The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “McMillen Center”

Tip of the Week: Eating Right on the Go!

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As I write this, I am traveling for work, having lunch in a restaurant right off the highway. I have always had to travel with my job, and it’s incredibly difficult to eat well during the times when nearly every meal is eaten in a restaurant. I have found what works well for me is to have a few restaurants where I have “go to” meals that I know I like, and aren’t a ton of calories. The Starbucks egg white and spinach wrap or a salad and soup combo at Panera are my first choices. If I know I am eating in a nice restaurant for a meeting, I will look at the menu online first and decide what I will eat. Then when I get to the restaurant I don’t even open the menu, I just order what I had pre-planned. I know when I am hungry if I look at the menu, all plans for a healthy dinner will be out the window!

I use the same techniques I use when I travel to feed my family when we are eating from a drive through or at a restaurant. When I grew up eating out was a rare treat. Like many people, I developed an outlook that since it was a treat, I could eat whatever I wanted. Bring on the fries and milkshakes! The reality is that if we are eating out more than once a week, it’s not a treat, it’s a way of life.

The same rules apply when my family eats out, as when we eat at home. My children don’t drink pop at home – they don’t order it when we eat out either. Needless to say, this is my rule, my children would happily order pop! When we go through a drive through I talk to the kids about their order before I’m being put on the spot by the voice over the speaker. Often my children will have seen a commercial and call out something like the giant Baconator as their order. This gives me an opportunity to say, “That’s too much food for an 8 year-old, let’s make a different choice.” Or, I will say to them, “You can choose from this meal or that meal, which would you like?” I also have no problem saying no. As in, “Mom, can we get ice cream with our meal?” Me, “No.” It’s not that we don’t indulge in an occasional dessert, I just don’t want them to get in the habit of expecting dessert every time we eat out.  If they persist, then they get to hear my lecture titled, “Just Because They Sell It, Doesn’t Mean We Have to Buy It” and no one wants to hear that!

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Holli Seabury
CEO and mom of 7

Tip of the Week: Join Team TAM

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I am sure you feel like me and are hoping that we have had the last snowflake for this winter and spring is right around the corner! This has been a long, hard winter and my family feels like we have been stuck inside for way too long.  We are ready to get outside and play, take walks through our neighborhood, ride bikes and scooters, and to enjoy local parks.

As soon as the weather warms up and the gray clouds move out, there are so many things to enjoy outside and around town. Find our Out and About Guide online for tips to get your family out and active! The guide will provide your family with information on where to find activities, paths, parks and splash pads in the city along with nutrition tips and so much more.  Bring the guide to your family table and have some fun planning your warm weather activities!

Another great way to use the guide is to plan your training route for this year’s Fort 4 Fitness.  Did you know the McMillen Center is a charity partner? We have formed TEAM TAM to gather racers and pledges to support the McMillen Center.  Follow this link, to sign up for Fort 4 Fitness and Team TAM today! http://www.mcmillencenter.org/join_team_tam

Happy spring!

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Bethany Clapper, Director of Development

Tip of the Week: Bullying

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The CDC estimates that 5.7 million teens in the United States are affected by bullying, either as the target of the bully, as the bully, or as the bystander who happens to be in the area. To help the numbers trend down, the McMillen Center for Health Education has several different programs to address this problem.  Please also mark your calendars for the June 19, 2014 McMillen Health Lecture Series on Bullying and Ostracism, featuring the movie Reject! The event is presented in partnership with Great Kids Make Great Communities at IPFW.

Bullying affects everyone who is part of a community, whether it is a school, a neighborhood or online. Because everyone is affected, it becomes everyone’s job in that community to stop the bullying problem. Unfortunately, bystanders – both students and adults – want to leave it up to the next guy to solve the bullying issue. The assumption is that if the bullying does not affect them directly, then it someone else’s problem.  With this approach the problem does not get resolved.

McMillen Center programs use the “bullying circle” to point out that everyone is affected by bullying and everyone has a role in solving the problem. We teach skills to use whether you are a target, bully, follower, bystander, or upstander, to improve what you can do to stop bullying. When these skills are used, we can have those CDC numbers trending down rather than up.

As I teach these bullying programs, I want the bully to ask themselves some questions before they bully someone else. Why am I going to bully that person again? What will happen if I bully that person?  Will I get into trouble, is it worth it? Does this show respect to the person, if not, what else can I do? We want the bully to think it through before they just act.

We teach being a good communicator includes using body language by standing tall, looking confident, and speaking assertively. Ignoring the bullying and walking away without getting upset will make for a boring target. The bully usually wants the target to get mad, so when youth learn to walk away, they take the power back into their hands.  Encourage the children in your life to get adults involved, to report bullying incidents to adults, and keep reporting until the problem is resolved. The most important thing the target can do is not let the bully get to them.  Discuss these ideas at your next meal and let your children know that you are supporting them.  Encourage them to not believe what the bully says. If they believe what is said, then the bully wins. Help them to find friends who will support them outside of school or the situation in which you are bullied.

Most bullies are smart enough to bully others only when adults are not around, so encourage your children to let adults know what is going on, when it happens, and who is involved. Reporting is NOT tattling; it levels the field so that adults can step in and prevent the bullying.  Bullies can learn friendship skills, if an adult makes time to help them learn other ways to handle their anger. Adults can help by pointing out the positive characteristics of the children involved and encouraging them to consider the long term.  Adults can also help by not allowing bullying, insulting comments to be made within the environment.

Friendly teasing when the comments or jokes go both ways in a relationship is NOT bullying. Nor is bullying an accidental comment or injury. Bullying is when the teasing or comments or physical interaction is on purpose, and only one way, with the intent of hurting, embarrassing or scaring the target. If everyone in the community does their part, we have a greater chance of tackling the bullying that plagues our communities. Bullying can be stopped, but it takes everyone making positive choices.

David Ward, Program Manager

Tip of the Week: National Nutrition Week

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March is National Nutrition Month with this year’s theme: Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.  Let’s write ENJOY in capital letters!

Are you enjoying what you’re eating?  How about the rest of your family? If you’re not passionate about your food and diet (and consequently your health), ask yourself why.

If it’s grocery shopping you dislike, make the chore easier with a weekly list – download one or use a smartphone app.  If one family member likes shopping, send him or her – it’s a good math, budgeting and organization lesson.  If you’re trying to better connect with your teen, invite him/her to shop with you; important conversations bloom from spending time together.

If you’re serving the same foods week in and out, gather the family and give them an assignment to come up with a new dish they’d like to see on the family table.  On-line resources are plentiful; www.allrecipes.com can help with categories like “low cal and loving it” to “three courses in thirty minutes”.  You can gather a “month of ideas” from www.realsimple.com.

Or is cooking holding you back? Invite the rest of the family into the kitchen to cook together; it can be a great stress buster transition from work/school to home while teaching a vital life skill.

But, if it’s the taste of healthy foods you’re not enjoying, consider that practice gets us to our goal in every endeavor so why not apply that to improving our diets?

How about this for a quick weeknight meal:  Egg salad sandwiches.  Use your favorite egg salad recipe; healthy  add-ins might include finely chopped celery, red pepper, carrots or all three.  Use your favorite bread; we like our egg salad on toasted sour dough with lettuce.  We add a fruit so we have four of the food groups in one meal. Ready in 15 minutes, faster than you can go through the drive-thru!!

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Marcia Crawford, MS, RDN

Tip of the Week: Breaking the Chains

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In 1987, Ronald Reagan proclaimed March to be “National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.” In 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed. This act condemned workplace discrimination. It was an attempt to break the chains of stereotypes and prejudices against people with disabilities. The change in law and attitudes provided encouragement and new opportunities.

Today, the questions become, “How can we help adults with disabilities reach their highest potential in their world? How can we better serve a population with physical and cognitive disabilities?” These questions are puzzling, but not hopeless. A few pieces of the puzzle include respect, education, and grant funding.

At some point in our lives, we will meet someone with a disability. Our paths may cross when walking down the street, or brainstorming ideas in the office. When this happens, let your actions and words communicate respect. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the unique God-given gifts and talents of the individual. Celebrate his achievements and support him when he fails. Get involved in community-based activities that benefit those with disabilities.  Talk with your children about how to interact with people different than themselves and more importantly, set a good example.

At the McMillen Center for Health Education, we offer “The Body Talk Series” for adults with special needs and “Learn About You” for teens. Each program incorporates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning strategies. Programs are active, concrete, and hands-on. Topics include hygiene, nutrition, exercise, relationships, and tobacco. Programs can be adapted to fit the work and school environments.

Also, a special “Thank You” to the AWS Foundation for their grant funding. They have made it possible for program development and training in northeast Indiana for youth and adults with special needs.

As we celebrate National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, I challenge you to think about how you can be a piece of the puzzle. How can you help adults with disabilities reach their highest potential? Only you can answer that question.

Have a great week!


Debbie Harvey, RN, BSN, CDE

Tip of the Week: National Eating Disorder Week

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February 24-28 is National Eating Disorders Week.  As the name implies, it is a week dedicated to ‘becoming aware’ of the problem and, just as importantly, knowing what to do about it.

Many folks have the misconception that it is obvious to tell if someone is struggling with an eating disorder by the way that they look.  Actually, that is not accurate.  People struggling with eating disorders can be of all shapes and sizes and many times appear to be at an ideal weight.  Research suggests that about 1% of female adolescents struggle with an eating disorder.  This suggests that most of us probably know someone well who is experiencing problems with an eating disorder.

What are some signs to look for?  Listen for attitudes and watch for behaviors that indicate that weight loss, dieting or control of food are primary topics of concern.  Look for frequent trips to the bathroom, especially after eating, the presence of wrappers, or packages of diuretics or laxatives.  Pay attention to strange food rituals. Take note of excessive exercise routines.

If you suspect that a friend or loved one is struggling, ask what you can do to help.  Listen openly and without judgment.  Don’t invade privacy, make demands or insist on changes.  Most importantly, let them know that many folks have successfully recovered from eating disorders and help is available.

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Miles Nitz, MS, LMFT
Take Charge Counseling and Consulting Services

Tip of the Week: Organizing Quality Time

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Finding ways to spend time together as a family each week can be difficult. Try not to over think this goal and keep activities simple, such as cooking supper together. Everyone can lend a hand with meal preparations.

Meal planning with the kids can be fun and interesting. My family enjoys coming up with new recipes and I’m in the process of creating a recipe scrapbook  of our creations. Some friends of mine and their two teenage children take turns cooking supper each week night. They save one night a week to order take out. This allows them to have more time together and the stress of meal planning doesn’t fall on one person.

My husband and I both dislike grocery shopping very much. We used to argue about which one of us would make the grocery run for the week, so we decided to make it a family event. One simple change in the schedule has allowed us to spend a little more quality time together. What are some creative ways you and your family make time to spend together? Share your ideas on our Facebook page!

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Jodie Godfrey
Marketing & Development Associate

Tip of the Week: Dental Health Month

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Did you know children who eat meals with their family are more likely to brush their teeth?  When I heard this it seemed a little odd, since I know at my family table tooth brushing isn’t often brought up in conversation.  Turns out that it’s because parents who eat with their children are better bonded with them and take care of them better, both medically and dentally.

February is Dental Health Month; a great conversation starter at the family table is to talk about your experiences with the Tooth Fairy as a child, and how your children’s experiences are different.  If grandparents are around, get them involved in the conversation too.  My husband grew up in England and instead of putting teeth under the pillow, he put his baby teeth in a Tooth Fairy Box, a small sterling silver box with a fairy on top of it.  When we received one of these at our first child’s christening, I had no idea what it was, much to the amusement of his family!

Teeth love calcium, and while there is calcium in dairy products, some vegetables like spinach are also a good source of calcium.  Try serving a spinach salad with your meal this week – let your kids put it together and choose the toppings.

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Holli Seabury, CEO

Tip of the Week: Dark Chocolate Valentine

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Have you ever sat down with a bag of Dove’s chocolates nearby and after a few minutes realized that the table was littered with more than one crumpled wrapper?  Nope, me either 🙂  What I have noticed is that inside those foils are really cute (and sometimes challenging) comments. One I have taped up in my work space reads, “Keep the promises you make yourself.”

With these words in mind and Valentine’s Day just a week or so away, thoughts definitely turn to chocolate. And then the sneaking glances begin because just a short five weeks ago, I made a better health commitment. I intended to exercise more.

I was excited to read this article in Women’s Health which revealed that there are several health benefits to eating dark chocolate (note, NOT milk chocolate, or chocolate chips, but DARK chocolate.)

– About a square of dark chocolate a day may lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent

– Dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods and may make you feel more full

– Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and flavonoids, both tied to super foods

– Women who ate chocolate daily during their pregnancy handled stress than mothers-to-be who abstained (these women’s babies were also happier and smiled more than those who avoided dark chocolate)

– When dealing with stress, dark chocolate may help people deal with emotional eating better than a pint of ice cream

– Dark chocolate also contains theobromine, a chemical responsible for chocolate’s feel-good effect

Imagine my excitement to read that dark chocolate (my favorite) could be doing me more good than harm. Of course, eating the whole bag is probably not good! As always, moderation is most appropriate. Be an example for those who sit around your table and eat just one chocolate (and then throw the wrapper* away, of course!)  Children learn most of their attitudes about food from their parents.  It’s human nature to love sweets, but we can teach our children to enjoy sweets in moderation.

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Frances Brooks
Director of Operations & Business Development

Do you have a favorite dark chocolate recipe to share? Please Pin it or Share it on our social media pages so all of our readers can benefit from your recipe box!

Tip of the Week: Teen Drug Abuse

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My middle school daughter rides the bus to and from each morning and afternoon. I remember riding the school bus most of the way through school. There are a lot of conversations going on in that 15-40 minutes our children are on the bus. Sadly, not all of them are ones that we hear about as soon as they happen. One conversation that has been on our family’s radar is how many teens are abusing prescription drugs. Last year more than 1 in 5 Indiana students surveyed reported using prescription drugs without a prescription. This is the second highest rate in the nation.*

Bitter Pill is working to inform youth and parents about the dangers of using prescription drugs illegally. It is easy to think that “my child” wouldn’t do something illegal, but as the fictional account below shows, it may be more likely than you think. Consider bringing this topic up to your son, daughter, niece, nephew or grandchildren at your next family meal. Be prepared for the eye rolling. But remember, if you talk, they will hear you, even if you think they don’t.

From Teen/Youth at bitterpill.in.gov:
“Casey” was really stressing out about the big chemistry exam. She had a ton of other homework to work on and it didn’t feel like there were enough hours in the day ― between softball practice, student government meetings, and babysitting ― to study. So when her friend, Laura, handed her the Adderall in the hallway one day, she thought she’d give it a try. Tons of other kids in school used it to focus more and stay awake… “What could it hurt?” a friend told her.

Later that friend said, “If you need more, my brother can get them. Mom thinks he is taking his ADHD meds. He sells them. Just call me and ask for ‘Addy’.” Her test scores were solid those first few weeks. Prom was coming up. She was so excited, she started having trouble sleeping. Confessing to another friend, she was given some pills to calm her back down. Neither of these friends was a doctor. Her parents were divorced and barely spoke. They both missed the signs and her mood changes. Both Casey and her friends missed the prom that year and no one calls to ask for Addy now.

Prescription drugs are proving to be just as dangerous as street drugs and alcohol use amongst teenagers in our state. Bitter Pill’s Parent Page offers information on prevention and awareness.

*According to the Indiana Youth Survey 2012, Indiana Prevention Resource Center

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Frances Brooks
Director of Operations & Business Development

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