Getting Your Children to Chill Out

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Laura Cipullolaura-cipullo is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian, and four-time author with offices in NYC and NJ. Laura weaves evidence-based science into treating clients, authoring books and speaking engagements. She treats her clients with an approach that combines her knowledge from her credentialed expertise in: nutrition, behavior change, the endocrine system and psychology. In this week’s blog post, Laura shares the importance of helping kids practice mindfulness and the many benefits it can provide.

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.

 

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

To visit or tour a Clementine location with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


Seven Key Developmental Needs Series: Competence and Achievement

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In the third post on the seven developmental keys series, Senior Director of East Coast Clinical Programming Melissa McLain Coffin, PhD, CEDS shares about the next two keys: Competence and Achievement. Dr. McLain explains how Clementine adolescent treatment program supports adolescents in shifting their focus from seeing their eating disorder as a source of achievement to other areas of their life that they can feel successful and competent.

The Center for Early Adolescence has defined fundamental developmental needs during adolescence as the following: Self-Definition, Meaningful Participation, Competence, Creative Expression, Physical Activity, Social Interactions and Structure. Today I want to write about the combination of Competence and Achievement and how those can be integrated in the treatment of adolescents with eating disorders.

The need for both competency and achievement are central for successful adolescent development. For many of our teens, the eating disorder has frequently become a source of achievement, if not the main source of achievement, for them in their lives. In order to build a meaningful life in their recovery, it is important for our treatment teams at Clementine to help them discover other ways to achieve and feel competent in their lives.

There are several ways clinicians strive to help teens accomplish this. We know academics are highly important to an adolescent and their development, and we do not want the fact that they are needing treatment – and thus needing to step away from school for a period of time – be an additional stressor.  One way to help instill feelings of competence and achievement is through the integration of five days a week educational instruction in the residential treatment experience.  So, our teens work onsite with both subject area teachers as well as an educational liaison who helps coordinate with their home school. This liaison helps them receive and submit manageable assignments on a weekly basis. Achieving small accomplishments each week in their academic work helps them to meet those competence and achievement needs they have during this time of their lives.

In addition to academic assignments, our teens also work on a variety of therapeutic assignments that are designed to help them enhance the work they are doing in their individual and group therapy. Completing and sharing these assignments allows our adolescents to achieve higher levels in our level system and to feel a sense of accomplishment when they do so. It also allows them to dive deeper in their process of self-understanding and to then bring that work into their therapeutic process.

Our unique multidisciplinary Level System promotes competence and achievement. The level system at Clementine was created to demonstrate clear markers of progress along multidimensional domains of treatment. Each level is structured with certain privileges and ways to challenge the eating disorder through activities, assignments and collaboration. It is designed for adolescents to gradually take increased responsibility with food, thoughts and feelings as they progresses in treatment, giving them opportunities to attain achievement and competence. In addition, since the level system is a self-driven process, our clients are able to move their treatment forward at a pace that feels right to them.

The greatest achievement of all is to eventually achieve a full recovery from their eating disorder, coupled with competence in living in their healthy selves. We strive to help all of our teens work toward that achievement.

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

To visit or tour a Clementine location with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


Cultivating a Positive Relationship with Food

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Clementine Miami Pinecrestalyssa-mitola-july-2016 Dietitan Alyssa Mitola, MS, RD, LD/N shares some of the work done with adolescents to gain a more positive relationship with food throughout the program. In her post, Alyssa gives insight into the education and support given to adolescents while at Clementine Pinecrest.

“You just need to lose a little weight.” “Eat healthier.” “We need to put you on a diet.” Countless clients with BED have endured comments such as these by friends, family, and even medical professionals. Many of our adolescents with BED arrive with significant “diet histories.” Even at the age of 16 we have had clients who have been on diets for over 10 years. How has that impacted them? The eating disorder often gets overlooked due to the focus on body weight and the false notion that restricting the diet is the only way to improve health.

All too often weight alone is used to determine “what” or “how” a person should eat. Foods are classified as “good” foods and “bad” foods. However, this misunderstanding of nutrition fails time and time again. This message often leads our clients to feel like a failure because they are unable to follow the “diet” prescribed.

Here at Clementine we recognize that weight is not the only indicator of health. When a client walks through our doors we do not cut out foods, but in fact encourage the client to re-introduce the foods they may have been previously told to “cut” out. At first this can be extremely scary for our clients and parents. Blaming the type of food has been engrained into their way of life. But as we slowly heal this relationship with food, the fear is reduced and overall health improves. Numerous times we have seen improvements in LDL (bad cholesterol) and fasting insulin levels independent of weight loss. The labs improve while this client continues to eat a variety of foods. When we begin to heal the relationship with food, we see improvements that others often think can only be achieved on a restricted diet.

This work is only started her at Clementine. Our clients continue to cultivate their relationship with food and their bodies when they return home. However, our clients can leave with improved markers of health even when the focus is not the weight. Let’s stop blaming the individual food and start looking at the power this food may wield over our children. Whether a dietitian, nurse, teacher, friend, parent, we must be careful about the nutrition information we disseminate. As we shift the talk away from weight loss and restrictive nutrition recommendations, we can start talking about our the relationship with food. When we are solely focused on the number on the scale we forget that health cannot simply measured by a number.

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

To visit or tour a Clementine locations with one of our clinical leaders please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


5 Lessons My Daughters Taught Me About Hunger

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jennifer
Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, the founder of Chime Yoga Therapy, is a yoga therapist specializing in eating disorders. In recovery herself, Jennifer is exceedingly passionate about helping others connect with their natural gift of resilience through yoga. In addition to her private practice, Jennifer is also a yoga therapist at Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia. She works with individuals one on one and leads yoga therapy groups and seminars. In her blog post, Jennifer shares a few important lessons her own daughters have taught her!

I find it incredibly overwhelming to be in charge of feeding two children. My growing daughters (5- and 3-years-old) are always hungry, or at least it seems that way to me! Trying to serve balanced meals that don’t always include macaroni and cheese or hot dogs is difficult, to say the least. Even more challenging is not judging, labeling, or second guessing my girls’ hunger. I work very hard not to confuse my old hang ups about hunger with their very pure and natural and untainted relationship with it. I consider this one of the primary responsibilities of my recovery from anorexia, and I take it extremely seriously.

Learning how to unconditionally trust my hunger is an active and ongoing process (and maybe always will be). In a recent fit of overwhelm about french fries and chocolate chip cookies, I realized that my daughters have a few profoundly significant lessons to teach me about hunger and why second guessing or trying to control it is hopeless.

1. Hunger can’t tell time. My daughters are hungry at the most random times of the day, and come to think of it, so am I! No matter how firmly you believe you must only eat when the clock strikes certain hours, hunger is an organic sensation, not a scheduled meal time. My girls have taught me that to try to override that organic sensation is ultimately impossible and unrealistic.

2. Hunger has no rules. Sometimes my girls want fruit, other times they ask for protein. They crave carbs as well as carrots. In a days’ time they may ask for a dozen different foods. For someone like me, who lived by extremely strict rules about food and hunger, it’s powerfully eye opening to see that hunger has no rules. Hunger just wants to be satiated, attended to, and respected.

3. Hunger isn’t a crisis. More times than I care to admit, hunger has felt like a crisis, inducing panic, uncertainty, and extreme emotional swings. For my kids, hunger is fun. They get to eat, to stimulate and satisfy their senses, and experience enjoyment. Watching my girls have fun with food has helped me to lighten up at meals and not take my hunger or the food I put in my mouth so seriously. They have taught me that I don’t have to cry over waffles or ice cream!

4. Hunger always returns. I already mentioned that my kids seem to always be hungry. Witnessing their hunger and fullness cues in action has reinforced the fact that it’s inevitable that fullness fades and hunger returns. Always. No mater how much power we fool ourselves into believing we have over our hunger, it always comes back because it is suppose to. We can numb, but eventually hunger will return and we must deal with feeding ourselves.

5. Hunger is NOT the enemy. This is probably the most profound lesson of all. For many, many years, hunger was my most threatening enemy. It inspired fear, confusion, and self-doubt. My girls have been excellent role models, demonstrating how hunger is simply just hunger, an organic sensation that simply needs to be satiated. When they feel hunger, they ask for food. There’s no debating or arguing with themselves as to whether they are actually hungry or not. They don’t try to ignore or pacify their hunger. They don’t curse it, wrestle with it, or endlessly suffer to ignore it. My daughters have taught me that hunger is not out to get me or fatten me. It’s not lurking, waiting to pounce on me. It has no agenda. Hunger is not the enemy. My eating disorder beliefs about it and what it represented were the real enemy.

I see now just how much my girls have helped me progress in my recovery. Despite all the challenges and overwhelming moments, they are perhaps my greatest role models for how to have a healthy relationship with hunger. My prayer is that they will forever embrace and feed their hunger to the fullest, without fear or doubt or worry. I don’t care if they eat macaroni and cheese every night of their childhood if it means they will eat with joy for the rest of their lives.

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

To visit or tour a Clementine locations with one of our clinical leaders please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.


Article Spotlight

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Join us in reading inspirational and informative articles we have cultivated from across the web. If you have found an article you feel is inspirational, explores current research, or is a knowledgeable piece of literature and would like to share with us please send an e-mail here.

 

‘Parent Talk’: Tips on How to Parent a Child Struggling with an Eating Disorder NEDA Blog

Love Your Body and Eating Disorder Recovery Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists

Instagram’s New Tool Could Change Mental Health Forever The Daily Good

What are You Feeding Your Mind? Chime Yoga Therapy Blog

Joey Julius Shares His Battle with BED Eating Disorder Hope Blog

Teaching Kids the Truth about Body Size and Shape BEDA Blog

 

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

To visit or tour a Clementine locations with one of our clinical leaders, please reach out to a Clementine Admissions Specialist at 855.900.2221.