Healthy Children - August 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

  1. Replace ¼ cup of granola with 1 cup of Cheerios.
  2. Eat ½ cup of steamed fresh broccoli instead of ½ cup of frozen broccoli in cheese sauce.
  3. Make a burrito with ½ cup of fat-free refried beans and 1 ounce of nonfat cheese instead of a regular burrito.
  4. Thicken your cream sauce with 1% milk and corn starch instead of butter and flour.
  5. Reduce the size of your steak from 4½ oz. to 3 oz.
  6. Grill with nonstick cooking spray instead of margarine.
  7. Top your salad with ¼ cup of chopped celery instead of 1 oz. of croutons.
  8. Substitute two slices of cheese pizza for two slices of pepperoni pizza.
  9. Dip your chips in ½ cup of salsa instead of ½ cup of guacamole.
  10. Cut the peanut butter on your sandwich from 2 tablespoons to 1 tablespoon.
  11. Order a sandwich on cracked wheat bread instead of a croissant.
  12. Replace two fried chicken drumsticks with two roasted drumsticks.
  13. Eat two poached eggs instead of two fried eggs.
  14. Use 2 tablespoons of evaporated nonfat milk in your coffee instead of 2 tablespoons of half-and-half.
  15. Top your pasta with 1 cup of marinara sauce instead of ½ cup of Alfredo sauce.
  16. Substitute three grilled shrimp for three fried shrimp.
  17. Substitute 3 oz. of seafood for 3 oz. of beef in your stir-fry.
  18. Snack on 10–15 baked potato chips instead of regular.
  19. Pass on the second helping of mashed potatoes.
  20. Eat two meatballs instead of four with your spaghetti.
  21. Choose one serving of vegetarian lasagna instead of lasagna with meat.
  22. Replace one large flour tortilla with a 6-inch corn tortilla.
  23. Eat a turkey breast sandwich instead of a chicken salad sandwich.
  24. Use 1 cup of fat-free cottage cheese instead of regular cottage cheese.
  25. Replace 1 cup of corn with 1 cup of carrots.


Reaching for That Second Helping.
You’ll be tempted to eat more when bowls of food are sitting right in front of you. Consider serving from the stove or counter rather than from the table. Just because you don’t count them doesn’t mean they don’t count.
Portion Distortion
Check the serving size on the Nutrition Facts label. And keep in mind that a serving of protein is about the size of a deck of cards, not half the plate!
Eating potato chips out of the bag while watching TV
Extra calories can add up if you are eating while doing other activities. Eat meals and snacks sitting at the table while doing nothing else.
Liquid calories from beverages
Calories add up when you drink too many soft drinks, sports drinks and alcohol. Even if you drink only one soft drink a day, over time those liquid calories will have a big impact. For example, a 12-ounce can of regular cola contains 150 calories. If you drank that with lunch every day, over the course of a year, that would add up to nearly 55,000 empty and unnecessary calories—or a little more than 15 pounds. Make water and unsweetened or artificially sweetened seltzer, iced tea and coffee your beverages of choice. These drinks contain zero calories (unless you add milk to your coffee, and if you do, be sure to use low-fat or nonfat milk).

Reprinted from the American Diabetes Association


What's the Solution?

Managing your weight doesn’t have to be a lifelong struggle if you are conscious of your calorie intake on a daily basis. Don’t wait for the right time to start a diet because it may never feel like a good time to start. Remember that everything you put in your mouth, food or beverage, whether it is just a taste or a huge second helping, adds up. Try keeping a food journal for three days. Note everything you eat and drink. This will give you an accurate picture of your daily intake and may give you clues as to where extra calories and extra weight are coming from. Remember that small, consistent changes over time can make a huge difference.



Elissa Bassler: A Solution for the Obesity Epidemic

If we are serious about solving the American obesity epidemic, we must start with the biggest culprits — sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other beverages that are artificially loaded with sugar. Evidence consistently points to sugar-loaded drinks triggering increased obesity rates. In fact, these unhealthy beverages can account for an estimated 20 percent to 40 percent of all weight gained by Americans between 1997 and 2007.

Of course, we recognize that obesity is a super-sized problem triggered by a complex array of factors. There is no silver bullet solution to the complex, multifaceted issue of obesity. Nonetheless, sugary drinks are the single largest source of added sugar in the American diet and the only type of food or beverage that scientific research has directly linked to obesity.

Scientific evidence also links sugar-loaded drinks to diabetes, gout, some forms of cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, dental problems, and hypertension. This is why communities across the United States are taking steps to address consumption of sugar-loaded beverages — because they are major contributors to obesity and the obesity-related chronic diseases that are weighing down our economy and the health-care system.

There is no doubt that sugar-loaded drinks are one of the leading contributors to obesity, which is what makes reducing consumption of sugary drinks such a critical public health issue. Adults who drink just one sugar-loaded drink a day increase the likelihood that they will be overweight or obese by 27 percent. A child’s risk of obesity increases 60 percent with every additional daily serving of sugary beverages. In recent decades, per capita intake of sugar-loaded drinks has doubled in the United States across all age groups and since the mid-90s children have been getting more calories from sugary beverages than from milk. There is no question that individuals must make the right choices, as a recent SJ-R editorial points out. But equally certain is that communities, nonprofits, businesses and government also must play a role. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine made reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption its first recommendation on improving nutrition, and specifically called for implementing excise taxes on sugar-loaded drinks to create a price incentive for consumers to choose healthier options.

The Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity has developed an Obesity Action Roadmap for addressing this multi-faceted issue. Among many approaches, the Roadmap calls for a fund that would help schools, communities, businesses and health-care providers implement proven strategies to combat the obesity epidemic, funded by a tax on sugar-loaded drinks. Such a tax-financed fund would support better food and physical education in schools, bike lanes and jogging trails, bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved communities, and increasing public safety in order to promote physical activity. A recent University of Illinois report also showed that a penny-per-ounce tax would reduce obesity in children and youth by more than 9 percent, and in adults by more than 5 percent. It would save over $170 million in health-care costs per year. That’s just the effect of the tax; with the investment of tax revenues in prevention, even more improvements in health and savings in health-care costs could be realized.

This is a solution to the obesity epidemic that should enjoy support from conservatives and liberals alike. Funding prevention efforts in local communities that transform neighborhoods, schools, and work environments into healthy places will make it easier for each of us to take personal responsibility for healthy living, save billions in health-care spending, and improve the economy and quality of life in Illinois. We can all be for that.

Elissa Bassler, MFA, is the CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute and Executive Director of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity.

Reprinted from



Eat Less Fat

Eating too much fat, especially saturated fat, is linked to obesity, heart disease and certain kinds of cancer.* Here are 12 tips for reducing saturated fat in your diet.

  • When shopping, read food labels carefully and choose foods—including snacks—lowest in saturated fat.
  • Avoid highly saturated fats like butter, coconut oil and palm oil.
  • Avoid high-fat mayonnaise and salad dressings. Make your own dressing with herbs, oil, and vinegar.
  • Avoid fatty meats, especially bacon, T-bone steak, lunch meats, sausage, hotdogs. Choose lean cuts of meat and trim all visable fat before cooking.
  • Eat no more than 6 oz. of lean meat, fish, or poultry a day. Try cooking with beans more often instead of meat.
  • Cook poultry without the skin. White meat has less fat than dark meat.
  • Bake, broil or roast meat instead of frying.
  • Watch out for all fried foods including french fries.
  • Limit whole eggs and full-fat dairy products. Use two egg whites for each whole egg in recipes, and try nonfat or low-fat dairy products (cheese, yogurt, milk and ice cream).
  • Choose vegetable oils and margarines with no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon: canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower oils.
  • Use nonstick cookware.
  • Watch those cream-based sauces, gravies and soups.


*Daily fat intake should not exceed 30% of total calories. Saturated fat should not exceed one-third of total calories from fat each day.



Grilled Chicken Salad

Garden Green, Arugula, and Baby Spinach with an Herb Sherry Vinaigrette

Serves 6

Ingredients - Salad
2 pounds of assorted seasonal garden greens, arugula, and baby spinach
6 chicken breasts, 6 ounces each
1 tablespoon thyme
1 lemon zest
6 springs chives, chopped
Ingredients - Vinaigrette
1 cup sherry vinegar
2 lemons juiced
1 shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a bowl except olive oil
Slowly whisk olive oil into mixture until emulsified
Wash lettuce
Marinate chicken with herbs, lemon zest and olive oil
Season with salt and pepper and grill

Reprinted from the Healthy Recipes from the White House to You
Healthier US School Challenge Celebration, The White House October 17, 2011



News You Can Use

Let’s celebrate the great outdoors! July is National Parks & Recreation Month, which means there is no better time to visit one of America’s amazing National Parks. To find a park near you use the U.S. National Park Service’s Find a Park tool. Want to stay closer to home? Click here to locate a park, garden, or nature center near you.

And speaking of parks and outdoor play, this interesting article gives you five reasons to let your kids play in the dirt. Try to forget about the mess and let your children experience the health and developmental benefits of good old fashioned dirt. And of course, it’s good for adults, too!

Check out these colorful posters from the Early Years Institute. Beautiful, eye-catching, and informative, these posters are perfect to display in your center, child care facility, or office and will keep the benefits of play front and center.

With summer in full swing, it’s time to plan some summer family fun! Our friends at Nature Rocks have put together this fantastic, FREE summer activity guide to help your whole family get outside, explore, and experience the benefits of time spent in nature.

Nutrition Nugget: Crave Your Colors

By eating a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables daily with your child. Fruit and vegetables not only add a variety of flavor, color, and texture to your diet, but also keep your body healthy. Each color offers specific benefits to your health. This month, let’s focus on BLUE!

BLUE, PURPLE and BLACK fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants that help lower risk of some cancers, promote healthy aging, and improve urinary tract health, memory function, and heart health.

July is National Blueberry Month. While you crave your colors this month, add blueberries to your snack or meals. Blueberries are rich in protein, soluble fiber, and ranked No. 1 in antioxidant benefits compared to other fruits and vegetables. They are available all year round and in a variety of forms including, fresh, frozen, juice and dried.

Literacy Connections

Increase oral language and vocabulary development for young children by reading the following books as you enjoy your Blueberry Banana Parfait or other blueberry snacks.

  • Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
  • White is for Blueberries by George Shannon
  • Blueberry Mouse by Alice Low
  • Blueberry Shoe by Ann Dixon


Recipe of the Month

Blueberry Banana Parfait

Makes 4 Servings

2 cups of plain yogurt
1 banana, sliced and frozen
2 cups of frozen blueberries
Line up 4 plastic cups or tall glasses
Spoon 2 tablespoons of yogurt into each glass
Place a layer of sliced bananas on top of yogurt
Spoon 2 tablespoons of blueberries overtop bananas
Repeat the process


Take It Outside!

July can be a real steamer but you can keep your cool with these fun outdoor play ideas. Other tricks to beat the heat – head outside early in the morning or in the evening after dinner and look for shady parks and green spaces in your neighborhood. And don’t forget hats, sunscreen, and lots of water! This month, why not:

Work on wet and wacky balance skills!
Have children walk with a wet sponge on their heads – you can even set up an obstacle course and have them move through it with the sponges on their heads! Try standing on one foot and then the other while keeping the sponge in place. Why not balance the sponge on different body parts – back, elbow, knee, foot. The children will have a blast while staying cool.
Head to the shady forest for a hike, bird watching, or picnic.
It’s amazing how much cooler it is under a lush green canopy. Visit Nature Find to locate a green space near you. Want to know what critters to look for in the forest near you? Check out the zip code based field guides at eNature.

Reprinted from