Topic 6 Healthy Eating Guide For Greece

There are ten recommended steps for a healthy diet for children and adolescents in the Greek nutrition guide.

Fruits

  • It is recommended to consume 1-3 portions of fruit per day, depending on age.
  • 1 portion is equal to 120-200 grams of fruit
  • Have children eat different colored fruits every day
  • Choose seasonal fruits
  • Add fruit to yogurt, cereal, or salad (e.g., raisins, pomegranates, apples)
  • Offer children fruit as both a snack and dessert.

Vegetables

  • Include vegetables in every main meal
  • It is recommended to consume 1-3 portions of vegetables per day.
  • 1 portion is about 150-200 gr. It is equivalent to raw or cooked vegetables.
  • Choose seasonal vegetables
  • Make sure to eat vegetables raw as often as possible since they lose some nutrients when cooked. Vegetables should be washed very well.
  • Give children raw vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes as a snack
  • Add more vegetables to their favorite foods to increase children’s vegetable consumption. For example, you can add grated carrots, zucchini, or tomatoes to hamburgers before cooking.
  • Do not forget to cook greens (for example, vlita, radish, zohos, portulaca) that are part of the Greek traditional diet.

Milk and dairy products

  • Milk, yogurt, cheese (butter not included)
  • Make sure the child consumes milk and/or dairy products every day.
  • It is recommended to consume 2-4 portions per day.
  • Avoid standard chocolate milk and sweetened milk as much as possible.
  • Keep brined cheese in water for a while before consuming it to reduce its salt content.
  • Avoid using sour cream in meals and replace it with low-fat milk or yogurt as needed.

Cereals and potatoes

  • It is recommended to consume various grains every day. Whole-grains should be preferred
  • Cereal consumption should vary from 2 portions to 6 portions depending on age.
  • For kids, choose whole grains (e.g., whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta) over-processed grains (e.g., white bread, white pasta) as they are high in fiber. In addition, whole grains are less processed, which means the vitamins and other nutrients found in the outer skin and germ are preserved.
  • Cereals, especially whole grains, can also be a healthy snack for kids (for example, wholemeal bread and veggie sandwiches, oatmeal and fruit yogurt, toast, or whole wheat nuts).
  • Prefer boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes.
  • Make pieces of bread, cookies, cakes, and other homemade treats with wholemeal flour and olive oil. Ideally cook with your kids.

Legumes

  • It is recommended that the child eat legumes at least once a week.
  • It is recommended to consume 2/3 portions of legumes per week.
  • In addition to eating legumes as the main course, you can encourage children to eat them as a side dish or with salad (eg broad beans, black beans).
  • Combine legumes with grains such as bread or rice (for example, lentils), which increases the biological value of their protein.
  • Legumes contain iron. Have your kids combine legumes with a source of vitamin C to increase iron absorption.
  • Avoid using baking soda when soaking legumes because some of the content of some vitamins will be lost.

Red and white meat

  • Ensure that children over two years of age eat lean red and/or white meat 2-3 times a week.
  • Avoid processed meats: cold cuts (pork, beef, turkey, chicken, etc.) and prepared meat products (hamburgers, breaded chicken pieces, etc.).
  • Choose lean pieces of meat. Ask the butcher to give you lean beef (e.g., noua), pork (e.g., beef), or lean ground beef. Remove visible fat from red meat and skin from chicken.
  • How the meat is cooked is important. Charcoal frying or grilling should not be the common method of cooking. It is better to cook meat in a pan or bake it in the oven.
  • Combine meat with vegetables (chicken with beans, beef with zucchini, pork with celery, etc.).

Egg

  • It is recommended that children eat 4-7 eggs per week.
  • Prefer hard-boiled eggs and over-fried eggs. If you are going to fry them, use olive oil. An alternative cooking method is an oven-baked omelet, which can be combined with vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes).
  • Boiling time for eggs is 8 minutes. This reduces the risk of illness if the eggs are infected with salmonella.

Fish and seafood

  • Have children eat 2-3 portions of a variety of fish and seafood per week.
  • At least one portion per week should be fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (eg sardines, anchovies, horse mackerel, colios, garfish).
  • Prefer fresh fish. If this is not possible, you can also use frozen fish.
  • If possible, choose seasonal and local fish and seafood.
  • Frying should not be the regular method of cooking. It is better to cook it in a pot or in the oven instead.
  • Avoid giving processed fish products to children.

Fats

  • Prefer olive oil as the choice of oil in the child’s diet, both in meals and salads.
  • Limit the consumption of added animal-based fats such as butter, and replace it with olive oil if possible.
  • Avoid hydrogenated fats (trans), which can mainly be found in processed products, confectionery, or convenience foods. Check labels on food packaging before purchasing.
  • You can use other vegetable oils (seed oils) such as sunflower oil, corn oil as a second option after olive oil. But avoid palm oil and cottonseed oil, often used for frying in restaurants/fast-food restaurants or found in processed products.
  • Unsalted nuts are one of the healthiest snack options for older children (over six years).
  • Tahini is an excellent choice of snack for kids of all ages. It can be spread on bread or used for cooking (e.g., tahini pies) and confectionery (e.g., tahini cookies, homemade cereal bars, etc.).

Salt

  • Make sure that children consume as little salt and salt-containing products as possible.
  • When using salt, make sure it is iodized.
  • You can use herbs such as dill, thyme, rosemary, basil, mint, bay leaves, thyme, and dried celery instead of salt to increase the flavor of the meals.
  • Some foods are “hidden” sources of salt, such as bread, pastries, sauces, mayonnaise, breakfast cereals and cereal bars, and some desserts.Read the labels on food packages and choose those with the lowest sodium content.
  • Avoid keeping salty snacks at home such as crackers, shrimp, and chips, often preferred by children and young people.

Added sugars (sugar and sweeteners)

  • Ensure that children consume as little sugar, sweeteners, and products containing them as possible.
  • Avoid exceptionally soft drinks, energy drinks, or fruit juices that contain added sugar.
  • Products in this group can be consumed occasionally and in moderation.
  • Do not use sweets as rewards.
  • Do not add sugar to baby milk.
  • Replace sugar with honey if possible.
  • Teach children to brush their teeth every time they consume sugar and sugar-containing products. Candies and lollipops are particularly harmful to dental health because of their high sugar content and sticky texture.

Water

  • Remember that the amount of water children need depends on the ambient temperature and their level of physical activity. If they are in a hot environment or doing vigorous exercise, have them drink more water.
  • Make sure children drink water instead of juices, soft drinks, energy drinks, etc.
  • Remind children to drink water often. They often forget this and can become dehydrated when they are active.
  • Children should not consume caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black tea, energy drinks, cola soft drinks as they may cause high blood pressure, insomnia, and dehydration.
  • Children and adolescents should not consume alcohol.