Wednesday, February 8, 2017


"Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead."  
                                                                          --Oscar Wilde

February is American Heart Month.  Being healthy means being a good steward of your heart. 

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 The fact is that for half of people with heart disease, the first sign is often sudden death.  I remember a man I used to work with in Palm Beach County, Florida.  He was the picture of health and an administrator for Florida Department of Health.  He was a runner, didn’t smoke, and ate sensibly.  He didn’t have diabetes.  One day he had a heart attack and died. 

Protect your heart.  If you have diabetes, you have 4 times higher risk for a heart attack or stroke than someone without diabetes. 

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Commit to healthy eating.  Eat vegetables.  Drink lots of water.  Go easy on the saturated fats (found in foods from animals).  Make most of your fats the good ones (unsaturated) like wild salmon, olive oil, avocados and nuts.  Enjoy a small piece of dark (70%) chocolate daily.    

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Commit to your own fitness (more than 150 minutes a week).  Take walks.  Skip.  Ski.  Jog.  Swim.  Jump rope.  Kayak.  Anything that moves you!  

Enjoy your life.  Eat dinner with friends.  Laugh often. Repeat.

For more information about heart health and preventable and treatable heart conditions such as high blood pressure, go to or click here.

Take care of your heart.   

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


"Most women do not realize that heart disease is the #1 killer of American women." 
                                                                            --Monica Potter  

Image result for heart imagesFebruary is American Heart Month.  What can you do to protect the heart health of your children?  Start by being mindful of your own heart health.

We take a lot of things for granted with our bodies, especially our hearts.  Consider that the heart is the organ responsible for keeping us alive, working 24/7 without ever taking a break; it deserves more respect than it gets.  The simple fact is when it stops beating, we stop living.  As parents, we can set good examples for our children and actively and mindfully practice health promotion.  

Here are my 12 tips for being heart smart:
  1. Go for a walk every day.  Jog sometimes.  Your heart loves to exercise!
  2. Laugh every day.   It helps reduce stress. 
  3. Aim for 30 grams of dietary fiber a day (less for kids).  
  4. Eat your vegetables. Make your goal veggies on half your plate. 
  5. Choose legumes.  Lentils and bean are very heart smart.   
  6. Plan meals using vegetables as the focus.  
  7. Check out the Mediterranean way of eating.   It does a body good. (It also can help prevent depression.)
  8. Have a little dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) every day.
  9. Make most of your fats the GOOD fats (like olive oil, cold water fish such as wild salmon, avocados, and nuts).
  10. Get your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked at least once a year. 
  11. Keep your blood pressure and weight in control. 
  12. Learn about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, especially the differences in symptoms between women and men (see CDC graphic below). 

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For information about the Mediterranean way of eating and delicious heart healthy recipes to enjoy every month of the year, go to or click here.

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Learning from Kids about Diabetes

“So they will not get sick and die at a young age.” 
              --the answer from D.G., age 12, grade 6, an attendee at a recent Growing Healthy Kids educational program to the question, "Why do kids need to eat healthy foods?" 

From the mouths of babes...These were some of the POWERFUL WORDS from children in a recent Growing Healthy Kids program for middle school children (grades 6-8 in Indian River County, Florida).  Kids were asked this question:  Why do kids need to eat healthy foods?

“Also to have energy to play with friends and family.”
“So they can’t get diabetes at an early age.”
“It’s good to learn about good foods as a kid so when you grow up you can teach your children to be super healthy as an adult.”
“To stay healthy.”
“Kids need healthy food to get energy for activities."
“To help them grow.”

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When asked if they had a family member with diabetes, more than half of the kids in the Growing Healthy Kids education program raised their hands.  Diabetes is a real threat for children who have a family member with this disease.  Almost 1 in 10 Americans (9.3%) has diabetes.  Diabetes is a group of diseases where increased blood sugar levels result from problems in how insulin is produced, how insulin works, or both.  Being at an unhealthy weight is one of the biggest risk factors for developing diabetes.  People with diabetes may develop serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and premature death (source:  CDC,gov).

To learn more about diabetes, go to or click here.

Growing Healthy Kids works to prevent diabetes in children.   Diabetes is a disease usually diagnosed in older adults.  When kids develop type 2 diabetes, they can be expected to live an average of 17 years less than kids without diabetes and they will face a lifetime of higher health care costs and increased morbidity in addition to lower life expectancy. 

ALL children deserve to know that foods and drinks containing added sugars are unhealthy and may contribute to their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Physical inactivity and too much screen time are also putting America's children at risk for unhealthy weights and obesity related diseases such as diabetes.  

Just as we can teach our children, they can also teach us.  Children do not want to get sick and die at a young age.  As parents, we can act responsibility and give them access to real foods instead of added sugars and refined grains.  

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Please pass the blueberries and broccoli!  Healthy Kids are sweet enough!

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.