What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The name “Mediterranean diet” has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? It reminds us of lovely European cities, beautiful waters, and amazingly fresh food.
The Mediterranean diet is actually not a diet at all (if your definition of a diet is something restrictive and associated with weight loss). It’s a way of eating seen in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea (duh), like in Greece, Italy, Spain, and France.
The eating behaviours of that region were recognized and popularized because observational studies showed drastically better health outcomes there. We see reduced heart disease, less cancer incidence, lower neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, less diabetes, and just overall better health.
This eating pattern is so promising that it's actually one of the top recommendations in Canada for reducing risk for cardiovascular disease for both healthy individuals and those that already have risk factors, like high blood pressure or family history of heart disease.
It’s worth mentioning that the diets and cuisines of the individual countries are not homogenous. There are certainly differences and variations across them, BUT there are a few common elements.
The Mediterranean diet has been recognized for:
High intakes of olive oil, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes
Moderate intakes of fish/seafood, poultry, low-fat dairy, eggs, and red wine (usually with meals)
Low intakes of red or processed meat and refined carbohydrates
For any of you that are interested in adopting a more Mediterranean-style diet, there is no need to be intimidated. All it takes is a few simply swaps.
To help with that, I have created a handy-dandy cheat sheet (see below).
TIP: Don't make all these changes at once! Health is a lifelong journey so there is no need to scramble and change everything about your diet all at the same time.
Pick just ONE thing that is easier for you to implement and focus on that first. After you're comfortable with it (might take weeks or even months), then choose another tweak to make.
Stay nourished my friends,