Havre Daily News
A woman born in Havre published a book that she hopes will help parents teach healthy eating habits to their children.
Small Steps Press, the publishing arm of the American Diabetes Association, released “The Healthy Lunchbox,” a book by Marie McClendon and Cristy Shauck in January. The book is about how to plan, prepare and pack stress-free meals kids will love.
“The Healthy Lunchbox” contains healthy meals that can be consumed by someone who has diabetes, but it is aimed at the general public.
McClendon, formerly known as Joan Hybner, graduated from Rudyard High School in 1975. She then went on to receive a bachelor's degree in childhood development from Montana State University-Bozeman. She received her master's degree in early childhood education from Sunbridge College in New York state.
Mary Lois Hybner of Rudyard said she's very proud of her daughter's new book.
“I really enjoyed reading it,” she said. “She did a wonderful job.”
Hybner said there is a history of diabetes in the family, so the book is “really personal for me.”
McClendon said the inspiration for the book came when, as a mother of four young children, she began searching for a book to take the stress out of manic Monday mornings of packing healthy lunches the kids would actually eat. When she found none, she began writing notes while her four kids played on playgrounds or slept.
“(I began) fine-tuning what works for my family, and I wanted to share all the tips from other mothers, fathers and nutritionists,” she said.
McClendon began researching sugars and wheat and sugar substitutes, and collecting information she could use in the book.
The idea for such a book was born six years ago, McClendon said. She was especially inspired to finish the book when a family member, Linda Hybner Schweitzer, who used to work in Havre, died of complications from diabetes.
“Her death inspired me to finish the book and find a good publisher,” McClendon said.
The book was illustrated by her own children and a talented 17-year-old artist. Much of the kitchen-testing credits go to her 13-year-old twin boys and the co-author's family, making this a family effort.
Her mother Mary Lois said the boys are “quite the little chefs.”
Marie also pointed out that several of the recipes and tips included in the book take into account to various food allergies and cultural tastes.
“We have ethnic recipes from three cultures that are hit especially hard with diabetes,” she said.
One of the cultures McClendon researched was Native Americans. She said the Native American culture unfortunately has a large population affected by diabetes, especially if they are eating a typical diet using white flour and white sugar.
McClendon said she recently met with a group that wants to go into the schools across Colorado to educate the kids on how to eat healthier and change the contents of the schools' vending machines.
McClendon was quick to point out that the book doesn't always reflect her family's personal choice in sugar substitutes or fat choices. She invites anyone who is interested to visit her Web site to learn about other natural sugar substitutes she and her family also use. She updates it regularly, and she said that new research seems to be redeeming butter and coconut oil for most people.
“I can't believe how many people are going to my site to see new updates or new recipes not in the book,” she said. Certified nutritionists have told McClendon they think the the interview-your-child ideas and the lunchbox packing blueprint guide is excellent.
To honor individual needs and preferences, “The Healthy Lunchbox” offers tips for convenience foods, money-saving recipes and packing ideas, vegetarian choices and food allergies.
McClendon said the book's mission is to give families and schools a leg up in teaching healthier eating habits starting in the formative years when the body is building organs for life, and developing life-long habits.
She also said she hopes her book is used to help families prepare their young children to eat healthy for the rest of their lives. She also said she hopes that by instilling good nutritional habits in children, the families will be able to let the kids pack their own lunches and feel good about the choices they will make.
“They're ready when they show interest,” she said.
The book will be available for sale locally at the Creative Leisure and on the Web.
Managing editor Abe Ogden of Small Steps Press said the American Diabetes Association decided that most of the recommendations for diet and exercise for those with diabetes are recommendations the general public should follow as well, and so the organization began publishing general health books through Small Steps Press.
“This is a sort of new venture for us, publishing info for the general health audience,” Ogden said. Other projects in the works for the ADA include books on topics that are common factors contributing to diabetes, such as obesity.
All of the money made after publishing expenses are paid, Ogden said, gets funneled back into the association for research purposes and outreach programs.
On the Net: McClendon's home page: www.wholehumanbeans.com
Diabetes bookstore: www.store.diabetes.com