Wednesday, September 14, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Interlocking Roots

“The Redwoods once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always…from them comes silence and awe.”
                                                                            —John Steinbeck


From my walk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park


Natures always restores me.  This summer’s travels to California and Oregon included trips to several National Parks and many wilderness hikes.  There is nothing like walking for hours without seeing another soul.  One lesson I learned from my time in Redwoods National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is that the roots of redwoods, the oldest living things on the planet that grow up to 350 feet and more, are only about 6 feet deep.  What happens underground and out of sight is that the roots of these trees interlock to build a stable base for each tree.

What would happen if each child had interlocking roots with other children and parents to be able to grow strong and independent?  I think there are lessons from the Redwoods that we can apply to our own communities.  

Hiking on the beach at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, with the coastal fog rolling in


You’ve heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  The more we can help each other, often invisibly like the roots of the Redwood trees, the stronger each child will be.

With my sister-in-law, Inger, hugging a Redwood tree at Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park in northern California

Let’s make this school year a great one by building new foundations and interlocking roots for growing healthy kids.  Take walks together. Make healthy meals together. Visit a National Park.  Check out your state and local parks.   

What can YOU do to create a strong foundation for children? 

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Calling All Fourth Graders!

"National parks are the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst."
                                         --Author Wallace Stegner, 1983

 
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All kids deserve regular physical activity and being able to interact with nature.  It is one of the basic elements of good health.  Keep on reading for some really good news for all fourth graders and their families!

Walking among the Coastal Redwoods in northern California is about as close to God as I can get.  There is such a joy that comes with walking outdoors in a state of awe and wonder.  Being amongst the oldest living things in the world brings me an inner peace of epic proportions.  The Redwoods have been a part of my life since I was 5, when our family moved to California and started camping in the state and national parks.  

There are wondrous gifts that await Americans in our national parks.  Thank goodness for people like Theodore Roosevelt, our environmental president, for his vision and recognizing the need to act to protect sacred places such as Yellowstone and Yosemite.  

The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday (August 25, 2016 to be precise) this year.  I am celebrating by visiting several western national parks and monuments this month.  It is a glorious time to reflect about what makes America the greatest country on Earth.  In the next couple of months I will be sharing some of my national park adventures with you.  

Help your kids to be their best.  If you have a fourth grader in your family, you can get free admission to all national parks for a year. Check out the "Every Kid in a Park" program where the National Park Service offers free park admission to all fourth graders and their families.  To get your pass, go to www.nps.gov or click here.  

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Healthy is the New Beauty-4 Tips


Image result for pictures of flowers in vases“I think both food and flowers really nourish your body and soul.  To have something beautiful around you, or to create something beautiful and delicious to eat, is one of the great joys of our lives.” 
                    

                      --Barrett Prendergast, creator, Valleybrink Road

Sometimes beauty gets covered up by wearing too much make-up or synthetic clothes.  People live fast lives and eat processed foods, thinking it is a timesaver.  The costs of taking short cuts with the food we eat or thinking we are saving money by buying cheap products made from artificial chemicals and putting them on our faces and on our bodies are higher than one can imagine. 
Obesity-related diseases such as diabetes are very costly.  Some costs are direct costs (medicines, doctors visits, hospitalizations, lost wages) but many are indirect costs (increased insurance costs, dependency on others during times of illness, disability insurance, workers compensation).  These are all costs that people don’t associate with what they are going to feed their kids for breakfast or serve for dinner.  When parents routinely buy fruit juice and cookies containing high fructose corn syrup for afterschool snacks for their kids, they are not thinking, “I wonder how these choices will affect my child’s health and health-related expenses in 20 or 30 years?”  Drinking "cheap" sodas and fruit drinks and eating breads, snacks, and cookies made from refined white flour can result in very expensive diseases that shorten lives.  If a youth develops type 2 diabetes before age 21, it reduces lifespan by about 17 years. 
Preventing and even reversing chronic diseases such as diabetes is not difficult when one makes conscious choices. Those conscious choices include what we eat, what we drink, how much we sleep, how we respond to stress, and what we think.  It includes choices about eating plant-based foods and foods high in anti-inflammatory properties. 

If parents make the commitment to stop buying any food or drink that contains high fructose corn syrup, it will go a long way towards improving the health of children.  Avoiding highly processed sugars is a huge first step for anyone who wants to stop poisoning their bodies and start feeling AND looking better. 
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Here are 4 tips to ensure that "Healthy is the New Beauty" at your house:

  1. Have flowers on the dinner table every evening.  It can be as simple as one small flower in a cup.  Let your children be in charge of this task.  This little touch of nature serves as a daily reminder that beauty is all around us.
  2. Make water the primary drink in your house.  Most people (especially kids) don’t drink enough of it.  Water is the best ingredient for healthy skin (our largest organ) and healthy digestion (and gut health).  Too many kids have issues with constipation because they don’t drink enough water and don’t get enough dietary fiber (only found in plant foods grown in the earth). 
  3. Choose foods and drinks that contain no high fructose corn syrup.  This highly processed sugar is one of the most harmful substances we can put into our bodies. 
  4. Eat locally grown, organic vegetables and fruits that are the colors of the rainbow.  Support your local farmers and buy foods that are in season where you live.  The seasonal foods I am enjoying most right now are peaches and zucchini squash. What are YOUR favorite end-of-summer favorite foods?
In gratitude,

Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids
PS-For some delicious seasonal vegetable recipes, check out valleybrinkroad.com or click here.