Wednesday, February 28, 2018


"Our taxes are being used to subsidize the production of foods that are killing us."  
                                --T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., from "Vegan 2017"

When I walk in a grocery store and look at prepared and processed foods, I am shocked by how expensive foods with cheap ingredients are.  In the checkout line, I always find myself mentally comparing what's in my cart, with organic brown rice, lentils, quinoa, plus fruit that is in season, to other shoppers with their meat, chicken, deli cheeses, and boxes of mac and cheese.  My weekly food bill is so much less than those who eat animal products and processed foods every day.  

Image result for grocery shopping "org"

Next time you go shopping, remember that the only thing that matters is the ingredients.  Can you pronounce them?  How many ingredients are there?  5 or 25?  Any food dyes such as Red 40, Blue 1 (food dyes contribute to attention deficit disorder)?  How many hidden ingredients end in "-ose" (i.e., sugars)?  If the product contains grains, does the ingredient list include the word "whole" as in whole grains?  Anything other than the ingredient list on a food package is pure marketing.  

Image result for grocery shopping "org"

If you and your family are interested in saving money on your food bill AND preventing diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure, then eat the whole food plant-based way!  Buy foods where you know what the ingredients are.  If you can't pronounce them and you don't know what they are, then it is probably a chemical or artificial ingredient and not good for you.  

It is no longer OK for us to blindly buy foods that will only make us sick.


With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: How Much is Your Food Bill?

"God, I can push the grass apart and put my finger on Thy heart."  
                                    --Edna St. Vincent Millay, American poet (1891-1950)

Radish microgreens from Zesty Fox Farms

Daikon radish and red potatoes (Aunt Zoraida's farm), honeybells (Schacht Groves)
and hydroponic tomatoes (Pure Produce Farm)
One of my favorite conversations with parents starts like this, “We can’t afford to eat healthy.” 

Recently, I had lunch with a health professional who said she and her husband had adopted a vegetarian way of eating before having their first child.  They have since resumed eating meat, chicken, and other foods from animals.  Now with two young children, they are saving to buy a home.  

In the process of looking at their budget, they have been amazed to learn how much more money they spend on food now that they are eating animal products compared to when they were vegetarians.  My friend’s comment was, “We had no idea it was so expensive to eat meat.  We are seriously thinking of going back to being vegetarians.”

There are so many health benefits to a plant-based way of eating, with its focus on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  Next time you go shopping, compare the price of a pound of lentils vs a pound of beef.  As my friend and her husband learned, it is expensive to eat meat.

Maybe we can't afford not to eat healthy...

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Are You Getting Enough Vitamin N?

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." 
                                    --John Muir, father of the National Parks

A beautiful blue sky and palm trees

Selfie with the author, her mother and sister-in-law, Inger, on a Florida beach walk

The author in Mendocino, California with Pacific Ocean in background

The author hiking in Orgeon on a very cold day

Great blue herons in the Viera Wetands
Photo credit:  Edward Perry IV
Have you been outside lately?  Jogged on the beach?  Walked in a forest?  Enjoyed the solitude of the mountains? Listened to birds sing?

There is an epidemic affecting children's health that you won’t read about in newspapers or see on TV.  Kids are glued to their mobile devices.  Earbuds block their interaction with the real world.  Making eye contact is difficult, if not impossible.  They prefer texting over talking.  They are not learning how to play. Adults have accepted that technology is a normal part of life while neglecting to set boundaries for techology.  While kids may develop excellent hand-eye coordination skills playing videogames or texting, they are not getting their Vitamin N.

That is, Vitamin N as in Nature.  

Many kids today are suffering from nature deficit disorder, a term coined in 2005 by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods.  The lack of quality time outside connecting with the sky, trees, mountains, rivers, and beaches is affecting their balance, their physical health, their mental health, their attitudes about relationships, and the very core of their lives. 

Growing up in the West where rugged mountains, scenic rivers, and the wild beaches of northern California defined my childhood, I have always found my own peace when I am outside in nature.  Kids need that connection.  Spending time in nature is beneficial to our mental health and helping us stay connected to ourselves and to others. 

Starting right now, plan activities that take you and your children outside in nature.  Get a good dose of Vitamin N every day.  In my opinion, the minimum recommended daily allowance is an hour a day.  

On typical week days, I get a strong dose of Vitamin N via early morning walks, looking at the trees and watching the clouds, then a booster dose at the end of the workday relaxing in the back yard, enjoying the sunset while cardinals come to the bird feeder.  

On weekends, my goal is to obtain copious amounts of Vitamin N because of the high value I receive from playing outside in nature. 

How will your kids get their Vitamin N?  Reversing and preventing nature deficit disorder is one of the keys to raising Growing Healthy Kids. 

Go outside and play!

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” 
                                                             --Albert Einstein

While looking through Vero Beach Press Journal's weekly inserts of good works by good people, I always notice the photos of people where all or almost all of the people have obesity.  Large groups of large people.  They never look happy to me.   

Last weekend I ran into a classmate of my kid from high school and the marching band.  This young woman was always obese in high school but she has gained much more weight since graduation.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults. 

A friend recently posted pictures on Facebook with some of her “before” weight loss clothes and commented that she still feels obese in her mind even though she clearly is at a healthy weight now.  I have heard the same comment from others who have lost weight after bariatric surgery.  Even though they are thin now, they still think of themselves as obese.  That mental stigma did not go away for my friend and other people I know who have had the same weight loss surgery.   

The psychological effects of childhood obesity are rarely discussed.  All parents know how cruel kids can be.  When a child is obese, they become subjects of bullying and name calling by other kids.  They become socially isolated.  They may have lifelong effects from being overweight or obese as kids.

Foods containing added sugars, sodas containing high fructose corn syrup, highly processed foods like Pop Tarts and Honey Buns, fast foods from McDonald's and Burger King loaded with saturated fats, salt, sugar, and white flour are what I call “the Evil Empire.”  Sugar has become a legal addiction and our kids are addicted.  Robert Lustig, MD, pediatric endocrinologist at University of California San Francisco, calls this "the hacking of the American mind" and he has written a book about it. Reliance by parents on processed foods filled with added sugar must end, for the sake of the present and future health - and lives - of children.    

Transitioning to a plant-based way of eating based on vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains is good for the health of people AND the planet.  Factory farming of animals for human consumption is a cruel and inhumane practice that is a leading cause of degradation of water and air quality. Cows are given antibiotics to keep them healthy and now people are becoming increasingly antibiotic-resistant.  Cows are given hormones to increase their milk production and people are developing cancers at increased rates.  

Improving the health – and lives – of America’s kids is our mission at Growing Healthy Kids.  Plant-based eating can be the difference for your kids!  

Together, with education and the commitment to do whatever we need to do to protect the health of children, you and I can be the difference so that obesity is NOT forever.  

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.