How to Get Your Children to Eat a Mediterranean Diet

So, you want to eat a Mediterranean diet. But how can you get your children to follow? Everyone with kids knows how fussy they can be (spot the understatement?!).

Cooking delicious meals (such as the ones in the Mediterranean Diet Plan!) is a big part of the solution, as is carefully planning the transition from your family’s current eating habits.

Helpfully, a recent study has also highlighted various things that can help get kids to follow a Mediterranean diet.

Grab your FREE checklist

Let me send you a free checklist of steps you can take to move your family to a new diet quickly and easily. 

Just let me know where to send it.

Transitioning to a new diet

Before we get into the things we can do, let’s first look at how to plan the transition. Moving your family to a Mediterranean diet is easy if you follow a few simple steps.

How quickly you make the move really depends on three things:

  • the type of food you eat as a family right now
  • your reasons for moving to a Mediterranean diet
  • how resistant members of your family might be to change

Current diet

Some families already eat quite healthily but others, usually without realising it, eat a lot of unhealthy food. I won’t go into that now but you can download our free Quick-start Guide here if you would like to know more.

If your family does eat a lot of unhealthy food changing to a new diet too quickly may cause complaints!

Joking aside, studies have shown that highly processed food can be addictive, very addictive. 

One study showed, for example, that transitioning away from a diet containing lots of highly processed foods too quickly can lead to irritability, tiredness and cravings. The effects peak during the first two to five days then taper off.

Of course, eating a few highly processed foods each week doesn’t mean you will experience this but you get the point.

The good news is that now we are aware of it we can plan a transition that will reduce the risk of getting these symptoms. If they do occur, we also know that they will soon go.

Motivations

Another thing to consider is your reason for moving to a Mediterranean diet. If, for example, you are experiencing specific health issues you may want to transition quickly.

Family resistance

Children can be fussy eaters and there’s no point jumping straight in to a new diet if they are going to reject it. Sure, a Mediterranean diet will do them lots of good but that line of reasoning may not be enough to persuade them!

In this case, gradually introducing new recipes over time is the way to go. By slowly adding new meals over a few weeks/months they will not notice the change.

It goes without saying that it helps a lot if those meals are delicious. That’s a big focus for us at the Mediterranean Diet Plan. All our recipes are tried and tested to ensure that they taste great.

Mediterranean Diet Dinner

Children can be fussy eaters and there’s no point jumping straight in to a new diet if they are going to reject it. Sure, a Mediterranean diet will do them lots of good but that line of reasoning may not be enough to persuade them!

In this case, gradually introducing new recipes over time is the way to go. By slowly adding new meals over a few weeks/months they will not notice the change.

It goes without saying that it helps a lot if those meals are delicious. That’s a big focus for us at the Mediterranean Diet Plan. All our recipes are tried and tested to ensure that they taste great.

Speed of transition

Overnight transition

For families that currently eat low-medium amounts of processed food and/or are not resistant to new things, simply picking a day and running with the new diet works well. 

Remember, to get the benefits of the Mediterranean diet you don’t have to follow it absolutely all the time. There is still room for the odd highly processed favourite.

Similarly, if you or a member of your family has a health issue you may want to go straight into the diet.

Whichever is the case for you, simply pick a start date, use up or discard any non-Mediterranean diet foods and start stocking up on the foods listed in our post Mediterranean Diet Food List: the Ultimate Guide.

Gradual transition

If your family eats medium-high amounts of processed food or you are concerned that a new diet may meet resistance then taking a more gradual approach is the way forward.

Adding 1-2 new meals each week means that the change will hardly be noticeable.

There’s also the option of taking an even slower approach by introducing individual ingredients from the food list into your current recipes. For example, start using extra virgin olive oil instead of other oils, substitute fish for meat, make healthier versions of their favourites, etc.

Children

Coming back to the study referred to in the introduction…

To find out the things that encourage children to follow a Mediterranean diet, researchers took a group of 1,639 children and examined various areas of their lives. 

They found 5 specific factors that made it more likely that children would follow a Mediterranean diet:

Less screen time

Encouraging your children to have less screen time is linked with eating more fruit and vegetables and adhering to a Mediterranean diet.

Boy Using iPhone

The researchers defined “screen time” as time playing on phones, tablets, TV, computers and games consoles.

Eating frequently

Children who eat mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, along with breakfast, lunch and dinner are more likely to make healthy food choices.

This makes complete sense. It’s a “virtuous circle”: eating regularly helps keep blood sugar levels stable which then helps prevent sugar cravings making it more likely kids will choose healthier foods which in itself stabilises blood sugar levels.

Physical activity

The more physical activity children do, the more likely it is they will follow a Mediterranean diet.

Less eating out

Eating out less often is linked to greater compliance with a Mediterranean diet. This is partly because eating out more often involves unhealthy food and partly because of “unhealthy external cues” children can pick up from restaurants.

Mother’s education

Children whose mothers had a higher level of education are more likely to stick to a Mediterranean diet. 

The researchers believe that more highly educated mothers are more likely to be aware of the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and so are more likely to encourage their children to follow it.

This being the case mothers who read up on the benefits of the diet should achieve the same results, irrespective of their previous education.

Wrap-up

Moving your family to a new diet is much easier if you take a little time to plan the transition then follow a few simple steps.

If you follow the suggestions in this post you’ll make your life as easy as possible!

To help I have put together a free checklist of everything in this post which you can download below.

I’d love to hear how you get on!

Grab your FREE checklist

Let me send you a free checklist of steps you can take to move your family to a new diet quickly and easily. 

Just let me know where to send it.

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