finally, opposition to the USDA non-GMO label was widely discussed at the marches on May 23rd. The argument for: the other USDA programs are well received and provide common standard procedure for consumers. The argument against: many of Monsanto’s ex-employees and lobbyists now work at both the FDA and USDA, and have greatly influenced regulations set by each organization, so whose interests are being represented in this particular instance is questionable. This is why many food activists prefer the work of a non-profit independent, the Non-GMO Project. Every product submitted to the Project for review goes through a rigorous 4-6 month process, during which individual ingredients are tested for GMO contamination, and tests are required to be ongoing after certification. The organization uses rigorous standards set by the National Organic Program, although verification does not require that the food itself be Certified Organic.

So, there is a snapshot of the three major issues coming out of the recent march. We recently through our own explorations found another interesting website that is worth checking out; it lists GMO crops grown by country since 1995: http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/agri_biotechnology/gmo_planting/142.countries_growing_gmos.html

RESOURCES:

“Act Now: States’ Right to Label GMOs in Danger!”
Organic Consumers Association April 2015.

“DARK Act Reintroduced in the United States.”
GMwatch.org 25 March 2015.

“Pompeo Reintroduces Bill to Keep Food Safe and Affordable.”
Pompeo.house.gov 25 Mar 2015.

“Rep. Mike Pompeo.” Center for Responsive Politics: OpenSecret.org

Sara, Siammacco. “Big Food’s ‘DARK Act’ Introduced Into Congress.”

EWG.org 9 April 2014.