As the best diet overall, the Mediterranean diet prevents diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, certain cancer, and many other kinds of illnesses. Sure, you understand why this is important, but do your kids do? Would they eat what you put on the table before them, or are they going to resist all the fish and vegetables that come with Mediterranean dishes? While it sounds tempting to just let your kids fries and chicken nuggets all the time, you know in your heart that good eating habits are formed in childhood.
It is challenging to switch kids to a healthier diet. Even if you managed to make them stay away from processed foods, they might not easily be welcoming to the thought of eating beans, fish, olives, nuts, and seasonal produce. These comprise the core of Mediterranean food. There’s a way, of course, to incorporate these foods into your kids’ meals, whether they’re at home most of the time or they’re bringing their lunchboxes to school.
Make the Meals Together
Kids love doing things with their parents. Instead of bonding over chocolate chip cookies and brownies, why not make a healthy dinner? Look for a simple hummus recipe that you and the kids can follow easily. They can be the ones to mash the chickpeas once the blender is done with them. Let them mix it with olive oil and a little bit of salt. Other people prefer their hummus with tahini, roasted red pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes. Any one of these variations is great to make with your kids.
Eat Mostly Homecooked Meals
Research already showed that adults and kids are happier and healthier when they eat homecooked meals. This should be enough reason for you to cook more at home than rely on fast food chains. Good eating habits start at home, preferably at the dining table. Eating together as a family allows everyone to talk about what food they like and what foods are good for them. Commit to eating meals together most of the time. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional restaurant meals, eating homecooked meals has a ton of benefits.
Don’t Force It
Studies said that kids need an introduction to new dishes 15 times before they develop a taste for them. So, don’t force them to eat everything at once. Start by introducing one side dish per meal before you decide to offer a full Mediterranean meal for dinner. When they’re already used to the idea of seeing at least one Mediterranean dish per meal, then they won’t mind having a full course.
Make Vegetables and Fruits a Staple
Mediterranean meals are not all veggies and fruits. They’re composed of fish, seafood, and poultry, too. Occasionally, there’s meat such as beef kebabs. What makes Mediterranean meals healthy is the fact that they always include vegetables and fruits. To introduce this kind of diet to your kids, make sure there are always fruits and vegetables on the table. While you shouldn’t force them to eat these, the mere fact that they are on the dining table will start to open their minds to the possibility.
Grow Your Own Vegetables
Do you know what’s more exciting for kids to do? Planting and gardening! Plant seeds with your kids and let them take care of them. Let them watch these grow into vibrant vegetables and fruits. Teaching kids where food comes from will make them more appreciative of the food on the table. They will soon refuse to let the food go to waste. So whenever you have the chance, teach them how to grow tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers, which are all staples of a Mediterranean diet.
Introduce Fish and Healthy Pasta
Instead of regular pasta, go for the whole-wheat variety and add some seasonal vegetables. Kids love pasta, so start preparing sauces loaded with vegetables such as carrots and zucchini. You can mash them in with the red or white sauce, so your kids will not notice their taste. Sometimes, it’s more about what they see than what they actually taste.
As for fish, introduce it in kid-friendly ways such as fish sticks and croquettes. Kids may sometimes be weirded out by seeing the whole fish on the table, so the best way to serve it is to fillet and make it into sticks. Make a nice dip such as tomato and onion salsa or even spinach cream dip.
The Mediterranean diet will set your kids up for healthy eating habits. These are the kinds of food that everyone should be eating, regardless of their age. It’s not just a healthy option, but it is the healthiest option.