Beyond Fad Diets: The Mediterranean Diet Lifestyle
Diet fads come and go. The south beach and atkins diets were all the rage and quickly fell out of vogue, and now the new trend is keto, paleo, or intermittent fasting. All of these diets have die-hard proponents, but many can tell you that the regimented systems are hard to stick to long-term. The diet that withstands the test of time and remains the healthiest in the world is the Mediterranean diet which originates from the 21 sun-soaked countries that surround the Mediterranean sea.
This is because the Mediterranean diet isn’t really a diet. It doesn’t tell you what you can’t eat, or dictate the times of day you can eat certain foods. Instead of strict regimens, it offers guidelines for choosing the most delicious, nutrient-packed foods that help you feel satisfied without causing undue stress about what is on your “allowed to eat” list. It’s a lifestyle that encourages consuming food from ALL food groups, while putting more emphasis on the foods with the most health benefits.
This diet has been backed by research. Study after study shows that it reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and some cancers.
Focus on Plants
Emphasize fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds. Create a colorful plate, with a a variety of textures and different vegetables and garnishes such as olives, arugula, herbs, and olive oil. Add whole grains for substance and depth, and add fruit for a sweet treat. Snack on protein-rich nuts to keep yourself satisfied between meals.
Fish and other seafood are consumed at least twice a week, and cheese and yogurt are go-to sources of protein in moderate portions. Think greek yogurt or feta. Chicken and eggs are okay on occasion, but other meats and sweets are rarely used. This is a departure from the typical red meat-and-potatoes american diet. However we see that people in the Mediterranean countries suffer from far fewer chronic diseases, so we must look at what we are missing here in our culture.
Find JOY in life—it translates to your food choices
If you look at the mediterranean diet pyramid, you’ll see that the foundational level of the pyramid doesn’t focus on food at all. Instead, it says to enjoy meals with others, and move your body. Staying physically active is important, we all know this. But what does it look like? Does it have to be slogging to the flourescent-lit gym every day after an exhausting work day? Or can it look more like joyful interaction—a pleasant walk and conversation with family after a shared dinner, a trek up a hill for a weekend picnic lunch. Perhaps a dance shared after dark with your beloved. In the mediterranean diet, socialization and shared movement form the foundation for your healthy lifestyle. It is not a forced regimen or a chore, but instead a choice that elicits happiness. When you feel good in these ways, you are more likely to choose food that reflects your ease in your body. You will intuitively know that the heavy fried chicken meal will keep you from being light on your toes for your evening walk, so you’ll opt for a lighter but just as filling option such as a beautiful wild-caught salmon served with a side of quinoa and roasted broccoli.
Eating slowly and mindfully are also part of this lifestyle. At least 20 minutes per meal is encouraged. It will feel foreign at first, since we are so used to eating on the go. But to linger over conversation, pause between bites, and enjoy the scenery around you will add to your experience of nourishment and encourage healthy digestion.
Savor whole grains
Unlike many diets that villainize carbohydrates and grains, the mediterranean diet incorporates whole-wheat bread, pasta, and wild rice. Ancient grains are also used, such as quinoa, millet, spelt, farro, and amaranth. These varieties of grains add texture to the meal and help you feel satisfied for longer. Instead of living in fear of carbs, it is encouraged to eat in this sustainable way. Many people who lose a lot of weight fast on low-carb diets feel deprived, and once they go back to eating their old habitual carbs they gain it all back. To instead incorporate healthy grains into your balanced diet will help you lose weight in a sustainable way. It may take longer to come off, but it will stay off.
Don’t skip meals—especially breakfast
One of the biggest mistakes people make when dieting is skipping meals to save on calories. This approach backfires because the body goes into starvation mode—when your body thinks food is scarce, it slows metabolism down. Instead, you want to constantly stimulate your metabolism by eating a small nutrient-dense snack every few hours. Almonds, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruits are great ways to keep your metabolism fired up throughout the day.
At breakfast, enjoy whole grain toast spread with avocado, hummus, or nut butter. Add a handfull of berries, or an egg to keep your appetite satisfied until the next meal time.
You can also think outside of the traditional “breakfast” box. Why not enjoy a bowl of hearty leftover soup or a platter of olives, cheeses, fruits, and honey?
Dessert and wine are not off-limits
Many diets completely prohibit any sugars or alcohol. While the mediterranean diet certainly does not encourage indulgence, it also does not cut out any food groups. Meals are to be enjoyed, and you can add one glass of wine or a goat-cheese stuffed fig drizzled in a bit of honey. There is no food that is truly off-limits. Instead, focus on moderation and variety in your food choices.
How we can help
Acu-Na Wellness Center offers holistic health consultations to evaluate your health goals and offer suggestions for nutritional supplementation, dietary therapy, herbal medicine, and healing modalities such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage. These approaches are combined to help you restore vibrant health without compromising any aspect of your life. You can feel great while improving your health and receiving nourishment and nurturing. We can help you explore your path to wellness and honor your true self.
We also offer food sensitivity testing to discover the origins of any digestive complaints, leaky gut, and systemic inflammation arising from the gastrointestinal tract. Food sensitivities can lead to many common complaints of fatigue, joint pain, headaches, and chronic conditions. Acu-Na Wellness Center can help you explore and refine your dietary choices to optimize your health and relieve your symptoms. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org