Have You Heard of Teal Pumpkin?

Born out of one mom’s desire to help ensure that children with food allergies would not feel left out on Halloween, the Teal Pumpkin Project®, now in its fourth year as a national awareness campaign led by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), has spread far and wide – reaching millions across the U.S. and beyond — in an effort to help create a happier, safer Halloween for all.

For millions of children with food allergies and their parents, the Halloween trick-or-treating tradition can sometimes be fraught with anxiety because many candies that are handed out contain major food allergens such as milk, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety and inclusion for all trick-or-treaters by encouraging people to provide non-food treats on Halloween. A pumpkin painted teal, the color for food allergy awareness, signals that children will find a fun, non-food treat that anyone can enjoy.

“One in 13 children in the U.S. has at least one food allergy, and reports show that anaphylactic food reactions have climbed dramatically in recent years,” said Lois A. Witkop, Chief Advancement Officer at FARE. “It’s clear that food allergies are a serious public health issue that we all must take seriously. The Teal Pumpkin Project provides an opportunity for all of us to show empathy for kids who often feel excluded. We would love to see at least one teal pumpkin on every block – and it’s a terrific way for communities to come together to celebration inclusion.”

For Westlake, OH mom Vikki Meldrum, the Teal Pumpkin Project has already provided an unforgettable experience for her and her 4-year-old daughter Lyla. Meldrum spread the word about the initiative among her neighbors, who have now shown their support for the last two years, with at least 30 teal pumpkins in her own neighborhood.

“The Teal Pumpkin Project made the holiday inclusive for kids like Lyla. Teal pumpkins empower her to not only feel safe on Halloween (even with so many allergens present), but also that she is truly a part of the holiday,” Meldrum said. “So often we have to bend a typical situation around Lyla’s allergies. This movement has allowed Lyla to freely participate, and that is amazing.”

Being part of the Teal Pumpkin Project is simple. Supporters can:

  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters.
  • Paint a pumpkin teal or buy a teal pumpkin at your local craft store or pharmacy, or print a free sign from FARE’s website.
  • Place your teal pumpkin or sign in front of your home to indicate non-food treats are available.

Launched nationally in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project has attracted supporters from 50 states and more than a dozen countries. The campaign was inspired by a local awareness activity conceived by Becky Basalone and run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee.

FARE thanks the following Teal Pumpkin Project official 2017 partners: Ahold USA (including its brands Stop & Shop, Giant Food and Giant/Martin’s), CVS Pharmacy, Michaels and Savers.

FARE has a number of resources to help individuals and families get involved, including:

For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit www.tealpumpkinproject.org For more information about food allergies, visit www.foodallergy.org.

5 Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity in Your Family or Community

The YMCA of Metro Chicago shared that September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well-chronicled, many families need support in changing their habits. That’s why the YMCA of Metro Chicago — a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health — wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity has remained stable at about 17 percent and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers. For years, parents have heard the dangers of childhood obesity but making the necessary lifestyle changes — as a family — remains the biggest barrier to real progress. Together we can learn healthy behaviors, and community-based organizations like the Y can provide a helping hand.

The Y helps families improve their health and potentially reduce the impact of childhood obesity through sports, swimming, fitness, and more. While outside support is key, developing healthy habits begin at home. The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:

Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family chooses a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together. Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals and allow children to pour their own water. Keep full water bottles available in the car and backpacks. Read more

Five simple steps to healthy kids

Lurie Children’s Hospital shared with the Daily Herald Newspaper that it’s always a good time to motivate kids to get off the couch and encourage them to be active.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® Program is here to do just that. It’s the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children’s public education message to promote healthy lifestyles for families. The basics of the program are:

• 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day

• 4 servings of water a day

• 3 servings of low-fat dairy a day

• 2 or fewer hours of recreational screen time a day

• 1 or more hours of physical activity a day

Dr. Rebecca Unger, a pediatrician at Northwestern Children’s Practice, who has a special interest in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, was involved in the initial development of the 5-4-3-2-1 Go! message. It has been around since 2004 and promotes healthy lifestyle goals that are simple and easy to share with families.

“When developing the message, we intentionally focused on positive actions parents or caregivers can take when influencing their child to lead a healthy lifestyle,” said Unger, who also is on staff at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“We encourage families to drink water or low-fat milk, and limit sugary beverages as much as possible,” Unger said. “Parents may think of fruit juice or sports drinks as healthy, but they are packed with sugar and calories. Sports drinks, for example, can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities to replace electrolytes, but in most cases they are unnecessary.” Read more

4 Actions Families Can Take to Keep Youth Physically Active

Portrait of a clever young boy typing message on mobile phone isolated over orange background

The YMCA of Metro Chicago shared that proper physical activity is critical for every child’s health and well-being, and according to Dr. Dan Cooper, it’s even associated with improved academic performance. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that children and adolescents should get at least 60 minutes of daily exercise that includes aerobic activities, muscle-strengthening activities, and bone-strengthening activities.

While most parents know the importance of keeping youth active, it may sometimes be challenging to make exercise appealing to children. Try to adopt new habits that will improve the health of both you and your children, while also strengthening your family’s bond.

Here are a few ways to that you can empower your family to be more physically active together:

1. Lead an active life yourself. Children are heavily influenced by what they observe from their parents or guardian. They will learn the value of physical fitness if they see exercise incorporated in your own daily life. Read more

DuPage Medical Group offers obesity medicine services

DuPage Medical Group, a large independent, multi-specialty physician group, said it will now offer obesity medicine services at its new weight loss clinic in Oak Brook.

Leading this new service line are Doctors Zaid Jabbar and Jeffrey Pua, who work alongside patients to help them achieve their wellness goals through individualized approaches to weight loss management at 3011 Butterfield Road, Suite 240 in Oak Brook.

 High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis and sleep apnea are just some of the chronic conditions that can be caused by obesity. DMG’s Weight Loss Clinic specializes in obesity management services as well as medical consultation for metabolic disorders and weight control. Each patient receives a customized wellness plan that evaluates key health areas such as preventative care, metabolic disease, weight loss, cholesterol management and medication management. Obesity medicine specialists coordinate each patient’s care with other medical specialists, aiming to improve overall health and quality of life through weight loss management.

Read more

Tackling Childhood Obesity: Prevention and Treatment

I was pleasantly surprised to find THIS article on the Way Lani Website.  I follow her Yoga classes but am so impressed that she shared the following thoughts:

It doesn’t take scientific studies to prove that obesity has become a serious health problem in our society. Too many people are overfed yet undernourished, and sadly, this also includes children. Diet-related diseases that were once solely found in older populations, such as type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and even coronary artery disease, are now showing up in children. Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults and face an increased risk for many diseases, including cancer. Yet probably the most distress for obese children comes from the mental and emotional pain of being overweight.

Childhood obesity is hitting every corner of our society—nearly one out of every three children in America is overweight or obese. Even First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her goal to bring awareness to the seriousness of this problem. So how did we come to this point?

Why Are So Many Kids Overweight Today?

For decades, conventional nutritional wisdom has told us that weight gain and weight loss is a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. Yet a growing body of research shows that healthy weight maintenance and weight loss is more complex than originally thought. The flora in our gut, chemicals in our environment and food, conditions in the womb, sleep habits, and other more subtle factors can all influence body weight in children.

For example, research has found that babies delivered by cesarean section are at increased risk for becoming obese as children. Nearly a third of all babies in the U.S. are born via C-section—that’s over a million babies at increased risk for obesity each year. Babies who are given antibiotics before 6 months of age are also at increased risk for becoming obese, likely due to the effect of antibiotics on internal flora. Read more

Train With Your Kids

Vicky Hallett shared in The Washington Post that parenthood comes with countless surprises. Most involve bodily fluids.

Like, for instance, the sudden lack of opportunities for Mom and Dad to sweat.

“We both used to get up in the morning and just go exercise,” says Amanda Holliday, a dance fitness teacher whose son was born in 2016. “That’s not happening anymore.”

Even if it’s possible to tote the kid along for a workout, there’s a lot more to consider beyond your number of reps — and a lot more to cram into your gym bag.

And although it seems it should get easier to carve out me-time as tykes turn into tweens, don’t count on it, says Jennifer Lungren, 44, who’s been teaching suburban fitness classes for moms for 15 years. Thanks to her four kids (ages 8, 10, 13 and 15), every afternoon, evening and weekend is a blur of shuttling between activities.

If you don’t want to take an 18-year break from exercise, consider these strategies to make workouts work for families.

Parents of infants

Congratulations, you now have a weight that probably will cry and scream if not held constantly.

This can be an opportunity, suggests Holliday, 30, who quickly discovered that her son was happiest when snuggled and swayed in a baby carrier.

Rocking him to sleep at 3 a.m. got boring, so she experimented by adding in some salsa moves. He was such a great partner that she created a baby-wearing dance fitness class, Baby Mombo, which she started teaching when he was just 8 weeks old. Think smooth steps and belly dancing to get the heart rate up and work the core, plus squats and lunges for toning. Read more

Self-Care: The Journey to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Paired with our expertise, the team at Jumo Health shared that encouraging a healthy lifestyle is essential for the growth and development of our youth. When we teach our kids self-care practices, they are likely to maintain these practices in order to evolve and thrive from adolescents into healthy adults. Self-care does not just pertain to physical health but it includes mental health as well. While childhood obesity and mental illness are not always mutually exclusive, they are commonly diagnosed as a result of the other.

Nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (aged 6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity. Children who suffer from obesity are teased more than their peers of healthy weight, and therefore are more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression and lower self-esteem. However, there are ways in which we can encourage our children to take care of their body and their mind. Here are three self-care practices to start incorporating into our everyday lives:

 

Power a Healthy Mindset with Knowledge

According to Sarah Katula, an Advanced Psychiatric Nurse, conversations about the mental health of another person should begin with a casual chat. This facilitates the opportunity for a loved one or friend to point out a noticed behavior without accusation. In the particular scenario of childhood obesity, this is a conversation that will likely be started by a parent who notices a change in their child. Coping with any diagnosis can be challenging, and growing up diagnosed with obesity has its own particular set of challenges. Read more

5 ways nature can improve your health

Amish Doshi, MD, an internal medicine physician with Edward Medical shared in the Edwards-Elmhurst Healthy Driven Blog that we get used to our routine surroundings — the office, our cars, our homes. Deliberately leaving those spaces and moving to natural surroundings for a while, unplugged, could seriously improve your health.The phrase “forest bathing” recently spent some time in the spotlight, and deservedly so. When done correctly, forest bathing, or spending time in nature, can provide an important boost to your mind and body.

So what is forest bathing? First, go to a nature preserve. Leave your cell phone locked in your car. Then, let go of the thoughts in your head and focus on the present; the way the tree bark feels, the way the dirt smells, the sounds of birds singing and wind rustling leaves. Take a relaxed, meandering walk that gives you time to breathe and break from the pace of everyday life.

It turns out a nature walk can actually improve your physical health, besides giving you a mental rest.

Among the many benefits, spending time in nature can:

Improve your memory. One study found a nature walk improved short-term memory by 20 percent.

Lower stress hormones. Nature has a calming effect, which allows your body to focus on improving its systems. Many plants release immunity-boosting organic compounds into the air. Forests provide shade, help filter the air and can reduce levels of stress hormones in your body.

Read more

Child and Adult Care Food Program to provide families access to healthy meals

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced the availability of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for the fiscal year 2019. CACFP is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by ISBE as part of a suite of programs to provide children and families access to healthy meals.

CACFP assists child care centers, Head Start programs, before- and after-school programs, emergency shelters, and day care home providers with funding to provide nutritious meals to children in their care. All participating child care centers and day care homes must provide meals to enrolled children at no additional charge.

“The Child and Adult Care Food Program ensures children in daycare and after-school programs who may not otherwise have regular access to healthy food are getting the proper nutrition they need to fuel their developing bodies and brains,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “More than one in 10 people in Illinois, a third of them children, are food insecure. Physical health and nutrition affect our ability to learn, focus, and grow. ISBE is proud to administer nutrition programs that help ensure all children have what they need to thrive.”

In 2016, more than 1.4 million people in Illinois were food insecure, including nearly half a million children, according to Feeding America.

Individuals in households who participate in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assitance Program (SNAP) are automatically eligible to receive free meal benefits. The USDA Household Income eligibility guidelines determine eligibility to receive free meal benefits for families that do not receive TANF or SNAP benefits. If a household’s income falls within or below the listed guidelines, they should contact their child care center or day care home provider to learn about benefits of the Child and Adult Care Food Program. They may be required to complete an application and provide income, TANF, or SNAP information. Read more