What makes the Mediterranean Diet a good choice?
There is so much confusing information available about the best foods to eat to be healthy. But now with the latest update of the MyFoodPyramid to MyPlate, even the American diet is shifting towards a healthier focus with ½ the plate being composed of fruits and veggies. This way of eating is followed in the countries around the Mediterranean. In a temperate, warm climate by the sea, people there eat a lot of fish, fruits, vegetables and olive oil. Their Mediterranean Diet (MD) is known for its nutritional content and is a good choice for healthy eating.
I think you should evaluate your current diet and strongly consider adopting a diet that is rich in nutrients and vegetables such as the MD diet. Whether you decide to fully adopt the MD diet or begin to transition toward eating more fresh food, you will improve your eating. Limiting processed foods and carbs is a lifestyle modification that will take some work. The majority of the diet revolves around vegetables.
Bach-Faig looks at the Mediterranean Diet as a pyramid that outlines necessary daily, weekly, and occasional guidelines of how much and of what to eat for a balanced diet. She works to create a new visual graphic representation of the MD lifestyle. The new pyramid of the MD demonstrates the composition of what meals should consist of and how much should be eaten. The MD diet has been shown to be extremely effective at protecting against chronic diseases as well as aiding in other health benefits. She shows that plant-based foods make up the majority of the food that should be eaten on this diet to provide proper nutrients and should be eaten frequently and in high proportions. Olive oil is considered to be the “principal source of dietary lipids” and should be used for everything from cooking to dressings. The focus is to update the MD diet to the current day but maintain and preserve the rich cultural history associated with the region and its way of eating. This revised MD pyramid was created to visually portray the diet to facilitate adherence to this healthy dietary program and its lifestyle components. Besides the guidelines presented, frugality and moderation are also stressed to deal with the current obesity epidemic.
To begin trying this diet you should have about 1-2 servings of fruit at every meal. Then have more than 2 servings of vegetables of different colors and textures (cooked or raw) at every meal. You can eat 1-2 servings of olive oil and whole grains in addition at every meal. Make sure you have adequate hydration with enough water and tea. Every day you should aim for about 2 servings of low fat dairy and 1-2 servings of nuts and seeds. On a weekly basis you should limit sweets to twice or less, less than 3 servings of potatoes, more than 2 servings of fish/seafood, 2 servings of white meat, 2-4 servings of eggs, more than 2 servings of legumes, and less than 2 servings of red meat and none or 1 serving of processed meat. Then keep your alcohol to a minimum; typically wine is the beverage of choice to drink in moderation. Also keep in mind that you could take hints from the Mediterranean lifestyle and begin walking more rather than driving, and also do your food shopping daily.
And if you have the means – might I suggest you begin your new diet with a trip to the Mediterranean? That should help get you in the proper mindset to change your eating habits as you experience the culture and cuisine.
Bach-Faig, A., Berry, E. M., Lairon, D., Reguant, J., Trichopoulou, A., Dernini, S., . . . Mediterranean Diet Fdn Expert, G. (2011). Mediterranean diet pyramid today. Science and cultural updates. [Article]. Public Health Nutrition, 14(12A), 2274-2284. doi: 10.1017/s1368980011002515