Healthy Children - July 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.



25 Easy Ways to Cut 100 Calories

By | Get Up and Go

Cutting calories may seem like a daunting task, especially when you're trying to cut hundreds of calories each day to lose the recommended 1-2 pounds per week. Will you go hungry? Will your meals taste like cardboard? Will you have to give up your favorite foods?

Don't worry. When you make small changes, the only difference you'll notice is a drop in the scale! Keep in mind that cutting calories can involve smart substitutions or changes in portion sizes, too. Just remember, start small and work your way up to a new and healthier-way of eating.


1. Drink two 12-ounce light beers this weekend instead of two regular beers. Save 100 calories!

2. Eat a medium orange instead of drinking 12 ounces of fresh orange juice. Save 106 calories!

3. Enjoy 5 ounces of chocolate milk instead of 5 ounces of a chocolate milkshake. Save 110 calories!

Did you know that the protein in chocolate milk can help you ward off hunger? Get more Tips to Stay Full Longer at


4. Spread your whole grain waffles with 2 Tbsp of maple syrup instead of 1 Tbsp of margarine or butter. Save 110 calories!

5. Try 1 ounce of maple turkey bacon instead of maple (pork) bacon. Save 118 calories!

6. Ditch the glazed donut and eat a bagel instead. Save 93 calories!

7. Grab a small bagel instead of a medium bagel. Save 99 calories!

8. Top your small bagel with 1.5 ounces of fat-free cream cheese in lieu of regular. Save 108 calories!

Snacks and Sides

9. Dip 1 cup celery into your favorite salsa or hummus instead of 1 ounce of tortilla chips. Save 125 calories!

10. Snack on 2 ounces pretzels instead of the same size portion of potato chips. Save 94 calories!

11. Bake 2 ounces of oven fries in lieu of 2 ounces of fast food fries. Save 88 calories!

12. Try 1.5 ounces of fresh grapes instead of 1.5 ounces of raisins. Save 98 calories!

13. Swap 1 cup of canned pineapple in heavy syrup for crushed pineapple in juice. Save 119 calories!

More easy ways to Cut Calories Without Dieting at

Lunch and Dinner

14. Build a sandwich with 1.5 ounces of deli turkey breast instead of an equivalent of hard salami. Save 119 calories!

15. Forget broccoli-cheddar soup. A 7- ounce portion of vegetable soup is better. Save 119 calories!

16. Enjoy 12 ounces of steamed rice (choose brown rice when possible) as an alternative to fried rice. Save 96 calories!

17. Unwrap your 13-inch tortilla wrap and make a sandwich on a 3-ounce whole grain bagel instead. Save 96 calories!

These swaps are a great way to kick-start a weight-loss plan. Learn How to Start Eating Healthier at

Condiments and Sauces

18. Dip your salad in a side of ranch dressing (2 tsp) instead of pouring 2 tablespoons of dressing on the salad. Save 97 calories!

19. Skip the 5 ounces of Alfredo sauce and eat 7 ounces of marinara sauce. Save 129 calories!

20. Add flavor with 3 ounces of hot sauce-not 1 ounce of bleu cheese dressing. Save 117 calories!

21. Try either cheese or croutons on your salad-not both Save 72-116 calories!

Sweets and Desserts

22. Serve ice cream in a dish instead of a waffle cone. Save 121 calories!

23. Try a healthier peanut granola bar instead of a peanut candy bar. Save 94 calories!

24. Finish dinner with 1 cup of low-fat frozen yogurt instead of regular ice cream. Save 121 calories!

25. Substitute 5 ounces of apple pie with 5 ounces of baked apple crisp. Save 85 calories!

Cutting 100 calories here and there is an easy way to form healthier eating habits without feeling deprived or hungry. With just a few of these tricks up your sleeve, you'll be on your way to reaching your goals in no time!



How many time has your child asked, “Can I help?”

Helping with family meals makes your child feel needed. Children can do many tasks. Working together gives you more time with your child. Talk with your child, and hear what he or she has to share. It is good for your child to learn how to help you. So, even if you can work faster alone, ask your child to help you.

Ways Your Child Can Help

  1. Pick flowers for the table.
  2. Create paper place mats.
  3. Put pets in another room if they need attention at mealtime.
  4. Help clear table before setting it.
  5. Wash his or her hands.
  6. Help with table setting.
  7. Help with simple kitchen jobs.
    • Tear lettuce for salads
    • Mix a tossed salad.
    • Snap green beans.
    • Dip fresh berries into water to wash them.
    • Scrub fresh vegetables.
    • Roll a lemon.
    • Squeeze juice from the lemon.
    • Shake a bottle of salad dressing.
    • Spread soft margarine on bread or toast.
    • Stir batter with a spoon.
    • Cut a banana into pieces with a butter knife.
    • Peel hard cooked eggs.
    • Wrap potatoes in foil for baking.
    • Put bread or rolls into a basket.
  8. Bring items to the table (bread, rolls, crackers).
  9. Pour milk or water from a small pitcher, perhaps with help.
  10. Turn off the TV so the family may talk during meal time.
  11. Bring his or her dishes to the sink after eating.
  12. Place items in the trash.


Try This

Does it seem impossible to fit family meals into your busy schedule? Go step by step. Try to enjoy at least one family meal together this week. See what works, and plan from there.

Reprinted with permission from the Child and Adult Food Care Program



Color You Healthy

You are the role model for the children in your class. Everyday and in everyway they look at you as an example of how to act, how to eat and how to move. If you are excited about eating healthy and being active, chances are they will be too! This section of Color Me Healthy is dedicated to Color YOU Healthy. You give your time, energy and heart to your job and your children. Don’t forget to take time for yourself, take care of yourself, eat healthy and stay physically active.

COLOR YOU HEALTHY INCLUDES: Finding Your Way to a Healthier You

  • Re-Think Your Drink
  • Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables
  • Prepare and Eat More Meals at Home
  • Right-Size Your Portions
  • Move More
  • Tame the Tube
  • Choose MyPlate



Getting Your Child to Eat Fruits and Vegetables

According to the dietary guidelines, children as young as 2 years old and teens are required, on average, to consume 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. This may sound like a lot, but really it's not. There are many ways you can include fruit and vegetables into your child’s diet – a banana and strawberry smoothie for breakfast, lettuce on deli sandwiches for lunch or apple slices with peanut butter for a snack. Children tend to be extremely active during the summer and it’s important that they eat foods that will provide them the necessary nutrients to keep going. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamins and antioxidants, and have enormous amounts of each. Not to mention that they are delicious whether eaten alone or with other food to create meals. However you choose to include fruits and vegetables in their diet, know that you are instilling healthy eating habits at an early age that will remain with them as adults. NBCDI has listed several different ways that you can introduce new fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet or get them to eat more. Some of these suggestions have been adapted from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fabulous Fruits, Versatile Vegetables.

  • Set a good example by eating fruits and vegetables yourself. You are a role model for your kids in so many ways. Eating is no exception. When your kids see you eating and enjoying fruits and vegetables, they will too.
  • The summer is an excellent time to get kids to try different types of fruits and vegetables like blueberries, cantaloupe, asparagus, and summer squash. Visit a local farmers’ market and take your child to help you pick out produce they would like to eat. This will help them feel a part of selecting food for their meals, but also expose them to a blend of fruits and vegetables.
  • Start adding vegetables and fruits to every meal. You can put strawberries and blueberries on whole wheat waffles for breakfast, adding mushrooms and sliced tomatoes to pizza or put zucchini and broccoli in pastas like spaghetti.
  • It is often not an easy task to get children to eat fruits and vegetables. Never force your child to eat them, but offer these foods in a variety of ways at each meal. Have a variety of salad dressings or toppings to spice up their salad.
  • Children love helping out in the kitchen with meals and are often more willing to eat foods they help choose and prepare. Depending on their ages, kids can help shop for, clean, and prepare fruits and vegetables.
  • Children can be very picky and don’t want their food to touch or mix. Try not to combine their vegetables or fruit with other food they may not want to eat. If they want to mix peas and corn, let them do it themselves.
  • If fruits and vegetables are visible and out in the open, children are more apt to see them and want to try them. If they walk by the bowls of strawberries or apples, they are bound to reach for them. Keep cut up fruit like honeydew melon and apple slices in the refrigerator, as well as cut up red pepper sticks and sliced carrots for easy access.


Here are some nutritional tidbits to keep in mind about fruits and vegetables:

  • Red and Deep Pink fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamin C, anthocyanins, and lycopens. Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds. Examples include: apples, blood oranges, cranberries, strawberries, pomegranates, red peppers, tomatoes, and red cabbage.
  • Green fruit and vegetables are rich in Carotenoids (i.e. beta-carotene) including lutein and zexanthin. Examples include: avocados, green apples, green grapes, asparagus, mustard greens, and broccoli.
  • Yellow and orange fruit and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A. This vitamin is good for your skin and helps fight off infections. Examples include: apricots, cantaloupes, mangoes, butternut squash, carrots, and summer squash.
  • Cooked dried bean and peas are good sources of dietary fiber and protein, and are low in fat and cholesterol-free. They also provide you with magnesium, iron, zinc, and folate.
  • Strawberries are excellent sources of fiber and have more vitamins than an orange. Strawberries also can clean out harmful toxin in the blood, and remove tarter from teeth, plus strengthen the gums.


These are a few examples of serving sizes for fruits and vegetables:

½ cup fruit
1 medium piece of fruit
½ grapefruit
¼ small cantaloupe
½ cup berries
A dozen grapes
¾ cup of fruit juice (100% juice)
½ cup chopped vegetables
1 cup raw leafy vegetables (a small salad)
6-8 carrot sticks (3” long)
½ cup cooked or canned dry beans or peas
¾ cup vegetable juice

It doesn’t matter what types of fruits and vegetables you include in your child’s daily diet, as long as you do. The most important thing is that you set the example by eating them and encourage your child to do the same. There is such a large selection of colorful fruits and vegetables to pick from that you are sure to find several types that your child will love.



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.

After the herbs are a few inches high, they can be snipped and added to food dishes.

Later, the herb plants can be transferred to the garden.

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.



Tip and Shopping List

Ways to Save Money When Shopping

  • Look at grocery ads to see what is one sale.
  • Plan your meals and snacks around weekly specials.
  • Make a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry.
  • Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season.
  • Buy whole and vegetables, and cut or shred yourself.
  • When fresh costs too much, buy frozen or canned fruit and vegetables.
  • Buy frozen juice and mix with water instead of bottled juice.
  • Buy store brand rather than name brand items.
  • Buy the item with the lowest unit price.


Reprinted with permission from the Child and Adult Food Care Program