Healthy Children - September 2018

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.


What are they? There are five types of vegetables:

  • Dark green, like spinach, broccoli, kale, and romaine lettuce.
  • Red and orange, like carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, and sweet potatoes.
  • Beans and peas, like split peas and pinto beans.
  • Starchy, like potatoes, green peas, and corn.
  • Other, like celery, iceberg lettuce, green beans, green pepper, and onions.

How much?

  • You should eat 2 cups of vegetables each day if you’re 9-13 years old (or 2 ½ cups if you are 14 to 18).
  • How much is a cup? It’s the size of a baseball. Also, around 12 baby carrots count as one cup, and so does a large sweet potato.

What else do I need to know?

  • It’s smart to eat dark-green, red, and orange veggies as well as beans and peas.

Girls Health

Confused about what to eat? The ChooseMyPlate guide shows what to shoot for. For example, fruits and veggies should be half your meal. (If that seems hard for each meal, just aim to make them around half your food each day)/ You can use our chart to learn how much to eat from each group, what foods are in each group and more.

Inside each food group:

  • It can be hard to know what to eat to be healthy. Our chart offers helpful info, like how much you should eat from each group. The amounts you should eat depending on how old you are and how active you are. The amounts we list are for girls 9 to 18 who get less than 30 minutes of physical activity each day. More active girls may be able to eat more, so get a plan that is just right for you at
  • And for the best health, remember to mix up your choices within each group. An apple a day is great, but toss in some fruit salad too!

What being active does for your mental health:

  • Did you now being physically active can affect how good you feel? It also can affect how well you do your tasks, and even how pleasant you are to be around. That’s partly because physical activity gets your brain to make “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins. Regular physical activity may help you by:
    • Reducing stress
    • Improving sleep
    • Boosting your energy
    • Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
    • Increasing your self-esteem
    • Making you feel proud for taking good care of yourself
    • Improving how well you do at school

Being physically active is great for your muscles, heart, and lungs. It may even help with nasty PMS symptoms! Some other possible benefits of activity include:

  • Building strong bones. Your body creates the most bone when you are a kid and a teen.
  • Promoting a healthy weight. Obesity is a serious problem among kids in the United States. It can lead to problems with your sleep, knees, heart, emotions, and more, but exercise can help.
  • Helping avoid diabetes. A lot more young people are getting diabetes than ever before. Regular physical activity can help prevent one type of diabetes.
  • Building healthy habits. If you get used to being active now, you will more likely keep it up when you’re older. You’ll thank yourself later!
  • Fighting cancer. Research shows that exercise may help protect against certain kinds of cancer, including breast cancer.
  • Helping prevent high blood pressure. The number of kids with high blood pressure is growing. High blood pressure makes your heart and arteries work extra hard to pump blood. It also puts you at risk for things like kidney and eye disease.

Are you worried that exercise will bulk you up? Exercising won’t give you big bulging muscles. It takes a very intense weightlifting program to get a body-builder look. And exercise and other forms of physical activity can help if you need to lose weight or want to stay at a healthy weight.

Protect Your Child from Choking Risks

Choking is a leading cause of unintentional death of children aged 4 and under, according to, and our homes are filled with potential choking hazards. To keep your child safe, be sure you know the dangers to avoid and what to do if you witness him or her choking.

Chocking Risks

As your child ages his or her diet changes accordingly, making it crucial that you practice food safety to prevent choking. Try these tips to keep your child safe at mealtime:

  • Always cut up foods into tiny pieces that your child can easily chew and swallow – encourage your child to chew slowly to prevent choking
  • Never give your child hard candy or other foods that are difficult to swallow
  • Do not use the Heimlich maneuver on children younger than 1 – they require a different rescue procedure

Infant and Child CPR

If you suspect your child is choking, he or she may or may not require CPR.  First:

  • Check to be sure the infant cannot cry, cough, or breathe
  • If not, try to clear the airway with back slaps and chest thrusts – learn the proper procedure at

10 Tips: Save More at the Grocery Store

Using coupons and looking for the best price are great ways to save money at the grocery store. Knowing how to find them is the first step to cutting costs on food. Use the MyPlate coupon tips to stretch your budget.

  1. Find deals right under your nose. Look for coupons with your receipt, as peel-offs on items, and on signs along the aisle shelves.
  2. Search for coupons. Many stores still send ads and coupons for promotion, so don’t overlook that so-called “junk mail.” You can also do a web search for “coupons.” Go through your coupons at least once a month and toss out any expired ones.
  3. Look for savings in the newspaper. Brand name coupons are found as inserts in the paper every Sunday – except on holiday weekends. Some stores will double the value of brand name coupons on certain days.
  4. Join your store’s loyalty program. Signup is usually free and you can receive savings and electronic coupons when you provide your email address.
  5. Buy when foods are on sale. Maximize your savings by using coupons on sale items. You may find huge deals such as “buy one get one free.”
  6. Find out if the store will match competitors’ coupons. Many stores will accept coupons, as long as they are the same item. Check with the customer service desk for further details.
  7. Stay organized so coupons are easy to find. Sort your coupons either by item or in alphabetical order. Develop a system that’s easiest for your and make finding coupons quick and hassle-free. Ideas for coupon storage include 3-ring binders, accordion-style organizers, or plain envelopes.
  8. Find a coupon buddy. Swap coupons you won’t use with a friend. You can get rid of the clutter and discover additional discounts.
  9. Compare brands. Store brands can be less expensive than some of the name brand foods. Compare the items to find better prices.
  10. Stick to the list. Make a shopping list for all the items you need. Keep a running list on your phone, on the refrigerator, or in a wallet. When you’re in the store, do your best to buy only the items on your list.

Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Makes 6 Servings

Per Serving: 252 calories, 36.5g carbohydrates, 4.5g fat, 2g fiber, and 550mg sodium


  • 2 c. dry noodles
  • 1/3 c. onion, chopped
  • 2/3 c. celery, chopped
  • 1 (7-oz.) can tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 (10-oz.) can reduced-fat condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (6-oz.) can nonfat evaporated milk
  • 2/3 c. crushed potato chips (optional_


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray or grease casserole baking dish.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Sauté celery and onions, stirring occasionally until tender.
  3. Combine noodles, tuna, soup, sautéed vegetables, and evaporated milk. Mix well.
  4. Pour into prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with potato chips.
  5. Bake for 25 or 30 minutes or until chips are golden brown. Double the recipe and freeze one for later.

**Tip: Rotate the food in your cupboard so the “oldest” cans are in the front and use them first.