After Care Program
• Things You Can Do
• Habits Can Be Changed
While at camp our campers lose a significant amount of weight as a direct result of our nutrition program, athletics and activity programs and our Connections and Expressions Programs. It is hoped that the weight loss coupled with nutrition knowledge, and a new affinity for physical activity, a new group of friends to offer support, an understanding of why we often abuse food intake, and techniques to deal with cravings and stress allow the campers to continue their weight loss .
A return home, however, often means the old temptations and the old habits are readily available. To help combat old habits we offer a variety of supports. These supports include direct contact to the directors as well as monthly communication with directors, a massive Facebook presence with daily posts and weekly workouts and recipes, a network of friends and staff to support the continued battle. During the final week of camp every camper will be registered on www.choosemyplate.gov and will receive hands-on instruction on how to use the site.
Returning Home After Camp
Campers will return home having lost a substantial amount of weight while at camp armed with the tools to continue that weight loss. No amount of nutrition education, physical activity experience or behavior modification is enough, however, if they re-enter a non-supportive environment. Sustained weight loss demands that significant changes be made at home.
Parents often ask about what they might do to help their child when they return home from camp. This is a difficult question to answer not because of the material but because the answer often generates a defensive reaction. Obesity is a sensitive issue and to point fingers at parents as the potential source of the problem is counterproductive. Thus, we make no judgments about how our campers may have arrived at our doors but offer a response to the oft asked question in the hopes the information will prove to be useful.
Family situations and dynamics differ widely among our camp families so the following suggestions should be implemented as the individual situation dictates. The very best alternative is to involve the entire family in adopting lifestyle changes that will benefit all members of the family. This may prove to be very difficult or even impossible if the household includes non-weight challenged siblings or a non-cooperative adult. While full family participation is not a guarantee of success, it at least offers overweight family members a fighting chance to make and sustain the lifestyle changes needed to avoid looming health problems and social frustration. The following suggestions are dramatic and should be tailored to fit your individual situation. The sooner you start, the better. Don’t wait for camp to start to begin an aggressive campaign of healthy living.
Here are a few things you CAN DO to improve the quality of life at home
Turn off the TV Better yet, put the TV in the garage for a few months. Under no circumstances should a TV ever be in an overweight child’s room. Study after study has confirmed the very high correlation of obesity with excessive TV viewing. The reasons are simple. TV viewing encourages snacking. Meals should never be consumed in front of the TV. Moreover, TV watching is sedentary and takes time away from potential physical activity. TV also bombards impressionable children with advertisements for food and beverages which should be avoided in weight loss environments. The same goes for movies, DVD’s and the computer. Turn them off. Except as a tool for homework, computer time should be carefully monitored. This is a sedentary activity that encourages idle food and beverage consumption and over-consumption.
No Fast Food Eliminate completely all fast food as fast food contains excessive calories. If this is impossible, the longer you can live without introducing your kids to fast food, the better for them. As adolescents reach the age they can drive, try and steer your kids away from fast food toward healthier alternatives.
No Soda Eliminate all soft drinks in the house. These are empty calories with no nutritional value whatsoever. Many fruit juices suffer from the same profile as they are packed with sugar. The drink of choice at home should be water. Get a water service and put the water dispenser in a very visible location. Encourage every family member to drink at least 8 large glasses of water every day. Set the example by carrying and using a large gaudy water bottle at home.
Do Not Eat Out Restaurant portions are enormous, the foods are very high in calories and the foods are often drowned with high calorie sauces or gravies. Granted, while they may taste great, it is far too easy to consume excess calories when you eat away from home.
Eliminate Dense Calorie Foods at home such as high fat desserts and salty snacks. Try meals without starches or sugar. Reduce salt intake. Introduce fruits and vegetables. Look at www.FruitsandVeggiesMatter.gov for great recipes and information about how to incorporate fruits and vegetables in your daily meals.
Increase physical activity It is certainly difficult to change what and how you eat. The ‘pain’ of the change, however, will not produce the desired results absent an increase in physical activity. Weight loss only occurs when the daily calorie intake is outdistanced by the daily calorie use. Thus, calorie use must rise.
Try and involve the entire family in a sport or sports Walk or hike as a family. If schedules do not permit the entire family to participate, set the example yourself and find an activity that is of particular interest. Take up golf, join a gym or tennis group. A great way to keep the kids out of trouble is to encourage them to try as many activities as possible until they find something that holds their interest. Get them involved in some physical activity every day of the week.
Habits Can Be Changed
When it comes to eating we all have strong habits. Although many of our eating habits were learned as children, it is not too late to change them. Making radical changes to eating habits such as eating nothing but cabbage soup can lead to short term weight loss. These weight losses, however, are neither healthy nor sustainable. The CDC recommends that you permanently improve eating habits through an approach in which you Reflect, Replace and Reinforce.
First, reflect on your eating habits. This is easily done by keeping a food journal for a few days in which you record what you ate, when you ate and how you were feeling when you ate. Review the list to see if you can identify the root causes of overeating. Common eating habits that lead to weight gain are eating too fast, always cleaning your plate, eating when not hungry, eating while standing up, always eating dessert and skipping meals.
Identify the triggers that cause the unhealthy eating habits and determine how to eliminate them. Common triggers for eating when not hungry are watching TV, as a stress relief, availability of unhealthy food, lack of planned meals and feeling bored or tired and thinking food might offer a pick-me-up. Once you understand what drives your unhealthy eating habits, try and avoid the situations or provide healthier alternatives.
Replace unhealthy eating habits with healthy ones. If you eat too fast, put down the fork between each bite. Eat only when you are hungry. If you become bored or tired, find a non-food alternative to divert your attention from food. Plan meals ahead of time and make sure they are healthy and well balanced.
Finally, reinforce your new habits and be patient. Habits take time to develop. If you find yourself reverting to the unhealthy habit, stop as quickly as possible and examine why the habit has returned. Take it oneday at a time.