Hi all! I am excited to serve as your Health Connector for Your Rowan! I serve as the Executive Director of a community coalition called Healthy Rowan which brings together leadership from health care agencies including Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, Rowan County Health Department, Community Care Clinic of Rowan County, Cabarrus-Rowan Community Health Centers, and W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center, along with social service, non-profit agencies, and many community partners. We are all focused on addressing chronic disease and obesity throughout the community by supporting healthy nutrition and getting folks more active each and every day!

So as your Health Connector I thought I’d start with the least controversial topic – Nutrition! March is National Nutrition Month and it’s a perfect time to reflect back on those New Year’s resolutions we all have to eat a little healthier. We all know what we should eat, we all eat exactly that with no temptations, and there’s never any confusion about what kind of diet is the best, right? So wrong! Fast food and faster lifestyles make is hard to eat healthy each and every day, but we have some great professionals working to make Rowan County a healthier place to live.

Throughout the health care community, many doctors agree that diet is the biggest influencer on health. Food has become so complicated that we’ve forgotten the most important thing – eat more one ingredient foods or “whole” foods! Whole foods are those things you can recognize in their whole forms – like what you can purchase from local farmers at our very own Salisbury-Rowan Farmer’s Market or in the perimeter of the grocery store. According to the USDA and MyPlate, we should all strive to have half our plate be fruits and non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, or zucchini, one quarter whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, or whole wheat bread, and one quarter lean protein like chicken or fish.

Did you know that 34% of Rowan County residents are in the obese category for weight, which means they are more likely to have or develop poor health conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and hypertension? We all want to be able to stay healthy to live long and fulfilling lives – not just have a positive health indicator. Focusing on nutrition is one way to shed some pounds and prevent poor health conditions.

So what’s going on in the community to help improve nutrition?

For Youth:

One hidden gem we have in our community is Salisbury Pediatric Associates, Inc. They see the largest number of youth in Rowan County. Did you know they have run a Nutrition Clinic for more than 15 years to help youth in our community? They have a Registered Dietitian, Nicole Magryta, who comes in during Nutrition Clinic Day to work with Dr. Jennifer Hudson, a pediatric health champion. Dr. Hudson shares, “Creating a healthy lifestyle for your child now will allow your child to grow into a healthy adult and avoid debilitating disease both in the near and distant future.”

They see about 20-25 patients on Nutrition Clinic Day once a month where they address obesity by addressing lifestyle including diet, exercise/activity, sleep, sugary beverages, electronics use, and eating out/fast food. They focus on making healthy lifestyle changes that will ultimately work toward a healthier weight and a healthier future. They also screen children for diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and fatty liver disease. Unfortunately, these conditions are all common in children now due to obesity and poor food choices. They also take a holistic approach to health and look at the social concerns that may affect children like financial hardships, limited transportation, or bullying. They set goals for different lifestyle changes like drinking water instead of soda or juice, earlier bedtime, exercise goals, cutting out fast food. No one eats perfectly every day, so the focus is on small changes that add up to big improvements for health.

Salisbury Pediatrics is also a partner in a great community program called Adventure Rowan which provides bi-weekly nutrition and physical activity with a small group of patients. The J.F. Hurley YMCA and Salisbury Parks and Recreation both provide space and fun activities for patients!

Children at Adventure Rowan

Adventure Rowan


For Adults:

Novant Health Rowan has a new practice to help address nutrition and weight concerns as well, the Novant Health Bariatrics Solutions Clinic off of Jake Alexander Blvd, Salisbury. Whether you are interested in weight loss surgery or would like some advice with how to eat healthy, they are always accepting new patients. They also accept a variety of health insurance providers including Medicare, Medicaid, and even have a discount for those patients who are self-pay. The Bariatrics Solutions Clinic is more than just bariatric surgery and medically-assisted weight loss, they also offer group sessions with nutrition classes and cooking demonstrations at their state-of-the-art teaching kitchen and an on-site exercise facility. A standard visit provides information from a Dietitian to address what you are currently eating and how to make small lifestyle changes towards a healthier diet.

Rowan County is working towards creating a culture of health by encouraging employees to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors. Have you heard the exciting news? Rowan County has been honored as the 2019 Healthiest Employer of Greater Charlotte by the Charlotte Business Journal!

This is only a “taste” of the focus on nutrition that Rowan County has to offer. This month follow me on social media to check out healthy food options throughout the community, community programs that are shifting the focus to serving healthier options, and even a quick cooking demonstration!

Want to learn more?

We’ve also written an article about mental health awareness. In Rowan County, we have a renewed and energized focus on Whole Health, which is an approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of mental, physical, and emotional health for all.

Nicole Magryta will be sharing information about how to grow strong, smart, and successful kids at the Center for the Environment on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. Click here for more details.

Want fresh foods? The Salisbury-Rowan Farmers’ Market opens April 13th!

Want to learn more about healthy diets and how to cook? Rowan County Cooperative Extension offers low cost nutrition classes and the Cabarrus Health Alliance in Kannapolis offers healthy cooking classes.

Are you a data person like me? Check out:

Want to get in touch with the Health community to talk about nutrition?