Wednesday, January 2, 2019

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Gratitude in the New Year


"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul." 
                                                                                    --Henry Ward Beecher

Happy New Year! 

Waking up each morning and greeting the day is a profound experience to me.  Taking slow, gentle breaths to help focus my energy, thoughts, and intention is a gift I open every day.  Seeing the beauty of a flower lifts my spirits and makes my heart dance. 


As adults, we choose how we live.  Children do not have that choice.  They live where we live, they eat what we feed them, and they play when we tell them to play. 

Choosing to be a positive role model for children is a job I take seriously in my work with Growing Healthy Kids.  When I take groups of children to local Farmers Markets and introduce them to the farmers who grow vegetables and citrus, they learn respect.  When we visit organic farms to walk the fields with the farmers and talk about growing foods that keep us in health instead of making us sick, they learn the truth about what real food is.  When we prepare foods and converse together over a shared meal, they learn lifelong skills for staying healthy. 

Enjoy each day.  Say “thank you” often.  Smile.  Be grateful for your opportunity to life a profound life.  Be grateful for the opportunity to be a positive role model for your children.  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Photo credit:  Barbara DuPont

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Foods We Need


Set your life on fire.  Seek those who fan your flames. 
                                                                                                     –Rumi



The more I read and study about diseases, the more passionate I become about the need for kids to have access to real foods grown without chemicals.  Children deserve that their health should be protected, not exploited for profit and financial gain.  Parents deserve to have access to healthy foods that are economical and affordable for them to buy (or grow).  At the very least, buy the best quality, locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables you can afford. 

Seasonal honeybell from Schacht Groves, Vero Beach, FL

Working with adults diagnosed with diseases like autism and ADHD, I see parallels with those who have diabetes and obesity.  Eating foods that our bodies are allergic to, foods that cause inflammation, and foods that deplete our energy sources, such as meat, dairy, and added sugars, causes and promotes disease.  Empowering people to understand the importance of eating real food, and avoiding harmful food, is critical to our attempts to thwart chronic diseases.


The foods that God has provided for us to eat are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  These are the foods that can sustain us in health while reversing and preventing disease. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Lowering High Blood Pressure


“I began to read all I could about health when my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  Everything I read seemed to point me toward a simple equation:  Food=Health.  I read The China Study, Farm Sanctuary by Gene Bauer, books by Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Neal Barnard, and many more.  I realized the untested chemicals used in processed foods and the residue of pesticides and many fertilizers had to be hurting us.  I began to notice that my animals were developing lumps and bumps that I don’t remember them having when I was growing up.  I knew then that it was time to make some changes.”  
                                   --Cornelia Guest from Simple Pleasures:  Healthy Seasonal Cooking and Easy Entertaining, 2012


The more salt you consume, the higher your blood pressure will be.  

In our Growing Healthy Kids classes, kids learn to read food labels to look for hidden sodium and sugars.  Salt used to be primarily used to preserve foods.  Now it is used not only to flavor foods but to replace reduced fats or sugars.  If you see something labeled “low fat” be suspicious that it may have a higher sodium content.

One of the author's favorite low sodium foods
Photo credit:  Barbara DuPont
The goal for most people, especially kids, is to keep daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg.  That is about 2/3 teaspoon of salt.  One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,500 mg of sodium. 

Salt is like high blood pressure in some ways.  Often, you don’t taste salt in foods so you don't know it's there. Similarly, people with high blood pressure often have no symptoms and don’t know they have it.  

Most American children are not screened for hypertension.  Pediatricians don’t commonly ask how often their young patients eat processed foods or fast foods.  Kids who consume processed foods, meat, and dairy are at high risk for increased blood pressure.  Cheese, for example, is extremely high in sodium.  Most Americans consume about 30 pounds of cheese a year.  A one inch cube of Cabot's Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese contains 180 mg of sodium. Foods you wouldn’t think of as having salt in them often have several hundred milligrams. One hot dog can have 500-600 mg of sodium.  That is one-third of the daily limit for one person!   

On the other hand, one cup of strawberries has about 1.5 mg of sodium.  

Adopting a plant-based way of eating is one way to lower one’s blood pressure.  A resource for parents is the Physicians Committee for Responsible medicine (pcrm.org or click here).

My advice to parents?  Take a look at the sodium that your children are consuming in what they eat and drink every day.  Make it a priority to find ways to reduce it. 

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids