Wednesday, July 31, 2013



"Let food be thy medicine."

                                             ---- Hippocrates

In a recent talk to employees of a large nonprofit organization, I asked participants to write down one thing they would like to change about their health. 

Can you guess what the overwhelming answer was?  It was “lose weight”.  In one hour, I taught these employees, from the CEO down to the truck drivers, five specific ways to start making changes to put them on the path to healthier weights and better health.  

With two in three adults in the United States overweight and obese, it seems to me that solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic must begin with raising the health literacy of adults.  There is no question in my mind as to why we have a health crisis in this country. 

Here’s my challenge to you:  help me identify three organizations in the southeast U.S. (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama) where at least half of the employees are overweight and obese and the employees want to get to healthier weights.   Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. is looking for companies who want healthier and more productive employees.  These three organizations will work with me over 90 days.  As your virtual Chief Wellness Officer, I promise to improve the health literacy of your employees, improve your productivity, get your employees to healthier weights, AND lower your absenteeism. 

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. is a movement to provide leadership and solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States and beyond.  Without the commitment of America’s businesses, local governmental units, and organizations, kids don’t stand a chance of growing up healthy and free of obesity-related diseases.  

With the commitment of businesses, government employees, and local organizations, our kids DO have a great chance of being growing healthy kids and adults.  

As adults, we are the role models for the children in our communities.  If they see us drinking sodas and energy drinks loaded with sugar every day, then they think it is OK to drink a soda and think nothing of stopping by the local 7-11 to buy a Monster energy drink or a Coke on the way to school.  We are our children’s teachers.  Do we want our children to grow up to be obese adults with old people's diseases because we didn’t dare to care about how much sugar they are eating every day in their school lunches or in their afterschool programs with snacks supplied by the school district?  Do we want our children to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when they are 17 years old and suffer from the amputation of a foot or the loss of their vision when they are in their twenties and we bought honeybuns for them to eat for breakfast every day because it was convenient for us? 

If your organization is willing to accept my 90 day challenge and be part of the solution to the OBESITY EPIDEMIC, then shoot me an email at:  Get ready to lead your community’s wellness challenge! I’m ready.  The question is, are you ready?

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. is a movement dedicated to improving the health - and lives – of America’s children with a laser focus on halting, reversing, and preventing childhood obesity.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013



 “Success is not convenient.  You have to make room for it.  Stop waiting for the ideal or perfect situation to show up in your life before you make your move.  Now is the time to convert your prayers into performance.  

Faith without works is dead.  There will never be a perfect time in life.  If it’s not one thing…it’s another.  So do what you can and do what you must…NOW!  Most people let things happen.  You have the power to make things happen!  You have GREATNESS within you!”

                       ---Les Brown

Can you believe that summer vacation is half over already?  Let’s kick off the rest of summer with some great ideas to “HEALTH UP” your kids and your family. As my friend Les Brown said, "You have the power to make things happen!"  

COOL IDEA NUMBER ONE:  Check out this health snack idea to help everyone keep their cool AND take advantage of the great summer sale prices on fresh grapes while they are in season.
STEP ONE:  Wash and gently dry (air dry is fine) purple or green grapes.
STEP TWO:  Place grapes in zip lock bags (15 grapes per bag). 
STEP THREE:  Place bags in freezer.
STEP FOUR:  When kids need a snack, let them take one bag from the freezer for each kid and watch them explode with excitement over the flavor of frozen fruit!
STEP FIVE:  Listen for your kids (and your spouse) to say, “THIS IS BETTER THAN CANDY!” 

Kids teaching other kids in one of our peer education projects at local schools.  Healthy Habit 1:  More fruit, less juice!

Growing Healthy Kids' Peer Educators setting up for one of our parties at Imagine School.  

COOL IDEA NUMBER TWO:  Here’s another very cool idea for keeping all the kids (your and the kids in the neighborhood) busy and healthy:  FRUIT PIZZA.  Click here for the step by step instructions for making the best fruit pizza ever!

COOL IDEA NUMBER THREE:   Need to get your kids outside more (and less screen time)?  Start growing your own veggies using this ultra-cool new technology aeroponic personal grow system.  Assign your kids the job of check the water levels every two days and within 28 days you will be harvesting your own fresh, very locally grown greens. Click here to order your personal grow system (use discount code "growhealkids" at checkout).

Enjoy the rest of your summer vacation and send me your favorite healthy kid-friendly recipes at  Look for your recipe in a future issue of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS!

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

Note for new readers:  The Growing Healthy Kids movement is dedicated to creating solutions to our national childhood obesity epidemic and to the prevention of obesity-related diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes, in children.  See the top right corner to order NOURISH AND FLOURISH which provides a road map for parents.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013



“It should be emphasized that the problem of contamination with antibiotics in our foods and particularly in milk is a small one compared to our other current food safety problems which have arisen in large part as a result of technologic progress in food production, processing, and distribution in the processing of food, preservatives, antioxidants, colors, bleaches, flavors, coatings, drying agents, moistening agents, thickening agents, sequestering agents, “aging” agents, stabilizers, emulsifiers, neutralizers, acidifiers, and sweeteners are used.” 

-- from a 1957 report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration minimizing the risk from antibiotic contaminants in our food supply as reported in “The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson: On a Farther Shore” by William Souder

Today in India, dozens of children died from an insecticide in their free school lunches.   According to CNN.COM, “The poison was organophosphorus, a chemical that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is commonly used in agriculture.  It is a nerve agent related to sarin gas, which is commonly used in chemical warfare, the U.S. Health Department says.” Click here to read the CNN story.

Children in the United States are also consuming foods containing chemicals commonly used in food production that can be harmful, if not deadly.  As parents, it is time to talk to the Food and Nutrition Manager for your child’s school district, asking questions about what chemical are in the foods your kids are eating in their school breakfasts and lunches, how the foods are grown, and what additives are in the foods served to your kids. 

What can parents do?  Call your school district's Food and Nutrition Program Manager.  Here are some questions to ask him or her:

  • How many chemicals, additives, preservatives, artificial food dyes, and chemical "stabilizers" are in the foods served to our children?
  • How many teaspoons of added sugar are in the flavored milks served in public schools?
  • What percentage of the vegetables and fruits served to children in the free and reduced meal program are grown in the state and what percentage are trucked/flown in from other states/countries?
  • What percentage of the vegetables and fruits served to children in our public schools are grown chemical-free?
  • What percentage of the vegetables and fruits served are GMO (genetically modified organisms)?  

In the county where I live (Indian River County, Florida), two in every three kids (66%) qualifies for the free and reduced meal program.  What that means is that 2/3 of all children eat most of their meals at their school.  My dear friend, Bonnie Swanson, who retired last December as principal of Vero Beach Elementary School, taught me about the “situational poverty” of her students’ parents, who, through no fault of their own, were unemployed or underemployed due to the economic downturn of the past five years. What I learned from Mrs. Swanson is a lesson I will never forget because Vero Beach Elementary School is in the heart of Indian River County.  Many of America’s wealthiest Fortune 50 CEOs retire here because we live in “a slice of paradise.” Yet, children are struggling to thrive and learn each day because they are starving. 

The way I was raised, paradise is not supposed to include children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, let alone whether it is filled with delicious, locally grown vegetables.

Mothers and fathers are the heart of the food revolution to protect the health and lives of America’s – and the world’s – children.

As a mother, I ask a lot of questions.  We trust that schools will provide healthy foods, not poisons such as sugars and foods laced with chemicals.  We want our children to thrive.  In light of the tragedy in India, it is time to change the questions we ask of our nation’s schools and the foods provided by the USDA. 

My heart aches for all the mothers and fathers in India making funeral arrangements for their children who died today because they ate their free school lunch. 

Chemicals are killing our children.  Ask questions.  Read food labels.  Find out about the foods your kids are eating at school or in snacks at their after-school programs.  Their lives may depend on it.  

Please say a prayer for the parents in India who lost their children today.  Act to ensure that the same thing does not happen here to our children.  Know your farmers.  Know where your food comes from.  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013



"We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu.  We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity.  And we can help create a culture – imagine this – where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them."
                              --Michelle Obama, First Lady

Jason told me that he is having problems with his eyes and his feet.  I asked him, “When was the last time you were screened for diabetes?” and he replied that it was more than 7 years ago.  Then he talked about his kids.  He said his son was “almost as big as I am.”  Then, his voice dropped and he added that his 15 year old daughter is also almost as big as he is.  He asked me how to help them.  I said, “Lead by example and help yourself first.  Act as if you are at a healthy weight yourself.  Let them know that you are changing what you eat and are going to eat 2 more cups of in season and locally grown vegetables this week.  Start changing one thing each week to get on the path to better health and a healthier life.” 

Can you guess what this is?

How do parents help their kids who are obese?  Health starts at home, in the discussions we have at the dinner table, in our attitude towards exercise and fitness.  Health starts in the kitchen, in the foods we prepare for and with our families. 

Childhood obesity is a problem because:
  • Kids who are obese are more likely to be bullied
  • Kids who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults
  • Being obese increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, joint problems, high blood pressure and certain cancers
  • Kids who are obese are more likely to suffer from poor self-image throughout their entire lives
  • Kids diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be expected to have a shorter lifespan of about 17 years than kids without diabetes

How do I help my kids get back to a healthier weight?

  • Commit to making one change a week in your eating or fitness habits. 
  • Write down your own health goal.  Be specific.  Use S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific).

How do I know if I am at a healthy weight or not? 

Start by looking at yourself in the mirror.  Do you like how your body looks?  How do your clothes fit?  Are they tight?  Do you have to buy new clothes every few months because you need a bigger size?

For most of us, we know if we need to lose some weight and some inches.  A good reference point is to determine your Body Mass Index (BMI).  For adults it is simply based on the relationship between our height and our weight.  BMI for kids (ages 2-19) is based on their height, weight, plus their age and their gender (male or female).  The BMI is not a perfect tool but it is a useful tool.  Find out your BMI number by clicking here.  

Click here for some great, kid-friendly foods and ideas that kids of all ages will love!

Let’s do something meaningful about our children’s health by showing them that we can about our own health.  Children need good role models and it is up to each of us to be that role model.  The consequences of ignoring obesity in America's children are too high and too extreme to ignore.   Act as if…..

A picture from my 4th of July vacation on St. Simons Island, Georgia last weekend!

The Growing Healthy Kids movement is about inspiring, educating, and improving the health literacy of Americans so we can reverse, halt, and prevent childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases in children.  Together, we can improve the health – and lives – of America’s children, one child at a time.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013



"Water is involved in all body processes.  You need the proper amount for all those processes to work correctly."  
                    -- Dr. Jack M Guralnik
                        National Institutes of Health

WATER.  Most people don’t drink enough of it.  

Vero Beach, Florida 

Here are 5 reasons why you need to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day:

GREAT SKIN.  Drinking water helps keep your skin moisturized.
TRANSPORTATION.  Water carries nutrients to where your body needs them.  It carries toxins out through sweat or urine. 
LUBRICATING.  All your muscles and joints need moisture and cushioning to work properly and avoid creating too much friction within the body. 
BOOST YOUR BRAINPOWER AND MOOD.   A hydrated brain is sharp and happy.
LOSE WEIGHT.  Drink water first when you think you are hungry.  Drink a glass half an hour before a meal. 

What's YOUR favorite reason to drink enough water?
Sparkling Water, Fruit, Bubble, Seltzer Water

The 4th of July weekend is all about enjoying picnics with family and friends, a dip in the pool or a trip to the beach (see my beach above), and the “oohs” and “aahs” of the fireworks.  Happy birthday, America!  Here is a delicious dip to make with your kids for your family:


  • 2 pounds eggplant, peeled and roasted (TO ROAST:  preheat oven to 350.  Peel eggplant and cut into halves lengthwise.  Place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet.  Roast 45 minutes or until tender.)
  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Cut roasted eggplant into chunks, place in food processor with all ingredients.  Process until smooth.  Serve with your favorite chips and veggies. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.