Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ho Ho Ho...for Healthier Holiday Gatherings

If I had to choose my favorite Healthy Kids Challenge message regarding healthier holiday eating, it would be Smart Servings. Smart Servings allows you and your family to enjoy those special holiday foods and teaches “moderate eating” that goes beyond just the holidays. Try these ideas:

  • Visualize Your Plate – Think ahead about what a healthy meal plate looks like. Use the MyPlate icon and food groups to guide your choices.
  • Scan and Plan – Scan the food options and make a plan to include your favorites while keeping health in mind, such as fruits and veggies. You don’t have to try every food served!
  • Choose Less Fat and Sugar – As you scan and plan food choices, consider the fat and sugar content. Limit those foods.
  • Hunger Cues - Holiday meals usually provide more food choices than our usual meals. We tend to heap our plates full! Start out with small or “moderate” portions and listen to your “feelings of fullness”. Stop eating when you’ve had enough and enjoy the company around you! You'll be on your way to a healthy holiday season.
What tips help you and your family enjoy holiday eating without the guilt of overindulging? Share your ideas!

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pizza, Vegetables, and a Side of Healthy Balance

Despite what the media headlines may lead you to believe, Congress has not declared pizza a vegetable. The bottom line is the tomato paste on the pizza still counts as a vegetable serving according to federal regulations for school lunch programs. (If you want more explanation than that, read this article from the LA Times: ‘Pizza vegetable’ controversy is hot potato.)
Healthy Balance

But, honestly, the real bottom line? We all need to find some healthy balance when it comes to nutrition for kids. Childhood obesity did not start overnight, and it won’t get fixed overnight either. Don’t get caught up in the blame game. The true solution to this epidemic is that many solutions are needed, which must mesh into a new culture of health for all of us. While Congress may not have approved the changes many thought would be approved, it’s up to the all of us to do the best we can, with what we have, where we are. Many schools are already making strides in offering appealing and tasty meals (see, without additional reimbursement, and we can learn from them.

Many individuals are taking action themselves to help their schools offer healthier foods and more active play, without pay or recognition, because they know it’s the right thing to do. The people who make these changes will often tell you the closer you get to healthy balance, the reward is in the health itself. In a culture of health, kids will be eating better, moving more, and enjoying a healthy balance - what can you do to help reach that goal where you are?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Congrats to My Healthy Challenge Winners!

Thanks and congrats to these 3 Healthy Kids Challenge fans who make healthy living a habit! They not only take personal wellness seriously, they also help kids learn to make healthy choices every day. Check out their stories, and consider sending us yours!

Emily Encourages Eating Fruits & Veggies the FUN Way

"We incorporate a lot of fruits and vegetables into smoothies. My kids eat one every day that usually has 3-5 different fruits and veggies. We also like to do stir-fry or roasted veggies with 3-5 different veggies mixed in so there is something each child likes, plus something new to try. We also love to add fruits and vegetables to ice pops! One of our favorite recipes includes a peeled zucchini, a peeled cucumber, cut up pineapple and fresh lemon juice. You don't even taste the veggies and they are super refreshing on a hot day!" - Emily Barker, Idaho

Lisa's Library Activities Include Health

"For the first three story times during June, we served cookies and juice. For the last one, we offered oranges and Sun Chips and they were very popular! One mother specifically thanked us for having healthy snacks. She said her kids don't like sweets. As part of story times, we used plastic fruit and vegetables for a word game with the puppet play "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." Children were asked to pick a fruit or vegetable and then come up with another word that started with the same letter. They could then put the fruit/vegetable "into" the old lady's stomach. They loved it!" - Lisa Moreland, Kansas

Lori Starts the School Day with Activity for Everyone!
We started a month long exercise program to start our morning at school. Once a week, the whole school participates in the "Chicken Fat" exercise CD. At first, I think the kids thought this was a lame idea. Now they look forward to this activity. Some of the teachers commented that they would like to have this activity every day. The PTSO bought two Big Bird costumes for the staff and principal to wear and surprise the students when they are exercising. - Lori McNutt, Michigan

Find More Successes and Share Your Story!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Preschool Activity Ideas

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Image via Wikipedia
In honor of the 2011 Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Week, we want to share some ideas for the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. At Healthy Kids Challenge we have a special connection to librarians through a generous grant project titled, “Reading-Smart Eating-Moving...Balance My Day”. It helped us reach Kansas kids with healthy messages, through their very enthusiastic, creative librarians. Now we have these ideas to share with you!

1. Coconut Bowl Activity Idea
  • Items Needed: fake plastic coconuts, toy bowling pins or empty plastic bottles, cut out letters, masking tape
  • Children can go bowling in your room! Tape random letters to the pins/bottles and set them up like a bowling alley in a room with a hard floor. Tape a line a few feet from the pins for children to stand behind. Let them roll the coconuts toward the pins to see how many they can knock over. Let them name the letters that they knocked down.
by Anne Harris, Outreach Librarian, Wichita Public Library. As a member of the Kansas Center for the Book’s Kansas Reads to Preschoolers state committee, Anne's  been very busy helping to develop activity plans and promotional materials for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  Access other great activity ideas at

2. Coconut Bowl- Variation #2
  • We will be using toilet paper rolls spray painted white, colorful duct tape for the lanes… and real coconuts for bowling balls!
  • Optional: Crack open a coconut to scoop out the insides and give everyone a taste!
by Danielle Dougherty, Youth Services Coordinator, Dodge City Public Library, Dodge City, KS.

3. Coconut Learning Lesson and Singing Fun
  • For preschoolers, start out your story time with information about coconuts. Bring an actual coconut to let them see and feel. Have one cracked open to see the inside. Show them what shredded coconut for baking looks like. Then read the story. After the story, pass out shakers to each child and have them stand up. Sing the following song and have kids follow the words:
  • Chicka, Chicka Dance (using shakers)

  • Chicka, chicka, ABC. Do the chicka, chicka dance with me.

  • Shake it to the left, now shake it to the right.

  • Touch the floor, reach to the sky.

  • Now, shake it to the left, shake it to the right.

  • Turn around and clap 5 times!
  • Optional: Use other rhyming, active songs with the alphabet. Offer no added sugar apple juice and alphabet cereal (if you can find it) for a snack. Decorate the story time room with alphabet letters. I also made a Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom transfer for a T-shirt that I wore for the group.
by Madella Williams, Library Specialist, Finney County Public Library, Garden City, KS.

Each year, the Kansas Reads to Preschoolers initiative encourages reading to children at a young age. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to connect reading with healthy eating and physical activity messages. For more like this, see Reading-Smart Eating-Moving...Balance My Day.