Healthy Children - June 2012

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 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.



9 Ways To Be Active

  1. Create an indoor parade. Have your child dress up and march through the house with a doll or stuffed animal.
  2. Visit farm where children can help pick their own fresh fruit or vegetables.
  3. Cut one side out of a pint-size carton to make pretend skate. Make two skates. Have your child put one foot in each skate and slide across and uncarpeted floor. Add music to increase the fun.
  4. Go outside for a walk. Look for wildflowers, insects, birds, rocks, leaves, and butterflies.
  5. Place a long strip of masking tape on your carpet and ask you child to hop back and forth on this tight rope.
  6. Walk to a playground and enjoy the equipment there.
  7. Place a pillow on the floor for your child to roll over.
  8. Blow bubbles, and follow them where they go.
  9. Turn on some lively music and dance.


Today at child care your child learned why it is important to turn off the TV and be active instead. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children watch no more than one to two hours of quality TV and videos each day. Active playtime helps children grow and develop. Let supper simmer, and enjoy some active time with your child by preparing the hearty soup recipe below.

Chicken Noodle Soup

10 cups
8 adults
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon flour
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
6 cups fat-free chicken broth
4 cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced, skinless cooked chicken
3 cups uncooked wide noodles
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1. Brown onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil in skillet.
2. Stir flour and poultry seasoning together in small bowl.
3. Blend flour/seasoning mixture into the browned vegetables. Pour into slow cooker.
4. Pour broth, potatoes and chicken into the slow cooker.
5. Stir, and cool on low or 5-6 hours or until the potatoes are soft.
6. Add noodles and evaporated milk.
7. Cook until noodles are tender, approximately 20 minutes. (Do not bring to a boil after milk is added.)


Have your child help you do the bold steps.

Reprinted with permission from the Child and Adult Food Care Program



Choose MyPlate - 10 tips to a great plate

Making food choices for a healthy lifestyle can be as simple as using these 10 Tips. Use the ideas in this list to balance your calories, to choose foods to eat more often, and to cut back on foods to eat less often.

1. Balance calories
Find out how many calories YOU need for a day as a first step in managing your weight. Go to to find your calorie level. Being physically active also helps you balance calories.

2. Enjoy your food, but eat less
Take the time to fully enjoy your food as you eat it. Eating too fast or when your attention is elsewhere may lead to eating too many calories. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues before, during, and after meals. Use them to recognize when to eat and when you’ve had enough.

3. Avoid oversized portions
Use a smaller plate, bowl, and glass. Portion out foods before you eat. When eating out, choose a smaller size option, share a dish, or take home part of your meal.

4. Foods to eat more often
Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or 1% milk and dairy products. These foods have the nutrients you need for health—including potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and fiber. Make them the basis for meals and snacks.

5. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert.

6. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

7. Make half your grains whole grains
To eat more whole grains, substitute a whole-grain product for a refined product—such as eating wholewheat bread instead of white bread or brown rice instead of white rice.

8. Foods to eat less often
Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt. They include cakes, cookies, ice cream,
candies, sweetened drinks, pizza, and fatty meats like ribs, sausages, bacon, and hot dogs. Use these foods as occasional treats, not everyday foods.

9. Compare sodium in foods
Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” ”reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”

10. Drink water instead of sugary drinks
Cut calories by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar, and calories, in American diets.

Go to for more information.



Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

What is FMNP?

Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) provides checks to women, infants and children through the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) and to Seniors in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) for the purchase of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

The fresh fruits and vegetables can be purchased with checks at farmers' markets during the summer and fall. The program officially runs from July - November 15.

Who Benefits from FMNP?

FMNP checks enable WIC participants and CSFP Seniors to obtain this nutritious fresh produce in addition to the foods WIC and CSFP provides. Approximately 300,000 WIC and CSFP households benefit annually. In 2002, there were 300 Farmers' Markets operating in New York State. This number represents a total of 882 participating farmers, of which over 288,000 WIC households were provided FMNP checks.

In addition to distributing fresh vegetables and fruits, the FMNP provides nutrition education at a variety of settings. This education is designed to assist FMNP recipients to enhance their overall health.

The FMNP supports the focus of the national "5 A Day for Better Health Program."

The "5 A Day for Better Health Program's" goal is to increase public awareness of the importance of eating five or more servings of vegetables and fruits every day and to provide information about incorporating more servings of these foods into their daily eating patterns. The program seeks to inform New Yorkers that eating vegetables and fruits can improve their health and reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and macular degeneration.

The two national partners for the "5 A Day for Better Health Program" are the National Cancer Institute and the Produce for Better Health Foundation, a national public/private partnership between government and the fruit and vegetable industry.

For more information regarding the "5 A Day for Better Health Program," please send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the following Web links:


Reprinted with permission from



Finding Your Way to a Healthier You

Find your balance between food and physical activity.

Becoming a healthier you isn't just about eating healthy - it's also about physical activity. Regular physical activity is important for your overall health and fitness. It also helps you control body weight by balancing the calories you take in as food with the calories you expend each day.

  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
  • Increasing the intensity or the amount of time that you are physically active can have even greater health benefits and may be needed to control body weight. About 60 minutes a day may be needed to prevent weight gain.
  • Children and teenagers should be physically active for 60 minutes every day, or most every day.


Consider This

If you eat 100 more food calories a day than you burn, you'll gain about 1 pound in a month. That's about 10 pounds in a year. The bottom line is that to lose weight, it's important to reduce calories and increase physical activity.

Get the Most Nutrition Out of Your Calories

There is a right number of calories for you to eat each day. This number depends on your age, activity level, and whether you're trying to gain, maintain, or lose weight.* You could use up the entire amount on a few high-calorie items, but chances are you won't get the full range of vitamins and nutrients your body needs to be healthy.

Choose the most nutritionally rich foods you can from each food group each day—those packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients but lower in calories. Pick foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products more often.

* 2,000 calories is the value used as a general reference on the food label. But you can calculate your number at

Reprinted with permission from



Growing an Herb Garden

What better time to grow your own vegetables, produce, or herbs, than in the summertime! As we teach kids to “go green” and learn more about appreciating their environment, we can show them easy ways to do this. Here is a simple “recipe” for how you and your child can grow an herb garden. Once the herbs have bloomed you can use them to make delicious and healthy meals for the entire family.

Assorted herb seeds
Small clay flower pots
Potting soil
Popsicle sticks
1. Fill the pots three-fourths full with potting soil.
2. Pour water on top to moisten the soil.
3. Sprinkle five or six seeds on top of the soil and lightly cover with more potting soil.
4. Label popsicle sticks with the name of the herb and insert sticks in the appropriate pots.
5. Place pots on a window ledge.
6. They will not take long to germinate.
7. Keep the soil moist.
8. After the herbs are a few inches high, they can be snipped and added to food dishes.
9. Later, the herb plants can be transferred to the garden.
10. Good herbs to include are lemon balm, mint, parsley, chives, thyme, basil, and scented geraniums.


Note: If popsicle sticks are not available, cut narrow strips from a plastic milk carton. Make pointed ends and label with an indelible marking pen.

References: Growing an Herb Garden. Family Education. Accessed via the World Wide Web on May 31, 2008.