I love the Mediterranean diet because it is more of a lifestyle than an actual diet. Plus, it is all about balance, you really are not cutting anything out. It is more about eating whole foods instead of processed junk. My favorite part of this “diet” is that you can enjoy a glass of red wine and dark chocolate!
Since it is more of a lifestyle than a diet, physical activity is very important when it comes to the Mediterranean lifestyle. If you have been there you will notice that people walk everywhere and every single day. People in the United States on the other hand would rather drive even if it is just half a mile. You do not need to do some crazy workout every day but make sure to get outside and to get your body moving!
Not only is it about eating whole foods and physical activity but also your mental health. People in the Mediterranean area make sure to spend time with their loved ones laughing, cooking, and making memories.
There is so much more to living a healthier lifestyle than just eating right and exercising. You need to take care of your mental health as well and try to reduce stress as much as possible. Basically, just live in the moment and remember to simply enjoy life!
What is the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea. It is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, beans, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats.
This is not some crazy diet where you starve yourself but instead just choosing whole foods that have actual nutrients and not just a bunch of processed/packaged foods that are full of sugar. Let’s be honest here, fresh food tastes 100 times better anyways!
Fish is the main source of protein with healthy fats like olive oil, olives, and avocados in everyday meals. The Mediterranean diet uses a lot of olives and olive oil due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The best way to consume vegetables is by eating them raw because that is how you get all of the nutrients from them. While cooking vegetables some of the nutrients are lost. However, either way, it is still a very healthy option and if you are going to cook your vegetables try adding olive oil to them before.
Health Benefits of The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a great option if you are trying to lose weight or just be overall healthier. You are consuming a lot of plant-based foods and healthy fats that are typically low in calories and high in fiber. This works if you are vegan or vegetarian as well just skip the fish!
- Can help reduce chances of heart diseases and strokes
- Protect against type 2 diabetes
- Reduce the risk of Parkinson and Alzheimer’s
- Prevent chronic diseases
What Does a Mediterranean Diet Consist Of?
- Whole Grains
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red Wine
- Red meats like pork and beef only a few times a month
Fish is much more common in the Mediterranean diet than poultry and red meat. Typically on this diet, you would have poultry about once a week and red meat a few times a month.
The rest is fish or plant-based meals instead of processed foods. The best part is that you can have wine with your dinner but if you do not drink there is no need to add it.
What to avoid:
- Refined oils, grains
- Foods with added sugar
- Processed/Packaged foods
I love the Mediterranean diet because they use real and whole foods in all of their dishes. This is the main reason why it is so healthy! In America, we are so used to having things premade and yes that might be easier but it is definitely not healthier.
Is the Mediterranean Diet Healthy:
Meals are planned around vegetables which are high in fiber to help regulate digestion, lower cholesterol, maintain blood sugar levels, and healthy weight. It is known to help fight against certain diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases.
The Mediterranean diet is associated with lower overall mortality and cardiovascular death.
Small Changes You Can Make:
- Add grapes, blueberries, broccoli, peppers, figs, spinach, chickpeas, eggplant, beans, and lentils into your diet.
- Oats, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and pasta instead of flour.
- Eat fish at least 2 times a week like a tuna, trout, salmon, sardines.
- Low-fat dairy products moderately.
- Poultry and eggs once or twice a week.
- Limit sweets and desserts to a few times a week.
- Red wine occasionally, 1 glass a day for women and 2 glasses for men.
- Use herbs, spices, garlic, onions, lemons, and other citrus fruits instead of salt.
- Add avocado instead of bacon.
- Brush fish with olive oil.
- Sprinkle salads with nuts and seeds instead of cheese.
- Cook with olive oil instead of butter.
- Switch from 2% milk to 1% or fat-free.
- Have fruit for dessert instead of cake
Importance of Healthy Fats:
- The fats that you really want to stay away from are trans fat and saturated fats. Trans fats are banned in the United States because they are not safe for consumption. Eating these fats can lead to chronic diseases like stroke and diabetes.
- Saturated fats are more common in the United States and can be found in red meat, dairy products, baked goods, and other packaged foods. A diet that consists of high saturated fats leads to higher cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
- No saturated or trans fats like butter, fried foods, fatty meats, and some cheese. These all increase the risk of heart diseases.
- The healthy fats are monosaturated and polyunsaturated. You can find these fats in seeds, nuts, fish, and vegetables like avocados.
Tips for Eating Out:
- Ask for broiled, grilled, baked, or poached instead of fried or breaded.
- Ask to prepare food in olive oil instead of butter.
- Order sauces like marinara or olive oil, avoid creams and mayo.
- Whole grain bread instead of regular white.
- Whole wheat pasta, brown rice instead of flour.
- Ask for a side salad or grilled vegetables instead of chips or fries.