Preparing Easy School Lunches Should be a Family Affair

Think back to when you were in school. What kind of delightful food did mom or dad pack you for lunch?

It could have been the standby PBJ, or pre-packed Lunchables. If you liked it, you probably ate it. If you didn’t, you traded with a classmate for something more to your liking.

Now, think about the healthy lunches you are currently packing for your student. Is it something he or she will like, or will it go on the trading block?

There are a variety of ways to all but guarantee that the healthy and nourishing food will stay with your child. Since you have to make about 200 lunches during the school year, MamaNatural.com suggests you get some help from within.

Let your student help choose, prepare and pack a lunch to their liking.

Now that doesn’t mean a bento box or brown paper sack filled with candy, cookies and other obvious kid favorites. Depending on age, have your child get fruit out of the refrigerator and pack it, or let older ones cut up the vegetables or pinwheels they’ll have later in the day (or even the next day, depending on how organized you are).

Not only will this help them develop life skills they will need later in life, such as using kitchen tools and knowing where different foods are kept, you can also take the opportunity of packing a lunch together to teach them why some foods are healthy, and others are not so much. Your child will feel invested in the lunch and is more likely to eat it in the cafeteria.

And let your future cook choose some of the lunches to make, including some of his or her favorites.

Finally, be sure you have the right sealable containers. It can be a plastic container with separate compartments or a bento box, but be sure it seals tightly and stays sealed.

Here are some suggestions for creating healthy and tasty lunches:

Rotisserie Chicken Taco: Shred meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Using a whole-wheat tortilla, place two pieces of sliced cheese on the tortilla, topping it with a leaf of romaine lettuce. Add the shredded chicken, six cherry tomatoes cut in half and a few tablespoons of prepared ranch dressing.  Pack it in a sealed container and pair it with vegetables and fruit.

DIY pizza bagels: Simple, tasty and a favorite for kids. Pack a bagel, turkey pepperoni, low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese and some pizza sauce — an easy DIY lunch for all ages.

Any wrap or pinwheels: Busy parents can do this ahead of time or provide the ingredients in the lunch box and let the student do the assembly. Ingredients are based on taste preferences. Include a whole-wheat tortilla, thinly sliced meat, ranch dressing, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cream cheese (or low-fat Neufchatel cheese). Put the parts together at home as a sandwich or cut into bite-sized pieces for pinwheels.

PBJ on a stick: Make a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and cut it into 12 bite-sized pieces. Alternate a piece of a sandwich with a grape threaded onto a wooden skewer or chopstick (be sure to cut off the skewer’s sharp end if you are using one). This gives the student three or four kabobs for lunch.

BLT salad: This one could be completely assembled the night before by your child. Lay down a bed of lettuce and top with bacon, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped avocado, shredded cheese – use your imagination. Pair with fresh fruit and a hard boiled-egg and you have a nutritious lunch.

Turkey and cheese roll-ups: Skip the bread or tortilla entirely for this easy lunch. Wrap thin chunks of cheese in deli turkey and cut into bite-sized pieces. Include some ants on a log – celery sticks filled with peanut butter and topped with a few raisins – in one compartment and a dollop of vanilla yogurt in another and you’ll have a fun and easy lunch.

Bon appetit!

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Healthy Habits Can Result in a Good Night’s Sleep

 

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? The National Sleep Foundation has developed the ABCs of good sleep habits so that you can catch more ZZZs.

Lack of sleep is a common problem in the U.S., according to Get Healthy, Stay Healthy. At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders each year.

If you have issues drifting off, the Sleep Foundation offers some tips that will help bring the sandman to you.

Make a schedule: As hard as it might sound, establish both a bedtime and wake-up time to use weekdays and weekends. Often falling asleep is a problem because not having a routine throws off your body’s clock.

Relax: Speaking of routine, practice a relaxing bedtime ritual to take your mind off activities that can stress you out. This could entail deep-breathing exercises. Another method is flexing your toes, which involves laying in bed with your eyes closed and flexing your toes toward your head and holding it for a count of 10 before relaxing the toes, again for a count of 10. Repeat the process 10 times.

Avoid naps: Sure, an afternoon nap may help you get through the day, but it won’t be helpful when you want to get eight hours of sleep in the evening.

Move: Vigorous exercise on a daily basis is best, but even a light workout will improve your sleep.

Find your feng shui: The setting in which you sleep can affect the quality of slumber. Your bedroom should be kept cool, between 60 and 67 degrees, and be free of noise that could keep you up. The room should also be dark. Consider eyeshades, earplugs, or blackout curtains to help set the mood for sleep. “White noise” machines, fans or a humidifier can help you relax and block other, disruptive noises.

Get comfy: How old is your mattress? Does it sag? Your mattress should be supportive and provide comfort. The average life for a mattress is 10 years. Pillows should also be comfortable to give you a good night’s sleep.

Don’t do this: Drinking alcohol or caffeinated liquids, smoking cigarettes and eating heavy meals can disrupt sleep. Try not to eat much in the three hours before you head to bed. If you’re that hungry, try eating a light snack like a piece of cheese or some fruit that won’t prevent you from snoozing.

Turn off, tune out: Other things that shouldn’t be in your bedroom are television sets, computers or cell phones. For some people, using an electronic device can make it hard to fall asleep, because a particular type of light, known as blue light, emanates from the screens of these devices that activate the brain.

Leave: Still can’t sleep? It might be time to go into another room and wind down by reading a book. Or lie down on a couch and see if sleep will come.

If lack of sleep becomes a huge problem, the National Sleep Foundation suggests speaking with your physician or being referred to a sleep professional.

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Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Remember when your mother wouldn’t let you out of the house until you had a good breakfast?

While making sure you start the day with food might be good motherly advice, it’s also scientifically proven – sort of.

According to researchers at Rush University, the most important benefit is that breakfast gives a boost to your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories throughout the day.

Even if you don’t listen to mom, the research found your body thinks it will be deprived of food and retain calories instead of burning them when you skip the morning meal.

Have a Plant (a website obviously pushing plant-based foods) notes that eating a nutritious breakfast consisting of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and eggs helps you maintain a good blood sugar level, prevents binge and impulse snacking and sets the stage for a day of healthy food.

Sharon Collison, a registered dietitian nutritionist and a clinical instructor in nutrition at the University of Delaware, told Time magazine she thinks breakfast is important.

“People who consume breakfast regularly often have increased physical activity. They have better dietary profiles and lower intake of snacks,” Collison says. “Skipping breakfast is associated with increased disease risk — not only obesity but diabetes, heart disease and just lower dietary quality.”

To boil it down even further, the website www.10tipsforhealth.com adds to the premise that eating breakfast will boost metabolism and regulate blood sugar. The website adds:

  • The morning meal reduces the risk for feeling like you are starving and cuts down on cravings and overeating
  • With a morning nosh, you will feel fuller and eat fewer calories, cutting down on weight gain
  • Breakfast people consume more vitamins, minerals and fiber throughout the day
  • You can improve your concentration and productivity with food in the morning
  • If you skip directly to a later lunch, you might have lower energy levels and less strength and endurance
  • Your mood tends to be sour if you miss breakfast
  • Your memory will suffer as you cannot focus and learn

That said, experts say eating your breakfast in the morning is important. Registered dietitian Theresa Shank told Women’s Health magazine that we should feed our bodies with something within two hours of waking up to get the most out of our breakfast.

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National Health Center Week 2019: Celebrating all the Health Centers Have to Offer

Health centers serve 28 million patients – a number that continues to grow along with the demand for affordable primary care. In addition to their long history as health care homes to millions, health centers produce innovative solutions to the most pressing health care issues in their communities and reach beyond the walls of conventional medicine to address the social determinants of health affecting special patient populations.

Great Lakes Bay Health Center (GLBHC) strives to bring affordable health care solutions to the region; yet unfortunately, as with many health centers around the nation, not all members of the communities served know about the variety of services we offer. National Health Center Week (Aug. 4-10) is an annual celebration with the goal to raise awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s health centers over the past five decades. To celebrate and connect with the individuals we proudly serve, this year GLBHC will host events during National Health Center Week, alongside our partners at McLaren Health Plan, Covenant HealthCare and 1st State Bank.

During these year’s nationwide festivities, GLBHC will host unique experiences centered on community engagement that bring attention to not only the services we offer but provide additional health tips and information through exciting interactions. Join us at any of the following events for a day of fun that includes opportunities to get free produce, win a new bike, learn about community resources, receive a free health or dental screening and much more. And don’t forget, it’s never too early to consider the importance of your health – this family-friendly invite will include activities for the kids!

This year, the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Health Center Advocacy Network invites you to celebrate the ways that health centers are “Rooted in Communities.” Join us for the following free events:

  • Kids Health Round Up 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 7 at Bayside Health Center, 3884 Monitor Road in Bay City
    • Features: Bike drawings, free fresh produce, community resources, a bounce house and other fun activities.
  • In the Park – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 9 at David R. Gamez Health Center, 501 Lapeer Ave. in Saginaw
    • Features: Bike drawings, health screenings, dental screenings, free fresh produce, community resources, vendors and other actives.

 

Join us in supporting the community and learning more about what Great Lakes Bay Health Center can do for you!

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Exercise is good for the body and mind

Regular workouts can help improve our mental health as well

Most of us are familiar with the physical benefits that come with regular exercise: weight loss, muscle development, better sleep and more energy, to name a few.

But some of the lesser-known benefits from a workout have to do with our mental health.

Just getting off the couch and heading to the gym, fitness center or trail will likely brighten one’s mood for the short term with a sense of accomplishment, according to an article in Psychology Today.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, according to WebMD. These are your body’s natural feel-good hormones that can make problems seem more manageable.

Dr. John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of “A User’s Guide to the Brain,” believes regular physical activity is also mental activity.

“Exercise is really for the brain, not the body,” Ratey said. “It affects mood, vitality, alertness and feelings of well-being.”

Once exercise begins, a number of factors begin to ease our worries and improve our mental outlook.

Getting on the treadmill or walking laps at the mall allows us to focus on the fact that we are exercising, which gives us a mental diversion from worries. Psychology Today reports this evidence is growing and it suggests physical fitness can treat even chronic mental illness, such as reducing the effects of depression, dementia and anxiety.

The activity doesn’t have to be high-impact. Yoga has been linked with improving mental health. According to mentalhelp.org, yoga is an effective stress reduction tool. Stretching muscles and joints during the yoga poses can produce relaxation in the same way a massage does.

According to helpguide.com, physical activity is the No. 1 contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life – even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. It can help improve brain functions such as multitasking and creativity and can even help prevent memory loss and may even help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

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