Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Right Start

Get Your Family Off to a Great Start Each Day with These Healthy Breakfast Tips
by Krista Burdine

A noted Chinese proverb says, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Moms could adapt these words to say, "Give a child good food, and she will eat good food at home. Teach her how to make wise choices with her food, and she will eat good food wherever she goes for the rest of her life."

One of the first choices we make in any day is of what to eat. Breakfast is not the largest meal of the day, but nutritionists are always telling us that it is an important one.

Why Eat Breakfast?

Consider these benefits of breakfast eating, as reported by the Mayo Clinic. Those who take the time for a good breakfast (i.e. not coffee and a doughnut!) have a tendency to eat more nutritious food in general; to accomplish more before lunchtime; to keep their weight under control; and to have lower cholesterol, reducing certain health risks.

Kids especially can benefit from breakfast with improved coordination, concentration, and ability to think clearly. Moms want the best for their kids, and one very simple way to give them the best is to make the effort to feed them a good breakfast each day.

How Can I Make a Healthy Breakfast Part of the Morning Routine?
With today's busy lifestyles, getting a good start can be quite a challenge. Planning ahead always helps. It starts with laying out clothes and other necessary items the night before. Then, if the right food is in the pantry, and the choice for the morning already pulled to the front of the fridge, breakfast time can proceed a lot more smoothly.

What Makes a Good Breakfast?
There are several components to any healthy meal, including protein, whole grain, dairy, and fruits and vegetables. According to UCLA Health, the magic is in the combination of elements. When we consume a breakfast with at least three of the above components, we set our bodies up to be able to regulate our blood sugar throughout the rest of the day. We also give our digestive system enough to keep it busy for longer than a bowl of sugar cereal does.

Some suggested traditional breakfast combinations include high-fiber cereal, skim milk, and a banana; whole-grain toast with peanut butter and a glass of 100% juice; a hard-boiled egg, an apple, and an English muffin; or a smoothie made with plain yogurt, fruit, and a couple tablespoons of wheat germ. Less traditional, but still appropriate, options could include leftover veggie pizza on whole-grain crust; cut-up veggies layered in a tortilla with salsa and string cheese; or even a baked potato topped with broccoli and cheese.

How Do I Train the Kids?

Moms can help their kids learn to make good breakfast choices in two ways.

First, offer nutritious options by only bringing "good choice" food home from the store. Just a few alterations can make breakfast a whole lot healthier. Change one item a month for a few months, and they will have gradually re-educated their taste buds.

For example, choose cereals with higher fiber, such as Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat, and Multi-Grain Cheerios. Switch from flavored to plain yogurt, and stock up on frozen fruit to stir in. Begin to serve less juice, but make sure it is 100% juice with no sugar added, then dilute it about 20% with water. Develop the habit of only buying whole-grain bread. One final trick is to invest in some wheat germ and/or ground flaxseed, and stir it into all kinds of things from muffin mix to yogurt to oatmeal.

Second, moms can influence their kids by setting a good example. When moms eat right, the kids learn to distinguish good from poor choices. This can be a challenge for those of us still loving the fact that we are on our own and have the freedom to choose! But it is so important, given our role in setting our kids up for long-term success.

More than Good Food
Choosing a smart start in the morning includes one other key element. All of the child-rearing good we do is useless if we fail to teach our kids the importance of looking to God at the beginning of each day. Psalm 5:3 says, "In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation" (NIV). Again, we start by setting the example of doing so ourselves: Take a moment to invite God to be part of your morning before even getting out of bed; allow ten minutes to read God's Word before getting the kids up.

Then, help them do the same. As you greet the kids, sit down together for a moment to ask God to be part of their day. Some parents even wake their kids early enough that the kids can do their own quiet time before getting ready for school. It is so simple, yet all it takes is just a little planning ahead, and the rewards will continue for years.

Sometimes change is difficult, but a mom's job is to stand strong. The kids may complain for awhile, but soon they will have forgotten the old ways. Remember, the changes are not just to give them good fuel for the day, but to help them learn to make good choices for the rest of their lives!

Ten Things You Can Do for Parents of Really Sick Kids

By Jolene Philo

During a family crisis, people want to put feet to their prayers and help in tangible ways. Here are ten practical things you do for parents of really sick kids.

1. Be specific. Say “I’ll come for your laundry Tuesday” rather than “Call me if there’s anything I can do.”
2. Do yard work. Mow, weed and water flower beds, harvest the garden, or shovel snow.
3. Facilitate communication. To avoid inundating parents with phone calls, arrange a daily time for them to call you with updates. Via email, disseminate the updates to church family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
4. Offer technical expertise. Set up webpage for parents at or, two organizations that offer free website for hospital patients.
5. Send an activity box. Depending on the child’s age, illness, ability and interests fill the box with coloring and activity books, crayons, markers, glue, stickers, sewing cards, scissors, paper dolls, and small Lego sets.
6. Send a care package. Depending on the parents’ situation, send note cards, stamps, pens and pencils, travel-sized toiletry items, quarters for vending machines and laundromats, crossword puzzle and Sudoku books, magazines, a phone card, favorite treats, and a copy of A Different Dream for My Child.
7. Help with the siblings. Take healthy siblings to school, extra-curricular, and church events, or have them stay with you until the hospitalization ends.
8. Provide maid service. Commandeer a house cleaning crew when the hospital stay winds down.
9. Fill the fridge. Toss out any green stuff growing in the refrigerator and stock it with bread, milk, eggs and other staples.
10. Organize meals. Create a volunteer rotation to provide meals three or four times a week. Record menus to avoid duplication.

Jolene Philo lives and writes in Boone, Iowa. You can interact with her at her websites,, and Jolene is a graduate of Proverbs 31 Ministries’ She Speaks.