The ideal diet would include cheesy pasta, delicious red meat, fruity drinks, and unlimited chocolate, but unfortunately, that diet won’t provide you with long-term health and wellness.
Every day, there seems to be a new diet. About three months ago, the Ketogenic diet was on the front page of almost every health magazine, replacing the “fat-free” fad diet that was garnering attention for years. However, there is one diet out there that people are starting to follow that actually yields the amazing results it preaches.
The Mediterranean Diet is ranked as 2019’s best overall diet according to US News and World Report for the second consecutive year. Let’s go over what it consists of and why it’s so great for the body.
According to hundreds of studies taken from people who reside in the Mediterranean basin, they live longer, happier, and healthier lives than their American counterparts. Chocano-Bedoya states, “there is consistent evidence for a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern and lower risk of depression”.
What Impact Can The Mediterranean Diet Have On My Lifestyle?
- Prevents and treats high blood pressure
- Helps to manage diabetes
- Improves heart health
- Reduces inflammation
- Prevents stroke
- Improves mood
- Prevents cognitive decline (dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.)
- Improves gut health
What Does The Mediterranean Diet Consist Of?
The Mediterranean diet appeals to many people because it doesn’t limit your macronutrient count (i.e. the number of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you eat in a day). You will never be limited to the amount of food you are allowed to eat. This is what makes a diet so restrictive and unenjoyable for the most part.
A Mediterranean diet consists of a high amount of vegetables, a moderate amount of lean protein (chicken or fish is ideal), and a moderate amount of dairy products. Instead of vegetable or corn oil, use olive oil for cooking, making vinaigrettes, or anything else you need oil for. If you like to drink, reduce your alcohol consumption to one or two drinks a day (ideally not every day of the week) and try to stick to red wine.
These foods contain healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals while being low in sugar. Healthy fats are essential to the Mediterranean diet, such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts. They can help you to lose weight, reduce the risk of heart disease, and decrease inflammation in the body. Legumes such as lentils, beans, seeds, and complex grains (quinoa, wild rice, barley, etc.) are incredibly high in fiber. This substance is very beneficial to a healthy lifestyle, as it helps to regulate blood sugar and keeps bowel movements regular. It can slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and increase serotonin (the “feel-good” chemical), decreasing hunger-related mood swings (something we can all benefit from).
Here are some easy guidelines to follow before you grab those keys and drive to your local grocery store.
Foods To Eat Plentifully:
- Vegetables (try to eat a variety of colors, even the green ones!)
- Legumes, Nuts, and Seeds
- Lean proteins (ideally fish and seafood)
- Olive oil and fresh herbs
Foods To Eat In Moderation:
- Dairy (yogurt, cheese, milk)
Foods To Avoid Entirely:
- High-sugar foods and drinks (sodas, fruity drinks, candies)
- Refined oils (canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, vegetable oil)
- Processed meat (hotdogs, cured ham, canned meats)
- Red meats (beef and pork of any kind; bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, etc)
It is important to know the difference between a ‘diet’ and a ‘lifestyle change’. Fad diets have been around for centuries and have never been beneficial to long-term health and wellbeing. These diets exist to make people lose unhealthy amounts of weight too fast, resulting in health problems and subsequent re-gain of all the weight that was lost.
While we refer to it as the ‘Mediterranean Diet’, what we are talking about is a set of guidelines that can help people to choose healthy foods over unhealthy ones while keeping the flavor and fun in their lives. No diet is meant to be followed to a T, which is why we discuss foods to eat in ‘moderation’, not just to avoid them entirely. The big picture here is to try your best to eat well most of the time, and to allow yourself to a treat now and then.
Tips & Tricks To Get Yourself On The Mediterranean Diet
- Swap out the sugary drinks for flavored water or tea sweetened with honey or stevia
- Swap out cow’s milk for plant-based milk (almond, soy, cashew, rice, pea, the possibilities are endless!)
- Replace fatty proteins with leaner ones (less bacon, more salmon)
- Incorporate vegetables into each meal
Now you know the basics of the Mediterranean diet, simple alterations and swapping out “this for that” will allow you to transition to this healthier lifestyle.
If you would like more information about what kind of diet or lifestyle is ideal for you, schedule a wellness visit with Live Totum today! Call Dr. Lisa Liberatore at (212) 288-2222 or schedule an appointment online.