Monday, September 13, 2010

Net Loss after the first week of school lunches . . . .

That's no joke! I wasn't sure if I should allow Ellie to eat one of her favorite meals - the school lunch. Loaded with calories, many coming from fat, and lots of sodium - school lunches are not the healthiest thing on the menu. They are unfortunately a necessity for 50% of her classmates who rely on reduced or free school lunches to make it through the day. That's part of the reason for the high calorie meals. Kids in poor families may not have access to good nutrition at home and need to have at least enough calories to make through the day. I still don't understand why healthy food is so expensive but that's for another post.

I watched Ellie's weight creep up a little bit throughout the week, with some trepidation. She had a low of 54.8 lbs on 9/6/10, the day before school started. Through the week her weight rose to 55.2 lbs on Saturday 9/11/10. However my dear spouse reminded me that unlike us who just get fatter when our weight rises - Ellie is still getting taller. He wondered if she had grown any taller since I last measured her height. Low and behold he is a smart bugger! Ellie had grown a 1/2 inch since August 24!! This brought her BMI down on 9/11/10 to 22.6 from a high of 23.2 on 9/5/10 (her weight that day was 55.4lbs).

She gets to celebrate her hard work and success by enjoying another week of school lunches. Personally I'd rather have chocolate!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hooray 2 1/2 weeks in, 2.8 lbs down & she grew 1/2 inch!

So today I was castigated for 'fixating' on the weight, but it paid off! It's amazing how much poop can weigh, by the way. And there's a lesson for me to re-learn, and pass on to you in this post.

So being a Saturday morning, we slept in a little bit. Ellie and I headed downstairs at 7:30am. I had to rush out the door to get the recyclables to the curb before the recycling truck headed by. Then I made breakfast and ate outside on the deck. Gorgeous weather and a relaxing Saturday morning are a perfect combination! After a breakfast of hummus, whole grain pita chips, skim milk and red grapes I finally got around to weighing Ellie. Big mistake - she was heavier by quite a bit (56.8 lbs). I also checked her height and she has grown 1/2 an inch since August 24 when I began tracking her height and weight. Yea!

As I was getting ready to give her a bath, she pooped - so I took the opportunity to weigh her again. Low and behold, poop weighs 1.5 pounds! She was now down to 55.2 lbs and with her height now at 3ft 5.5inches she has a new BMI of 22.6. Still in the possibly obese category, but a big drop from August when her BMI was 24.3. I've been watching Ellie's weight slowly creep up this week from a low last week of 54.8 lbs (before school started). Seeing Ellie grow 1/2 an inch and this BMI adjustment was great encouragement that overall she is improving.

The lesson I re-learned and wish to share today is to always weigh yourself at the same time (in order of events) each day. If you always weigh yourself after you get up and pee, and before you eat, then do that. Don't eat first and then weigh yourself - if you do that make sure you give your body time to process that meal (quality bathroom time!) before you weigh yourself. I drink 3 cups of coffee and have a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit each morning. After several trips for quality bathroom time - Surprise, surprise that weighs 2.5 lbs!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Next steps: Confirming my source, and what would a lawyer tell me to say?

So, I've been doing more research and found at the American Academy of Pediatrics website a graph that actually says my sedentary daughter should be eating up to 1200 calories a day. Phew. 1000 was difficult to get to over the past few days. We've been in the 1100's but not down to 1000 yet.

Here's the chart as I've cut and pasted from the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can reach it from this link. I imagine that if you feel that your child is obese, or significantly overweight you should first talk with their pediatrician before beginning to develop a weight loss program. If I had lawyers, I'm sure they would insist that I write that into this post. Also, I'm sure that they would insist that I tell you that I am not a medically trained professional (I can't stand the sight of blood), nor am I a trained dietician.

What I am is a mom who has a brain, can do research and realizes that a lot of life is really boiled down to common sense. For instance, to lose weight eat less, move more. More on that next time.

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TABLE 3 Daily Estimated Calories and Recommended Servings for Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Milk/Dairy by Age and Gender

1 y 2–3 y 4–8 y 9–13 y 14–18 y

Kilocaloriesa 900 1000


1200 1600 1800

1400 1800 2200
Fat, % of total kcal 30–40 30–35 25–35 25–35 25–35
Milk/dairy, cupsb 2c 2 2 3 3
Lean meat/beans, oz 1.5 2


Fruits, cupsd 1 1 1.5 1.5


Vegetables, cupsd 3/4 1


1 2 2.5

1.5 2.5 3
Grains, oze 2 3


4 5 6

5 6 7

Calorie estimates are based on a sedentary lifestyle. Increased physical activity will require additional calories: by 0 to 200 kcal/day if moderately physically active and by 200 to 400 kcal/day if very physically active.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back in Action - "Eat healthy. Lose Weight"

"You know where that comes from? Watching that da*# TV."


Those quotes, for those of you who are not movie afficionados, came from "The Nutty Professor", with Eddie Murphy. And studies have shown that obesity, and especially childhood obesity, comes from a sedentary lifestyle that involves watching too much da#% TV.

Oddly enough, although I'm very careful about my eating and exercise and that of my husband - apparently I was a slacker parent. Somewhere over the last two years I wasn't paying close attention to my daughter's eating habits and she put on weight. More than a typical 5 yr should, especially one who is vertically challenged. And since she is not inclined to be as active as her brother at the same age, it is adding up. I feel like such a schmuck. As the stay-at-home parent I should have realized this. My hubby said something on several occasions, and I was doing the "can't see the forest for the trees" or the "ostrich head in the sand" thing.

Well, last week I read an article at the Washington Post about back to school and school lunches for kids. That was the real eye-opener. Of course I forgot to pull my head out of the sand first - that sure stings. The article breaks down by age groups the number of calories a day an active vs. a sedentary child should be eating. On page 2 I got a stunner: a 4-8 year old sedentary child should be eating only 1,000 calories a day! Holy crap on a cracker. I knew my little Ellie was packing way more back than that, and she loves to sit down and feed her baby doll, or read books (sitting) and of course watch TV.

So what did I do about this? Well, it took me a week to get my head out of the sand! Then I realized I needed to start by collecting data. I began this weekend to keep a food journal for her. It has been both eye - opening and encouraging. We've kept her caloric intake to 1170 calories or less, and we've gotten a few veggies "over the lips, past the tongue, look out stomach here they come!"

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Low Salt Cooking to Avoid High Blood Pressure and the various meds . . .

Well, how do you like that. I thought I was the salt 'nazi' (and i'd really like a better noun there, just haven't gotten my creative juices flowing in that direction). I was looking at labels, buying no-sodium chicken broth (it really is flavorful) and beef broth, making sure we have lots of whole foods and especially produce in the kitchen. There's a huge bowl of apples, bananas and clementines on the counter. My produce drawer always has salad fixings, and if you're really lucky you can even find some of the slimy, hidden-at-the-back-of-the-drawer-variety of produce too. We've cut back on the red meat and dramatically increased the chicken and fish. Our lunch meat and cheeses include a variety of low-sodium choices as well. I thought I was doing so well. I was keeping the sodium under 2000 mg a day, and for those who really need it - way lower.

Then, the snow storm of hte century was upon us. Our idea of preparing for it was an extra large order of chinese food.
Sounds like I covered all the bases, right? Well not if you read this article in the LA Times from June, 2009, titled "The hidden salt in chicken". I was shocked, I tell you. This is outrageous!! For those of us who are trying, desperately, to create a healthy and yummy low-sodium and heart-healthy life, chicken is essential. Now to find out that most of the birds roosting on the store shelves are filled with extra sodium is really annoying. I'm not endorsing any brand but Foster Farms does say on their website that their chicken does not have added sodium. I haven't checked my local stores yet to see the truth on the labels. That's for the next post - once snowmaggeddon ends and the kids go back to school I can wander the aisles in peace. If the kids stay home any longer it will become their homeschooling project.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

changes are coming

I have been neglecting this blog as I ponder my future writing endeavors. I enjoy writing about my kids, but I have been feeling the need to share more of my knowledge base than this blog is really intended to cover.

As a stay-at-home mom these last 10 years I have become a expert home economist. Anyone who cuts their family budget by more than 50% and adds a mouth to feed, cloth and insure (health wise!) knows that requires some real creativity. Our family has moved twice across the country, bought in a seller's market, sold (twice) in a buyer's market, dealt with a variety of health issues, added another mouth to feed, cloth and insure - that one came with here on special needs as well. Somehow through it all we reduced our debt-load, increased our savings and still had fun!

Our income has risen over the years, but so have our financial burdens. Through it all we've learned what we really need and want to find enjoyment in our lives. We know that there are many who struggle more than we ever did, and we are always looking to share what we can with those in need. We have learned to eat healthier, reduce our carbon footprint and enjoy a wide variety of activities all on one income. How have we done it? That's what I plan to share with you. Exciting additions are headed your way - stay tuned.

storm prep - non-potable water without the waste

it's always good to have extra water on hand during hurricane season. Water for drinking, water for flushing toilets. We never knew that Fredericksburg would be such a stormy place. Tornadoes, blizzards - these weren't in the description we read! Living out in the country, or living in a suburban neighborhood - everyone can lose power in an ice storm and you never know which way a tornado will track. It's a good idea to have a storm kit - batteries, flashlights, canned food, dry food (remember to pack a can opener with the canned food!), drinking water for everyone, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.

We usually fill the tub with water to flush the toilets, but have not had to use that water so it just goes down the drain a few days after the storm has passed. That seems like such a waste when I am trying to reduce my carbon footprint, and conserve resources - especially water! So we hatched on a new idea - cheap 5 gallon paint buckets with lids. We can fill them and keep them covered. That way there is always water so if power goes out for any reason - especially the unexpected reasons, we have water and can flush away! Also, if we have gone for a couple of months without needing it - I can use that water to water my plants and then refresh it with new water so it doesn't get gross. Your local hardware store carries those buckets for around $5, including the lid so it's not a heavy burden on your monthly budget, and since you won't be drinking the water you can always use the buckets for other projects if you need to.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Heart & Waistline Healthy Eating - yum. "But it's green soup. Eeww - gross"

Mom's Green Soup, aka Broccoli Soup (this came from, I've modified slightly)

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 stalk celery, finely chopped
**1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed
4 + C fresh broccoli, including stems, chopped ( I had about 5 cups)
2 C no-sodium, fat-free chicken or vegetable broth (Maggi brand makes a no sodium bullion)
1 1/2 c skim milk

** I didn't have any potatoes so I substituted instant mashed potatoes, stirring them in after I processed the cooked veggies.

Heat oil on medium heat in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Gently saute onion and celery for 3-4 minutes, until onion is softened. Add potato and chopped broccoli, followed by the broth and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Allow soup to cool slightly, then transfer to a blender/food processor in 2-3 batches, and blend/process till smooth. Return soup to pot and heat gently until read y to serve. *** if using instant potatoes add them at this point.

No, the kids didn't try it. But I have to give them credit. They eat lots of healthy stuff : hummus, home made whole wheat bread, salads, just about any veggie raw, and cooked carrots (well Ellie likes french fries and catsup - other veggies she's taking under advisement right now), Weight Watchers Chicken Marsala (minus the mushrooms unless I sneak them in Ellie's rice somehow), Salmon, and just about any chicken really. They don't eat lots of junk food, and they avoid most fast food. Alex refuses to eat any fast food with two exceptions: non-chain pizzaria pizza, and hot dogs. Ellie will eat Chick-fil-a, and Alex can digest it, he chooses not to. Subway is a safe bet, we finally have one nearby but a sub just sounds, eh, not so interesting. I'm pretty lucky as a mom not to have to wage the fast food war with my kids.

That's why I didn't make them eat the green soup. "What is that mom?" Alex asked at the table. He likes raw broccoli. "Oh it's a really yummy brocolli soup. Do you want to try it?" I replied with the least amount of emotion possible. I figured a "beige" voice might encourage without any insistence. "NO. I mean no thanks." He quickly stuffed some toast in his mouth. Rats. Well, I tried. They had scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast for dinner. Our eggs are heart healthy - 1/2 eggs and 1/2 egg whites beaten and scrambled with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper at the table.

So what's the green soup like? Surprisingly good. My taste buds have adjusted to the low-fat low-salt flavor. This soup is very flavorful with that in mind. It would be wonderful in the summer, served chilled.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Resolving to eat healthier . . . So how'sthat going for you?

Ellie is a carbaholic. If she isn't asking for french fries or pop corn then she is looking for chips and crackers. As a person with DS she already has a tendency to be heavy, so I am trying to improve her diet. We, ok, I, didn't pay to much attention as she packed away a lot of goldfish and crackers and snacks in general last year. This year I have become the snack scrooge. For several months I got her eating bananas if she wanted a snack. Her second favorite food group is meat. I used to think she was a carnivore.

On top of her desires to carb-out I struggle to find low-salt, low-fat healthy alternatives for the rest of the family to avoid issues with heart disease that are genetic in nature. Such an easy thing to do with kids. Ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, hold on and let me catch my breath there.

I've been lucky though. My oldest is an amazingly healthy eater. His favorite snack is organic granny smith apples. He shuns the food at the school for homemade sandwiches, and he absolutely REFUSES to eat fast food. This includes most, but not all, pizza places. If he totally refused pizza I would wonder if he's an alien. The mom & pop pizza shops are cool with him, and he loves calzones with lots of different meats in them, so he has to be human.

Unfortunately Ellie doesn't always follow her brother's example. Veggies are a word we "whisper" in our house. Hopefully she won't realize she's actually eaten any. It may turn her to stone. I'm not sure what she's got against them. She does occasionally lick a carrot or a tomato, then she realizes it's going to kill her and she dumps it like a hot potato. Now, that's a veggie she will eat, in french fry format. Assuming there's lots of ketchup. In fact the ketchup to french fry ratio has to be just. so.

Tonight was a good night though. I made a family favorite: sockeye salmon two ways. That's actually two different recipes. One is our original favorite. I modified a recipe I got from a store in Alaska. I call it Dianne's Hawaiian Sockeye - well, that is till I come up with a better name! The other one is a recipe I got from the American Heart Association (I think) for a very low sodium salmon dish. There's about 70 mg of sodium per serving! The kids don't care for that one as much, but they love my old salmon recipe. I serve it with fresh steamed white rice, a salad and a glass of milk. All the food groups are covered, lots of omega-3's, low fat, and for the grown-ups it's also very low-salt. After that we headed to the gym for swim team and a work out for me. Finally - we are getting on track for our resolutions. Ellie loved the salmon and the rice, the salad - not so much. We'll keep working on that, we've got 11 1/2 months!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year, take 2

Ok. so I haven't written in a while. Life's been crazy getting ready for the holidays on top of the normal crazy school and after school activities. I've been meaning to write. Really! I've had all these good intentions, you know. You can tell there's a New Year's Resolution coming up, can't you? Of course you can. (insert drum roll) It's Resolution time of year. (drummer sighs a heavy sigh) So?

Ok, so I wrote a bunch of resolutions. I really did intend to stick with them. Really! In fact a few of them I got a jump start on before New Year's. I cleaned out my coupon binder of all the expired coupons - turns out it was more than half of them. I typed my grocery list into the computer and sorted by department, in the order I usually go through the store. (part of my resolution to find more time in the day) This saves tons of time over the long haul as I can zip through the store even faster with my yellow highlighted list. My first grocery trip using my coupons and my list was faster and saved me $20 in coupons and bonus buys!

Another resolution I made was to get my address book into the computer. (part of my resolution to keep in touch with people better) This is partially completed. My address book was double its size with lots of napkins and scraps of paper with people's addresses and phone numbers and emails. I threw all those scraps away on my Christmas vacation - hooray! They are all in the computer as well as a few of the actual addresses found on the various *pages* of the address book.

In the midst of a crazy-healthcare-crisis-week (personal family healthcare crisis, not the national health care crisis on the headlines most days) I even stuck to yet another Resolution. Getting birthday cards out on time! My sister will be opening her hand made (rather manic looking given the insanity of the weekend) birthday card on The Day. This is a first in a llloooonnnggg time. I'm very proud of sticking to that resolution so far, and hope to really make that one stick like glue all year long. Hopefully the rest of the cards I make will look a little less manic. The card's reflection off my internal thoughts was a little creepy.

Also in the midst of the personal-family-crazy-healthcare-week I did manage to cook healthy home made meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Part of the eat healthy, move healthy, be healthy Resolution. Well, till today. This was the camel's back is breaking sort of day that makes you say, "Chinese Take Out and Chocolate Chip Cookies Please." On my way to pick my son up from school, before the tardy bell had even rung, I got a call that my grandmother who was the picture of health for 92 years old, had died after a fall yesterday. Pass the chocolate chip cookies please. The rest of that resolution will have to take 2 and wait till next week.