Wednesday, January 10, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Do You Drink Enough Water?

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."  
                                                                      --Loren Eiseley

I have a daily ritual that goes like this:

Step 1: Within 10 minutes of waking, fill a large glass with water (about 16 ounces).
Step 2:  Cut a fresh lemon in half.
Step 3:  Squeeze the lemon juice into the water.  
Step 4:  Drink.  Repeat tomorrow.

Most people don’t drink enough water, which is pretty silly when you consider that the human body is 60% water and our brains are 70% water. 

Image result for water "org"

I dare you to do this experiment:  every time you drink water tomorrow, put the same amount of water into a large pitcher.  At the end of the day, how much water did you drink?  Was it enough?  Look at the color of your pee:  if it is dark yellow and has a strong smell, you are not drinking enough water. 

Image result for glass of water "org"

How much water should we drink and why do we need it?  These are two lessons that I believe all children should be taught. 

Lesson 1:  How much water should we drink?  This depends on several things such as how active you are and where you live.  A general rule is divide your weight in half and that is how many ounces of water you need every day, at a minimum.  If you are physically active every day or live in a hot climate, you may need twice as much water.  In other words, drink ½ to 1 ounce of water for every pound you weigh.  If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75-150 ounces of water.  If you live in a cold climate and you are sedentary, then your need is at the low end of the spectrum: ½ ounce per pound.  If you live in a warm climate and are physically active every day, you are at the high end.  Drink water throughout the day.  

Lesson 2:  Why do we need to drink water?   
  • It helps us digest food.  
  • It prevents us from overeating (the body does not always distinguish between hunger and thirst).  
  • It prevents constipation; people who don’t drink enough water are often constipated.  
  • It helps with weight loss by keeping your metabolism revved.  
  • Water is involved in every cellular process – you don’t run at peak efficiency if you are dehydrated.  
  • Drinking a glass of water about 30 minutes before meals helps you eat less. 
  • It keeps our kidneys healthy and prevents kidney stones. 

According to, doctors who specialize in pediatric kidney problems report seeing more kidney stones in children in recent years, and they believe it’s because of a combination of factors.  Many kids aren’t drinking enough water.  Also, many kids are overweight and eat a poor diet.  Robert Weiss, MD, chief of pediatric nephrology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital of the Westchester Medical Center in New York said, “I’ve been in this field for over 30 years, and I’d say that until about the last 10 to 15 years, you almost never saw stones in kids.  Lately, the frequency is increasing dramatically.” 

Love your children.  Teach them about the importance of drinking water throughout the day.

I'm thirsty.  Please pass the water.  

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Helping Parents Set Achievable Goals

"Life is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
                                                                                                     --Albert Einstein

Happy New Year!   

While enjoying a workout and pool time at New Albany, Indiana's YMCA on January 1st with my brother and nephew, I asked Jennifer, one of the Y's fitness staff, for her advice for parents.  She answered, “Make a fitness plan with your children and set goals that are achievable.”  She encourages parents to engage in physical activity/play with their children in simple ways such as taking family walks or playing basketball together. 

Image result for kids running "org"

While talking with Jennifer, she and I discovered that we both have observed how often parents set one standard for themselves and another for their children.  The example she gave is where parents make a point to eat a salad every day with fresh fruits and vegetables, never thinking about eating fast foods themselves, but do not hesitate to regularly buy their kids highly processed foods loaded in added sugar, salt, and fat. 

Recently, I spoke with a parent at the Vero Beach Farmers Market and she told me what she tells her children is that they, like she, have to eat a salad every day.  She has set an expectation for her children and has told them why it is important that they make fresh vegetables and fruits a part of their daily foods.   

Child riding scooter

Every parent can set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific) with your children.  Here is an example of a SMART fitness goal:  “For the month of January, once during the week and once on the weekend, our family will take a 20 minute walk together after dinner in our neighborhood.”  Everything in this goal is specific (what and who), measurable (how often), achievable (we’re talking only 40 minutes a week), and time-specific (a one month goal). 

Image result for kids running "org"

Physical activity is key to maintaining a healthy weight, having a good attitude, and managing stress.   Being physically active is a healthy habit from which we all benefit. 

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States putting kids at risk for poor health.  Despite recent declines in the prevalence among preschool-aged children, obesity amongst all children is still too high.  In 2011-2014, for children and adolescents aged 2-19 years, the prevalence of obesity has remained fairly stable at about 17% and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents. 

This year’s Wellness Wednesdays will be filled with new lessons for parents inspired by the children served by Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  Our mission is preventing, halting, and reversing childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes.  Our focus is improving the health – and lives – of America’s children, one child at a time. 

Wishing you and your family a year of joy, happiness, love, achievable goals, and, of course, great food and physical fun! 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Your Health is Your Wealth

"The purpose of our lives is to be happy."  
                                                     –Dalai Lama

Dear readers, I am grateful to you for being part of Growing Healthy Kids’ journey and for your support of our work. 

Everything we do is about improving the health – and lives – of America’s children, one child at a time.  Our mission remains laser-focused on preventing, halting, and reversing childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases.  

Good health is fundamental to a good life.  All children deserve good health.

As the sunrise of the New Year approaches, I am sharing my list of essential elements for a good life; please pass it on to someone you love.

  1. Spend time in nature every day.
  2. Love yourself.
  3. Laugh every day.
  4. Look for the good in people.
  5. Exercise often.
  6. Share your gifts with those who have less than you.
  7. Always be honest.
  8. Do not underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep.
  9. Be kind to others.
  10. Have family and friends who love you just the way you are.
  11. Have access to good foods that build strong bodies and healthy minds.
  12. Seek happiness. 
  13. Tell your children “I love you” every day.
  14. Protect your health because it really is your wealth.   

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.