Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Navajo Nation, The Power to Heal Diabetes, and Growing Healthy Kids

"To provide diabetes prevention/intervention by promoting healthy lifestyle changes to reduce and prevent diabetes" 
       -- Mission Statement, Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project

Here are six questions to think about:

  1. Do you live in a food desert?  
  2. Do you eat differently (translate:  worse) than your grandparents?  
  3. Are you overweight?  
  4. Do you (or a family member) have type 2 diabetes?  
  5. Do you have limited access to fresh vegetables and fruits?  
  6. Are you concerned about a child or youth in your family who is at an unhealthy weight? 

Many of the kids and families I get the opportunity to work with answer “yes” to most or all of these questions.   Now, we have the chance to touch the lives - and health - of many more children. 

In recognition of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month this month, Growing Healthy Kids is honored to announce that we have been invited  to work with children and parents in the Navaho Nation.  Diabetes among Native American youth is an often-ignored epidemic of national significance, fueled by issues of limited access to healthy foods and increased access to foods high in sugar and processed foods.  

We know that diabetes can be controlled, reversed and prevented by embracing healthier ways of eating, most of which are defined by issues of access, and by being active.  However, if you live on a reservation where a food store selling fresh vegetables is a 200 mile drive, access to healthy foods is a barrier to improved glycemic control. 


We are so looking forward about being able to empower, inspire, and educate children and families and look forward to each project in this new partnership.  We will set benchmarks for how we will define success.  We will share our story and our journey with you and invite you to come along the journey with us. 

America’s children deserve access to healthy foods.  ALL of our children.  If they live in a food desert, we have to create "food heavens".  We can teach our children that the way our grandparents ate and lived did not lead to obesity and diabetes.  We can all learn the benefits of being at a healthy weight.  We can - and must - grow foods using new growing methods like hydoponic and aeroponic to give families access to fresh, nutrient dense foods, wherever they live.  Whether children live in Vero Beach, Florida, inner city Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or on the Navajo reservation in Tuba City, Arizona, ALL of America's children deserve access to healthy foods.  

Oops!  Never heard of Tuba City?   We will be there soon, as part of our work to improve the health - and lives - of America's children, one child at a time.  To learn more about the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project, click here.

One of my favorite parts of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS is bringing you resources you can use – here is one we fell in love with while doing research for our new collaboration.  We know you will love it, too!  The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is working to eliminate diabetes among Native Americans where health has been lost because diet has changed. The PCRM has created a beautiful resource full of delicious recipes and tips.  If you would like a copy of The Power to Heal Diabetes: Power Plate Resources and Recipes, please click here.    

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

PS -- If your kids are age 13 and younger, read about our 4th Annual Poster Contest in the September 3rd issue of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS!  Deadline for having posters postmarked is October 16th!  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Poster Contest for Kids 2014

"Every child is an artist: The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."  
                                                                                           -- Pablo Picasso

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  This is why we have chosen this month to announce our national 4th Annual Poster Contest for Growing Healthy Kids.  This year's theme is “My Favorite Family Foods”.   Our goal is to encourage kids to express their visions about healthy foods.  Parents, please use this theme to talk with your children about family food traditions, preparing favorite recipes as a family, or favorite foods to grow at home. 

Guidelines for the 4th Annual Poster Contest for Growing Healthy Kids are below:
  • ·         The poster contest is open to all children in the U.S. who are 13 years old and younger on October 16, 2014. 
  • ·         Artwork must be no larger than 8-1/2” x 11”.  All media are accepted.  Chalk, charcoal and pastel entries should be sealed with a fixative spray to prevent smearing.  Combinations of media (crayons, colored pencils, chalk, pen, torn pieces of paper, pictures from magazines, markers, etc.) are acceptable.
  • ·         Only one entry per child. 
  • ·         On back of the poster please include:
o   Parent’s name, email, phone number, and address
o   Child’s name, age, and school name 

Deadline:  Posters must be received or postmarked by October 16, 2014. 

Mail posters to: Growing Healthy Kids, 762 S. US Hwy 1, #106, Vero Beach, FL. 32962. Winners will be notified by November 16, 2014. 

Each poster is judged on originality, artistic merit, and expression of the theme.  Participants agree to allow Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. to use their names and posters for educational, promotional, and publicity purposes.  Three posters will be selected by a panel of educators and artists and will be published on the Growing Healthy Kids website and in the next Growing Healthy Kids’ book about good food and health.  When posters are published, only the child’s first initial, last name, city and state will be included.  No other information will be published or shared.  Certificates of Recognition will be sent to the three children whose posters are selected, along with a signed copy of NOURISH AND FLOURISH:  Kid-Tested and Approved Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes.  All entries become property of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  
A mother and daughter at a Growing Healthy Kids program
held at Gifford Youth Activity Center in Vero Beach, Florida.

We have a generation of kids at risk for obesity-related diseases.  The board of directors and volunteers who are part of the Growing Healthy Kids movement feel strongly about unleashing the power of the youth voice to improve the health – and lives – of America’s children and their families to reverse, prevent and halt childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases.  We can learn from our children.  They can learn from us.  Kids are very observant about their world.  There are teachable moments all around us.  
Studies have shown that having dinner together as a family is one of the most important ways you can teach your children how to stay at a healthy weight.  Planning meals together, shopping together, cooking together, taking care of a kitchen herb garden, and enjoying food together as a family…these tasks are about so much more than food! So enjoy talking about this year’s theme and start creating some family food traditions of your own.  Most of all, have fun!
In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Depression, Diabetes, and Childhood Obesity

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

                                                                              --Robin Williams, 1951-2014

When I started the Growing Healthy Kids organization, I had an idea about preventing a new epidemic of disease, depression, and early deaths among children due to diabetes.  I saw the childhood obesity epidemic and the alarming increases of children at unhealthy weights.  With one in three children in the U.S., overweight and obese, I knew that many of these children will develop type 2 diabetes, also referred to as “adult-onset diabetes”.  Having seen what happens to adults who are ignorant about the effect of drinking sugar filled sweet teas or sodas every day on their nervous systems (resulting in amputations of toes and feet) or their heart (4 times higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke) or their sexual health (increased incidence of impotence), I also knew that diabetes is a preventable disease.  Having worked with thousands of older adults with diabetes and having experienced firsthand how life-changing improved health literacy can be, I decided to use my ideas and my words to address parents and children and the childhood obesity epidemic in my own community and through my words, the rest of the country. 

Symptoms of diabetes include:
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections than usual

Once someone develops diabetes, they can have problems that can affect:
  • Mood (diabetes doubles the risk of depression as a result of high, uncontrolled blood sugar)
  • Vision
  • Kidneys
  • Cardiovascular (increased risk of heart attack and stroke)
  • Nervous system (nerve damage causes peripheral neuropathy)
  • Feet
  • Digestion
  • Oral health
  • Sexual health
One of the biggest (and preventable) risk factors for developing diabetes is: 
  • obesity

We can improve the health and lives of America’s children.  September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  In conjunction with this observance, I will be making two major announcements next week and we are counting on you to help us get out the word! 

Together, we can tap into the voice, words, and ideas of America’s children. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

To learn more facts about diabetes from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here.