Healthy Kids - Fall 2023

The Mediterranean Diet for Kids ON THE MENU By now you know all

Even picky eaters can benefit from the Mediterranean diet, says Mirvis. Her suggestions: At each meal, serve your child 75 percent of foods that you know they will eat and fill the remaining 25 percent with a new food. Allow your child to choose between two new foods that the family is eating that he or she can explore. Include your child in meal preparation using a new food that they picked out. Encourage your child to explore the new food without expecting them to eat it. “Do not be discouraged if they do not accept the new food and continue to introduce new foods at later meals,” she says.

“Individuals of all ages can benefit from the Mediterranean diet as it has been associated with lower risk of heart disease through improved cholesterol levels and reductions in blood pressure,” says Sierra Mirvis, a registered dietitian at Rady Children’s. “Follow this eating pattern with your family by incorporating more plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts/seeds as

about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet (see page 12). But what exactly does it entail? The eating plan is inspired by the traditional foods consumed in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Spain and southern Italy. It has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, diabetes and obesity in adults. The Mediterranean diet is also great for kids. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds, legumes, veggies, fruit and healthy fats, such as olive oil. Moderate amounts of poultry and dairy are also allowed. Processed foods, refined grains, red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages are strongly discouraged.

well as healthy fats.” So, how do you put the

Mediterranean diet into practice in real life? Fill half your child’s plate with colorful veggies at each meal and offer a variety of fruit. Fruit can be fresh, frozen or canned in water. Choose whole grain breads, cereal, pasta and crackers, and stock up on avocados and olive oil. Aim for three servings a week of fish and legumes like beans, peas and peanuts. Add seeds to salads and smoothies and keep nuts on hand for snacks.


n Eat a variety of fruits and

n Use olive oil

n Include eggs

n Get a variety of

when cooking.

as an excellent source of protein.

healthy fat from olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

vegetables, aim for half of your child’s plate to be vegetables, offer fruit with each meal. n Include beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds in your diet daily. n Choose products made from 100 percent whole grains.

n Limit processed foods like hot dogs, sausage, bacon and most deli meats, and

n Eat fish and

poultry regularly, limit red meat to a small amount per week.

refined grains like white bread, rice and pasta.

n Drink water as your main

beverage. Flavor water with herbal teas, fruit or drink sparkling waters.

n Use yogurt and cheese as the main sources of dairy.


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