We can probably all agree that there's nothing better than diving into a juicy pound-burger and fries after a long day at work or school. Yummy! That's the kind of comfort food that makes both your stomach and your wallet happy and that, even though you know how unhealthy it is, you can't resist but indulge in it anyways. If only there was a diet with proven health benefits that would help you stay fit without missing out on the "good kind of food"... Oh wait, there is!
I'm talking about the Mediterranean diet, which refers to the eating habits of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy, Spain, etc. A substantial number of studies have confirmed that those following this eating style have a significantly reduced risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and cholesterol, and have even reported a longer lifespan. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (dietary guidelines published by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services) recommended the Mediterranean diet as "a healthy eating pattern individuals may choose based on personal preference" (2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans).
The diet consists mainly of the daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil. Seafood and poultry should be consumed at least twice weekly, whereas red meat should only be eaten occasionally. Dairy products should be eaten in moderate amounts, and sweets less often and in small amounts (Mayo Clinic). Notice the diet doesn't require you to completely give up sweets, it simply asks that you consume them in smaller amounts and less frequently, so you can still enjoy your favorite desserts without any regrets (mouthwatering lava cake, here I come!). In essence, the diet is very easy to follow and here's how you can do it:
-Replace white flour with whole wheat
-Avoid deep-fried foods
-Eat more seafood
-Consume more fruits, vegetables, and legumes
-Opt for healthy fats like avocados and olive oil
-Avoid processed food
-Eat less dairy
-Use fresh herbs
The diet allows you to get creative with it! You can use the above food pyramid as a guideline for your meal prep and you can create a plethora of delicious dishes! If you need ideas to get started, a typical breakfast may include Greek yogurt with honey and oats, curried vegetable and chickpea stew for lunch, and a tuna sandwich (no need to mention that you should use whole wheat bread and light mayo, right?) accompanied by a salad of your choice for dinner. The possibilities are endless!
So next time you're craving a burger don't be quick to run to Red Robin or Burger King, but give this diet a try instead! Look up "Mediterranean Diet Recipes" or create your own (since you now know the basics of the diet). Take a trip to the grocery store, pick out a whole bunch of fresh goodies and get to cooking! I promise, your body will thank you!
ThdUse the above pyramid as a basis for your meal plan and get creative with it! You can make a plethora of delicious dishes ranging from a Mediterranean 3-Bean Salad, to Air Fried Cod, to Spanakopita, etc. The options are endless, but if you need help getting started, a typical breakfast may include Greek yogurt with honey and oats, curried vegetable and chickpea stew for lunch, and a tuna sandwich (in whole wheat bread of course) accompanied by a salad for dinner. As with many other diets, this one also requires that you drink 8 glasses of water daily and that you maintain an active lifestyle.