Wednesday, October 26, 2016


"It's not about feeding the world.  It's not about the blind will see and the lame will walk.  It's about chemical companies selling chemicals."
                                                      --Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety and author of Your Right to Know

Image result for gmo foods dangers

Image result for monsanto products

Foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) pose risks to our health, our families, and our environment.  Every October, Non-GMO Month gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about these risks and about why protecting consumer choices is so important.  Do we have a right to know what is (or is not) in our food?  Yes!  Do we have a right to choose non-GMO?  Yes!

When I shop for food, I look for “non-GMO” or “GMO-free”.  My research in cancer epidemiology has motivated me to make these choices when buying food for my family and for Growing Healthy Kids’ healthy cooking workshops.  My work with people with disabilities such as autism has given me another reason to take a closer look at what this genetic engineering to our seed supply is doing to the health of America's children.  

Image result for gmo foods dangers

What are genetically modified organisms or GMOs?  They are the result of a laboratory process that inserts genes from one species into the genes of another to obtain a desired trait or characteristic (an example is fast-growing salmon). 

Are there health risks to eating GMO foods?  It is highly likely that there are. Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives and founding executive director of The Institute for Responsible Technology, a leading source of GMO health risk information.  Mr. Smith suggests that several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

Image result for grains
Most grains are GMO-free.

Here are 7 tips to say good-bye to GMOs:
  1. Go organic.  The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit GMOs.  Plus organic foods have fewer or no pesticides, herbicides and fungicides and have higher nutritional value. 
  2. Load up on vegetables and fruits.  Most fresh produce is non-GMO.  Make half your plate vegetables and fruit. 
  3. Look for the non-GMO-verified seal.  Since GMOs require no labeling, this seal is one of the best ways to tell when foods are free of genetic modification.  Remember, most companies don’t want you to know they are using foods that have GMOs.
  4. Beware of additives.  The 5 most common GMOs – corn, canola, soy, cotton, and sugar beets – often end up as additives.  Read food labels.
  5. Choose wild-caught salmon.  Most farm-raised fish are fed GMO feed.
  6. Focus on fiber.  Most grains, seeds, nuts and beans are non-GMO.
  7. Avoid aspartame.  This ingredient in diet sodas and low-calorie foods is sometimes made from GMO microorganisms. 
For more information about non-GMOs, go to or click here.  For some delicious GMO-free recipes, go to or click here.

One last note about why consumers need choices about choosing non-GMO foods:  five agrichemical companies - Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, DuPont, and Bayer - control 62% of world seed sales.  If you have a vegetable garden at home, I recommend that you purchase seeds from companies like High Mowing Seeds that provide 100% certified organic and non-GMO verified seeds.  For more information about High Mowing Seeds, click here.

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Breakfast for Champions

"You really have to take care of your health first."  
                                                                                    --Scott Pelley, CBS News 

Image result for breakfast

I do a lot of work helping people with disabilities achieve their goals.  In a recent conversation with the publisher of Parenting Special Needs magazine, we talked about the importance of breakfast for promoting good moods, learning, brain health, improved health outcomes and healthy habits.   The publisher talked about some of the challenges faced by parents of kids with special needs.  

The fact is that people with disabilities comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages.  When working parents have a child with a disability, morning routines can be complicated.  Some kids have food allergies or sensitivities, lactose intolerances, some don’t like foods to touch each other, some only eat foods that are certain colors, tastes, or textures, and then there are the picky eaters.  I have talked with many parents who can relate to these issues.  

Image result for breakfast

As a result of my conversation with the publisher, I offered to write an article for readers of Parenting Special Needs. I am including a link to the article because I know the information in it will add value to the lives of Wellness Wednesdays readers and their families.  The fact is that we ALL need to start our day with healthy and delicious breakfasts and ALL kids are champions. ALL kids deserve access to healthy foods.  

Image result for breakfast

I hope you find at least one idea in this article you can use.  Please let me know what YOUR champion’s favorite breakfast is by dropping me a line at    To read my "Breakfast for Champions" article, including 4 great tips, in Parenting Special Needs magazine, click here (or go to and select the Sept/Oct 2016 issue) and then flip to pages 36-37. 

Be a good role model for your kids.  Eat a healthy breakfast and teach your kids about how to make great breakfasts!  With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can take care of your health first and take actions to protect the health of your family.

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Image result for pumpkin

"Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."  
                                                                                              --Jim Davis

Note to America's farmers:  Grow more squash.   One of fall’s favorite squashes is pumpkin, a nutrient dense food and indigenous to the Americas.  American Indians celebrated the power of pumpkins and other squash as one of the Three Sisters, along with the other two sisters, corn and beans.   Pumpkin is rich in potassium (higher than bananas), beta-carotene (which helps prevent cancer), dietary fiber, and vitamin A.  

Huber's Family Farm, Starlight, Indiana

Pumpkin is an incredible food source.  Pumpkin seeds, one of my favorite soup and salad toppings, are high in zinc and tryptophan, which our bodies convert to serotonin and can boost our moods. Lightly sauté seeds in a little olive or avocado oil over low heat, toss in a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt and smoked paprika.  Use as a topping for butternut squash, lentil, or split pea soup!   

Fall squash -- which one is YOUR favorite?

It's fall and we start thinking about our favorite pumpkin pie recipes.  This month you can perfect your mouth-watering family favorites in preparation for the Thanksgiving dinner in November. While most people stock up on canned pumpkin, there are lots of locally grown pie pumpkins available throughout the country.  My mother recently told me about all the work my grandmother, a farmer’s wife, used to go through to make fresh pumpkin pies.  This fall I plan to make several pies the old-fashioned way, just like my grandmother did.  In my experience, taking the extra steps to cook something from scratch ALWAYS makes food taste better.  When buying canned pumpkin, look for brands that contain only pumpkin. Pick up a couple of extra cans this month while it is on sale to use in December and January.

Pumpkin shopping at Huber's Family Farms in Starlight, Indiana

Look for small pumpkins at your local farmers market and buy several.*  Cut in half, scoop out the seeds (save to make roasted pumpkin seeds later) and roast in the oven.  Add a little orange juice to sweeten them naturally.   The nutritional benefits of pumpkin for your skin, eyes, immune and digestive systems are so good! 
In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*To find a farmers market near you, go to or click here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: October is National Bullying Prevention Month

"He took a few cups of love.  He took one tablespoon of patience, one teaspoon of generosity, one pint of kindness.  He took one quart of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then he mixed willingness with happiness.  He added lots of faith, and he stirred it up well.  Then he spread it over a span of a lifetime, and he served to each and every person he met."  
                    --Muhammad Ali's words to a British journalist in 1972 for how he wanted to be remembered which became known as his recipe for life.  Muhammad Ali was born January 17, 1942 and died June 3, 2016.

  You should lift people up.

In working with families and children in the Growing Healthy Kids movement, one of the hardest things is meeting children who have been bullied.   

One of the long-term psychological consequences of being an overweight child is caused by the bullying inflicted by other kids.  You have probably heard the expression, “Kids can be cruel.”   Sticks and stones can break our bones.  Harmful or mean words, however, can damage our soul. 

Bullying is never OK.  Some of the families I work with to get to healthier weights have children who become withdrawn, skip school, and suffer from depression and/or low self-esteem as a result of what other kids have said  or done to them,  often because no adults did anything to protect them from the bully.  Picking a kid last for an activity because they are overweight.  Calling someone “fattie”.   Leaving one person off the birthday invitation list when everyone else in the class is invited.  Ostracizing someone.  These are some of the ways our children are being bullied because they are overweight.  

Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.  Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  Be a positive role model for your kids and all the kids in your neighborhood.  Be kind to everyone.  Watch the words you use so they will not hurt others.  If you see someone who is bullying a child, stop it on the spot. 

To learn more about how you can stop bullying, please click here or go to

To learn more about National Bullying Prevention Month and resources for your family, your school, and your community, please click here or go to

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