Nurturing Health through Mediterranean Roots: A Personal Journey ~ Domenico Pratico, MD, FCPP
Growing up in the sun-soaked and seaside landscapes of southern Italy, I was blessed to inherit a lifestyle deeply rooted in the Mediterranean diet. Embracing the abundance of local produce wasn't just a choice; it was a way of life, dictated by both convenience and necessity. In my formative years, the idea of dining out, opting for take-out, or succumbing to snack food excesses was practically nonexistent. Fast-food chains were a distant reality, and the snacks that tantalized taste buds in other parts of the world were exotic luxuries, not easily accessible.
Reflecting on my upbringing, I now appreciate the enduring health benefits of the diet that shaped my early years. Today, as an adult, a doctor, a researcher, and an academic, I hold a profound awareness of the holistic advantages of the Mediterranean diet. Originating in a region where staples like olive oil, legumes, fruits, and vegetables abound, this diet is not exclusive; it is adaptable and can be embraced from a tender age. True wellness commences at birth, perhaps even in the womb.
As the autumn season beckons many children back to school, it becomes crucial to deliberate on providing them with wholesome choices. Whether you're packing a lunch for your child or yourself, the contents matter. Consider offering an array of nutritious snacks throughout the school day and after classes. The snacks you make available at home greatly influence your child's choices when hunger strikes – convenience often dictates preference.
Swap out high-calorie, nutrient-poor snacks with fresh fruits, snacking vegetables, or yogurt paired with honey or granola. Instilling healthy eating habits in children from an early age not only promotes immediate health benefits and heightened energy levels but also lays the foundation for a lifelong commitment to mindful food choices.
Diversify your child's daily diet by introducing a wide variety of vegetables. Preconceived notions about disliking certain vegetables likely stem from limited exposure. If a particular vegetable is absent from your usual fare, explore recipes online to incorporate it into your meals.
Considering not just what you eat but also what you drink is paramount. Opt for still or sparkling water over sugary sodas or high-fructose beverages. Enhance your water with a burst of freshness by adding squeezed lemon or lime for flavor
As we delve into the study of diseases that manifest later in life, it becomes evident that contemplating lifestyle changes and cultivating positive habits should commence early on. Share your favorite quick and healthy snacks by leaving a comment below – let's build a community that embraces well-being through mindful choices.
Domenico Praticò, MD, holds the position of the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation Chair for Alzheimer’s Research and serves as a Professor and the Director at the Alzheimer’s Center at Temple, as well as a Professor of Pharmacology at Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.