Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Image result for picture of heart

“Blood pressure tends to rise with age.  About 65 percent of Americans age 60 or older have high blood pressure.  However, the risk for prehypertension and high blood pressure is increasing for children and teens, possibly due to the rise in the number of overweight children and teens.”  

                                                                   ---National Institutes of Health

February is American Heart Month.  Did you know that kids age 3 and older should be screened for high blood pressure?  Did you know that being obese is one of the risk factors for high blood pressure?  Have you talked with your children’s pediatrician yet? 

According to the National Institutes of Health, prevention and treatment of high blood pressure involves the following:
  • Healthy eating
  • Being physically active
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Managing and coping with stress
Buried in the “healthy eating” message is the advice to limit sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg a day or lower for individuals age 14 and older.   Nine out of ten kids consume too much sodium, most of it from processed foods.  

Consider the fact that 1/4 teaspoon of salt contains 590 mg of sodium.   Sodium is the elephant in the room.  The fact is that the more salt you eat, the high your blood pressure will be.  Salt is everywhere, hidden in processed foods.  Restaurant foods are loaded with it. We talk about reading food labels and estimating portion sizes but the fact is most parents have no idea how much sodium their children actually consume. 

Next time you see a recommendation for “healthy eating,”think about salt.  Increase your awareness of the foods that are salt mines.  Some foods that are hidden sources of large amounts include hot dogs, prepared macaroni and cheese, ketchup, and canned soups.  Many of these contain more than a day’s recommended amount in one or two servings.  Eating dangerously high levels every day, combined with being overweight or obese, is a recipe for high blood pressure. 

Protect your children’s health and their hearts.  Learn about high blood pressure.  Read food labels to become aware of all the foods your children are eating that contain obscene amounts of sodium.  

Make sure your children are being screened by their pediatrician.  To learn more about high blood pressure from National Institutes of Health, click here

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


“Like many young doctors, I had received virtually no instruction in nutrition.  Then, as now, medical schools focused almost exclusively on drugs and surgery, even though lifestyle causes most cases of heart disease and other chronic disabling condition.  In retrospect, my lack of formal knowledge of nutrition was a blessing in disguise.”      --David Ludwig, MD, PhD, from Always Hungry?

If doctors receive no training about nutrition in medical school, 
then is it any wonder that parents receive no training?  Since parents are responsible for foods purchased for their children, how do they learn about the good foods that children need for strong bodies and healthy minds?  If advertisers have their way, the only thing parents need to buy are the foods placed intentionally at eye level in grocery stores.  With every advertising dollar spent, they are telling parents, “Don’t worry about those highly processed foods, all those food dyes, and all the added sugars, fats, and salts.  Just buy what we tell you to buy.” 

We did that and now we have a childhood obesity epidemic on our hands.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17% (or 12.7 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese. 

Babies are being born to obese mothers.  According to Dr. Ludwig, “excessive weight in one generation may predispose the next for higher lifetime risk of obesity, apart from genetic inheritance and the tendency of offspring to pick up their parents’ lifestyle habits.”*  We have a responsibility to America’s next generation to teach teenagers and young adults about the importance of getting to, and staying at, a healthy weight before they become pregnant. 

Here are 3 tips for parents (and parents-to-be):

1.  Read food labels:
  • Count the number of ingredients.  If there are more than 5 or 8 ingredients, choose something else. 
  • If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, they are not good for you.  
  • If food dyes are listed in the ingredients, don’t buy it. 
  • When buying breads and pastas, choose products with the word "whole" as part of the first ingredient (as in "whole grain oats") and with 4 or more grams of dietary fiber per serving (this is known as "The Nancy Rule").  
2.  Plan your meals around what vegetables are in season and locally grown, whenever possible. 

3.  Go for walks after dinner with your children.  This habit will help improve digestion, lower insulin and blood sugar levels, and promote a better night’s sleep.  

Please pass the butternut squash!

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

*Ludwig DS, Currie J.  The association between pregnancy weight gain and birthweight: a within-family comparison.  Lancet 2010; 376 (9745): 9840990; Ludwig DS, Rouse HL, Currie J.  Pregnancy weight gain and childhood body weight: a within-family comparison.  PLoS Medicine 2013; 10 (10): ed1001521.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Let's Eat Mediterranean

"You never know when you're making a memory."  
                                                       --Rickie Lee Jones

Growing up in Sacramento, California has a lot to do with why I enjoy good food.  We had access to seasonally fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables from the abundant Sacramento Valley.  We had two walnut trees on our property and the tree outside my bedroom at the corner of our house became my playhouse, where I daydreamed.  When the walnuts fell from the trees, my mother would pay my brother, Bill, and me to pick them up, one paper grocery bag at a time.  I think this is why I love walnuts so much!

The Mediterranean way of eating is based on how people who live 
in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea eat.  It is a powerful basis to determine which foods to buy, cook, and eat.  Here are its characteristics:
  • Generous amounts of vegetables and fruits, seasonally fresh and locally grown
  • High intake of olive oil but low intake of saturated fats
  • Lots of cereals, beans, and whole grains
  • Moderately high intake of fish (depending on your proximity to the sea)
  • Low to moderate intake of dairy products, mainly from cheese and yogurt
  • Low intake of meat and poultry
  • Regular intake of nuts
  • Regular consumption of wine, preferably with meals (for those who drink alcohol)

Over the next three months in my "Healthy Cooking Workshops for Adults", I will be preparing foods and teaching how to incorporate the Mediterranean way of eating into your kitchen and your pantry.  You are invited to join me.*  

Transform your health.  Learn about the foundation for a life of healthy eating.  Let's make some memories together. 

If we are responsible for Growing Healthy Kids and reversing childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases, we ALL deserve to eat well.    

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

*Send me an email at for the dates and locations for the Spring 2016 "Healthy Cooking Workshops for Adults" in Vero Beach, Florida. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Essential Ingredients

"All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt."  

                                                                  --Charles M. Schultz

Cacao beans

What is your “go to” ingredient in your kitchen?  What are the foods that you want your children to enjoy and love? 

A couple of weeks ago, I did a healthy chocolate tasting class at the local Boys and Girls Club in Sebastian, Florida.  This was part of Growing Healthy Kids’ program called The Art of Healthy Eating.  The 2nd and 3rd graders were excited because over the past several months they have been learning about – and tasting - foods that make you healthy and smart.  The lessons in The Art of Healthy Eating have centered around teaching the kids how to recognize hidden sugars in foods and drinks and reading food labels to look for sugar ingredients that end in “ose”.   

One of the essential ingredients you will always find in The Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen is dark chocolate.  Nothing better than a small piece of dark chocolate in the afternoon for a good mood pick-me-up!  Health benefits of dark chocolate include better moods, prevention of memory decline, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and improved (lower) LDL cholesterol.  

Most kids have only eaten milk chocolate, which is mainly sugar.  Eating too much of this unhealthy, sweet chocolate contributes to dental caries, or cavities.  

Here are 2 clues to help you and your kids select healthy, dark chocolate:
  1. Is the first ingredient cocoa (NOT sugar)?
  2. Does it say 70% (or higher) cocoa?

Eat good food every day.  Make healthy chocolate one of YOUR essential ingredients for good moods and great health!  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.