Haiku for Healthy Children and Teens: Healthy Eating to Prevent Obesity. A Resource for Mentors, Teachers and Parents

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So what do you know about Haiku anyway?  Okay let me remind you: Ancient Japanese form of poetry that uses 17 syllables (or beats) usually configured as 5~7~5 on three lines that makes a big or significant statement with few words. Ah, 3rd grade Language Arts class maybe?  I always thought it was fun and have been creating Haiku and other poetry since being introduced to it in the 3rd grade.  Yes, I know that not everyone learned about Haiku in school, but I wish they had! Haiku for Healthy Children and Teens is the 3rd in a series of books devoted to sharing important health issues with youth and people that care about the physical and emotional development of young people – with the assistance of Haiku and other creative literary forms. For me, the series is the perfect marriage of public health – the world in which I have worked for over 25 years and poetry- my first literary love!

The spotlight on Obesity in children has been shining brightly by our First Lady – Michelle Obama through the National Let’s Move Campaign. Eating healthy is a very important part of that platform that has reached most communities in the U.S. According to the First Lady:

“In the end, as First Lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me. This is a passion.

This is  my mission I am determined to work with folks across this country to

change the way a generation of  kids think about food and nutrition.”

We are very much on the same page.  As a Harvard and Columbia University trained Health Scientist and Educator with 22 years of experience at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I have seen entire communities at disproportionate risk for obesity and health complications related to obesity (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and more). The old saying ~ we are what we eat~ is so simple, yet so overlooked. It also becomes environmentally complicated with “food deserts”  the absence of major grocery store chains in low-income communities, as well as health food stores and other providers that offer a rich variety of high quality natural and organic foods and supplements.

As we teach children the importance of healthy eating as well as the meaning of healthy eating – with real examples – and empower the parents to prepare healthier meals, we can in fact prepare to change the obesity profile of many families and communities.  The closer to natural – organic fruits, vegetables and some grains – the healthier the children will be.  Here is an example of a haiku that I wrote relating to fruit and a child’s wonder! Notice that the first line contains 5 syllables, the second line contains 7 syllables and the third line contains 5 syllables.

“Age 4 discovered

Mango’s sweet succulent taste

while in Jamaica!”

I remember little else as vividly about that first trip to the birthplace of my mother and 3 of my grandparent’s  than the taste of a mango and the lime tree which fell victim to my shaking and eating its  fruit until my body broke out in a cleansing frenzy.  Yes, I distinctly remember having little bumps all over me for a couple of hours. Instinctively, my body knew exactly what I needed.  In retrospect I recognize the itching and bumps as being a cleansing reaction – a natural body response to maintain health, protect and balance itself. When I conduct Healthy Haiku workshops with small children and I ask them to name foods that are good from them.  They invariably call out the names of fruits and vegetables. Do you think their little hearts do not know what is good for them instinctively?

“What would life be if

There were no Apples to eat?

My all-time best Treat!”

I am so delighted to continue this important series with this book that will come with training and webinars for mentors, teachers and parents in order to guide them on the use of this and the previous books in the series.  In researching for this manuscript, I discovered and became absorbed into the Haiku works of literary giants such as Richard Wright, author of Native Son, Black Boy and many other rich historical classics.

“As the sun goes down

A green melon splits open

And juice trickles out.”

                                           Richard Wright

Healthy Haiku merges the poetic arts with language literacy and competency. My goal is to contribute to the body of English Language Arts  (ELA) Common Core State Standards with a fun, creative and unique approach that can be used by teachers and families across the country.  This volume will be released initially as an Ebook for easy access at low cost in order for it be affordable for all. Stay tuned for the release in early October.  Please Like our Facebook page for updates: HealthyHaiku and visit our Web site.

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Puppy Litter Reminds Me of the Keys to Natural Health and Wellness

Have you ever watched a dog deliver puppies? What an amazing experience! One of our soon-to-be 3 year old dogs had 7 beautiful puppies last night. Assisting and providing for her through the process was truly a privilege and a gift that I have never experienced in all of my years of raising dogs. I do mean privilege because I remember going through all-natural child birth 27 years ago as though it happened yesterday, Even though members of my family gathered around me, I kept feeling as though I wanted to be left alone and away from any on-lookers.

We have always received our dogs long after they have been weaned from their mothers. In preparation, she vomited prior to the delivery, but that signaled to me that she was almost ready deliver the puppies. She had labor contractions just like a woman and of course I recognized them right away. Her sides expanded and her body shook! She looked a little scarred and I could tell that she was in significant pain. However watching her dive in head first into pure instinct mode was simply amazing! After searching for a few minutes for a birthing location, she quickly decided upon the big dog house on the deck which provided sheltered space – a place where she could protect her puppies and deliver in semi-privacy. She delivered 7 healthy, beautiful puppies in the space of about 2 hours. Instinctively she released each from the birth sac and licked them clean for sanitation and to make sure that they were breathing and strong. After being cleaned, they latched on to her nipples immediately (or as soon as they could find their way to the spot). So yes, I was all engaged in wonder and amazement! What a beautiful natural process.

How close are you to being fit, healthy, and at your optimal weight? What if you are at the age of and ready to reproduce? Can you handle it? What would you need to do to prepare? I am not speaking of the obvious – suitable mate, husband, father, donor – no judgement – that part is on you. But what about your physical body? Have you been eating healthy, natural, organic foods rich with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that your body needs? Or have you been eating whatever your palate is yearning for at any given moment? Are you drinking a high quality of alkaline water to make sure that you are properly hydrated? We make life choices on a daily basis. Some support our highest good in terms of health and wellness and many do not.

In ancient cultures the term natural childbirth would have been considered an oxymoron! How else does one have a baby but through the natural process? Duh?? We are gradually getting back to a simple definition of natural health and wellness. One that includes a healthy diet, limited processed foods, limited dairy, limited wheat, limited meats, limited sugars. In fact the increased presence of these foods in our diets over the past 100 years, not to mention larger portion sizes, is directly correlated to present day trends of obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney failure. A good rule of thumb with eating prepared food is to ask if it looked like that when it was growing? The further it looks from how it grew, the greater the chances are that it will not serve you well and may actually harm you.

During the labor, delivery and now nursing stage for the puppies, our dog ate very little and when she did take in nutrients she opted for water, our smoothie recipe loaded with nutrients and minerals and meat (no processed dog cereal).

In our community outside of Atlanta, Georgia, our neighbors are  95% African American. It is a predominantly middle-class area however the unsettling sound of blaring sirens – usually about 15-20 daily (I track them because our dogs howl at the sirens) continues to increase. As a Health Scientist who worked for many years to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I know that the leading cause of death of all Americans (including African Americans)  is hypertension, high blood pressure, and heart disease. We are talking about thick sluggish blood and clogged arteries. How did we get so sick? How did we get so far away from nature in how we eat and live?

We could take notes from the animals – who, no mater how domesticated we attempt to make them – they are guided by instinct. Instinctively We also know what to eat, how much exercise to get, how much water to drink.

The message here is simple, tap into your inner wisdom in terms of what is healthy for you. Tap in to discover the diet and lifestyle that will deliver you to optimal health and wellness and change your quality of life. Read and search for the information on line too. There is very little that is new under the sun! Get quiet and just think about it. Every time you take in something that is harmful to your health and well-being an internal alarm goes off. My challenge to you is to start taking notice – acknowledge the alarms – and make little adjustments by what you hear! It is not magic, but rather instinct and science all wrapped up in one.

Please come back and read some more.  I will be sharing free tips on how to achieve optimal health and wellness through diet, juicing, alkalizing, and so much more.  Also tune in on Wednesdays 10-11:00pm EST to the Stepping Into My Power Blog Talk Radio Show. Are you Stepping Into Your Power by being the healthiest you that you can be? Let’s continue the discussion.

Visit my web site to learn more about my health and wellness offerings and programs. Invite me to speak at your next event!

 

Love & Light!

Dr. Imani Ma’at

 

New Ebook Fuses Haiku and Public Health to Address Childhood Obesity!

Our third book in the Healthy Haiku Series entitled:

Haiku for Healthy Children & Teens (Vol. 1): Healthy Eating to Prevent Obesity. A Resource for Mentors, Teachers and Parents

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is dedicated to children and teens. Childhood obesity has been the subject of a major health campaign (Let’s Move!)  by First Lady Michelle Obama. It has been a powerful and effective campaign in so many ways – for so many communities.  However, even though it has gained a lot of visibility and support as a public health issue, obesity among children and teens is approaching epidemic proportions.

Once again blending art and public health, this book is packed with scientifically sound information, poems and activities that can be used by families, teachers and mentors.

Haiku for Healthy Children and Teens provides information and strategies for Mentors, teachers, parents and others concerned about the health of young people; and  offers the spark to turn on the “health light”  or power source prompt” in youth who are brilliant by design – from birth. The Haiku and other poetry are meant to serve as platforms for discussion, dialogue and creativity leading ultimately to informed choices that reduce risks associated with unhealthy and uninformed dietary choices.

If there are young people in your life that are important to you, you definitely want to share this book/workbook with them!  Included are lots of activities and places to create your own poetry about food choices and nutrition!

Coming Soon! Expected Release Date: March 1st! Please take our poll and let us know if you would like updates on this book, related programs and services as well as other books in the Healthy Haiku series! Thank you for your continued interest and support!

Dr. Imani Ma’at

“Reinventing Wellness”

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