In the spirit of National Nutrition Month, we’ll spare you the sugarcoating. Latino kids are more likely to be obese, diabetic and have higher blood pressure than the rest of the population. Poor nutrition is the main culprit. As strong Latina mothers looking for ways to empower our children, we can’t afford to underestimate the importance of a healthy eating.
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Here are a few simple tips for teaching kids about healthy eating and making nutrition more of a priority in your family. We hope you find them useful.
1. Kick the salt habit. Saltiness is an acquired taste. We’ve conditioned our pallet to crave salt. While some of us might have to wean ourselves off of it, we can still do our children a huge favor by sparing them salty snacks from the get-go.
2. Spare them the sugar. We take precautions to keep knives and sharp objects away from our children. Let’s do the same with sugary drinks and snacks. And that means fruit juice, too. Juice is not as healthy as you might think. Once the pulp, skin and fiber have been filtered out, all that’s left is a sugary concoction loaded with calories. If your kids need their juice in the morning, try to limit their consumption to just 4 ounces.
3. Read those labels! Nutrition labels are there for a reason—read them! A simple rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, stay away from it. At the very least, make a conscious decision about what you’re putting into your child’s body.
4. Involve the kids. Help your kids take an interest in their nutrition. Take them with you to grocery stores and farmers markets. Let them help make dinner. Just as bad habits are learned, so are good ones. Instill that healthy foundation early.
5. Let your kids play with their food. It’s in their nature to be creative and playful. To encourage healthy eating habits, fuel their curiosity and imagination. For example, if your kids are into dinosaurs, have them pretend the potato is a dinosaur egg and broccoli is a small tree. Or if your kids are into outer space, have them pretend different fruits are different planets.
6. Set a good example. Gandhi said it best: You must be the change you wish to see in the world. When we’re raising our children, we’re literally changing the world. So if you’re teaching your kids about healthy eating, then you need to eat well. Our children are absorbing more than we can even fathom, so it’s up to us to set the example and be the healthy eating role model that our children need us to be.
If you’re looking for additional tools and resources to help support you this National Nutrition Month you can visit the AHA’s new Healthier Kids. Remember that #HealthyHabits start at home. Make a healthy home a family affair!
Enjoy the rest of National Nutrition Month and let us know which ideas have worked for you!
This article was submitted by our friends at the American Heart Association through Vida Saludable, a bilingual resource of the American Heart Association to help keep Latino families healthy. You can follow Vida Saludable on Twitter at @AHA_Vida.