Healthy Living Blog
TOP Star: Teaching Obesity Prevention in Childcare Settings
What is TOP Star?
TOP Star is a program developed by the Utah Department of Health and Utah's Local Health Departments to prevent obesity among children in childcare. The goal of TOP Star is to help childcare providers improve their center’s environment through nutrition and physical activity with technical support from local Health Department Consultants.
How do I become Endorsed?
What is Endorsement based on?
TOP Star endorsement is based on a point system measured by the final
self—assessment. There are three levels: One Star, Two Stars and Three stars.
Why TOP Star?
TOP Star endorsement helps you boost numbers at your child care facility by standing out to parents and showcasing your achievements in nutrition and physical
activity! All endorsed providers are promoted on the Utah Department of Health's, Salt Lake County Health Department’s and Care About Childcare’s Website. You will also
receive Information and resources with recipes, activities, and applicable news updates! Watch this video to see TOP Star’s impact on a Salt Lake County center.
Child Care Licensing Credit
Child care providers who earn TOP Star endorsement will receive up to 10 Hours of credit towards Child Care Licensing and Career Ladder Credit for Levels 1-3 or 5-8.
Contact your local TOP Star Consultants for more information and become TOP Star endorsed!
the school year comes to a close, your kids are probably feeling the pressure
of their final exams, final projects, and the excitement for the summer months
ahead! So how can you help keep them focused and more care-free during crunch
time? Look below for some helpful hints:
Grateful. Research shows that engaging in some sort of gratitude every
day, i.e., keeping a gratitude journal, practicing
gratitude exercises, etc., has many health
benefits, both physical and emotional. Some of these benefits are more
positive emotions, increased optimism, a stronger immune system, better sleep,
and lower blood pressure. Practicing gratitude reminds us, and our kids, of the
good things in life, and can help reframe the current situation, seeing it in a
Matters. “Mindfulness not only reduces stress, but also gently builds
an inner strength so that future stressors have less impact on our happiness
and physical well-being.” Practicing
mindfulness can help us to become more aware of our thoughts, emotions,
feelings, and surroundings. It provides an opportunity to take a step back and
look at the big picture, helping your lil’ scholars decide how to react to a
situation and change their attitude. Try downloading a mindfulness
app, guided meditation,
or these other ideas!
Do them together to help you both de-stress.
Breathe. Taking a minute to focus on your breath can also be a great
way to reduce stress. It gives the brain the break it needs to refocus, recharge,
and come back to your project or assignment with a clear head. There are lots
of different ways to tune into your breathing; practice deep
breathing, do some stretching,
or simple breathing
exercises can do the trick! If you have younger kids, have them try calm
It Up. Experts say that taking a break
while studying helps boost creativity and increase productivity! If your
students find themselves in a slump, take the dog for a quick walk, play catch
in the backyard, or take a minute to make a healthy snack. Letting your brain
relax and allowing some time for fun will help your kids finish the year
and Prioritize. Feeling frazzled between end of year PTA meetings,
tests, and extracurricular activities? Don’t fret, just get organized! Have a
family calendar on the fridge and assign each child to a color so you know
which activity belongs to who; Prioritize homework time and family time; is
there something your child can do without? Maybe cutting back on certain
extracurriculars can make more time for other important things.
Household Habits. Living a healthy lifestyle is a key component to
being stress free. Engaging in physical activity, whether it’s through team
sports or a family bike ride after dinner, produce endorphins in our brain.
Endorphins are chemicals that relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure.
Encouraging healthy eating habits can also prevent stress. If a child is full
with the right nutrients, they’re going to feel energized and are less likely
to reach for the cookie jar halfway through studying. Keeping healthy
snacks on hand can also be helpful; apples and peanut butter, carrots and
hummus, etc. Last, ensuring your child is getting enough sleep is crucial. Have
a set bed time and bed time routine, and if they need a nap, try to keep it
within 20 minutes (depending on age).
it out. Let your kids know that it’s ok to ask for help and that you
are their strongest support system. When they do come to you, be sure you are actively
listening and empathizing with them. Be encouraging and positive; praise
them for their accomplishments and help them to see opportunities for growth in
difficult situations (getting a bad grade, a missed catch, etc.). Remember,
boys and girls handle stress differently, so be in tune to different
Health-ify Your Next Coffee Break
Do you have a
go-to coffee shop for a daily jolt? How about the perfect caffeinated beverage
to spice up that after-lunch work coma?
These tips and
tricks are for you!
Pick a smaller size: Try decreasing your size by one level.
Choose skim or non-fat milk: Reduce the amount of saturated fats you drink and eat.
Say no to whip: Your treat will still be delicious without whip cream. Is it too hard to say no? Why not cut the amount of whip cream in half?
Minimize the sugar: Asking for half of the syrup in your favorite latte or cappuccino will add up over the span of a month and even more over a year. Just try it and see what happens!
Share your treat: Have you been craving a delicious scone, or an apple- cinnamon- walnut muffin? Share it with a friend or co-worker!
Tips to re-do your next stop for coffee
This information was found on
Put Your Best Fork Forward, Be Active!
10 minute increments of physical activity offers the same health benefits as being physically active for longer periods of time, making it easier to fit activities that you enjoy into your daily routines.
Here are some ideas to try:
- Get the whole family involved — enjoy an afternoon bike ride with your
- Walk up and down the soccer or softball field sidelines while watching
the kids play.
- Walk the dog — don't just watch the dog walk.
- Clean the house or wash the car.
- Do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike while watching
- Mow the lawn with a push mower.
- Plant and care for a vegetable or flower garden.
- Play with the kids — tumble in the leaves, build a snowman, splash in a
puddle, or dance to favorite music.
- Get off the bus or subway one stop early and walk or skate the rest of
- Replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. Ask a friend to go
- Take part in an exercise program at work or a nearby gym.
- Join the office softball team or walking group.
- Swim or do water aerobics.
- Take a class in martial arts, dance, or yoga.
- Golf (pull cart or carry clubs).
- Play racquetball, tennis, or squash.
- Ski cross-country or downhill.
- Play basketball, softball, or soccer.
- Hand cycle or play wheelchair sports.
- Take a nature walk.
What do you like to do to stay physically active? Tells us in the comment section below and be entered in to a prize drawing!
For more information, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Three Common Mealtime Questions Answered
Having family meals on regular basis often comes with its own problems. Below are three common questions that are answered by a Health Professional:
Question: How do I deal with picky kids who won’t eat the meals I’ve prepared?
Having a child who is a picky eater can be challenging and make meal times feel like a battlefield. Some strategies for helping you child include:
- Allow kids to be “produce pickers” by letting them pick out the fruits and vegetables at the store.
- Encourage children to help prepares meals because it will get them excited about the food.
- Offer the same foods for everyone in the family whenever possible. Do not be a “short-order cook.”
- When introducing new food, be sure to only offer one new food at a time so as not to overwhelm the child.
- Be a good role model for your child. You are the person that they learn many of the eating habits from so be an example of trying new foods.
Question: I never feel like there is time for family meals. What
are some strategies for making family dinner happen?
Making time for family meals does require some
- It is important to try and find a time that will be best suited to
the family schedule.
- Try making preparation of the meal about family time and
not just the meal itself.
- Give every family member an age appropriate job to
help prepare dinner. This may include setting the table and helping to prepare
small parts of the meal.
- Plan meals that are nutritious but realistic. If you
do not have time to cook a huge dinner try to make healthy meals that are not
very time consuming.
- Make meal
times enjoyable and pleasant. This creates a positive experience which increases the likelihood
that each family member will want to make time to participate.
Question: One of my kids has
Celiac disease but my other kids do not. How do I prepare meals for everyone?
- One way to feed everyone is to make meals with
common, gluten-free grains. For example, rice is gluten-free and pairs well
with stir fry, broiled chicken, re-fried beans, and other common foods. Look for
gluten-free recipes that the whole family can enjoy.
- Another idea is to do
build-your-own meals where each member of the family’s plates will look a
little different anyway. For example, you can do build your own fajitas and let
your child with Celiac Disease use gluten-free tortillas. If other members of
the family want to try the gluten-free options as well, go ahead and share so
that your one child will not feel like an outsider.
- Many companies are creating
gluten-free versions of typical grains, such as pasta, so try out these grains
out with your family. They may not even notice the difference!
This information was found on the Utah Family Meals Website.