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Growth and Nutrition: Kids, Eat Your Spinach and Be Strong to the Finish

I have wonderful memories of watching Popeye from my spot, crisscross applesauce on my grandmother’s living room floor. When Popeye wanted strength, he opened a can of spinach and tossed the leafy greens into his mouth. His muscles grew and he saved the day!

In my tender inexperience, however, Popeye was just a cartoon. I didn’t understand the connection between growth and nutrition. When the segment ended, I went into the kitchen and snuck my hand into the cookie jar for Grandma’s molasses cookies. I didn’t get the message: eat vegetables and grow strong. I was more focused on the laughter and then the cookie after. What I didn’t know—what I wish had clicked for me then—was that Popeye was right. How I grew depended on what I ate, and although Grandma’s cookies were a special treat, they were actually working against me.



What we did not know can hurt us…

That was 1984, and we didn’t really know then how much we know now.  Now we know why finishing our fish helps our grades: the omega-3 fatty acids in that fish go right to the development of the brain. We now know that veggies like broccoli, kale, and spinach protect the body from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. It’s all connected, every brain cell and organ to each bone and muscle, and it all thrives on healthy eating habits.

When your body and brain are still growing, your diet affects that development. Poor nutrition can be a result of eating very little, or bad eating habits like overeating and a diet high in fat and sugar. Fast food, pop, cake, candy, and processed meals interfere with both physical and mental growth. The key is to understand the difference between nutrition and indulgence, and how to implement it into your everyday life.

It’s never too late to start!

Help out at dinner : Healthy foods can taste good! Discover what healthy foods you like by learning how to use them to create a meal.

Understand how the foods you’re putting into your body work: Protein like fish, beef, chicken, eggs, nuts, and beans help your body develop and maintain muscles. Protect yourself by getting those leafy greens in! If you don’t like how they taste, add them to a yummy after-school shake with protein powder and your favorite fruit!

Want to learn more? Forum Health Clarkston is always happy to help. With programs like Fuel for Performance, we are always waiting to teach skills that help your body grow the right way and last a lifetime!


Adrian Schirr

Forum Health Clarkston

7300 Dixie Hwy, Suite 500, Clarkston, MI 48346