The childhood obesity epidemic is no joke, and it strikes the Latino community worse than any other. Our kids are 1.6 times more likely to be overweight and it's hurting more than just their health. According to USA Today, a new analysis found that, over a lifetime, the medical costs associated with childhood obesity total about $19,000 per child. Yikes!
If you're not sure what to do about it, we've gathered up the 10 worst habits that you may not even realize are making your kids gain weight. Are you guilty of any?
1. You're keeping chips in the house.
Sure, everyone loves to snack, but the first step in not eating junk food is to simply not buy it. Instead of keeping chips in the house for your kids to easily access, try having hummus with carrots on hand for when mid-day hunger strikes.
2. Making them clear the plate.
This is how our mami taught us, we know. But forcing your kid to clear the plate actually teaches them a bad habit: ignoring the signs of being full and instead stuffing their faces. Trust us, this is one that needs to go!
3. Stocking the fridge with juice & soda.
We love a little jugito to start off the morning, but keeping juice and soda around is always a bad idea. The sugar content in most juices and sodas isn't going to do your kids (or yourself) any favor. Stop the habit!
4. Having the standard breakfast be cereal.
Another food that you may not realize has a ton of hidden sugars is the breakfast cereal. Whether it's the really sweet kind or not, it's better to stick to oatmeal, eggs or 0% fat yogurt--all with fruit or veggies!
5. Making "kid friendly" food for dinner.
What's "kid friendly" food? For a lot of parents, it means heating up a pizza or chicken nuggets for dinner. Instead, make a healthful meal for your entire family (filled with plenty of veggies) and make sure the kids have some, too!
6. Your house is carb-centric.
Sure, we all love our arroz con pollo, but where does it stop? Maybe your family loves pasta, or you're always making sandwiches. Instead, start incorporating more whole grains into your family diet, like quinoa and brown rice.
7. You don't sit down to dinner together.
If you're too busy to have dinner together as a family, then how will you know if your kids are eating well? Set an example, make time and make sure that your plate looks just as healthy as theirs does.
8. Processed food is everywhere.
Whenever you take the kids grocery shopping, you let them talk you into buying things you know you shouldn't. From candy to frozen meals to crackers, you keep it all in the house--but you shouldn't! Instead, begin serving up healthy cupboard basics.
9. You rely on fast food.
Sure, once in a while is fine, but we know that sometimes there are weeks where you don't have time to cook and so fast food becomes the better dinner option. Instead, spend a Sunday night preparing some easy family meals for the rest of the week.
10. There's sugar everywhere.
You buy the candy. You buy the cookies. You make cupcakes or abuelita's favorite flan. Once in a while is okay, we admit, but always having sugary foods around is no good. More than that, check the labels of any packaged foods you buy for hidden sugar.