College Bound!

College Bound!

For my friends who are in the process of dropping off their first-borns (or any other children too!)at college and are hurting…I have been there. I know it hurts far more than you ever would have imagined when you were battling that ornery teen just last year. When you give birth, they tell you that you will forget the pain. They don’t tell you that you forget it because it is only the beginning of the birthing process. As parents, we give birth every day, over and over again. Once your child no longer needs your body to give them everything that they need, it is a slow process of them needing less from us as we teach them to be self-sufficient and do our best to let go a little more each day, each accomplishment. They are born and need us to hold their delicate heads and feed them, sometimes milk from our body or from a bottle. Either way, they can’t do it on their own. Their necks grow stronger. Their interest in sippy cups and Cheerios replaces a milk-only diet. We prop them up with pillows to teach them to sit. Then they have the audacity to want to stand!!! We grasp their tiny fingers as they learn to walk, one wobbly foot in front of the other. And then we allow them to let go and attempt a step on their own….cheering them on for their effort as our hearts break just a little bit. They go from the ride on cars to tricycles to training wheel two-wheelers to the day the training wheels come off and we are running next to the bike with our hearts in our throats and finally let go…again so proud and holding back tears of letting go.

There is the first day of nursery school, kindergarten, sports, theater, first grade, middle school, high school, heartbreaks, proms, making the team and not making the team. Good grades and lesser grades. Building their moral compass. Sharing our hearts and our stories. Loving them more fiercely than you could have ever imagined as you pushed so long ago. Every storybook that you read them built that relationship. Every trip to the park. Every time you were there, cheering them on as they pulled further away from us, establishing their individuality and independence, circling back to make sure we were still there, and then taking another step away. College prep. Study! Did you write the essay? Did you meet with your counselor? Are you studying? Did you ask the teachers for the recommendation? Did the mail come? Did you get in? You did!!! Oh, so proud of you!!! I knew you could do it!!!!! And yet, our hearts break again. You’re going? Will you remember everything I taught you? Make nice friends? Wash your sheets (at least once??)?  It is change. It is not easy. The birthing process never is. When Mark, my oldest, left for school, I had to keep his door closed for weeks because I couldn’t bear to look at the empty room.

 

Here is what I have learned, and it is all good.  All those lessons that you taught them? Yeah, they were paying attention. They even set a good example for their peers. That relationship that you built with them? It is still there. I recommend establishing communication guidelines…you won’t call constantly but they will answer your texts within a certain number of hours so you know they are not dead. Don’t just ask questions….text to say hi or to tell them something funny about your day. This lets them know you are not stalking them…just missing them   The umbilical cord that you thought the doctor cut so many years ago? Nope…it is just attached from your heart to that grown up child, keeping you connected and sending them love every moment of every day. And if there is really an emergency? That same cord will pull your heart out of your body and send it to them to keep them safe and loved until you arrive. I promise. Just keep blasting the love. Let them know that you love them no matter what, regardless of grades, mistakes, or any other tangible measurement. It is bigger than all that. They’ll know.

 

And you? You are going to be alright. Do you miss them like crazy? Yes, of course. But we have been preparing for this moment from their first breath…the moment when they can walk away and truly start pursing their dreams and hopes. Do they still need you? For food, laundry, and constant supervision…no. For a sounding board, a safe place to land, a source of advice (when asked!!), and the most beautiful unconditional love? Yes. Forever. You will always be that, and you cannot be replaced. College is not the end. It is the beginning of an even better relationship. And now they are almost your age!  Hang in there!!! Breathe. All will be well.

Holding you in my heart,

Colleen Walsh

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For Father’s Day…A Shoutout to the Dads

For Father’s Day…A Shoutout to the Dads

Some of my earliest memories of my father include riding around the living room on his back while he pretended to be a horse, letting me touch his scratchy weekend beard, telling me silly jokes and teaching me how to play cards. I remember sitting under the kitchen table early in the morning with one of my little brothers eating cereal out of mixing bowls (I’m sure we were supposed to be in bed) and my dad “catching” us as he was quietly leaving to go to the hospital for work and just peeking under the table and making a silly face.

 

I remember my brothers scraping their knees and my dad scooping them up off the pavement as if they weighed nothing at all to put band aids on and make it all better.

 

Once when I was about 5 years old, my dad and I went to the top of Killington Mountain (and my mom and brothers were waiting for us at the bottom), and it started to blizzard. I was so scared and so cold, but my dad just swung me between his legs and wrapped his arms around my body and skied me down the whole mountain like that singing at the top of his lungs so I wouldn’t be scared. Now, maybe moms wouldn’t have taken a 5 year old girl up to the top of an expert mountain in the middle of a blizzard in the first place, but that is not the point. He made me feel safe…and actually made it fun…and I still remember that 45 years later!!

 

When I was in high school, mostly the moms went to the kids’ sporting events after school. You didn’t really see dads there. It wasn’t a thing. But once in a while, I would be running down the field hockey field and I would hear “go Walsh! Get ’em!” There was my dad, having left office hours early to watch me play.

 

My dad taught me how to drive. This cannot have been an easy task. I’m sure he needed anxiety medication afterwards, as driving stick shift did not come (shall we say…) naturally to me. Sometimes we ended up on the grass. Often I stalled. He probably got whiplash. More than once. But he stuck with me and I can now drive anything, although I would rather drive to a further parking lot than to parallel park…still not my forte, but I digress.

 

When something goes wrong in my life, my mom is always there for me…and this whole article is in no way to downplay the importance of mothers!! But there is something very special about a good dad. When everything falls apart, my dad can say one word and I will sort of buck up and keep going. Often his go-to word is “courage.” Two syllables that remind me that I already have what it takes to face whatever the current crisis is.

 

Dads are funny, and they are embarrassing. My dad would sing at the top of his lungs while my brothers and I skied with him. He said it was to keep his cadence. We were sure it was to mortify us. I sometimes do this to my kids for the same effect

 

Dads are strong and sensitive and just by their presence they can make everything feel all better. Let’s give them some room to let their presence be felt. Tell your kids funny stories about their dad…about before he became a dad…what he was like…how he is the same…how he is different. My dad has great stories about the first cars he ever owned…and one common theme between he and my boys’ dad is that they both owned cars that lacked a floor on the passenger side. I have never known anyone else who owned a car without a floor aside from these two!! My dad also had a car that would not go in reverse. If he liked the girl he was dating, she could steer while he pushed the car out of the parking spot. If the date wasn’t going so well, she would push.

 

So, dads, tell your children your silly stories from when you were a teen or in college. They will eat them up!!! Be strict and stern when you must and be silly and fun when you can. You won’t appear to be your children’s friend. You are something so much more. You are their father. Relish the title. It is one of the very best. Happy Father’s Day!!

Tale of a Mother’s Love

I love you forever, no matter what.

    When my son Mark was four years old, he was having one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days when nothing seemed to go his way and he couldn’t do anything right (in his mind). I told him, “don’t worry Marky, I love you unconditionally.” Mark, having been born an inquisitive child, responded “what is unconditional?”

 

I so clearly remember sitting on the couch and pulling him up on my lap and wrapping my arms around him and kissing the top of his curly head.

 

“Mark, loving someone unconditionally means that there is nothing that someone needs to do to earn your love and nothing that they can do to make that love go away.”

 

Again Mark looked at me with his huge blue green eyes, questioning if this was true.

 

“To love unconditionally means that I love you forever and ever, no matter what. If you get perfect grades when you go to school, I will love you. And if you do badly on a test, I will love you. If you are captain of the team, I will love you. And if you are cut from the team, I will love you. When you grow up, if you are president of the United States, I will love you with all my heart. If you become a doctor and save thousands of lives, I will love you just the same. If you rob a bank and go to jail, I will be disappointed with your choices but I will love you with everything in my soul around the world and back. I will always love you unconditionally, forever and ever, no matter what.”

 

Understanding began to spread across his face, and the comprehension grew into a huge smile. He wrapped his little 4 year old arms around me and gave me a hug.

 

Twenty years later, I hope that my words have been proven by my actions as I have navigated the sometimes uncertain trails of parenting. This I know for certain, when I define myself, it is first as mother. There is no greater joy in my life than to be help my boys become the men that they want to become.

 

So, on Mother’s Day, thank you to Christopher for giving me the gift of motherhood. And thank you to Mark, Timmy, and Jack for everything that is good in my life. I don’t know if the best is yet to come…it is pretty good right here today. I love you unconditionally, forever and ever, no matter what.

 

Love, Mama

The Ryan Walsh Traumatic Brain Injury Fund in Memory of our Youngest Brother

Hello!! As most of you know, our dear Ryan Walsh died suddenly in his sleep in early December 2016 as the result of a traumatic brain injury suffered in a car accident four years before that.  During the years that followed the accident, we watched helplessly as Ryan’s condition grew worse, rather than better. While he returned to work and playing music a few weeks after the accident, his walking became less stable as time progressed until he needed a cane…and even so, fell frequently.

 

In the beginning, he could sometimes stand up while playing music (he had toured on 3 continents and played 100’s of shows around the world) …and then he needed to sit while playing…and finally Ryan could no longer play at all as the pain grew too intense and he lost feeling and sensation in his fingers.

 

Concentration also became more challenging for Ryan. Tasks that had been easy for him started to cause headaches that disabled him for hours. When you spoke to Ryan, he was still the same funny, sweet, articulate guy, but spreadsheets became impossible to create or read, and his short-term memory never improved.

 

Aside from the obvious physical disabilities that the traumatic brain injury left Ryan with, one of the most frustrating aspects for him and for us was that the currently available diagnostic tools (MRI, CT scans, many tests) failed to show any significant brain damage. Because of this, Ryan failed to qualify for disability insurance and benefits repeatedly.  So, he could not walk, he could not play music, he could not work on a computer or even do repetitive tasks and therefore could not work…but he also could not prove that he was disabled.

 

After Ryan’s sudden passing, we decided to try to find a facility that was exclusively focused on research in this area so that others with similar injuries could be diagnosed (both to help them be cured AND to help them prove their short or long term disability) and treated. Concussions happen all the time…accidents, sports, etc. There must be better tools to diagnose and treat!!  An arduous search led us to the Miami Project. Some of their current endeavors include:

  • The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis is a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine that is dedicated to developing new treatments for brain and spinal cord injury
  • 300 investigators working on basic, translational and clinical programs for improving function and quality of life issues like neuropathic pain and emotional problems
  • Helped pioneer the use of therapeutic hypothermia for the acute treatment for patients with severe TBI
  • Described neuron-specific inflammatory processes after injury and identified serum surrogate biomarkers to assess injury severity
  • Testing novel drugs and compounds that improve cognitive and vestibular function after mild TBI and concussion
  • We are using state-of-the-art engineering technologies to improve function in chronically injured TBI patients
  • Manipulating circuit and synaptic plasticity in the brain to enhance rehabilitation and recovery
  • Actively testing stem cell therapies in clinically relevant TBI models and working to translate these novel cell therapies to the clinic
  • Training the next generation of scientist and clinicians to conduct neurotrauma investigations with the goal of changing the way we successfully treat patients
  • Our educational and outreach programs are providing critical information to our neurotrauma community and clinical colleagues
  • Injury prevention programs in elementary and high schools

 

 

We have established the Ryan Walsh Traumatic Brain Injury Fund to raise money for research and raise awareness of this problem. Ryan was driving along when someone ran a red light. He had been doing nothing wrong. It could have been any of us. We want to leave as Ryan’s legacy this research that can help others. He was funny and smart and creative and one of the kindest people you ever could have imagined. He said hello and smiled at everyone. He fought for the rights of the marginalized. He stood up for those who could not stand up for themselves. Please help us to build his legacy. Please help us help others with similar injuries.

 

You can participate by visiting my page (I am running the Shape Half Marathon in NYC in Ryan’s memory to raise money for the fund)

 

http://helpcureparalysis.thebuonicontifund.com/colleenjwalsh3

 

or our Team Page: http://helpcureparalysis.thebuonicontifund.com/ryanwalsh

 

 

 

Thank you so very much for reading! Be well!

The Simple Practice of Daily Meditation

Many of us have heard about the pros of daily mediation…much research and discussion is still to be done on this subject…but more and more it seems that there is a positive correlation between a daily meditation practice and improved mood, health, and an actual change in brain chemistry so that these benefits can become long-lasting with continued practice.

 

You’ve all heard Oprah extol the benefits of being in the moment and being present and making a daily gratitude list. Mediation can take on as many different forms as you can imagine. As in the article above, you can choose to meditate for two hours a day. This isn’t how I would recommend starting out though!! Keeping your breath and mind focused for even one minute may be a challenge in the beginning.

 

As with ALL positive changes that you might like to try in your life, the best way to be successful is to plan it all out as you would with a business project. Where will you meditate? How do you envision it going? When will you meditate and for how long? The more details you have in your plan, the more likely you are to actually carry it out and succeed…and Change Your Mind!!

 

As a single, self-employed mother of three busy teen boys, I make time each morning at 4 AM before I run off to see my first personal training clients to go get my coffee (which I drink black and have pre-set on the timer so it is ready for me), light a scented candle (I like lavender in the morning and a citrus later in the day), and I hold my coffee cup and sip it slowly while just focusing on my breathing in and out and looking at the candle. After I focus on my breathing, I slowly go through my day in my mind so that I can imagine each client, each interaction that I will have going well and happily. This type of positive pre-game review of my day really helps me to set my mental tone. Once I have drank my coffee and reviewed my day, I make a gratitude list that is very straightforward: I write “I am grateful for,” the date, and the numbers 1 – 5. Then I quickly write in the first 5 things that come to my mind. My children normally top the list. My fabulous friends and amazing clients are always on there. My health, my house, my life…all frequently make appearances on the list in addition to anyone in my life who is going above and beyond at that moment.

 

While I realize that my particular approach to morning meditation is different from most, it truly makes an incredible difference in my daily life. Not only do I feel peaceful, centered, and happy throughout the day, but when I am confronted with unpleasant events, I believe that this daily practice helps me to calmly deal with these events so that I can be proud of the way I conducted myself. In the end, all we really have is who we are in the universe and how we treat the individuals we come in contact with.

 

Some people prefer guided meditation CDs or mantras or yoga postures…all of these are good. It really comes down to what do YOU envision working for you…what will center and calm YOU…and what actually fits into your day. I can WANT to meditate for two hours a day but without severely compromising my sleep, that won’t happen right now. My 5-10 minute practice is working for me, and days I need to recharge later, I can always do it again!!

 

Make a plan that works for you.  Namaste!

Put Your Stress Down Before It Gets Too Heavy to Carry…And Laugh Often <3

The article below was sent to me in an email from a good friend who thought that I would enjoy it…and she was right!! Stress can weigh us down…in fact it DOES weight us down. We need to develop different strategies for putting it down periodically, in the evening or whenever we can. If you do not ever let it go, it will exhaust you and wear out your soul and your spirit, and that is not our goal here. Life is short. It has its ups and downs, certainly. But I know for certain that we were not meant to be haggard and exhausted and stressed out of our minds all of the time. That is not the point of life at all.

 

After reading the article below, please think about how you can put your stress down while you work on ways to diminish the stress overall. We need more cowbell, more tambourine, and more laughter. I’m not saying that we can just ignore our responsibilities and go skipping down the yellow brick road. However, make time to take a deep breath, dance around the kitchen, be silly with a child, volunteer, and let go of the need to control every outcome. When something overwhelms me (and trust me…I definitely get overwhelmed sometimes!) I write down what the issue is, what action I can take to resolve the issue (and if there are other people that I need to pull in for help), which parts of the issue I do not have control over, and then I take the action that is necessary and take a deep breath and let it go. And, most of the time this really works. To “let go” I may run on my treadmill, laugh with my kids, play with my dog, talk to a friend, or blast the music and dance around. My kids know life isn’t perfect. They certainly know I am not perfect. But, they also know that I am doing my best, that I try not to sweat the small stuff, and when I am ready to let go, there will be music.

 

Remember to dance!!

 

A Great Lesson on Stress

 

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’… She fooled them all …. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. To 20 oz.

 

She replied , “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it.

If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.

 

If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

 

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced.

So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… Pick them up tomorrow.

 

1 * Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue!

 

2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

 

3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

 

4 * Drive carefully… It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

 

5 * If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

 

6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

 

7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

 

8 * Never buy a car you can’t push.

 

9 * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

 

10 * Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

 

11 * Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

 

12 * The second mouse gets the cheese.

 

13 * When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

 

14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

 

16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

 

17 * We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

 

18 * A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

 

19 * Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.

 

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY

 

20 *Save the earth….. It’s the only planet with chocolate!*

 

**Be the kind of person that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says~~ “Oh Crap, She’s up!”

Healthy Eating: Breakfast 101

Healthy Eating: Breakfast 101

For more ideas for nutrition, exercise, and healthy family living, check in with www.wellnessnow.guru (“Our Blog”) ! Have a wonderful start to spring!

 

Kids Need Their Morning Meal

While adults need to eat breakfast each day to perform their best, kids need it even more. Their growing bodies and developing brains rely heavily on the regular intake of food. When kids skip breakfast, they can end up going for as long as eighteen hours without food, and this period of semi-starvation can create a lot of physical, intellectual, and behavioral problems for them.

 

A Good Investment

If you and your kids regularly skip breakfast in the interest of saving time or getting a few more minutes of sleep, remember that eating a wholesome, nutritious morning meal will probably save you time in the long run. By recharging your brain and your body, you’ll be more efficient in just about everything you do. Interestingly, studies show that kids who skip breakfast are tardy and absent from school more often than children who eat breakfast on a regular basis. Preparing a good breakfast can be as quick and easy as splashing some milk over cereal. Time invested in breakfast is much more valuable than the few extra minutes of sleep you might get by bypassing the morning meal. If you and your kids seem unable to make time for breakfast, consider enrolling your children in a school breakfast program, if possible, or pack a breakfast brown-bag the night before so that you and your kids can eat on the way to school and work.

 

Break the Fast to Shed the Pounds

Some people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight, but the practice is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss. Skipping breakfast is strongly linked to the development of obesity. Studies show that overweight and obese children, adolescents, and adults are less likely to break the fast each morning than their thinner counterparts.

 

According to research, skipping meals, especially breakfast, can actually make weight control more difficult. Breakfast skippers tend to eat more food than usual at the next meal or nibble on high-calorie snacks to stave off hunger. Several studies suggest that people tend to accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals than when they eat the same number of calories in smaller, more frequent meals. To teens, especially teenage girls, skipping breakfast may seem like a perfectly logical way to cut down on calories and lose weight. It’s important for moms to educate their kids about the importance of the morning meal and the role it plays in maintaining good health and preventing obesity.

 

The Most Important Meal

Are you too busy for breakfast? You’re not alone. In the rush to get the kids to school or ourselves to work, plenty of us skip breakfast. Or we grab a cup of coffee and a pastry, and call that a meal.

Unfortunately, we may be giving up a lot more than just breakfast, several studies suggest. In findings published in the April 1999 Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers looked at what 1,108 French volunteers served up for their morning repast. People who ate a hearty breakfast containing more than one-quarter of their daily calories — usually in the form of a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal — consumed less fat and more carbohydrates during the day than people who skimped on food in the morning. Breakfast eaters had a higher intake of essential vitamins and minerals. Plus they generally had lower serum cholesterol levels, which are associated with reduced danger of heart disease.

An apple slice turns brown. Fish becomes rancid. A cut on your skin is raw and inflamed. All of these result from a natural process called oxidation. It happens to all cells in nature, including the ones in your body. To help your body protect itself from the rigors of oxidation, Mother Nature provides thousands of different antioxidants in various amounts in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. When your body needs to put up its best defense, especially true in today’s environment…better physical health isn’t the only payoff. A study of 262 volunteers reported in the November 1999 issue of the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition found that people who consumed breakfast cereal every day reported feeling better both physically and mentally than those who rarely poured a bowl of flakes.

Sit down to a healthy breakfast and — who knows? — you might even add years to your life. Researchers from the Georgia Centenarian Study recently reported that people who reach the ripe old age of 100 tend to consume breakfast more regularly than those who skip the first meal of the day.

What makes breakfast so important? Nutritionists say there are at least four good reasons why a healthy diet should begin with a solid breakfast:

High fives: By eating a nutritious breakfast — one that includes at least one serving of fruit — you better your chances of reaching the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, surveys show. “People who skip breakfast generally fall short on the recommended servings, especially of fruit,” says Gloria Stables, who directs the National Cancer Institute’s “five-a-day” program. “If you don’t get started with your first meal of the day, it’s awfully hard for most people to catch up later.” Hitting the high-five mark is important. Dozens of studies have shown that people who eat plenty of fruit (and vegetables) generally have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. What’s more, orange juice, which is practically synonymous with a healthy breakfast, may have special health-giving powers, and not only because it’s loaded with vitamin C. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in November 2000, researchers found that a glass of O.J. every day boosts “good” HDL cholesterol, which helps keep arteries from getting clogged. The FDA gave juice makers a green light to label orange juice as a good source of potassium, a nutrient that has been shown to lower the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

A bowl of fortification: Start your day with a bowl of breakfast cereal, and you’re more likely to get all the nutrients you need. That’s because most cereals these days are fortified with an array of important vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects and has been linked to lower risk of heart disease and colon cancer.

A head start on fiber: The best breakfast cereals are rich in fiber, something most of us don’t get enough of. Experts say we need 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day to be our healthiest. The average American consumes only 13 grams, a shortfall that may put us at unnecessary risk of heart disease. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in September 1999, Harvard University scientists found that women who ate 23 grams of fiber a day — mostly from cereal — were 23% less likely to have heart attacks than those who consumed only 11 grams. In men, a high-fiber diet slashed the chances of a heart attack by 36%. Even people who follow a low-fat, high-cholesterol diet stand to benefit from adding more fiber. In 1993, researchers at the University of Toronto studied 43 healthy men and women with elevated cholesterol levels who had been following the National Cholesterol Education Program’s “Step 2” diet. When the volunteers switched to a similar low-fat diet but one that was very high in soluble fiber — between 50 and 60 grams a day — their total and LDL cholesterol levels fell by an additional 4.9% and 4.8%.

Filling up instead of out: Finally, if you’re trying to drop a few pounds, sitting down to a healthy, high-fiber breakfast could be the key to success. In a study published in the Oct. 27, 1999, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers followed 2,909 men and women over the course of 10 years and found that people who ate a high-fiber diet were less likely than those who fell short on fiber to gain weight. Among African Americans, the average weight of people in the low-fiber group was 185.6 pounds, compared to 177.6 pounds among those who consumed the most fiber — a difference of 5%. Among whites, those on a low-fiber diet averaged 174.8 pounds, compared to only 166.7 among fiber eaters. One reason may be that high-fiber foods fill you up on fewer calories. Fiber also slows the digestive process, which in turn wards off hunger pangs later. That’s especially important in the morning. In a recent study, volunteers were asked to begin their day with either a bowl of cornflakes (which are relatively low in fiber) or a bowl of oatmeal (which is loaded with it). Three hours later, both groups were invited to help themselves to a nutritional shake. Those who helped themselves to oatmeal for breakfast consumed 40% less.

If you can’t find time for breakfast, consider setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier. Then follow two simple rules. First, make sure breakfast includes at least one, preferably two, servings of fruit. Next, help yourself to high-fiber foods like toasted whole grain bread, high-fiber breakfast cereal, or oatmeal. That’s all you need to be well on your way to a daily helping of good health.

Skipping breakfast is like starting on a long road trip with your fuel gauge almost on empty. You’re bound to run out of gas halfway through your busy morning.

Yet, as many as 37% of young adults do skip breakfast, according to one survey. Often for the wrong reasons: We’re too busy. We’re trying to watch our weight. We don’t have time to make toast, much less eggs and bacon.

The truth is: breakfast is key to health and weight management. Eating a good breakfast actually helps you eat fewer calories over the course of the day, according to recent studies in the Journal of Nutrition and in Environmental Nutrition. The right breakfast foods — those high in fiber and protein — keep your energy up throughout the morning and stave off hunger for hours. The wrong foods — sugary refined cereals and white breads — may make you eat more for lunch than normal.

Plus, breakfast serves up a good dose of key nutrients you and your children need: Calcium and potassium from milk; vitamin C, folate, and fiber from oranges or orange juice; and, fiber, folate, and iron from whole grains and fruits.

So do yourself and your children a favor. No matter how hectic your mornings, take just five minutes for a fast breakfast. To help you get started, here are my golden rules for busy breakfasts. Below the golden rules you’ll find three fun recipes your family will enjoy.

 

5 Golden Rules for Busy Breakfasts

  1. Go for 5 Grams of Fiber (or More)

Children eating the typical American diet are simply not getting enough fiber. At age 5, children should get at least 10 grams of fiber each day. By age 10, they should get 15 grams, and teenagers should get 20 grams. After age 20, you should get 25 to 35 grams a day. Choose whole grains and fruits with your breakfast to get fiber — two slices of whole wheat bread provide 6 grams of fiber; 1 cup of fresh berries or 1 cup of raisin bran provides 5 grams or more.

 

  1. Try Breakfast-Friendly Fruits

 

Fruits not only provide fiber but also important vitamins and minerals. Try one of these as you’re rushing out the door.

 

4 prunes = 3.1 grams fiber

1 cup orange segments = 3.4 grams fiber

1 cup applesauce, unsweetened = 3 grams fiber

1 cup sliced peaches = 3.1 grams fiber

1 cup banana slices = 3.1 grams fiber

1 large apple = 4.2 grams fiber

1 pear = 4 grams fiber

1 cup berries = 5 grams fiber

1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries = 3.1 grams fiber

 

  1. Aim for 5 Grams of Protein

 

Protein helps fill you up and staves off hunger longer. You can find protein in plenty of fast-breakfast products: Cereals, breakfast bars, and instant shakes. Just check the label to make sure it contains enough protein and not too much sugar. You can easily add 5 grams of protein to your homemade breakfast. Just add 1/4 cup of pasteurized egg substitute to the blender when you make a smoothie. Or pour 1/2 cup of low-fat milk into your cereal. Use whole milk in cereal for children under age 2.

 

  1. Avoid High-Sugar and High-Fat Choices

 

From toaster pastries to frozen entrees, many breakfast products marketed to busy parents are loaded with sugar or fat — and sometimes both! Check the food labels carefully before you buy. Look at the grams of fat and grams of sugar per serving. If it’s loaded with sugar and fat, it’s not really breakfast. It’s junk food. You can do better.

 

Even super-moms buy convenient breakfast products for their families sometimes. Often it’s the only way to juggle the morning. So find products you like, keeping these four goals in mind: high fiber, a little protein, low sugar, and low fat. Then buy a boxful and keep them handy at home and at work for those extra busy mornings.

 

  1. Microwave It

On leisurely weekend mornings, have fun making some whole-wheat waffles, blueberry pancakes, muffins, or French toast. Freeze them in plastic bags. Then just pop a serving into the microwave on weekday mornings.

3 Delicious Breakfasts for Busy Families

 

Deluxe Microwave Oatmeal

(1 serving)

 

Ingredients:

1 packet instant microwave oatmeal (vanilla or maple flavors work well)

1/3 cup finely chopped fruit (peaches, strawberries, apples, etc.) or 2 tablespoons dried fruit (raisins, dried cherries)

1 tablespoon of chopped nuts (optional)

1/2 cup soy milk or low-fat milk *

 

Directions:

  1. In a microwave-safe soup bowl, blend all ingredients together with spoon.
  2. Microwave on HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes; stir well.
  3. Microwave another minute or until oatmeal is cooked as desired.

 

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

(Using chopped fresh fruit): 257 calories, 9 g protein, 49 g carbohydrate, 3.5 grams fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat, 1.1 g monounsaturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 340 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 12%.

 

*Note: Whole milk is recommended for children under age 2.

 

Breakfast Berry Smoothie

(2 servings)

 

Berries are bursting with nutrients and phytochemicals. This recipe blends three different berries. Triple the pleasure and triple the nutrition!

 

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries (fresh can be used)

3/4 cup frozen raspberries, boysenberries, or blackberries (fresh can be used)

1 1/2 cup nonfat frozen vanilla yogurt or light vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup low-fat milk or soy milk (vanilla or plain)

1/4 cup pasteurized egg substitute *

 

Directions:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender or large food processor. Pulse or blend until combined.
  2. Pour into 2 tall glasses and enjoy!

 

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

239 calories, 10 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate, 5.5 g fat, 3.1 g saturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0.6 g polyunsaturated fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 166 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 20%.

 

Designer Mini Muffins

(36 mini muffins — 9 servings)

 

This is a basic muffin recipe. Have fun designing your own muffin by stirring in a cup of any fresh or frozen fruit you want. Or try 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or dried fruit (chopped dates or raisins).

 

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white sugar (you can add 1/8 cup more sugar if you like your muffins on the sweet side)

1 large egg (higher omega-3 egg if available)

1 cup low-fat milk

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh or frozen fruit pieces (such as blueberries or raspberries) or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or dried fruit like raisins.

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a nonstick mini muffin pan with canola cooking spray or mini muffin paper liners.
  2. Add flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar to a large mixing bowl and beat on LOW to blend well. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
  3. Add egg to 4-cup measure and beat egg with a whisk or fork. Whisk in milk, oil, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Add the mixture all at once to the flour mixture in the mixing bowl. Mix quickly on low speed just until moistened (do not overbeat). Scrape sides of the bowl and stir muffin batter briefly.
  4. Stir in your designer food ingredients and/or fruit. Add a tablespoon of batter to each mini muffin cup. Bake about 12 minutes or until mini muffins are cooked throughout.

 

Nutritional Information Per Serving (4 muffins):

217 calories, 5 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 3.1 g monounsaturated fat, 1.7 g polyunsaturated fat), 25 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 300 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 25%.

 

Happy Eating!!!

Colleen Walsh

cw@wellnessnow.guru