Every day you hear about new diets and so many of us don’t know what to believe. There seem to be good things and bad things about each diet. FOr the most part, each diet is either too good to be true or has its flaws! I am not a big believer in a Diet but rather a way of life. If I had to pick one diet out there that I can somewhat resonate with, it would be the Mediterranean Diet. It is something about the European women that seem to have it down but what is it? There are books and books out on these women and how they keep their waistline in check. Have you heard of ” French women don’t get fat”? Have you been to Italy and seen how beautiful the Italians are, even though they indulge in their heritage for pasta, chocolate and wine. Why are the American’s packing on the pounds and the Europeans are keeping their waistline? Even Spaniards and Greeks who linger over two-hour lunches consisting of three courses are slimmer than the typical American worker who squeezes in half a sandwich and a diet soda in front of the computer Monday through Friday.
The truth is the diet of those who live in countries with shores along the Mediterranean Sea is only part of the formula that keeps them slimmer and less likely to suffer from heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer than Americans. The Mediterranean lifestyle calls for lots of walking, and its more leisurely pace allows for more time to prepare healthy meals, to eat slower and therefore to eat less, and to spend with family and friends. And since enjoying these social and family bonds are valued, they seem to have less stress which directly correlates to that nasty hormone Cortisol that effects our waistlines! They seem to enjoy their food and the quality of it along with the social component it brings rather indulging carelessly and focusing on quantity over quality, like so many Americans. –Hence, Super sizing meals fast food meals!! Yuckkkk
Americans place an emphasis on convenience due to our increasingly hectic and stressful work lives. The idea of a two hour lunch through the week is almost unimaginable. Outside of major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco, our cities are not pedestrian friendly, and given that we are more likely to move around the country for careers, our social and familial bonds tend to be weaker. It may, therefore, be unreasonable and unrealistic to completely change our lifestyles to follow the Europeans, but there are certainly aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle than can be adapted to the American way of life.
The Mediterranean Diet consists of eating up to 40% of total daily calories from monounsaturated fat sources, such as is found in olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds. Yes, 40% fat!! We all have a fear of fat but why!! It is not fat we should fear but the wrong types of fat! Stop fearing fat. Use antioxidant-rich olive oil in cooking and in preparing foods such as salads and vegetables. Eat fish, a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids 2-3 times per week. Snack on almonds and walnuts which are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. You should also incorporate essential fat supplements such as Omega 3-6-9’s into your supplement schedule on a daily basis!
The Mediterranean Diet pushes eating poultry and fish several times a week. They do keep their egg consumption to less than 5 per week and this is a FLAW I see… Again, not every diet is perfect!!
They Eat red meat once or twice per month and I am all for this! The best sources of protein in my book are fishes and poultry, with fishes being #1!
If you can, replace your red meat with protein sources that are lower in saturated fat such as lean chicken, turkey, fish, and even Egg whites! Don’t forget about your vegetarian protein sources such as beans and lentils.
The Mediterranean Diet stresses drinking or eating a low to moderate amount of diary each day. Here is another part of the diet I would tweak. If you are going to eat dairy I would suggest low to non fat sources but not on a daily basis. Non fat or low fat cottage cheese, yogurt, greek yogurt, cheese are great in moderation and limited to a few times a week, max but I would stay away from milks, even if low fat or non fat, as much as you can.
If you do eat low or non fat dairy, try to eat only organic dairy, which is free of the hormones found in most US dairy products. Avoid sugary yogurts. Try Greek-style yogurt, which is low in sugar and high in protein! Remember that you can get calcium from other sources than dairy! Remember that certain vegetables, such as broccoli, provide calcium too.
The Mediterranean Diet Way stresses eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible. I am all for the unlimited veggies but I would watch out on the unlimited fruits! I am all for eating your fruits but you don’t want to eat them day in and day out, as you would veggies! Watch out on the amounts of fruit you eat and I would recommend eating them 1x/day max and try to eat them post workout or activity! That is a perfect time to eat your fruits!!
I would aim for 7-9 servings of various colored high-fiber vegetables per day and one of those servings can be a delicious ripe fruit. Be sure to wash your produce or buy organic, when you can, to avoid the pesticides so common in produce!! Use your non stick Olive oil spray to prepare your veggies. Not only do they add a nice flavor but those Monounsaturated fats we all want!
The Mediterranean Diet incorporates a moderate amount of whole grain breads and high-fiber cereals into the diet and avoids processed, low-fiber bread, cereals, pastas, etc. This is what we all strive for in our carbohydrate consumption!! It is all about the complex carbs!!
The Mediterranean Diet allows for a small piece or fruit, one ounce of high quality dark chocolate, or a small piece of fresh cheese along with a small glass of red wine for dessert. They also finish their dessert with a nice walk. I am all for the oz of chocolate here and there and glass of wine but not so much the fruit before bed. A walk after dinner or dessert is always a plus!! I would keep the chocolate and wine to your moderate Refuel meals but hey they are still allowed in my program!
The Mediterranean Diet consists of incorporating as much walking as possible! Europeans Walk everywhere. Have you been to Europe?? If you have you know what I am talking about. You walk everywhere!! Not only are you indulging in their high quality foods but you are walking so when you get home you actually most likely lost weight on your travels! Imagine that!!
Try to walk as much as you can, in conjunction with your strength training and cardio program. A few extra steps can only help!
The Mediterranean Diet mentions to eat the biggest meal of the day midday while gathering with family or friends and then relax before heading back to work. I agree with not eating a huge meal before bedtime but in our world and in my book, small frequent meals are key. Not any one meal should be overly large and others too small. Small frequent steady meals are key! I do agree and love the fact that they value family and make time for friends and family-no matter what!
The Mediterranean Diet consists of Eating seasonally fresh and locally sourced food. As much as possible, try getting your foods from the farmers market and your local growers! Not only does it not contain pesticides and hormones but it is so much tastier! Avoid processed food whenever possible. Shop the parameter of the grocery store! Eat food as close to its whole natural state as possible.
All in all, the Mediterranean diet is my favorite and resonates well with me and my beliefs!