Healthy Children - January 2019

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. 


MyPlate, MyWins for Families

MyPlate, MyWins is all about finding a healthy eating style that works for your family and fits with your everyday life. The MyPlate icon is a reminder to make healthy choices from each of the five food groups, and there are small changes you can make that add up to big success over time. Here you’ll find fun, practical tips and tools that have worked for other families. Give some a try, and discover “wins” for your own family.

Not sure where to start? Here are resources your family can use for ideas:

  1. Videos Featuring Real Families
    1. Hear from real families who are making healthy eating a reality in these videos. For example, follow Shelly and her two-year-old as she sets her family up for success by making little changes to her son’s diet, or see how Rocio teaches her four boys about the value of nutrition.
  2. Family-Friendly Recipe Ideas
    1. Check out the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl for healthy, budget-friendly recipes you can prepare with your family.
  3. Information about Local Foods
    1. Learn more about the foods that are grown in your state, and get kids excited about trying hometown flavors.
  4. Healthy Eating on a Budget
    1. Use these tips and materials to make healthy choices while staying within your budget.
  5. Learn More about School Meals
    1. Schools today are focusing on offering a variety of fruit and vegetables and serving healthy recipes. Check out these resources to learn more about why school meals are great choices:
      1. MyPlate Guide to School Breakfast
      2. MyPlate Guide to School Lunch
  6. Let’s Talk Trash
    1. Want to learn more about food loss and waster? Let’s Talk Trash includes consumer-friendly resources to help audiences think about the amount of food waster at home.

How can families help their children and teens eat healthy at school?

  • Try new foods at home. Kids need many opportunities to taste a new food to “get used to it.”
  • Eat lunch at school with your child. Learn more about what’s offered to meet school nutrition staff.
  • Encourage your child or teen to join in taste-testing events or surveys about school lunch, when available.
  • Talk with your child about what’s on the menu. Make sure they know about all the foods that are included in their school lunch.

Activities to do with Kids

Are you looking for fun ways to teach kids about healthy eating? Try these activities, with free printables, to get the whole family on board with making healthier choices.

Preschool and Elementary-Aged Kids

  • Food Critic
    • Kids are much more likely to try new foods when they get to take the lead. In this fun game, kids get to pick a new food at the grocery store, taste it, and rate it as a food critic.
  • Grocery Store Bingo
    • Make your weekly errand an opportunity for your kids to learn about new foods and healthy eating choices with this printable bingo card.
  • Food Art
    • Show kids that healthy foods can be beautiful and appetizing. Check out these food art examples to inspire your creativity.

Say No to Raw Dough!

Cake Mix Recall

Do not bake recalled Duncan Hines cake mixes, or eat cake batter made with them. Return them to the store for a refund or throw them away. Find out how to identify the recalled mixes on the CDC Salmonella website.

There are many special occasions through the year that are perfect to spend time with loved ones while preparing delicious baked foods in the kitchen. Follow these safety tips to help you and your loved ones stay healthy when handling raw dough.

When you prepare homemade cookie dough, cake mixes, or even bread, you may be tempted to taste a bite before it is fully cooked. But steer clear of this temptation – eating or tasting unbaked products that are intended to be cooked, such as dough or batter, can make you sick. Children can get sick from handling or eating raw dough for crafts or play clay, too.

Raw Dough Can Contain Bacteria that Cause Disease

Flour is typically a raw agricultural product. This means it hasn’t been treated to kill germs like Escherichia coli (E. coli). Harmful germs can contaminate grain while it’s still in the field or at other steps as flour is produced. The bacteria are killed when food made with flour is cooked. This is why you should never taste or eat raw dough or batter – whether made from recalled flour or any other flour. In 2016, an outbreak of E. coli infections linked to raw flour made 63 people sick. Flour products have long shelf lives and could be in people’s home for a long time. If you have any recalled flour products in your home, throw them away.

In addition, raw eggs that are used to make raw dough or batter can contain a germ called Salmonella that can make you sick if the eggs are eaten raw or lightly cooked. Eggs are safe to eat when cooked and handled properly.

Follow safe food handling practices when you are baking and cooking with flour and other raw ingredients:

  • Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments.
  • Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.
  • Bake or cook raw dough and batter, such as cookie dough and cake mix, before eating.
  • Follow the recipe or package directions for cooking and baking at the proper temperature and for the specified time.
  • Do not make milkshakes with products that contain raw flour, such as cake mix.
  • Do not use raw, homemade cookie dough in ice cream.
    • Cookie dough ice cream sold in stores contains dough that has been treated to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to-use foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily.
  • Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked.
  • Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough:
    • Wash your hands with running water and soap after handling flour, raw eggs, or any surfaces that they have touched.
    • Wash bowls, utensils, countertops, and other surfaces with warm, soapy water.

10 Tips: Eating Foods Away from Home

Restaurants, convenience, and grocery stores, or fast-food places offer a variety of options when eating out. But larger portions can make it easy to eat or drink too many calories. Larger helpings can also increase your intake of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Think about ways to make healthier choices when eating food away from home.

  1. Consider your drink. Choose water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and drinks without any added sugars to complement your meal.
  2. Savor a salad. Start your meal with a salad packed with vegetables to help you feel satisfied sooner. Ask for dressing on the side and use a small amount of it.
  3. Share the main dish. Divide the main entrée between family and friends. Ask for small plates for everyone at the table.
  4. Select from the sides. Order a side dish or an appetizer-sized portion instead of a regular entrée. They’re usually served on smaller plates and in smaller amounts.
  5. Pack your snack. Pack fruit, sliced vegetables, low-fat string cheese, or unsalted nuts to eat during road trips or long commutes. No need to stop for other food when these snacks are ready-to-eat.
  6. Fill your plate with vegetables and fruit. Stir-fries, kabobs, or vegetarian menu items usually have more vegetables. Select fruits as a side dish or dessert.
  7. Compare the calories, fat, and sodium. Many menus now include nutrition information. Look for items that are lower in calories, saturated fats, and sodium. Check with your server if you don’t see them on the menu. For more information, check the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website.
  8. Pass on the buffet. Have an item from the menu and avoid the “all-you-can-eat” buffet. Steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes have fewer calories than foods that are fried in oil or cooked in butter.
  9. Get your whole grains. Request 100% whole-wheat bread, rolls, and pasta when choosing sandwiches, burgers, or main dishes.
  10. Quit the “clean your plate” club. Decide to save more for another meal. Take leftovers home in a container and chill in the refrigerator right away.

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 did 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 his or her 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 superpower, what would it be and why?
    • If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one 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 and how much to eat.
  • Let everyone help. Kids learn by doing. The little one might get the napkins and older kids help with fixing foods and cleanup.
  • Make-your-own-dish. Like tacos, mini pizzas, and yogurt parfaits and get everyone involved at mealtime.
  • MyPlate Printable Activities and Coloring Sheets. Print these activity sheets for kids to learn more about healthy eating, including a coloring page, word scramble, crossword puzzle and more.
  • 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.

Tweens and Teens

  • 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.
  • MyPlate Plan. Enter your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level to get a personalized food plan showing what and how much to eat within your calorie allowance.
  • Grow a Garden. Get tweens and teens involved in family meals and gardening. You can start small, with a window herb 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.
    • 10 Tips for Girls: Eat smart and be active as you grow
    • 10 Tips for Boys: Choose the foods you need to grow

www.chosemyplate.gov/families


Food Safety Tips for Holidays

Feasting with family and friends is part of many holiday celebrations. Follow these simple tips to keep safe from food poisoning, or foodborne illness, during the holidays.

Everyone can practice food safety during the holidays.

  • Wash your hands. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing food, after touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables, and before eating or drinking.
  • Cook food thoroughly. Meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can carry germs that cause food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to ensure these foods have been cooked to the safe minimum internal temperature. Roasts, chops, steaks and fresh ham should rest for 3 minutes after removing from the oven or grill.
  • Keep food out of the “danger zone.” Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature. After food is cooked, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within 2 hours. The temperature in your refrigerator should be at or below 40° F and the freezer at or below 0°
  • Use pasteurized eggs for dishes containing raw eggs. Salmonella and other harmful germs can live on both the outside and inside of normal-looking eggs. Many holiday favorites contain raw eggs, including eggnog, tiramisu, hollandaise sauce, and Caesar dressing. Always use pasteurized eggs when making these and other foods made with raw eggs.
  • Do not eat dough or batter. Dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful germs, such as E. coli and Salmonella. Do not taste or eat unpasteurized dough or batter of any kind, including those for cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, pancakes, tortillas, pizza, or crafts. Do not let children taster raw dough or batter or play with the dough at home or in restaurants.
  • Keep foods separated. Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery and in the refrigerator. Prevent juices from meat, poultry, and seafood from dripping or leaking onto other foods by keeping them in containers or sealed plastic bags. Store eggs in their original carton in the main compartment of the refrigerator.
  • Safely thaw your turkey. Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Avoid thawing foods on the counter. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.

Pregnancy and Food

Although everyone wants to keep food safe during the holidays, it is especially important for pregnant women to do so because they are at increased risk of food poisoning.

  • Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk and products made with it, such as soft cheeses. Raw or unpasteurized milk and products made with it can contain harmful germs, including Listeria. Avoid drinking raw milk and eating soft cheeses, such as queso fresco Camembert, feta, goat cheese, or Roquefort, if they are made from raw or unpasteurized milk.
    • Be aware that Hispanic-style cheeses made from pasteurized milk, such as queso fresco, also have caused Listeria infections, most likely because they were contaminated during cheese-making.
    • Avoid other raw or unpasteurized products, such as juice or cider.
  • Be careful with seafood. Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood unless it is in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or unless it is canned or shelf stable.
  • Be aware of holiday beverages. To reduce the possibility of fetal alcohol syndrome, watch out for alcohol-containing holiday punches and eggnogs. Avoid eggnog entirely unless you know it contains no alcohol and is pasteurized or made with pasteurized eggs and milk.