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Ava’s Story

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Ava Nebben is anything but your typical nine-year-old girl. Sure, she loves to play outside, has an impressive collection of American Girl dolls, will burst out in the latest “Teen Beach II” songs at the drop of a hat, and smiles ever so sweetly when she is being tormented by her younger brother. However, what you don’t see is that for the past few years, Ava had been struggling with her health.

“We didn’t know what was wrong, and we were being shuffled around from doctor to doctor with no answers and no direction on what to do.” The frustration still apparent in Erin Nebben who sat down to chat with me about transforming her daughter’s health through Creating Balanced Health’s BioEnergetic scanning and by working with Health Coach, Jaci Salley of Sprout Nourishment.

Ava had been experiencing some pretty serious digestive problems that left her with shooting pains she described as “like swords going through my tummy.”   Her elimination was extremely sporadic and she was also experiencing some significant joint pain and fatigue. “Ava would come up to me after playing basketball and would tell me that her joints hurt. I didn’t understand how a nine-year-old could have joint pain!”

Ava had been visiting a pediatric gastroenterologist and was put through an onslaught of tests from a colonoscopy, to an endoscopy, multiple x-rays, ultra sounds, and stool samples, all of which came back with no answers.

“We knew there was something wrong, but we just weren’t getting answers. I was desperate, and willing to try anything.”

Erin reached out to her high school friend Jaci Salley, Health Coach, Personal Trainer, and business owner of Sprout Nourishment, a local nutrition, fitness and wellness company. Jaci, who partnered with Balanced Health in 2014, recommended that Ava start with a BioEnergetic scan to get a snapshot of what is going on inside her body.

“I use Balanced Health’s scans to help get a deeper look at the physical health of my clients before I start working with them. Because we are all individuals with different needs, the information gives me a great starting point for nutrition, reducing inflammation and obtaining optimal wellness.”

Balanced Health is located in St. Paul, MN and was started by Samantha Stupak in 2010 after her own four-year battle with Lyme disease, and her personal success with BioEnergetic scanning.  “I can relate to Ava as I was shuffled around from doctor to doctor. This process gave me my life back, and I am determined to share it with others on a larger scale” says Samantha. “The scanning process is simple for our clients and completely non-invasive. We scan the DNA of saliva and hair or nail clippings, making it possible for us to scan clients all over the United States and even internationally with no need for us to lay one finger on the client.” The results of each scan are outlined in a detailed report that lists information such as organ stress, nutrient and hormone imbalances, resonating toxins, and food and environmental sensitivities. “Your DNA is a unique blueprint to your body, so we can use that information to figure out where to begin with each of our clients. We also scan the DNA against homeopathic, herbal, and supplemental remedies to make sure they synergistically balance so our clients get exactly what they need at exactly the right time.”

IMG_7854“After Ava’s initial scan, we found significant stress throughout her body”, recalls Samantha. “With our technology and being able to pinpoint the most significant areas of stress, we were able to begin to target the specific toxins and weaknesses found. It was also critical to identify her food sensitivities. We continue to work with Ava through subsequent scans and a specialized regimen to reduce the amount of stress by peeling back layer by layer and focusing on strengthening the most affected systems in the body, replenishing specific nutritional imbalances, and purging microbes and other toxins creating the stress in the body.”

With direction from the results of the scan, Ava and Erin began working with Samantha and Jaci to make the changes necessary to get her body back into balance. Erin dove right in with the recommended Balanced Health remedies, and by working with Jaci, learned everything she could on how to modify Ava’s nutrition to ensure she was eating the things that wouldn’t cause a reaction. “My husband and father were very skeptical at first, however, we noticed a pretty big difference after just a couple of weeks on the remedies, and now they are totally on board.”

“The scan told us that Ava tested sensitive to wheat, corn, soy, and dairy, and Jaci taught us that we needed to make sure we cooked or steamed her vegetables to make them easier to digest. At first, it was challenging to figure out what kinds of food she could and could not eat, I would text Jaci while at the grocery store to make sure what I was buying was safe. It didn’t take long for us to get the hang of it.”

Jaci has been working closely with Ava and Erin to help them succeed in these changes. “It’s been great to see Ava own her current situation and make the changes necessary to improve her health by being creative and using clean eating practices to make delicious meals. The entire family has learned so much throughout this journey that will last a lifetime, and I am so proud of them!”

From Monticello MN to Washington D.C.

Throughout this process, Ava became interested in cooking. “Ava loves pizza, so we needed to figure out a recipe that she could eat.” After a little trial and error, Ava and her mom created the now famous, “Secret Service Pizza Delight.”

Ava entered her pizza recipe in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge; a partnership between First Lady Michelle Obama, PBS, WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with additional support by Newman’s Own. This nationwide recipe challenge for kids promotes cooking and healthy eating with the grand prize of a trip to the White House on July 10th to attend a “Kids’ State Dinner” hosted by the First Lady.

IMG_2089“When we received the video from Erin of Ava opening the letter from Michelle Obama announcing that she won the challenge, I broke out in tears! I cry every time I watch the video!” Samantha said.

“We are so happy and proud of Ava for all that she has accomplished in a relatively short period of time. Our clients’ successes are why we do what we do. It makes us jump out of bed in the morning.”

On July 10th, Ava attended the Kids’ State Dinner at the White House where she and other children from across the country were honored for their healthy accomplishments and dined on recipes that were created by their peers.  She met the First Lady whose priority has been encouraging young people to adopt healthy eating habits.  During her speech, the First Lady spoke about the powerful influence these young people have on their peers.

“A lot of kids don’t understand that food is fuel in a very fundamental way, and sometimes they don’t listen to grown-ups, and they don’t listen to the First Lady. But many of them will listen to you because you’re living proof of that reality.”

Ava and her mom were also able to meet the President, when he stopped by their table for a chat.AvaObama

“We had such an amazing time, we didn’t want the day to end!”   

A free downloadable and printable e-cookbook of this year’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winning recipes is available on the contest site,

When I grow up…


It’s interesting how all of our life experiences (especially the challenging ones) create a path that will invariably shape our future.

“The American Doll Girl of the Year, Grace is a chef!”

Ava excitedly announced that she is looking forward to adding Grace to her collection of dolls, and wants to continue to pursue her love for cooking and healthy eating. When asked what advice she would give to kids who are going through something similar she said, “Eat healthy. Eat lots of vegetables, and if you keep trying, you’ll get used to it.” As for Erin, her advice to parents is “plan ahead, and take it one day at a time.”



About the Author:

Jenni Floring is a Certified Health & Nutrition Coach, Registered Yoga Teacher, and Balanced Health Business Development Manager. Her personal experience with Rheumatoid Arthritis lead her to specialize in autoimmune and chronic pain as she works with her clients to reduce inflammation and lead healthy, inspired lives. Jenni is a published author who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.