By Efrain Nieves & Victoria Cepeda
Empanadas, Alcapurillas. Mofongos, Pollo Frito, these are some of my favorite foods from the island. If it were possible, I would eat these foods every day. Alongside these traditional foods, there are those from American fast food restaurants. McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic and many more that add up to the ever increasing amount of our daily calorie intake. However, one challenge is to teach our children about all the other alternative, also yummy, healthier foods out there. We can definitely strike a balance.
Here are three reasons why this information is important via nadarporvida.org:
Latino children and adolescents are at greater risk of overweight and obesity than their white or African-American peers.
Latino adolescents born in the United States are more likely to carry excess weight than Latino adolescents born elsewhere.
Limited availability of healthy foods and safe recreational facilities contribute to higher rates of overweight and obesity among Latino children and families.
While we pass down our culture and heritage in the form of our foods, it’s also important to educate them on how natural foods, earth grown, are a staple in many of our countries of origin where our grandparents and parents may have had to plant and crop their produce vs buying them off the shelf at a local grocery store. For example, let us take Guanábana, Avocado, Pomegranate, Tomatoes, Mangoes, Bananas, Quenepas, etc. Tasty and very nutritionous choices that would make any dessert or dinner a feast without cheating our palates of wonderful tasting foods.
Let us start by taking our kids to a local fruit market. Let us teach them how to pick them ripe ones from the green and show them how the smells and deep colors signal a fruit’s sweetness. If you do not know yourself, just ask the folks at the grocery store. Most will be happy to be engaged in a convo about their produce and you may learn more than you think. Next trip could be to a farmer’s market where we can all learn about all sorts of veggies and pick a few to cook. God knows that Latinos are blessed with an array of veggies that are key to our diets such as yuca, boniato (variety of a sweet potato), platanos (sweet and green), malanga etc.
Let us help our kids get healthy and active by fighting obesity one plate at a time. This summer let us plan outdoor activities and remember that as kids we also wanted to run, play and enjoy being outside. Pa’lante!
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