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  • Stephen Bean

Meal Time (What Does That Look Like?)

Meal time at Camp New Heights is far more than just a part of the schedule that we get through to get on to the next activity. Meals at Camp New Heights are an activity amongst themselves. We celebrate meal time and use it as a time to learn, laugh, and strengthen the bonds among campers. So what does meal time at Camp New Heights look like?


We begin each weekday with breakfast at Portola dining commons. Lunch is provided by the De La Guerra dining commons following third period. Dinner returns to Portola dining commons following the shower hour period.


Prior to each meal our nutritionist will provide a run down of what is available to eat. This breakdown provides campers with information about what they should be looking for in terms of micro and macro nutrients that are needed to have a successful day. Each camper can collaborate with the nutritionist to provide a customized nutrition plan.


Upon arrival to the dining hall, most campers have formed a plan of what they are going to get for their first plate. Our first plates are typically designed around a protein source and complimentary vegetables. We aim to not fuel primarily on carbohydrate sources on the first plate. This does not mean that carbohydrates are not consumed during meals, just more so that our first plate is not built around them as a primary source. So what do I mean when I say "first plate"? At Camp New Heights we want to teach eating habits that promote a healthy lifestyle. We see that many of our campers come to meal time extremely hungry following the intense amount of activity they have taken part in during the camp. The ravenous appetite that campers come into the dining hall with can cause many to want to overeat. This is why we have the first plate concept.


According to WebMD.com it takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to send out the signals of fullness. This is why after campers gather their first plate and begin eating, we wait 20 minutes as a camp before we go for our second plate. What we see from this waiting period is that after the 20 minutes campers are able to better assess their level of hunger. By having a more accurate idea of their level of hunger, campers are far less likely to overeat and then subsequently not feel well. So while 20 minutes can seem like a lifetime, we're doing it so that we prevent overeating and not feeling well as a result.


You can read more about how to slow down while eating at WebMD's post: Slow Down, You Eat Too Fast


Many of our prospective campers worry about feeling hungry after mealtime and are concerned that they will be restricted in terms of feeling full. Rest easy campers, we're not here to starve anybody. Our philosophy with our first and second plates allows campers to ensure that they leave the dining hall fully fueled and ready to tackle whatever activity comes next. We are not strictly counting calories or making sure that campers are in a deficit in order to lose weight. We are pushing our campers to make healthy decisions and fuel themselves with wholesome and nutritious foods that are beneficial to a camper's body. For those campers looking to lose weight at camp, in conjunction with our nutritionist you'll see that by making great choices it is quite possible to lose weight while not being hungry/starving.


So what about all of the desserts that are available? Camp New Heights program is designed to fit around the real world. The truth of the matter is that dessert exists in the real world and we're not about to pretend that it isn't a nice treat from time to time. So we are not saying campers can never have dessert, but we do believe that campers need to make the choice of when and what their dessert will be. So we allow one dessert per day and the choice of what that dessert is rests on the shoulders of our campers. So if you want a cookie at lunch, no sweat. That being said, if you take the cookie at lunch, that delicious pie at dinner is not on the menu.


In addition our our normal weekday meals, we also have the grocery store challenge and the cooking challenge every Sunday. These Sunday challenges have grown to become a camper favorite over the years. Stay tuned for our next blog post that will highlight the grocery store and cooking challenge.










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