If you’ve ever wondered whether a nutritious, balanced breakfast makes a difference in a kid’s day, wonder no more. There is plenty of science to back up the claim that a quality breakfast has “a positive effect on children and adolescents’ academic performance”, but it turns out it does even more than that… It can also lessen mood swings and enhance immune systems too — two things both parents and teachers will be pleased to hear!
Loena B. Rodgers of The Egg-cellent Breakfast Company knows this better than anyone. Known as the #BreakfastMom and Nutrition Detective, Loena dedicates her life to helping other parents bring healthy breakfasts to their families’ breakfast tables. It all started when she was looking for a way to help her son Wesley’s severe allergies, and evolved into a business helping other parents on their quest for a good start to their kids’ day. We took five to sit down with Loena and find out more about her mission, what actually makes for a good breakfast menu, and how we can all help our kids start their day off right.
Your son Wesley suffered severe allergies when he was young. What made you think that nutrition might help him?
I didn’t know that a deep dive into nutrition would be the key that turns the lock toward his recovery. What I did know was that I was a mom willing to do anything to give her son a better and more comfortable life. And when you’ve been through so many emergency rooms and sat through so many doctor’s appointments with little progress, you start thinking bigger. That’s when I met a homeopathic doctor in Chicago who opened my eyes to homeopathy, nutrition, and the human body. This doctor taught me how to equip my pantry with food that can work as medicine and helped me learn the advantages of using real food and whole food supplements as alternatives that work better with the body instead of ingesting chemicals that the body has to work harder to break down and find nutrients to use.
If you could narrow it down to 3 key steps you took to use food as a healing tool, what would they be?
I always tell my clients to start with identifying the underlying problem that’s being expressed externally, then coming up with a solution, and then integrate that with their lifestyle because health is not a seasonal endeavor. It’s a lifestyle we have to upkeep every day.
1) Identify the symptoms: You must first recognize the signs and symptoms that reflect nutritional deficiency because this will help you uncover the root problem. Let’s say that you’ve been feeling sluggish lately. See what you changed in your routine or your food intake then identify the cause of it. So if you’ve been feeling anxiety about everything, that may be a symptom of adrenal fatigue and your body could be asking for the B vitamin (folate), and minerals-iodine and magnesium/calcium, to handle your stress load better.
2) Create a nutritional solution: Once you’ve put a finger on the problem, the next step is to understand which food sources provide the nutrients that solve the “problem.”
Now we know that your adrenal glands need extra support, we can look for food sources that will help aid your ability to handle stress such as: lentils, broccoli, cauliflower, green leafy veggies, seaweed, pistachios, avocados and take in more of these.
3) Integrate the solution into your lifestyle: Now we know what your body needs more of and less of, it’s time to integrate the solution into your lifestyle. Make sure to read nutrition labels so you don’t fall in the same trap, and fill your pantry with food that will help sustain your health and steer you away from the problem you just solved.
Your nutrition business focuses on breakfast. Why is that?
The three areas I focus on are: helping my clients’ gain optimal brain health, digestive health, and immune system support.
We START with breakfast because it helps us build good and healthy habits that we can carry out throughout the day. When your breakfast habits are intact, it’s much easier to make the changes with lunch and dinner.
What’s one of the most common pitfalls parents fall into when it comes to feeding their kids (and how can they avoid it)?
As tempting as it may be to feed our children a “kids menu” western diet to appease them and keep the house quiet for a bit, there’s a reason why parents shouldn’t fall for this. Letting your kids eat food that is “all-white” is a shortcut to chronic illnesses! An all-white diet consists of kid-famous food like chicken nuggets, pasta, french fries, white bread, sugar-laden yogurt, and other ultra-processed refined foods.
Pitfalls can be avoided by creating a healthy and sustainable relationship with food by setting a good example:
- Buying and eating health-promoting foods
- Checking ingredients on packaged foods for added sugar and vegetable oils as these are the culprits that lead parents down the road of catering to a picky eater
- Learn the signs and symptoms of a nutritional deficiency and fill in the nutritional gaps
- Get educated on the effects of an all-white diet on a child’s brain, digestive, and immune system
- Practice patience as kids may need to try a food 10 times before they actually will eat it
What are some of your favorite breakfast ideas for a great start to the school day?
Breakfast is a great way to kickstart the day and we do this by first making sure that half of a kid’s plate has fruits and veggies. Having two young boys to feed, I’ve learned to curate meals that are healthy and enjoyable for kids too. Here are some of their favorites served with a fruit and veggie platter:
- Whole grain spelt waffles with strawberries and turkey bacon
- Black beans and leftover rotisserie chicken
- Croissant french toast with yogurt, berries and broccoli
- A fruit and veggie smoothie with protein powder
- An egg sandwich layered with fresh veggies to add that extra crunch
You’ve got an eggcellent virtual event coming up for parents who want to ace the upcoming school year (when it comes to food at least!). What can you tell us about that?
We already know how much the global pandemic has shifted the way we live, the way we socialize, and even the way we eat. We’ve adapted a lot of habits that no longer serve us and our families, and we’re so excited to help parents from all over the country reverse unhealthy habits and prepare them for the upcoming school year. We aim to equip parents with all they need to know to keep their kids’ bodies healthy and nourished, their minds sharp and focused, and their souls sound and at peace. That’s exactly what you can expect at our Parent Power Prep Rally! All the practical advice on how to curate and create better meals for your kids that will set them up for success.
LonoLife products will feature in your swag bags for the parents who take part in this Back to School Summit. Why do you think they’re a good fit for your mission?
Our mission is to empower and equip parents with nutritional know-how to help raise healthier kids and EBC is always on the lookout to highlight products that support this mission. LonoLife is a perfect fit because aside from having so many nutritional benefits, bone broth also decreases inflammation and helps heal the gut.
At EBC, we believe that the gut is our second brain, having more nerve endings in charge of sending messages to the brain first and then to different organs in our bodies. The gut-brain relationship is so strong that whatever our gut feels, our whole body reacts to it. That makes it extremely important to keep your gut healthy, and LonoLife Bone Broth is the perfect supplement for that.
When your gut is healthy, everything else starts falling in place. Your immune system is strengthened, weight is managed, and behavior becomes stable.
Any last words of advice for the parents reading this and getting ready for back-to-school meal plans?
Always read the nutrition labels on your child’s convenient foods, incorporate veggies with breakfast, and you can change your child’s appetite, moods, and immune system with real food.
Our lives before nutritional proficiency were so different, and having a sickly boy was the trigger that pushed us out the door. Nine years later, we stand as living proof that nutrition doesn’t just keep you full and healthy, but it can heal you and affect your life more than you think. Change is always uncomfortable, but when that pivot is toward a better life it’s always worth it. If I was able to do it, I’m certain you can, too.
If you’re looking for support and wisdom to develop your kids’ food habits, reach out to Loena here.
You can also follow her on Instagram for tricks, tips, and awesome breakfast ideas here.