The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest diets in the world. It is considered to be heart-healthy as it's associated with longer life expectancy, lower cardiovascular risk incidence and has also shown to reduce the likelihood of depressive symptoms in older adults.
One of the characteristics of this diet is that it emphasises on including more plant based foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and unprocessed cereals). Fish and poultry are eaten in low/moderate amounts and the lowest consumption is of red meat and sweet foods. Dairy is also consumed in low to moderate amounts. And of course, it is well known for olive oil, which is high in omega 9, that has anti-inflammatory properties. There are of course some slight variations, as it is the traditional diet of the many countries around the Mediterranean.
What I like about this way of eating is that it does not exclude major food groups like some diets and it focuses on including large portions of vegetables. Most importantly you can still be social when following it, as it is based on sharing meals.
If you would like to follow Mediterranean diet, follow these ten tips.
- Eat whole fresh foods closest to their natural state instead of processed foods.
- Instead of counting calories, include more fresh vegetables in your meals. These foods are usually more nutrient-dense and lower in calories and fat. Make a salad by slicing some tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and combining with leafy greens and mix in a vinaigrette dressing. Or you can have your vegetables cooked; baked vegetables with herbs, stir-fried vegetables or make vegetable soups.
- Eat some fresh fruits daily which are high in vitamins, anti-oxidants and fibre.
- Instead of desserts, have a variety of fruits.
- Include legumes as these are a good source of protein and fibre. Also, do try to have some vegetarian meals every week. You could start with once a week and increase to twice/thrice a week. Some simple suggestions are lentil soup, bean stew or chickpea salad.
- Have whole grains instead of processed grains. Try brown rice, barley, oats or whole wheat.
- Reduce the amount of red meat you have and have moderate amounts of chicken, fish, dairy and eggs.
- Make water your main drink that you have through the day.
- You can enjoy a glass of wine with your meal but don’t drink excessively as this negates its benefits.
- Have healthier fats such as olive oil, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds.
The traditional Mediterranean way of living focused also on lifestyle, living within a community, sharing meals with others and staying active through the day.
Often when working with clients, I see that they take just one food from the Mediterranean plan. For example – using olive oil and expect that alone to make a difference. To see the benefits, you need to include all the food groups as much as you can. With time, this becomes easier so make your changes a step at a time.
And lastly as with everything that we do it is important that you keep it interesting and have a variety of foods; use fresh herbs and spices when cooking so you don’t get bored of the Mediterranean diet.
Sujata Din is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Professional Cancer Coach based in London. Sujata assists clients worldwide via individual consultations, Skype, phone and email. She equips clients with the tools, information and strategies that lead them to better health, higher energy levels and ultimately a happier disposition. She offers individual health and nutrition consultations, leads workshops on nutrition, cooking demonstrations and pantry overhauls.
For more information visit https://sujatadin.com/
Tammy Y N Tong, Nicholas J Wareham, Kay-Tee Khaw, Fumiaki Imamura, Nita G Forouhi. Prospective association of the Mediterranean diet with cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality and its population impact in a non-Mediterranean population: the EPIC-Norfolk study. BMC Med. 2016;14(1):135.
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