Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Meryl A. Fury, MS, RN
Nurse uses her passion for whole foods to educate children and improve their nutrition.
Nurses stand as pillars of well-being for their patients, often at the expense of their own health. But what happens when nurses like you put their health center stage, and then use their new knowledge to help others?
Meryl A. Fury, MS, RN, discovered the answer when she took her personal wellness beliefs and shared them with the world through her work.
Meryl's Plant-Based Journey Sprouts Early
Growing up, Meryl experienced milk allergies and frequent upper respiratory infections. At the age of 15, she decided to change her diet by cutting out most animal products, including dairy. The effects were obvious — her skin cleared up and her upper respiratory infections stopped coming back.
Intrigued by the positive changes in her health after adjusting her diet, Meryl started researching elements of natural health, including medicinal herbs. She realized that food has a lot to do with how we feel both inside and out.
Driven by an interest in health and a desire to help other people, Meryl went into the field of nursing. Her career path led her to public health, where she witnessed countless people diagnosed with chronic illnesses that could have been prevented with proper nutrition.
“The typical way we think about nutrition in America doesn’t generally contribute to someone’s health,” says Meryl. “Very often, our diets actually cause health problems.”
She realized deep in her heart that something must change, and she wanted to be a part of it.
Planting and Nourishing Seeds of Change
Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, when the opportunity to take the helm at Plant-Based Nutrition Movement (PBNM) popped up, Meryl jumped at the chance. As the current CEO/President of the organization, Meryl shares her passion of whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diets with adults and children across the country. She developed a program called 6 Million SEEDS (Students Educated in Environment, Diet, and Sustainability), which provides plant-based foods and evidence-based nutrition information to students, instructors, classroom parents, and school dietary professionals.
One of the biggest hurdles that American children face is a lack of access to nutritious food that promotes their growth and development. There are entire groups of people who have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables — and they’re surviving on foods with no nutritional value.
"Processed foods don’t have what children need to grow, flourish, and heal if they get sick,” says Meryl. “Imagine if we had more kids who were well-educated and well-nourished, we could change the trajectory of life on Earth.”
Teaching kids to eat more nutritious, protective foods and less refined junk food has long-term and short-term benefits. In the short term, it helps kids stay healthy by supporting their immune systems and enabling them to focus better on school. Long term, a good diet will help youngsters develop into healthy people who advocate for a healthier world.
Through her work at PBNM, Meryl also hosts a podcast called “Growing a Healthy Child.” The podcast focuses on all aspects of healthy living, including:
- Eating nutritious food
- Daily movement
- Taking care of mental health
"Children who are well-nourished with delicious, health-promoting, nutrient-rich foods will grow into adults better fortified to face their challenges," says Meryl. "Children are our greatest natural resource and deserve to be treated as such."
Using a Passion for Good
While Meryl’s journey began in the field of nursing, it has transformed into something she never imagined. Each day, Meryl brings passion to her role and uses it to help others and make a difference in the world. And, according to Meryl, that’s something all nurses should strive for in their own unique way.
“If nursing becomes more draining than invigorating, find a different way to leverage your desire to care for other people," says Meryl. "It may not be in the traditional role of bedside nursing, community health nursing, or even nursing education. You can still make a world of difference with other people. I encourage nurses to speak publicly whenever they can on the importance of child nutrition. People listen to nurses. We can use that influence to make a difference."
Meryl is proof of that difference. Since she was a teenager, she has gravitated toward the connection between food and health. And more than 45 years later, Meryl gets to use that passion for the good of others.
What would this world look like if we all used our health and wellness passions in the same way?
Meryl A. Fury, MS, RN, is the CEO/President of the Plant-Based Nutrition Movement (PBNM).
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