Fruityland’s Reader of the Month

We’ve mentioned this in the past that sometimes the workload of a small family company like ours can be daunting… until we connect with our readers.  Ellyssa Simpson is nothing short of that inspiration.  Her perseverance, energy and attitude has us revitalized and calling her Fruityland’s Reader of the Month!

Elly Reader of the Month

While I was visiting some schools in North Carolina, I had the pleasure of meeting Ellyssa and her exceptional mom, Tiffany. I was impressed with their communication regarding nutrition and how great both of them looked despite Ellyssa’s condition.  ‘Elly’, as her mom calls her, developed type 1 diabetes when she was twelve months old. She is now 5 and looks great! I know many parents have the same difficulties as Tiffany does, so I asked her what has worked for her and if she had any recommendations for other parents.

“Elly eats a balanced diet and I think that has been important with her good health today. She enjoys fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, so I know that helps too. She has been taught that eating is a priority and she cannot play or have privileges unless she has eaten all of her meal, so I have never had issues with her and eating. She takes multivitamins and probiotics, but no other medications other  than  insulin.

Her exercise routine is whatever she wants to do that day, bike riding, playing on the playground or just playing tag with me or her dad in the house. Basically, her exercise routine is just being 5 :)

Elly uses an omnipod insulin pump and a dexcom G4 glucose monitor. We have been using this equipment since February 2013. Prior to that she was on insulin shots and took a minimum of 4 shots per day.  Her A1c and control have greatly improved since we started using the pump and cgm.

As far as advice for other parents, I can only say this: you are your child’s best advocate. You have to educate yourself to make the best outcomes for your child’s health. Your child’s doctor and diabetes educators are the first line of care, but it is ultimately you who takes care of your child from day to day, and education is key to doing that. Diabetes is unpredictable and sometimes things just happen. Don’t spend time beating yourself up if something goes wrong with your child’s care. Just allow the mistake to be a teaching moment and vow not to make that mistake again :)

The Best Advocate 3

Are there any parents with a diabetic child that would like to share their experience and wisdom?  Please leave a comment below or drop us a note.  We love to hear & learn from our readers.  By the way, we’re posting a special recipe that came all the way from Italy that might be your family’s summer favorite.  Until then!

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Tuesday Tip: Fall Time at the Farmers’ Market

Happy Tuesday! It’s getting chilly here on the farm so I’ve got my warm sweater on, sipping Moroccan mint tea while looking at the front garden’s palm trees and gardenias. Sounds like heaven right? It is (most of the time) but today I realized that for the first time in my life I’m not going to experience fall in the East Coast. Fall for me is as much about the color of the leaves changing as it about going to the farmers’ market. There’s something about being bundled up in the chilly weather, hunting for treasures in a sea of color and all the possibilities of great meals to look forward to that make farmers’ markets in the fall so special.

Farmers Market

Make a spread with the kids using the goodies you just brought back from the market. {Ripe heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, basil, balsamic reduction served over fresh baked olive bread}

If you’re reading this, you probably already know the great benefits that come with supporting farmers’ markets. Aside from being better for the planet, it’s a great chance to get your kids involved and emotionally connected with healthy seasonal foods from an early age, not to mention an opportunity to expand their taste palate.

Consuming produce from a farmers’ market can also be an easy and direct way to increase your family’s nutrient intake. I found this great article from Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment that goes into detail about these benefits**:

  • Variety: Supermarkets (that have more middlemen and overhead costs to cover) decide which produce and varieties to offer based on efficient yield, profit margin, consistent appearance (those apples need to look perfect and identical) and shelf-life, among other things. Having so much overhead cost and extra transportation time doesn’t leave much room for prioritizing taste and nutritional value. Farmers’ Markets do, however, have that luxury.

    …the spice of life.

  • Healthier farming methods = more nutritional value: The methods used in local farms vs industrial produce farms allow the plant to absorb and sustain more nutrients
  • Harvest Time
    Peak ripeness is when nutrients are at their highest.  The earlier the plant is picked the less nutritional value it has.  Harvesting prematurely is necessary when foods have to travel far to extend shelf-life.
  •  Handling
    Any damage done to a plant can lower its nutritional value.  Bruising is probably the most common problem which is hard to avoid with industry practices such as mechanical harvesting and moving them with trucks and forklifts.
  • Packaging
    If a bruise can affect the nutritional value, you can image what cutting can do.  The second the plant is altered, it starts losing its nutrients.  That why it’s best to consume fruits and vegetables sooner than later once you’ve ‘processed’ them somehow (cut or blended).  Buying pre-cut foods can save time but it does affect the value.  However, if that’s what works for you, pre-cut veggies are certainly better than no veggies!  You can work around this by eating your pre-cut foods earlier in the week or ideally the same day.
  • Longer storage and transportation time
    Plants start losing their nutritional value from the time they’re harvested.  Also, the longer it takes to transport, the harder it is to prevent damage along the way.

Getting there:  Saturday morning rolls around, my comfy sweats and Netflix are enticing me to stay in.  “What time is the market open ’til?”  My husband and I have a leisure debate about that until we know it’s too late to go.  ‘Next week’ we say.

Farmstand app no longer lets us get away with that.  It tells you where the closest market is and what time they’re open.  Did I mention it’s free? :)

Farmstand App

Photo courtesy of itunes.

What’s in Season? Check out this great interactive map from Epicurious.  It allows you to easily select your state and month to give you a heads up for what’s in season.  LOVE!

Whats in Season

Now that you’re fully armed with all this info., grab your coats, enjoy every second of the market, every sip of hot cider, knowing that these are small yet invaluable steps to keeping your children happy and healthy!

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**This is a summarized version of the article.  If you do have the time, it’s well worth reading through it.

All About Adipose: How to Reduce Fat & Your Child’s Likelihood of Obesity

There’s so much talk about fat but still such little understanding about these very same cells that can wreak havoc on our health. This post was written as a humble attempt to understand one of the most talked about cells out there, adipose (fat) cells, and shed some light onto the many myths and misunderstandings that surround them.

Do fat cells differ between lean and overweight people?

Yes, and a significant study in 2008 showed evidence that there are two contributing factors that make up what we consider to be fat mass (adipose tissue):

  1. The number of fat cells an individual has

  2. The volume or size of each fat cell. It’s important to keep in mind that adipose (fat) cells differ from each other in type, location and behavior.

The quantity of fat cells we have and how “full” each cell is determines how heavy or thin we are. Often compared to little grocery bags, each adult has a set number of bags. These bags may be full to the brim or just slightly full, expressing the weight we carry.

Overweight people compared to leaner individuals have both a greater number of cells, as well as, fuller larger cells. Once the number of bags are set, gaining or losing weight is a matter of changing the volume within each bag, not how many bags you have.

{Interestingly, the only way to reduce the number of fat cells is through liposuction by which the cells are literally extracted from the body. If and when the individual gains weight again, the newly formed fat droplets will migrate and find shelter in other fat cells located in other areas (since the cells where they would normally go to have been removed). For example, liposuction in the thigh area will decrease the size of the person’s thighs but months after surgery, fat will start showing up in new parts of the body such as the back of the arms and/or stomach where they normally wouldn’t go to prior to surgery. This is irrelevant as far as children are concerned but it does give us a better insight on how adipose cells work.}

How does having a higher number of fat cells affect a person?

It’s been shown that individuals who have a higher cell number struggle more with weight-loss than individuals with a lower number.

This also highlights how important it is to take the time to understand the complexity of nutrition rather than to simplify and overlook significant details. Blaming overweight or obese individuals for lack of self-control and discipline when chemically speaking it’s more difficult to do so, robs us of understanding, and as a result, efficiently treating obesity. That’s not to say discipline and emotional eating don’t play a role in obesity, but that there’s a lot more to ‘deciding’ to be heavy.

When are adipose cells formed?

Historically, experts believed that the number of adipose cells were formed within the first year or two, however, recent studies indicate adipose cells are formed throughout childhood and adolescence. While these findings are important, the research is still far from being complete. What is certain is that instilling healthy habits at an early age can make a huge impact on achieving good health in the child’s future.

Photo Courtesy:

Photo courtesy:

Do overweight children become heavy or obese adults?

There is a 70 to 80% chance an obese child or adolescent will suffer from obesity as an adult. As we age, the accumulation of unhealthy lifestyle choices and other factors such as hormonal changes and less activity increases our adipose tissue consistently and cumulatively.

The earlier added accumulation and extra formation of fat cells  will make it that much harder for the child to be a healthy weight as an adult. Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss childhood chubbiness as a phase they will inevitably grow out of. We might have to move away from this mindset to one that is more proactive considering these recent findings.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The fact is that there is a lot we can do. Not to mention that succeeding in health is actually fun and involves eating delicious, colorful foods. Understanding the slightly boring details is the worst part, I promise!! With that said, Part 2 will cover the fun stuff and how to make unhealthy weight a thing of the past :)

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Cold War Bomb Testing is Solving Biology’s Biggest Mysteries
A PBS article written by Carrie Arnold, Published: Dec 11, 2013

Dynamics of Fat Cell Turnover in Humans
Kirsty L. Spalding, Erik Arner, Pål O. Westermark, Samuel Bernard, Bruce A. Buchholz, Olaf Bergmann, Lennart Blomqvist, Johan Hoffstedt, Erik Näslund, Tom Britton, Hernan Concha, Moustapha Hassan, Mikael Rydén, Jonas Frisén & Peter Arner
Nature.  June 5, 2008.

Fats and Cholesterol in the Diet
Sherry Henley, Instructional Specialist, Scottie Misner, Associate Nutrition Specialist
The University of Arizona. August 1999.

Fat cell number is set in childhood and stays constant in adulthood
Ed Yong, popular science writer
ScienceBlogs. May 4, 2008

Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood.
Guo SS, Chumlea WC.
Am J Clin Nutr. 199 Jul;70(1): 145S-8S. via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.