Wednesday, November 25, 2015


"I tried every kind of dieting.  They said decrease your calories; increase your exercise; you're lazy; you're stressed out.  And then I met Dr. Lustig.  He said it was none of those things.  It was all the sugar and it was a lack of fiber.  I changed my food to the things he told me to do.  I've lost 100 pounds; I've restored my vitality, my health, and I'm happy."                            --Cindy Gershen

The evidence is mounting.  All calories are NOT equal.  A recent 2015 study* by Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist with University of California-San Francisco, looked at the impact of sugar on the metabolism on 43 obese children ages 8-18.  The study replaced calories from added sugars with starchy foods.  The study was NOT designed to reduce calories; in fact, children’s weight was monitored to ensure they did NOT lose weight during the study.  During the study, the children’s sugar intake dropped from 28% to 10%. 

Results were dramatic.  After only 9 days, all 43 of the children’s blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar improved.  What’s the take home message here?  We are eating too much sugar and it is negatively impacting the health – and lives – of America’s children.  

As parents, you and I have a responsibility to ensure that all children have access to healthy foods.  Let’s do WHATEVER IT TAKES to ensure that our children have access to food that is healthy, not food that makes them sick and unhealthy.  The fact is that if a child is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (normally a disease of older adults) that their lifespan will be reduced by 17 years. 

Here are 3 healthy eating tips for you and your children:
  1. Read food labels and look for any ingredient that ends in “-ose”, which is a sugar.  Buy a similar product with less sugar.
  2. Drink water, not soda or juice.  Many parents have been tricked to think that fruit juice is healthy for their kids.  Fruit juice is all sugar and no fiber.  Instead, choose some fresh fruit.  
  3. Avoid ALL foods which contain HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.  This is the most highly processed form of sugar in our food supply and is highly addictive and destructive to our health. 

As we gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving this week, I want to acknowledge and honor the amazing volunteers who have made the Growing Healthy Kids' educational programs for children and parents a success.  It is because of you that we are improving the health and lives of America’s children.  Be kind.  Laugh every day.  Love life.  Eat vegetables.  Thank you. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*The study was published online on October 27, 2015 in the journal Obesity.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Kale, Kids, and Alzheimer's

“Follow the Mediterranean or the MIND diets and your mind will be sharper in six months – and less susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease decades later.”         

                                                                                  --Majid Fotuhi, M.D., medical director of NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center and affiliate staff at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland

Tuscan (or flat-leaf) kale

Every time I read an article about brain health and Alzheimer’s, I think about the emerging knowledge that Alzheimer’s is a disease which begins 30 or 40 years before the first symptoms appear.  An article in the October 2015 issue of AARP's Bulletin, “Eat Your Way to Brain Health,” is about the MIND* diet which emphasizes fish, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans, and a daily glass of wine.  Eating foods that contain the good, healthy fat (unsaturated fat) like olive oil, nuts, and fish (but not farm-raised fish) enhance memory and information processing. 

As parents, we should take note of all this emerging knowledge.  Scientists are documenting the foods that can keep our brains active as they attempt to urgently learn how to blunt the life-robbing effects of Alzheimer’s as the numbers of Americans affected continue to increase each year.  It is clear that Alzheimer’s does not develop in one month or one year.  It develops over several decades of eating foods that clog up the brain instead of eating brain-boosting foods that maintain healthy blood flow and prevent inflammation.  Choosing more of the good foods and deciding to eat less of the bad foods is what the Growing Healthy Kids workshops teach children and their parents.  This is why teaching kids to be Nutrition Scientists is so much fun!  

Here are some foods that are very good for your brain (now and in 30 years): 
  • Olive oil
  • Blueberries
  • Turmeric (curcumin, its active ingredient, is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory substances in the world and a key ingredient in curry)
  • Nuts, especially walnuts
  • Beets, tomatoes, and avocados
  • Leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, collards
  • Dark chocolate (I eat a little piece every day!)

Please pass the kale!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: November is National Diabetes Month

"In neighborhoods without a usable park or playground, the incidence of childhood obesity increases by 29%." 

                                                                  -- Darell Hammond

Infographic image about Diiabetes

November is National Diabetes Month. 

In the US, more than 29 million Americans – or 9.3% of the US population - have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.  One in four Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it.

It is estimated that about 86 million Americans – more than 1 in 3 Americans - had prediabetes in 2012, of which only about 11% with prediabetes were aware of their diagnosis. 

Chances are you or someone you know has diabetes or prediabetes.  With obesity as a leading risk factor for developing diabetes, raising health literacy about the importance of getting to and staying at a healthy weight is key to the work and mission of Growing Healthy Kids.   

Here are six of my favorite tips to lower your family’s chances of developing diabetes or prediabetes:
  1. Eat fabulous fiber.  Make most of all the grains you eat WHOLE grains.
  2. Eat vegetables every day.
  3. Drink water, not soda or fruit juice.
  4. Walk briskly and frequently.
  5. Take time to smell the roses.
  6. Laugh often.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

PS - Here's how you can help Growing Healthy Kids to improve the health literacy of Americans. Make the commitment right now to get on the path of healthy eating and cooking.  Get 2 copies of Nourish and Flourish:  Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes - one for your family and one to give to your public library.  See the link in the top right corner of