Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Right Start

This was published in P31 Woman Magazine online a few years back, my first official published piece. It actually turned out to be a seed that started rolling down a snowy hill, and that snowball has turned into my book proposal. I am having a great time reworking it, but good glory I get hungry when I write about food.

Photo Credit

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, thus 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.

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

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.

The second way moms influence their kids is to lead by 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 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 does come hard, but a mom's job is to stand strong. The kids may complain for awhile, but soon they will have forgotten the old ways. And 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!

1 comment:

  1. Krista, I heart this! Balanced breakfast – and a balanced faith to start the day. Your babies are lucky to have such a good mama. By the way frosted mini-wheats is kind of like shredded wheat right? :-) I heart sugar – sorry. But I'm going to adjust breakfast a little bit just because of what you wrote today. God bless you and each and every one of yours Krista.


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