Healthy Children - June 2017

ExceleRate Illinois in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing information on healthy choices. The Healthy Children, Healthy Families Project will communicate to parents, child care practitioners, and others who visit the website, the seriousness of obesity in young children and to link them to current research on the issue.

Helpful suggestions for meal planning, recipes and healthy physical activities are presented on this site for children and the health of the entire family.

New ideas are listed every month. Each month a new column on this issue of national concern is posted. It answers questions you have regarding children and healthy lifestyles -- be sure to check it out.

For more information contact the Illinois Department of Human Services at (217) 785-9336 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also contact your local Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

The consumer health information on childhood obesity provided by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies on the site or by any links to other sites is for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product or course of action. This web site generally links to other sites that are informational in nature and does not link to commercial sites that are primarily intended for the sale of products or services. Use of this site or any links to other sites does not replace medical consultations with a qualified health or medical professional to meet the health and medical needs of you or a loved one. You should promptly seek professional care if you have any concern about the health of you or a loved one and you should always consult your physician before you or a loved one starts a fitness regimen. 

Take a Healthy Summer Back:

Discover Easy Ways to Help Kids Stay Happy and Healthy This Summer
Did you know…? Kids sometimes gain weight two times faster in the summer than during the school year?  Only 1 in 4 kids ages 5-15 gets the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Encourage your child to reach a goal of 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Try dancing, biking, walking, jumping, rope and active games like tag.

A 12 oz. sugar-sweetened drink can have 31 grams of sugar – that’s 8 teaspoons! Give thirsty kids a healthier choice. Plain water has no added sugar!

Kids spend an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen. Limit TV, computers, tablets and video games to no more than 1-2 hours a day as another step towards good health.

As many as 27% of kids daily calories come from snacks, mostly from desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages. Want kids to reach for healthier snacks? Offer fruits and vegetables at snack time!

Find a summer meal site near you! Your child can enjoy a healthy meal with friends at a summer meal site.* All kids age 18 and under eat free. Some sites also offer games, crafts, and activities. Visit or call 1-866-348-6479 to find a summer meal site near you!

*In areas where at least 50% of children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, based on local school or senses data.

Make Nutrition Fun

Learn more about nutrition as a family by incorporating facts and information until fun games and activities! Add some of these fun ideas to your family’s nutrition learning list!

Dance Party – Get moving and have fun with tunes that teach kids about the 5 food groups in an upbeat way. For a fun twist have kids make up a signature dance move for each food group and do it each time that food group is mentioned.

MyPlate Printable Activities and Coloring Sheets – Print these activity sheets for kids to learn more about healthy eating.
Blast Off Game - In this online game, kids must fuel up their MyPlate spaceship with smart food choices and physical activity to fly to Planet Power.

Kid’s Restaurant – Let the kids be the chef. Kids get to plan out the meal, design a menu for you and prepare the dish. Use this printable template to get them started.

MyPlate Challenges – The SuperTracker interactive tool is a great way for kids to find out what and how much to eat and track their foods. You can also use SuperTracker to create an interactive MyPlate challenge for your family. Encourage healthy eating and physical activity through friendly competition.

MyPlate Checklist Calculator – Enter your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level to get a personalized daily food plan showing what and how much to eat within your calorie allowance.

Grow a Garden – Get tweens and teens involved in family meals with gardening. You can start small, with a window her box in your kitchen or a garden in your yard.
Learn Where Your Food Comes from – Helping kids learn about the source of their food and the people who produce it may motivate them to make healthy choices. Attend a local farmer’s market or farm stand as a family and gather ingredients for a meal to cook together. Find a market near you!

Tip Sheets for Teens – Young people experience many changes during their tween and teen years. Building healthy food and physical activity habits will help them now and as they enter adulthood. These tips can help them take charge and learn to make their own choices.

Summer Food, Summer Moves Activity Guides for Families – These guides provide tons of great ideas to help families be active and maintain healthy eating patterns while school is out.

Making Family Mealtimes Fun

Sitting down together for a meal whenever you can is a great way to connect with your family. Keeping it relaxed is key to making sure you are getting the most out of this time together, including talking, laughing and choosing healthy foods. Here are some tips from families for making meals more relaxed in your home:

  • Remove distractions. Turn off the television and put away phones and tablets, so that your attention is on each other.
  • Talk to each other. Focus conversation on what family members di during the day, for example, what made you laugh or what you did for fun. Other conversation starters include:
    • Give each family member the spotlight to share their highlight, lowlight, and “funnylight” from the day or week.
    • If our family lived in a zoo what animals, would we be and why?
    • If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
    • If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have on food to eat, what would it be and why?
  • Pass on traditions. Tell children about the “good old days” such as foods grandma made that you loved to eat.
  • Let kids make choices. Set a healthy table and let everyone, including the kids, make choices about what they want to eat!

Grocery Store Bingo

With a variety of sights and smells, grocery shopping can be an exciting activity for kids. It can also be a little stressful for adults trying to buy groceries while keeping children entertained. MyPlate Grocery Store Bingo is a fun and educational activity that will focus the attention of your little ones while also allowing you to get your shopping done. That’s what we like to call a “MyPlate, MyWin!”

Instructions: Print off the bingo cards for kids accompanying you on a grocery shopping trip. Give them a pen or pencil and let them circle foods they see in the store while you shop. Explain that we need foods from all five groups. Explain that fresh, frozen and canned varieties all count.

While most appropriate for elementary school-aged children, this activity can be modified for other ages. For older children, consider giving them their own shopping list so they can help you shop. For younger children, ask them to find foods of various colors and shapes.