What is the Mediterranean diet? It is the diet that the peoples around the Mediterranean Sea have followed for millennia. It is based on fresh seasonal produce, plant-food variety, moderate portions and a relaxed way of eating your meals in company of family and friends and at a table.
The Mediterranean diet is often referred to as the Ultimate Diet Plan. Those who adopt the Mediterranean diet for their lifestyle sometimes express amazement at the fact that they are able to eat and enjoy such tasty food and drink without having to resort to cardboard-like diet foods to lose weight and get healthy.
The Mediterranean-style diet is the original diet adopted in the cradle of civilization and is designed to give man the ultimate health and vitality. The rich soil and mild climate of the Mediterranean region ensured healthy foods would be available to feed the population.
Today, health professionals sometimes call the diet, The Golden Pyramid because it encompasses a base of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and herbs and spices. The remainder of the pyramid features fresh fish and seafood, then poultry, cheese, yogurt and eggs and lastly meat and sweets.
The rainbow of colors found in the Mediterranean diet foods ensure you are getting the best of what the world has to offer in the vibrant foods which can keep you healthy and vital and prevent diseases which sometimes affect us as we age.
Three Widespread Myths About The Mediterranean Diet
As with most dietary plans, there are some facts and myths about the Mediterranean diet plan. Some of the most common include the following:
Myth 1: You just follow the Mediterranean diet plan and you’ll lose weight. For best results this healthy eating plan must be paired with moderation and exercise. Choose a physical exercise you like and be active at least twice a week.
At the same time, use every opportunity to walk instead of using your car and even walk up and down stairs instead of always using a lift. Apart from helping you to be fit, such choices swift your attitude to a more active life.
Myth 2: The Mediterranean diet allows you to eat large bowls of pasta, bread and butter. The Mediterranean population that still follow the ways of the ancestors doesn’t eat that way.
Unless it’s a special celebration, you eat pasta in moderation. Typical Italians eat pasta a minimum of 4 times a week at lunch time with many eating pasta with every lunch. Granted there are regional differences but this is the general norm.
If Italians would eat the huge portions that you see sometimes in films they would probably be fat. A standard portion of pasta is 70 to 80 g of durum wheat pasta. Whether you want to lose weight or not, eating durum wheat pasta is a must and if your main aim is losing weight, buy whole wheat pasta.
There are many pasta dishes with plant-based foods. Three examples are, spaghetti with fresh tomato and basil, a daily traditional pasta dish, pasta alla Norma, a summer Sicilian pasta dish that Sicilians love and pesto alla Genovese. All of them vegetarian, healthy and delicious.
As for bread, a small piece dipped in olive oil rather than spread with butter.
Myth 3: I can drink all the wine I want on the Mediterranean diet. Wrong! A little red wine can have a positive influence on your heart health, but drinking too much has the exact opposite effect. Drink one or two small glasses of good quality wine slowly and always with your meals at the most. And if you never drunk wine before you better leave it unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Two Essential Facts About The Mediterranean Diet
Fact 1: The Mediterranean diet is less expensive than most diets. When legumes, plant-based foods and whole grains are the largest portion of your diet, you should be able to save more money than when serving cheese, meat and many processed and canned foods.
Fact 2: The Mediterranean diet plan can improve your sleep patterns. Many people suffer from sleep deprivation because they eat heavy meals with lots of alcohol in the evening. The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating and drinking in moderation and your sleep should improve as a result.
The bottom line about the Mediterranean lifestyle is you’ll be eating delicious and healthy foods, exercising and sleeping better. You’ll enjoy a slimmer waist, healthier heart and clearer mind as a result.
Getting Started On The Mediterranean Diet
You may find you’re not giving up much when you transform your present diet into the Mediterranean-style diet —just adding to or eating a bit differently. Here are some tips to plan your entrance into the Mediterranean diet lifestyle:
- Use spices and herbs rather than lots of salt and harmful fats to flavor your food.
- Plant-based foods and fruits should be the main components of your meals and snacks.
- Choose whole grains, rather than processed grains found in many breads, cereals and pastas.
- Nuts and seeds are a source of healthy fats, fiber and protein but don’t overdo it. In the case of nuts, remember that a little goes a long way.
- Use olive oil rather than butter or margarine. Dip bread in oil —and a few of your favorite spices or herbs— rather than slathering it with butter.
- Fish is important in your new diet. At least twice a week. In many Mediterranean regions people eat fish three to four times a week at dinner time.
- Limit your red meat intake. Choose fish, poultry or white lean meats as a substitute.
- Instead of drinking large quantities of milk, eat a few spoons of natural yogurt without sugar or synthetic sweeteners. Add honey if you have a sweet tooth. Remember that yogurt should be eaten in the morning, not in the evening.
- Part 1: Why Would You Be Interested In The Delights of the Mediterranean Diet?
- YOU ARE HERE: Part 2: What is the Mediterranean Diet? Discover 3 Myths And 2 Essential Facts
Mediterranean Diet Guidelines
The Mediterranean diet isn’t so much about giving up all the foods you’ve enjoyed – it’s more about making better choices as substitutes which might surprise you with their tastes and textures. For example, rather than serving rice with meat, eat rice with a variety of vegetables.
Rather than eating a sandwich on white bread, try wrapping your fillings in a whole-wheat pita bread. And, keep a variety of veggies such as carrots, broccoli and some salsa for dipping rather than chips and fatty dips.
When you begin to experiment with recipes from the Mediterranean cuisines, you’ll be surprised at how satisfied you feel after a meal even though you only ate small portions. The Mediterranean-style diet packs a lot of punch with fresh and colorful ingredients with spices used to enhance flavors and satisfy hunger.
One thing is sure — Mediterranean food and meal will never bore you. The Mediterranean diet is a fun and healthy way of eating that can contribute enormously to your general well-being and spirits.