Mediterranean Approach to Weaning
Cat our Founder: ‘I was brought up fed on a predominantly Mediterranean diet, wherever in the world I was. This didn’t just mean copious amounts of fruit and vegetables, lots of grains, pulses, fish and olive oils; it was also about how much real, good food was part of my life, it was family and mealtimes were a great pleasure to me. This wasn’t a conscious decision to follow a specific, healthy diet, it was just what we did; eating what was in season and easily available to us.’
It is almost universally accepted that the Mediterranean diet contributes to better health and longer survival. The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a nutritional model that consists mainly of olive oil, whole grains, fresh or dried fruit and vegetables, a moderate amount of fish, dairy and meat, and lots of fresh and dried herbs and spices.
The principles of the Mediterranean approach to eating are a wonderful way to approach weaning. Offering a wide variety of ingredients and eating together, especially as the food a baby eats in the first few years of their life has been shown to influence their later eating habits and health.
When we talk about introducing solids, weaning off milk and the Mediterranean approach to eating, we are talking about the importance of variety of tastes and textures, using a wide range of delicious ingredients.
The Mediterranean diet offers a way of eating, laid out in the Mediterranean Food Pyramid
The Mediterranean approach to weaning and your family
We suggest the following as a basis for your families weekly and daily food plan
Try to include these elements in each meal and introduce these ingredients on a regular basis to your baby from 6months -1 year until they start eating full meals with the family.
• Vegetables: A variety of colours and textures provide a diversity of antioxidants and protective compounds. Offer a different vegetable or two at lunch and dinner.
• Fruits: Again, it is about a variety of colours and textures. Fruit should be chosen as the most frequent dessert if offering puddings, but can also be given alongside savoury foods (in the Mediterranean, fruit is often offered alongside vegetables and not given as a separate course).
• Olive oil is located at the centre of the pyramid. Olive oil’s unique composition gives it a high resistance to cooking temperatures but is also very good to use raw in dressings. Olive oil is a wonderful fat to give to babies.
• Spices, herbs, garlic and onions are a good way to introduce a variety of flavours without the need to use salt.
• Olives, nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Whole nuts should be avoided until 5 years old to reduce the risk of choking.
• Cereals: in the form of bread, pasta, rice, quinoa and others. Preferably whole grain (however do not give too much wholegrain to a young baby as they contain significant amounts of fibre- great for adults, but babies do not need as much fibre).
• The combination of legumes and cereals are a healthy source of protein. Particularly important if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
• Fish, poultry, red meat and eggs are good sources of animal protein. Fish and shellfish are also good sources of healthy fats. Whilst it is recommended to offer fish twice a week (for both baby’s and adults), particularly oily fish such as salmon or sardines, other meats are recommended to be limited to once or twice a week.
• Consumption of red meat (preferably lean cuts) and processed meats (less than one serving) should be in smaller quantity and eaten less frequency.
• Fish, poultry, and eggs are good sources of animal protein. Fish and shellfish are also good sources of healthy fats. Whilst it is recommended to offer fish twice a week (for both baby’s and adults), particularly oily fish such as salmon or sardines, other meats are recommended to be limited to once or twice a week.
• Dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt: Babies need full-fat forms of dairy. Avoid yoghurts with added sugar if possible. Use fruit to sweeten if needed.
• Consumption of red meat (preferably lean cuts) and processed meats (less than one serving) should be in smaller quantity and eaten less frequency
• Added sugar products such as cakes, biscuits, donuts, sweets and chocolate, should be occasional rather than every day/ the norm.