Handling Holidays, Gatherings… and Food

Kristina Vollmer, PhD is a psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center Sinai.

Kristina Vollmer, PhD is a psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center Sinai.

Holidays and gatherings can be a particularly difficult time for many people who are trying to change their eating in order to live healthier lives. It is particularly difficult for people who are have undergone Bariatric Surgery, or are preparing for Bariatric Surgery.  Here are some tips and strategies to keep in mind so that you are able to thoroughly enjoy yourself without getting off track!

  • Recognize that you cannot control things the same way you do at home.  This may make you angry. It is important to recognize your frustration rather than to eat it.
  • Acknowledge your cravings – trying to ignore that you even have them sets you up to give in to them. Say to yourself:  “I really want (specific food), but this is the new me. I don’t need (specific food) to feel good about this holiday/occasion or to enjoy myself.”
  • Before you go out, take the time to imagine how the food will be at this event.  When will you eat? What will be served? How hungry will you be? Will there be foods that will trigger you to overeat? Will there be healthy foods that will satisfy you? Will there be foods that you want to treat yourself to? How much do you want to eat? How much and what do you need to eat? Now, being as realistic as possible, decide how you can handle the event in the most positive way for you.
  • Have a goal you DO want to accomplish at the event.  Make it about “doing something” rather than trying to prevent something.  It is fine to have food goals, but you also need to have personal, emotional, spiritual, and relationship goals as well. Remember, gatherings are suppose to be about enjoying each other’s company; not about the food!
  • After the event is over, think about what you could do the next time. Could you suggest a different place? Could you arrive after the eating is over? Could you help plan a healthier selection?
  • Review what was uncomfortable, and then strategize for how to handle it differently in the future. Review what worked well, and congratulate yourself for even small accomplishments.
  • Get adequate sleep!!  You will eat more calories and crave carbs/sugar/caffeine if you are sleep deprived.
  • Never arrive hungry.  Eat something before you go.  Have a protein bar or other items you can carry with you in case the food gets delayed.
  • Don’t skip meals and starve in an attempt to make up for what you recently ate or are about to eat.
  • Offer to bring a food so you know there will be at least one healthy choice there.
  • If at a restaurant, be the first to order so you are not influenced by others decisions. Plus, everyone else is too focused on trying to remember what they are going to order to pay attention to what you are ordering.
  • Have a loved one be an ally for you in the situation – fix a plate for you, help handle situations, help make good choices, help you leave if needed.
  • At social events, don’t fill silence with food. Many people will eat and drink because they don’t know what to say or how to act.  Instead, make an effort to get to know people beyond superficial small talk.  When we do that, we have a tendency to eat less.
  • Use small plates – if there is a salad plate use it for the meal.
  • Cover your plate with your napkin when you’re done so you won’t nibble unconsciously.
  • Arrive late, after food is served.
  • Try to avoid alcohol, it will lower your resistance.
  • Sit far away from the buffet line or kitchen.
  • Plan a walk with loved ones after the meal.
  • Have an “exit” plan.  Know when to use it!
  • It is OK to say no to cake!  If you watch, there are usually a few others who also decline.
  • Do things that keep you moving or keep your hands occupied. If it’s a social outing, bring a clutch instead of a purse, or keep a glass of water in your hand.  Volunteer to write down the gifts at a shower, bring games to play, help clean up, offer to take people’s plates when they’re done with them, offer to cut the cake or hand it out (and take note of the different ways people decline cake or other desserts!).
  • It is OK to throw food away.  Most of us have been made to feel guilty that there are starving people everywhere who would appreciate the food.  In reality, you eating the food is NOT going to help starving people any more than throwing it away will!  You can compost the food, feed other animals, or take it to a homeless shelter if it is truly too hard to throw away.

Remember, gatherings are supposed to be about enjoying each other’s company; not about the food!

Kristina Vollmer, PhD is a psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center Sinai.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Can Eastern spiritual philosophies support recovery from addiction?

Spirituality has increasingly been recognized as a resource for treating addictions, ever since Alcoholics Anonymous introduced its 12-step program – with its recognition of a “higher power” – over 75 years ago. 

Join Dr. Ashok Bedi for a reading/signing/author event on Wednesday, July 17 at 7pm at Boswell Book Company, 2559 North Downer Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211

Join Dr. Ashok Bedi for a reading/signing/author event on Wednesday, July 17 at 7pm at Boswell Book Company, 2559 North Downer Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211.

The American Psychological Association confirms an association between spirituality and positive outcomes in substance abuse treatment. SAMSHA statesThe beneficial role that faith and spirituality play in the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse and in programs designed to treat and promote recovery from substance abuse and mental disorders has long been acknowledged.”

One study published in the October 2000 issue of Psychiatric Times showed that the measure of “importance of religion” was the best predictor in indicating lack of substance abuse.

The Residential Treatment Program at the Dewey Center of Aurora Psychiatric Hospital uses a holistic and evidence-based approach to drug and alcohol rehabilitation and recovery, including incorporating spirituality. The addictions program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital includes group therapy provided by Dr. Ashok Bedi focusing on the benefits of Eastern spirituality philosophies in recovery.

Spirituality is part of the human experience in which we explore who we are and what our life is about. Some approaches to healing, such as mindfulness based therapies, incorporate Eastern spiritual practices, without a requirement to believe in a higher power or religion. This can be a good way to get in touch with your spirituality, without getting embroiled in ambivalence about your beliefs, or feelings of inconsistency between the therapy and your beliefs or lack of them. Eastern spiritual philosophies offer much wisdom for achieving health, happiness, and wholeness, including successful recovery from addiction.

“The goal is not to get patient feeling better for 1 month or 1 year” says Dr. Bedi. “The goal is to give them instruments that can make them feel better for the rest of their lives”.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers treatment programs that can help. For more information, call 1-877-666-7223 or visit the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital website.

How do you create and maintain structure for children?

Eight helpful hints for parents

Bucaro, Diane 02

Diane Bucaro, LCSW, is a therapist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Wauwatosa

Have you ever had a parent tell you that every morning they are 15 minutes late to work? Or that their child is  glued to their favorite cartoon and they need to do their homework, chores, and get ready for bed in the next 30 minutes?

Here are some general tips/guidelines I use with parents.

1. Most kids respond well to a routine. Whenever possible have consistent bed times, wake up times, and meal times. (Per Super Nanny 4:30-5:30pm is the best dinner time for children younger than age 5. Obviously, this will depend on work schedules, do the best you can given your family’s needs).

2. Sleep is essential. Children between the ages of three and six need 10 to 12 hours of sleep overall. By age four or five, children typically have outgrown a nap. Children ages seven to twelve need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

3. Have the parent do their best to offer nutritious foods. Parents can have a pad of paper in the kitchen to jot down meal ideas or if you are running low on an item. Preparing meals ahead of time to heat up when you get home, and researching crockpot recipes can be very helpful for busy parents. It is also wonderful to have at least 3 “go to meals” — something that can be made quickly and easily at home (pasta, sandwiches) that is not the drive thru at the nearest fast food chain. When it comes to new foods and specifically vegetables it is also helpful to remember that it may take several trials of a food before a child may say they “like it”.

4. Have house rules and established consequences for “broken rules”. If parents have established consequences they are less likely to become “heavy handed” or ignore them and regret this later. However, sometimes ignoring is an appropriate strategy. An example of appropriate ignoring maybe when the child burps loudly at the table and is looking directly at the parent for a reaction. In situations like that, any reaction plays into the child’s hands.

AUR_108443959 (1)When applicable, use positive reinforcement such as “good job, I’m so proud of you”. Make a behavioral chart or plan for things that may be more difficult for that child. The parent can develop a token system for a specific time frame of positive behavior.

Dr. Matthew A. Johnson, has developed a system called “Positive Parenting with a Plan” which has specific guidelines to use positive and negative reinforcements for behavior.  He has written a book for parents if they need more help to guide behavior for children ages 5 and up. Some kids respond well to time outs or having treasured objects taken away for a short period of time (1-7 days, the younger the child the shorter the time).

5. Organization: a place for everything. This can be essential to get out the door on time. Have a place for coats, shoes, backpacks and papers. Often we take off items off near the outside door or set down bags, unload items. This area can soon be cluttered and in disarray, especially if there are multiple children in the home. Have a system where kids stuff hats and mittens in their coat sleeves as soon as they take them off. Another option is to set out a basket for hats and mittens. Have a system for kids’ school papers after they have completed them. Have items ready the night before school/work.

6. Have adults be positive role-models by taking good care of themselves and overall showing displays of good citizen. Example, you find an iPhone at the library and you turn it into lost and found.

7. If possible, have a support network of relatives and friends that are positive or may understand what it is like to be raising children or may even be able to give you a break from time to time.

8. Screen time, less is more. If you think about it the more time in front of a screen is typically the less time for exercise, academics, creativity and social interaction. Some families decide to have regular TV times, computer or game times as a reward. I often recommend for the television to be off when getting ready for school in the morning, as well as during meal-times and homework times.

If a parent is really struggling with challenging behaviors or there is a concern that the child is often sad, angry, aggressive, inconsolable or having some other social/emotional distress it can be very helpful to have the child/family assessed for therapy services.

For more information, contact Aurora Psychiatric Hospital at 1-877-666-7223 or visit the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital website.

 

 

What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a type of psychological therapy that is conducted with a group of people, rather than in a one-on-one session. This approach is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy and medication.

vlcsnap-2013-05-16-13h41m36s249Group therapy can help anyone who is in need of mental health care. Like individual therapy, group therapy can benefit people with such conditions as anxiety, panic, depression, family problems, addictions, etc.

Groups can be as small as three or four people, but group therapy sessions generally involve around seven to twelve individuals (although it is possible to have more participants). The group typically meets once or twice each week for an hour or two. Group therapy sessions vary, but the basic format is a small group of patients meet on a regular basis to discuss their feelings and problems and provide mutual support.

The session is guided by a professional therapist who is specially trained in group therapy. The therapist acts as moderator and may suggest a “theme” or topic for the group’s discussion. Sometimes, the therapist will allow the group members to pick the topic for the session.

In a typical session, which lasts about 75-90 minutes, members work to express their own problems, feelings, ideas and reactions as freely and honestly as possible. Such exploration gives the group the important information needed to understand and help one another. Members learn not only to understand themselves and their own issues but also become “therapeutic helpers” for other members.

It’s not unusual to feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but soon you begin to develop feelings of interest and trust. Most clients find that group therapy provides a great deal of relief because it allows them a chance to talk with others who are experiencing similar problems — in a private, confidential setting. Unlike individual therapy sessions, group therapy offers participants the opportunity to interact with others with similar issues in a safe, supportive environment.

sb10061547br-001People in group therapy improve not only from the interventions of the therapist, but also from observing others in the group and receiving feedback from group members. The group format, while not providing the one-on-one attention of individual formats, has several advantages.

Probably the biggest advantage of group therapy for mental health issues is in helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have similar problems. This is often a revelation, and a huge relief, to the person.

Additional benefits include:

  • Increased feedback Group therapy can provide the patient with feedback from other people. Getting different perspectives is often helpful in promoting growth and change.
  • Modeling By seeing how others handle similar problems, the patient can rapidly add new coping methods to his or her behaviors. This is beneficial in that it can Participants can try out new behaviors, role play, and engage with others give the patient a variety of perspectives on what seem to work and when.
  • Less expensive By treating several patients simultaneously, the therapist can reduce the usual fee. In most cases the cost of group therapy is about one-third that of individual therapy.
  • Improve social skills Since so much of our daily interaction is with other people, many people learn to improve their social skills in group therapy (even though such an issue may not be the focus of the group). The group leader, a therapist, often helps people to learn to communicate more clearly and effectively with one another in the group context. This is inevitably leads to people learning new social skills which they can generalize and use in all of their relationships with others.

There are clinicians and researchers who also claim that the group psychotherapy process produces stronger and longer-lasting results for many people, as compared to individual psychotherapy.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offer a wide variety of group therapy. If you or someone you know would benefit from group therapy, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 1-877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services. 

Overcoming barriers: May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health America continues its tradition of celebrating “May is Mental Health Month,” which began in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.
Mental health month 2014 Mind Your Health
Mental illnesses are medical illnesses. One in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. One in 17 lives with serious, chronic illness.

On average, people living with serious mental illness live 25 years less than the rest of the population. One reason is that less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with a diagnosed illness receive treatment.

The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it. That’s why awareness is so important. We want people to understand mental illness and join a dialogue in our community. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help and support they need.

When mental health care isn’t available in a community, the results often are lost jobs and careers, broken families, more homelessness, more welfare and much more expensive costs for hospital emergency rooms, nursing homes, schools, police and even courts, jails and prisons.

To access free screenings for depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns visit our screening center

If you or someone you know would benefit from addiction treatment or mental health services, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services.

mental health month 2013

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and  Drug Dependence) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month since 1987. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and encourage people to make healthy, safe choices.

ncadd%20alcohol%20awareness%20month%202013-%20logoDrinking too much alcohol can lead to health problems, including alcohol poisoning, hangovers, and an increased risk of heart disease. If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Keep track of how much you drink, avoid places where overdrinking occurs, and find new ways to deal with stress. If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a drinking problem, Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers treatment programs that can help.

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible

April 10 is National Alcohol Screening Day. How do you score?

ncadd%20alcohol%20awareness%20month%202013-%20logoNational Alcohol Screening Day is an outreach, education, and screening program that raises awareness about alcohol misuse and refers individuals with alcohol problems for further treatment.

Thousands of colleges, community-based organizations, and military installations provide the program to the public each year.

What are the warning signs?

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you may have a problem with alcohol:

  • Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?
  • Does your drinking ever make you late for work?
  • Does your drinking worry your family?
  • Do you ever drink after telling yourself you won’t?
  • Do you ever forget what you did while drinking?
  • Do you get headaches or have a hangover after drinking?

If you or someone you know is struggling with a drinking problem, Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers treatment programs that can help.

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

 

Celebrating our caregivers: March is Social Worker Month

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) recognizes March as Social Worker Month. This year’s theme, “Weaving Threads of Resilience and Advocacy,” emphasizes the value of using personal strengths and self-advocacy to manage serious life challenges.

Social work is currently one of the fastest growing professions in the United States;

social work month 2013They are employed in many different organizations and industries, including private and public agencies, hospices, hospitals, and health care organizations, schools and universities, businesses and foundations, military branches and veterans centers, as well as national and local public elected offices.

There are currently more than 650,000 professionally trained social workers in the United States, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth to 800,000 by the year 2020.

Social workers help millions of people function better in their environments. The primary mission of Social Work is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic needs of all people, especially the most vulnerable. As therapists, social workers accomplish this mission in many ways:

  • Social Workers help patients develop treatment plans that use their strengths, resilience, and self-advocacy to navigate life challenges.
  • Social Workers help patients function better in their environments, improve their relationships with others, and solve personal and family problems through a wide range of interventions.
  • Social Workers assist patients in every stage of life, from all communities, through individual, group and family therapy.
Pete Carlson is the president of Aurora Behavioral Health Services.

Pete Carlson is the president of Aurora Behavioral Health Services.

“ABHS utilizes social workers at all levels of care. They are invaluable in delivering effective, quality behavioral health and substance abuse treatment.” says Pete Carlson, President of Aurora Behavioral Health Services. “Social workers play a vital role in our inpatient, residential, partial hospital, intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment programs. I extend a warm and sincere “Thank You” to all our clinical social workers.”

For a list of social workers at Aurora Behavioral Health Services, or to search for a social worker visit our web site.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

 

What does “eating well” mean to a person with an eating disorder?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes March 9, 2016 as Registered Dietitian Day. This event, started in 2008, was created to increase the awareness of the vital part registered dietitians provide for patients regarding food and nutrition services and to recognize RDs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.

The importance of the registered dietitian is extremely evident in the area of Eating Disorder treatment.

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Sandy Blaies

“Dietitians are an essential part of our program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital” says Sandy Blaies, Eating Disorders program supervisor. “Eating disorders have both psychological and physiological elements and require treatment providers with expertise in both.

“The extreme dieting behaviors, severe weight loss and symptoms of semi-starvation, binge-eating behaviors, and the patient’s distorted beliefs about nutrition and dietary requirements all support the need for the expertise provided by dietitians.”

“Dietitians have an essential role within the multidisciplinary assessment and treatment programs for all three major eating disorders.”

The main aim is to provide sound nutritional knowledge for the patient, the caregivers and other members of the treatment team. The focus of treatment should be on the establishment of a balanced dietary intake which will restore nutritional status and body weight.

Anne Sprenger

Anne Sprenger

Ann Sprenger, RD, a registered dietitian in the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Eating Disorder Program describes how she works with patients. “I meet with every patient to provide nutrition information, describe how nutrition affects their mental and physical health, and to develop a diet plan in partnership with the patient.

“We monitor food intake every day and identify barriers to healthy eating habits. It is important for the patients to practice healthy eating habits while in the treatment program.”

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat, MD is the Medical Director of the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Eating Disorder Program. “Professionals who treat patients with an eating disorder need to have knowledge of the nutritional effects and physiological consequences of the illness. This is rare within a predominantly mental health setting and this is the importance of including a registered dietitian in the treatment team.”

How do registered dietitians help people live well? Check out the top 10 ways from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat

If you or someone you know may be experiencing an eating disorder please contact us at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services or check out these resources:

Are you a “heavy drinker?”

A recent story published by the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel indicates Wisconsin was the state with the nation’s highest percentage of heavy drinkers — well above the U.S. median of 6.6%.

Aurora offers a full continuum of substance abuse treatment and related services for children, youth, adults and families.

Aurora offers a full continuum of substance abuse treatment and related services for children, youth, adults and families.

Wisconsin ranked number one, with 9.8% of residents considered heavy drinkers. Just what is a “heavy drinker”?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, men having more than 14 drinks per week, and women having more than 7 drinks per week fall into the heavy drinking category.

Binge drinkers are those who have more than 5 drinks in a day for men, or 4 drinks in a day for women.

“Heavy or binge alcohol consumption can negatively affect an individual’s health in many ways” according to David Smith, MD, vice president of Patient Experience and Care Management at Aurora Health Care.

“The impact on families, communities, and workplace are well known. The brain, nervous system, heart, liver, stomach, gastrointestinal tract, and pancreas can all be damaged by alcoholism. In addition, accidents and injuries related to alcohol use are much higher. We are placing a lot of emphasis on encouraging our caregivers to live healthy lifestyles, and limiting alcohol consumption is key to good health”

For more information on the impact of heavy alcohol consumption, visit these resources.

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

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