Eating healthy and delicious foods that nourish both my body and my soul is very important to me. I’d say it borderlines on a passion. Food to me is more than just sustaining energy. It is fuel for the body, yes, but it is so much more. Eating like a Mediterranean is one way to strengthen your overall health.
Food is healing – or can be when chosen well. I have always said you can pay the farmer or you can pay the pharmacist. As for my husband (a fantastic cook) and myself – we try to keep a well balanced, healthy, whole foods, and flavorful diet.
While I keep flirting with the idea of eating a more vegan or vegetarian diet, as there are a lot of health benefits of a plant-based diet, I keep settling back into a more Mediterranean way of eating. For us, the flavors, the generous use of fresh fruits and vegetables, the healthy oils and the tendency to consume more fish align more naturally with our taste buds. Oh, and the wine! A glass of red wine with dinner is good for the heart! Following a Mediterranean way of life allows us to enjoy delicious foods.
How to Eat Like a Mediterranean
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Get most of your calories from fresh produce. Aim for at least five to six servings a day. You’ll get the vital nutrients you need and the fiber will help you feel full while eating less.
Choose healthy fats. Stock up on extra virgin olive oil and use it instead of butter or margarine. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are better for your heart than saturated fats.
Substitute fish for meat. Fish is a great source for lean protein and it really is brain food. The high levels of vitamin D in oily fish like salmon and tuna improve cognitive functions. Serve fish at least twice a week.
Stick to low fat dairy products. Liven up your old breakfast cereal by mixing it into low fat Greek yogurt. Buy skim or low fat milk. Careful portion control lets you enjoy cheese responsibly. Feta cheese is very flavorful. A little bit goes a long way!
Snack on nuts. Ditch the processed cookies and crackers in favor of nuts and legumes. They’ll keep you satisfied and make it easier to resist donuts.
Start your day with protein. Protein gives you staying power. It keeps you full and provides slow burning energy. There are so many delicious ways to start your day with protein.
Mediterranean diets claim that they’ll keep you fit and healthy, and they’ve got centuries of evidence backing them up. Whether you prefer Greek, Spanish, or Italian cuisine, this is one approach to eating healthy for life.
Major Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet
Lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. Like any healthy living plan, a Mediterranean diet helps fights metabolic syndrome. You’ll lower your odds for developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other serious conditions.
Improve your emotional well being. Civilizations around the Mediterranean basin have helped teach the world the importance of eating together to maintain social connections. They also demonstrate a constructive balance of physical activity and rest.
Enjoy delicious foods. What’s better than a diet that lets you indulge in a wide variety of your favorite foods? Dine on grilled fish year round. Sip lentil soup on a winter afternoon and serve hummus for an easy summer lunch.
Other Lifestyle Practices
Adjust your grocery budget. A Mediterranean diet can get a little pricey. Shop for seasonal produce bargains. Start your own vegetable garden. Master home recipes for hummus.
Schedule family dinners. Eat together as a family as often as possible. You’ll model good eating habits for your kids and make it easier for them to talk with you. Studies show they’ll even bring home better grades.
Sit down to eat. Whenever possible, pull up a chair to eat. You’ll be more conscious of the calories you consume and you’ll digest your food better.
Drink in moderation. It’s okay to be a teetotaler. On the other hand, small quantities of red wine taken with meals may be good for your heart. The general rule is no more than one glass a day for women and two for men.
Exercise regularly. Pick activities you like and incorporate them into your daily routine. A 30 minute walk each day with a few weekly sessions of strength training and stretching may be all you need. Increase that to 60 minutes if you want to lose weight.
Manage stress. Find relaxation techniques that are comfortable for you. Listen to instrumental music, talk to your dog, or meditate.
A Mediterranean diet can help you lose weight and stay in top shape. In addition to all that nutritious and flavorful food, by adopting some traits of the Mediterranean lifestyle, you’ll enjoy the company of your loved ones and strike a healthy balance between work and leisure activities. Sounds like a great lifestyle to me!