Get Adobe Flash player
Cretan Quality Label Cretan Quality Label

Advice on nutrition of children

Advice on nutrition of children and adolescents.

The adoption of a nutrition style that is based on the pattern of the Cretan diet is ideal for children and adolescents, independently of their weight. However, it should be adapted in a way by which particular nutritional needs of these ages are fulfilled. One should not forget that the adoption of the right nutritional habits in this age is important in order to set the base for the right nutrition pattern in the years to follow.

The following advice is useful for all children and especially those with increased body weight. Nevertheless, they can not, in any case, replace the advice of a specialized dietician who will determine the nutritional schedule and the course of therapy according to the particular needs of each child.


ksp_417 Having breakfast is important for children, not only for weight control but also for a better school performance. A balanced breakfast includes milk, yoghurt or low fat cheese, bread or whole grain cereals and fresh fruits or fresh juice.

Scheduled meals and snacks

ksp_424 Regular meals in specific times help the organism to regulate more effectively food intake based on its requirements in energy, and reduces possibilities of overconsumption of food. Apart from breakfast, children should have two more meals during the day, one for lunch and one lighter for dinner, as well as two snacks of good quality, one at school and another during the afternoon. It is better for snacks to be prepared at home by parents.

Meals as a pleasant experience

ksp_423 Meals should be a pleasant experience both for parents and children, as well as an opportunity for the family members to come close to each other. on the contrary, having a meal in front of the TV is possible to lead to overconsumption of food.

Food variety

ksp_420 It is the variety of the food consumed that will ensure adequacy of nutritional substances since there is no food which contains on its own all the nutritional substances that are necessary for our organism. Participation of children in the purchase of food as well as in the preparation of meals can help them broaden their tasting preferences.

Fruits and vegetables

ksp_416 Fruits and vegetables should be an inextricable part of a child’s nutrition since they must be consumed in at least 5 portions during each day:  1 portion of fruits consists of 1 small fruit or ½ glass of juice, while 1 portion of vegetables consists of one cup of raw vegetables and ½ cup of boiled vegetables. In order to achieve the 5 portions goal, each basic meal should include salad or cooked vegetables, while fruits should be part of breakfast or snack.

It is preferable to choose seasonal fruits, of local production, and to consume a variety of them. Wild herbs are also a very good choice.

Carbohydrates as a nutritional base

ksp_419 Food containing carbohydrates should be a nutritional base for children and adults. Almost half of the calories consumed daily should derive from carbohydrates. Pulses, bread, cereals and whole grain pasta, rice in the husk and boiled or roast potatoes are considered good choices in this food category.

Saturated fat

The fat quality is very important in a diet. Choose olive oil in food preparation, but also in pastry, and avoid animal fat as much as possible. Some of the good choices are low fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish, as well as homemade pastry based on olive oil. These foods have a low content of saturated fat which has several adverse effects in the organism.

Availability of healthy foods at home

The availability of healthy snacks at home and the exclusion of low quality foods helps children to adopt a better nutrition. Fruits, low fat yoghurts combined with fruit, honey and dried fruits, beverages which can be produced at home with milk and fruits, toast with whole grain bread and low fat cheese are only a few of the numerous choices for a healthy snack at home.

There is no such thing as “good” and “bad” food

[SinglePic not found] In the framework of a well balanced nutrition, we should not be obsessed with food choices. Children can consume even “bad” food, as long as it is not on a regular basis and there is an agreement between parents and children regarding the frequency.

Food as a means of nutrition and pleasure

In no case should food be used as a rewarding, a threat or bribery. Children should learn to regard food only as a means of nutrition and pleasure, because this is the only way for them to learn to respond to the actual feeling of hunger. For the same reasons, parents should not insist on an empty plate from the children. Furthermore, foods which might not be agreeable to a child should be present on the table, but the child must be given the freedom to choose or reject them. This policy is more possible to finally help in the reconciliation of children with these foods.

Parents as an example for children

ksp_422 As it is mentioned above, parents, through their habits on food and physical activity, affect children in their choices. Good nutritional habits and regular physical activity should therefore be part of their lives, not only for the sake of their own health, but also for the health of their children.


    Cali AM, Caprio S. Obesity in children and adolescents. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93(11 Suppl 1):S31-6. Review.

    Chatzi L, Torrent M, Romieu I, et al. Mediterranean diet in pregnancy is protective for wheeze and atopy in childhood. Thorax. 2008;63(6):507-13.

    Chatzi L, Kogevinas M. Prenatal and childhood Mediterranean diet and the development of asthma and allergies in children. Public Health Nutr. 2009;12(9A):1629-34.

    Daniels S. The consequences of childhood overweight and obesity. Future Child. 2006;16:47–67.

    Daniels SR, Jacobson MS, McCrindle BW, et al. American Heart Association Childhood Obesity Research Summit: executive summary. Circulation. 2009;119(15):2114-23.

    Freedman DS, Dietz WH, Srinivasan SR, et al. The relation of overweight to cardiovascular risk factors among children and adolescents: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics. 1999;103:1175–1182.

    Gruber KJ, Haldeman LA. Using the family to combat childhood and adult obesity. Prev Chronic Dis. 2009;6(3):A106.

    Haslam DW, James WPT. Obesity. Lancet 2005;366:1197–1209.

    Hassapidou M, Fotiadou E, Maglara E, et al. Energy intake, diet composition, energy expenditure, and body fatness of adolescents in northern Greece. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006;14(5):855-62.

    Kontogianni MD, Vidra N, Farmaki AE, et al. Adherence rates to the Mediterranean diet are low in a representative sample of Greek children and adolescents. J Nutr. 2008;138(10):1951-6.

    Lazarou C, Panagiotakos DB, Matalas AL. Physical activity mediates the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet on children’s obesity status: The CYKIDS study. Nutrition. 2009. [Epub ahead of print]

    Parry LL, Netuveli G, Parry J, et al. A systematic review of parental perception of overweight status in children. J Ambul Care Manage. 2008;31(3):253-68.

    Sinha R, Fisch G, Teague B, et al. Prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance among children and adolescents with marked obesity. N Engl J Med. 2002;346:802–810.

    Wang Y, Lobstein T. Worldwide trends in childhood overweight and

    obesity. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2006;1:11–25

    Wang Y, Lobstein T. Worldwide trends in childhood overweight and obesity. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2006;1(1):11-25. Review.

    Whitaker RC, Wright JA, Pepe MS, et al. Predicting obesity in young adulthood from childhood and parental obesity. N Engl J Med. 1997;337:869–873.