Wednesday, January 30, 2013



Great health begins with a great breakfast.  So what exactly is a great breakfast?  It is the meal that sets the tone for your day, breaks the fast after not eating all night, and gives your brain and body the energy, focus, and power for a day of learning and activity. 

breakfast nomins 21 Breakfast is the most important meal for a reason... (41 photos)
Great Breakfast Idea: Toast that meets THE NANCY RULE topped with peanut or almond butter and sliced strawberries.

Planning great breakfasts for your kids means learning the basics about carbohydrates, protein, and fats.  Loading the kids up with bowls of refined sugar, found in most breakfast cereals, will doom them to a day of hyperactivity followed by blood sugar crashes and the inability to concentrate.   Whenever I see kids on their way to middle and high school in the morning stopping by the 7-11 convenient store to purchase one of those monster energy drinks or an Arizona Southern Style iced tea, I wonder why the parents of those kids let them out of the house without their most valuable meal of the day. All sugar = empty calories and no nutritional value.

Here are three great breakfast ideas:

1.       Steel cut oats with blueberries, cinnamon, and agave nectar plus almond, rice, or soy milk
2.       Toast made from whole grain bread that meets THE NANCY RULE* plus a hard-boiled egg or a fried egg plus half an orange, peach, or pear.
3.       Whole grain waffles (try the Van's brand in the freezer section to make this an easy choice) topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and/or bananas and yogurt.

*THE NANCY RULE is something I created to make it easy to remember what kind of bread to buy: 
  • (1) 4 or more grams of dietary fiber per slice AND 
  • (2) the first ingredient includes the word “WHOLE”.  

Set the example and make sure YOU are having breakfast, too.  It may mean getting up 10 minutes earlier in the morning but it will pay great dividends - today and the rest of your life!  Why?  Because preventing obesity means not skipping meals.  Losing weight means not skipping meals.  

For more great healthy breakfast ideas for kids, go to:

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013



New Year’s Resolutions usually include something about exercise.   As parents, you know that exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight.  It is essential for helping kids get to a healthier weight.  The fact is that you can lose weight by just eating less calories but to keep off the weight you have to move more.

The tip for parents from Growing Healthy Kids  is this:  take responsibility for your kids’ fitness by taking family walks together several days a week.  

Exercise as simple as taking regular walks can assist your kids (and you) to get to (and stay at) a healthy weight.  What kind of exercise is best?

A recent Danish study of 10,000 adults revealed that taking a short, fast walk was more beneficial than a long, slow walk in improving the risk factors for metabolic syndrome.  According to a January 2013 article in USA Weekend, “Researchers found fast walking and jogging every day can cut the risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 50%, but walking an hour a day makes little difference.  Another study found that people who lift weights are less prone to metabolic syndrome.”  The metabolic syndrome is present when you have three or more of these five signs:
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated blood sugars
  • Large waist circumference
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Elevated triglycerides

For a quick lesson on metabolic syndrome BY THE NUMBERS, read the section below:
Metabolic syndrome is present if you have three or more of 
the following signs:
·         Blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85 mmHg
·         Fasting blood sugar (glucose) equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL
·         Large waist circumference (length around the waist):
o    Men - 40 inches or more
o    Women - 35 inches or more
·         Low HDL cholesterol:
o    Men - under 40 mg/dL
o    Women - under 50 mg/dL
·         Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL
For more information about the metabolic syndrome, click here:

Walking can lower your blood pressure, lower your blood sugars, improve your waist circumference, help you to lose weight, help keep off weight, and raise your good cholesterol (HDL).  

Ready to walk your way to wellness?  As parents, we can choose to be positive role models for our children - OR NOT.  Let’s get moving, America, because we can walk our way to wellness!  I commit to MOVE MORE in 2013.  

Now, the question is, will you?

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



JANUARY IS A GREAT MONTH to set your intentions to be healthier.  Some people do this by making New Year's resolutions.  Some people buy a new journal to write in every day.  Some people join a fitness club in hopes of losing 10 pounds.  Some commit to eating less junk foods.  What is your intention? 

AS PARENTS, we set our intentions to help our kids have better lives.  To live better, we need to focus on our health.  Something is wrong with our country when 17% of America's kids are already categorized as "obese".  Many parents think they cannot afford to feed their kids healthy foods, something I hear all the time when I speak at schools.  Can you afford to "eat healthy"?  Of course you can, once you know can define it.   

Growing Healthy Kids Rule #1:  EAT RAINBOWS

  • lots of vegetables and fruits (these should be half of what you eat, hence, my "eat rainbows" rule)
  • if you drink fruit juice, limit it (rule of thumb is no more than 1/2 cup - 4 ounces - a couple of days a week)
  • plenty of grains (such as barley, oats, wheat, rye, and quinoa) - more than half should be WHOLE grains, not refined
  • most of your fats should be unsaturated fats (like nuts, fish, avocados, flax seeds, and liquid vegetable oils such as extra virgin olive and canola oils)
  • include cold water fish (such as salmon or tuna) at least twice a week as part of your low-fat protein choices 
  • drink plenty of water every day (AND cut back/eliminate sodas, including diet sodas
FOR NEW IDEAS to help your kids and you eat more fruits and vegetables, check out this great resource:

30 ways in 30 days to stretch your fruit and vegetable budget.

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

Get your "Eat Rainbows" T-shirt or apron at

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


The Launch of Wellness Wednesdays

2013 IS STARTING with new energy on the planet, new momentum in personal growth, and new resolutions for better health.   Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. is an organization and movement providing global leadership to improve the health and lives of children by raising awareness about the consequences of childhood obesity and pathways to knowledge.  As a parent, I know about the responsibility, energy, and work needed to raise a healthy child.  I also know that it is up to us, the parents, to take the responsibility to reverse, halt, and prevent childhood obesity in America.  No one is going to do it for us.  Not our politicians.  Not our school board members.  Not America’s CEOs.  Not our children’s pediatricians.  Not the McDonalds manager.   Not the staff at your kids' day care facility.  

WE CAN reverse the childhood obesity epidemic.  We will do it one child and one parent at a time.  

PARENTS HAVE THE POWER in this fight.  This fight is about our children’s health and their lives.  This fight is about consciously making changes that can prevent kids from facing diseases usually reserved for older adults like diabetes, sleep apnea, and joint disorders such as arthritis, and from the psychological damage that can last a lifetime if adults stand by silently.  As a parent, you are the one who needs to get the skin in the game because in this game, failure is not an option. 

AS PROMISED LAST WEEK, the theme of this week’s Growing Healthy Kids blog is to launch a year of weekly information, facts, resources, recipes, and fun stuff that you can use with your family to make a difference.  

IN LAUNCHING THE 2013 WELLNESS WEDNESDAY SERIES, I am asking you to make a commitment to your children’s health.

  • Will you DARE TO CARE about your kids’ health by setting them up for a lifetime of success and teaching them how to maintain a healthy weight? 
  • Will you DARE TO CARE about how often you eat dinner together as a family? 
  • Will you DARE TO COMMIT to changes that can and will result in a lifetime of real health for your kids and you?   
  • Will you DARE TO COMMIT to cut back on the added sugars and fats your family eats in the boxed and processed foods you buy?
  • Will you DARE TO COMMIT to finding out if your child drinks the flavored milk for lunch at school that contains 7 teaspoons of added sugar or the milk without added sugars?
  • Will you DARE TO COMMIT to making better choices about food and exercise?
  • Will you DARE TO CARE to be a better role model?

KEEPING New Year’s Resolutions health goals starts with making the decision to commit.  Once you are committed and engaged to the process of GROWING HEALTHY KIDS, then we can learn together.  You’ve heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Well, it is going to take the whole village to raise HEALTHY children, as each child who is not at a healthy weight struggles, often silently, knowing they are different from other kids.   They may suffer from the emotional pain and embarrassment from being the victim of bullying and name-calling.  It is highly likely they will have psychological scars that come from the taunting, the whispers, and the looks from other kids passing them in the hallway at school.     

I COMMIT TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP by bringing you a year of weekly educational blogs and talking with you about the questions you should be asking your school principal, cafeteria manager, and pediatrician. 

DARE TO CARE.  DARE TO COMMIT.  Join me each week on for the 2013 Wellness Wednesdays series.  

BECAUSE FAILURE TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN’S HEALTH IS NOT AN OPTION. Because this is our village and these are our children.

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

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


EVERYWHERE I GO, I talk with parents and grandparents faced with the harsh reality and knowledge that, somehow, their child or grandchild is not at a healthy weight.  Sometimes the reality rears its head when your child suddenly refuses to go to school one day.  Or when the school principal calls to say your daughter is in their office crying because someone called her fat. 

What I say to you as a parent is the same thing I say to adults who are told by their doctors that if they do not lose some weight, they will develop diabetes.  If they already have diabetes, without losing some weight, they likely will encounter the reality of its ugly complications such as loss of circulation in the feet, amputation of toes or a foot, a heart attack, loss of vision, and more.  We know how to  prevent diabetes.  We can learn how to prevent more weight gain and then make a plan to get to a healthier weight.

You may ask yourself, “Where did all this fat come from?”  or “How did my daughter (or son) gain all this extra weight?”  The answer is simple:   by eating and drinking more food, drink, and calories than they (and we) need and use.  Extra weight does not suddenly appear overnight.  We don’t go to bed 180 pounds one night and suddenly wake up the next morning weighing 215 pounds.  It’s the same way with kids as it is with us adults.  They don’t go to sleep one night weighing 55 pounds and wake up the next morning weighing 80 pounds.  

People_eating_food : Woman eating french fries. Isolated.
Woman eating fast food french fries.
We all gain extra weight the same way - one pound at a time.  Five pounds here, three pounds here, another two pounds here – it adds up over time.  Every time you take the kids to McDonalds, it adds up faster.  Check this out:  a double quarter pounder with cheese, a large coke, and a large fries has 1,560 calories (almost a whole day’s worth of calories), 1280 mg of sodium (more than half of what we should eat in a day), and a whopping 86 grams of carbs (the sugar in the coke contains  “empty” calories with no nutritional value).  Go to to learn the nutritional value of what your kids eat there. 

Children having fun running.
“So, now what do I do to help my children?”  You start one day and one week at a time to make changes.  The universal law is that small changes lead to big results.  

Right now, starting today, the first day of 2013, you can make the decision to make small changes.  This week you start moving.  Take a walk.  Don’t assume that your kids are getting enough exercise in school, because they are not, especially if they live in Florida.  The education leaders in Florida should be ashamed of themselves for stripping physical education out of our schools and our children’s health and daily lives (personal opinion).   In the county where I live, kids in elementary school get 30 minutes a day of P.E.  Remember that kids needs 60 minutes a day of P.E.  So start moving.  Be the example they need.  Take a walk every day with your child while they are on winter break.  Play basketball with them.  Jump a rope.  Don’t allow them to sit inside all day.  Get outside and play.  Just for the heck of it.  For the health of it.  Now. 

It takes responsibility to develop new habits.  As parents, we are responsible for our children’s health, for what they eat, for making sure they get exercise every day, for getting their homework assignments done and turned in, and their science fair project deadlines met.  Take responsibility for their health.  Stay tuned to this blog for weekly lessons in 2013 you can use at home (and at work) to improve your children’s health – and your own.  Together, we can lose the extra weight.  To access a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator for you and your children, go to

Thanks for taking responsibility. 

Perfect health,
Nancy Heinrich

To order a copy of my new book for parents, NOURISH AND FLOURISH, go to now.