Do you think it is wise to introduce your kids to the Mediterranean way of eating at a very young age? Wouldn’t this be a little too hard on them? Well, frankly, the Mediterranean diet for kids can be one of the best things you can ever do for them. Here are the reasons why.
Why Should You Introduce Your Kids to the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet can be good for your family’s health and general well-being. In fact, it is strongly recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the USDA nutrition guidelines. By introducing your kids to the Mediterranean way of eating at an early age, you can:
Help them make better food choices. You can be sure that despite the availability of unhealthy food choices and all the temptations presented by modern advertising and their peers, your children will have a rock-solid foundation of healthy eating. You can be confident that even if they try eating comfort foods, they will never find it hard to give it up.
Help reduce their risk of developing serious medical conditions. If your children are following the dietary guidelines of the Mediterranean way of eating, you can help lower their risk of becoming obese and keep them protected against a number of medical conditions such diabetes (Diabetes Care 2009;32:342–347), heart disease (Journal of Pediatrics 2007;150(1):12–17) and cancer (CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2006;56:254–281). It can also help them protected against developing asthma and respiratory allergies. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,2010)
Your Child and the Mediterranean Diet – Making the Introduction
Don’t be afraid to start introducing your child to the Mediterranean way of eating as soon as he is ready to eat his first solid food. Remember, it is way better to feed your child with fresh, nutrient-packed foods than to start him off with some fake baby food that comes right out of a jar. If you feel that you want to give this a try (congratulations if you do!), here are some tips you may want to consider:
Add some olive oil to your baby’s food. Adding about half a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to your baby’s pureed vegetables can be a very good idea for a lot of reasons. First, it develops your baby’s taste for olive oil, a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats and one of the primary ingredients of most Mediterranean dishes. Second, its presence in your baby’s food helps enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Introduce tomatoes to your baby’s diet. More than just being a rich source of vitamin C, tomato also contains significant amounts of antioxidants and lycopene.
Start sprinkling some herbs on your baby’s foods. Herbs can definitely enhance the flavor and increase the amount of antioxidants your baby gets from his diet. So, why not start adding some fresh garlic, dill, parsley and oregano to your baby’s pureed vegetables? It can be very good for him, you know.
Limit your baby’s meat intake. If you want to follow the guidelines imposed by the Mediterranean diet, then you should not serve your children meat every single day. Instead, you should look for other sources of protein such as fish or cheese to satisfy your child’s protein requirement.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Mediterranean diet can bring a lot of health benefits to you and your children so don’t ever think that you are being a little too harsh on them by introducing them early on to the Mediterranean way of eating. On the contrary, it can be one of the greatest and most lasting legacies you can ever give them.
With all the information we shared with you today, would you consider introducing your children to the Mediterranean diet? I hope you would.
I hope you find inspiration in today’s post.