Healthy Children - July 2011

INCCRRA in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing information on childhood obesity through its website. The intent is to communicate to child care practitioners, parents 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 not just for overweight children but 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 heavy 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 CCR&R 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.



Press Release: My Plate

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2011—First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled the federal government’s new food icon, MyPlate, to serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices. MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at meal times and to seek more information to help them do that by going to The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups.

The MyPlate icon is available to view and download in PDF and JPG formats.

“This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating and as a mom, I can already tell how much this is going to help parents across the country,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “When mom or dad comes home from a long day of work, we’re already asked to be a chef, a referee, a cleaning crew. So it’s tough to be a nutritionist, too. But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”

“With so many food options available to consumers, it is often difficult to determine the best foods to put on our plates when building a healthy meal,” said Secretary Vilsack. “MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles. This effort is about more than just giving information, it is a matter of making people understand there are options and practical ways to apply them to their daily lives.”

Originally identified in the Child Obesity Task Force report which noted that simple, actionable advice for consumers is needed, MyPlate will replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s primary food group symbol as an easy-to-understand visual cue to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPyramid will remain available to interested health professionals and nutrition educators in a special section of the new website. provides practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information. As Americans are experiencing epidemic rates of overweight and obesity, the online resources and tools can empower people to make healthier food choices for themselves, their families, and their children. Later this year, USDA will unveil an exciting “go-to” online tool that consumers can use to personalize and manage their dietary and physical activity choices.

Over the next several years, USDA will work with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’sMove! initiative and public and private partners to promote MyPlate and as well as the supporting nutrition messages and “how-to” resources.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, launched in January of this year, form the basis of the federal government’s nutrition education programs, federal nutrition assistance programs, and dietary advice provided by health and nutrition professionals. The Guidelines messages include:

Balance Calories
  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.


Foods to Increase
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.


Foods to Reduce
  • Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.


Coupled with these tested, actionable messages will be the “how-tos” for consumer behavior change. A multi-year campaign calendar will focus on one action-prompting message at a time starting with “Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables.”

“What we have learned over the years is that consumers are bombarded by so many nutrition messages that it makes it difficult to focus on changes that are necessary to improve their diet,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This new campaign calendar will help unify the public and private sectors to coordinate efforts and highlight one desired change for consumers at a time.”

As part of this new initiative, USDA wants to see how consumers are putting MyPlate in to action by encouraging consumers to take a photo of their plates and share on Twitter with the hash-tag #MyPlate. USDA also wants to see where and when consumers think about healthy eating. Take the Plate and snap a photograph with MyPlate to share with our USDA Flickr Photo Group.

For more information, visit Additional resources include: and For the MyPlate Graphics Standards (terms of use), click here.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

Kitchen Activities

Having your preschooler help you in the kitchen is a good way to get your child to try new foods.

Kids feel good about doing something “grown-up.” Give them small jobs to do. Praise their efforts. Children are much less likely to reject foods that they helped make.

As preschoolers grow, they are able to help out with different tasks in the kitchen. While the following suggestions are typical, children may develop these skills at different ages. Make sure that they wash their hands before helping.

At 2 Years
  • Wipe tables.
  • Hand items to adult to put away (such as after grocery shopping).
  • Place things in trash.
  • Tear lettuce or greens.
  • Help “read” a cookbook by turning the pages.
  • Make “faces” out of pieces of fruits and vegetables.
  • Rinse vegetables or fruits.
  • Snap green beans.


At 3 Years

All that a 2-year-old can do, plus:

  • Add ingredients.
  • Talk about cooking.
  • Scoop or mash potatoes.
  • Squeeze citrus fruits.
  • Stir pancake batter.
  • Knead and shape dough.
  • Name and count foods.
  • Help assemble a pizza.


At 4 Years

All that a 3-year-old can do, plus:

  • Peel eggs and some fruits, such as oranges and bananas.
  • Set the table.
  • Crack eggs.
  • Help measure dry ingredients.
  • Help make sandwiches and tossed salads.


At 5 Years

All that a 4-year-old can do, plus:

  • Measure liquids.
  • Cut soft fruits with a dull knife.
  • Use an egg beater.


Reprinted with permission from the United States Department of Agriculture USDA.

Food Safety

Preschoolers’ immune systems are still developing. This makes it easier for them to become ill. That’s why it’s important to follow the recommended food safety guidelines.

Keep food safe to eat by following these general guidelines to avoid foodborne illness FOR EVERYONE:

  • CLEAN—Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • CHILL—Refrigerate promptly and defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator.
  • SEPARATE—Don’t cross-contaminate. For example, after cutting meat, wash the knife before using it to cut vegetables.
  • COOK—Cook to proper temperature using a food thermometer.


In addition, follow these specific guidelines FOR PRESCHOOLERS:

  • Investigate foods to avoid to prevent foodborne illness.
  • Foods that can be choking hazards.
  • Teach them the importance of hand washing.
  • If your preschooler has any food allergies or food intolerances, speak with your doctor for more information.
  • Beware of Germs on Drinking Glasses


The Center for Disease Control (CDC) tells us that flu viruses, cold germs and bacteria can stay on glasses from 2 hours to 2 days. Do not let your kids drink from each other’s glasses. Wash glasses often, especially during cold and flu season.

Reprinted with permission for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Eggs in the Diet

Eggs are an inexpensive source of protein and an important source of vitamins B12 and E. The one draw back to eggs is the cholesterol. The yolk of the egg contains about two-thirds of the total suggested daily maximum intake of cholesterol.

In the past research has shown that saturated fat has a greater effect on blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol and eggs are not a major source of saturated fat.

All of the fat and cholesterol in the egg is in the yolk. The egg white is almost all protein and is low in calories. Egg whites can be used regularly in the diet by almost anyone. Two egg whites are equal to one whole egg.

Egg Safety

In recent years there has been increased concern about salmonellosis in eggs. Previously, it was thought this bacterium was found only in eggs with a cracked shell. We now know the bacteria can be in uncracked eggs.

To reduce the risk of foodborne illness from salmonella, follow these simple rules:

  • Avoid eating raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and white are firm.
  • Substitute pasteurized eggs or egg substitutes in recipes that will not be cooked.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling eggs
  • Check eggs carefully before buying and before use - discard any that are cracked or broken.
  • Store eggs in the original carton in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
  • Keep fresh eggs refrigerated.
  • Remember cooked eggs should not stay out of the refrigerator for more than a total of two hours.
  • Hard cooked eggs should be refrigerated and used within one week. Store the cooked eggs in the carton or covered container.


Egg Salad Filling

Serves 2
4 hard cooked eggs

2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish or chopped pickles
3 Tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 tsp. prepared mustard
dash of pepper
1. Hard cook eggs (see directions below). Cool. Peel and finely chop eggs using knife.
2. Place finely chopped eggs in mixing bowl. Add relish, mayonnaise, mustard and pepper.
3. Mix all ingredients together lightly, using a table fork. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use.
4. Serve on crackers or sliced bread.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving
Calories 190
Fat 11g
Calories from Fat 100
Sodium 420mg
Total Carbohydrates 7g ~ Fiber 1g


Hard-Cooked Eggs
1. Choose only unbroken eggs.
2. Put unbroken eggs in a single layer in pan.
3. Cover eggs with cold water (this helps prevent cracking) so water is at least one inch above eggs.
4. Heat to boiling.
5. Turn heat off and, if necessary, remove from burner to prevent further boiling. Cover pan and let eggs sit in hot water for 20 minutes.
6. Quickly run cold water over cooked eggs until cooled.
7. Store un-eaten eggs in the refrigerator.


Reprinted with permission by University of Illinois-United States Department of Agriculture-Local Extension Councils Cooperating. This material was funded by USDA’s Food Stamp Program.

15 Simple Ways to Get Moving

Use these simple 15 outdoor activities to get your children moving. The activities listed only require you, your child, and your imagination.
Did You Know?

Physical activity for young children is an important component of early brain development and learning.

When adults model and teach the importance of physical activity, young children are more likely to adopt a lifetime of healthful practices and behaviors.

  1. Spread paper plates on the ground. Pretend they are rocks in a stream. Get from one side to the other without stepping in the stream.
  2. Work on moving in different ways - go outside and practice walking, running, galloping, skipping, jumping and hopping.
  3. Time to march! Pretend to have your favorite instrument and march as you play. Can someone guess what instrument you are playing? Bring real instruments outside and march in a band with friends.
  4. Rainbow Run - talk about the colors of the rainbow as you name colors, run and touch 3 things that are that color.
  5. Go for a walk - breathe in the air as you swing your arms and hold your head high.
  6. Take a walk; first go in straight lines, then curvy lines, and then try walking backwards.
  7. Get outside and practice running. When you are running work on pumping your arms front and back and moving in a straight line.
  8. Set up an obstacle course using things to jump over, go around and even under. See how fast you can do it.
  9. Find an open space and work on rolling in different ways...long, straight body and a curled up small body. Rolling down a hill is fun!
  10. Blow bubbles outdoors. Chase and catch the bubble before it pops.
  11. Pretend you are at a zoo. Identify an animal—move and sound like that animal.
  12. Pretend to be a growing flower. First you are a tiny seed in the ground and then grow into a big flower.
  13. Pretend to be a balloon—first without air, being blown up, floating around and then being popped.
  14. Motions of the weather—use your body to pretend to be different types of weather. Rain, wind, thunder, snow…get creative.
  15. Pretend to move like different foods—melt like a popsicle or pop like popcorn.


Reprinted with permission from Head Start Body Start



Portion Sizes

Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta
1 slice of bread
½ cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal
½ cup cooked or chopped raw vegetables
½ cup vegetable juice
1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
1 small whole fruit
½ cup fruit juice
½ cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry beans, Eggs and Nuts

2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish.

Eating one of these foods counts as eating 1 ounce of meat:

  • ¼ cup of cooked dry beans
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • ½ oz. of nuts and seeds
Milk, Yogurt and Cheese
1 cup milk
1 ½ to 2 ounces of cheese
1 cup yogurt

Note: Preschool children need the same variety but may eat smaller portions.

Reprinted with permission from How to Use Commodities Illinois Department of Human Services.