The news is out – the Mediterranean diet is top dog when it comes to diets. What is it about this diet that makes it so appealing to health enthusiasts? Why do our friends living this type of lifestyle enjoy better health? The answer is simple. Plants. That is the fundamental block of the Med Diet.
I’m not sure how I can be more clear as a nutritionist that you absolutely must have a wide variety in your diet to reap the health benefits associated with good nutrition. Food is not merely this form of sustainment that we yearn for every 4 hours – it is your key to health.
Those who eat the Med Diet do other things, in addition to their food choices, that help them stay healthy, maintain their weight, and enjoy a better quality of life. They move, not just exercise. We say that all the time – exercise to lose weight. This intentional exercise is important, but even more important is putting movement into your everyday life. If you live close to something, walk there instead of drive. Take your dog out for an extra walk, go play with your kids.
They sleep. Most of us know how hard it is to function without enough sleep. You walk around in a fog, just trying to get through the day, fueled on sugar and caffeine. It’s damaging your body more than you know. Sleep is absolutely essential for health. It not only vital for your body and vital organs to have the down time that sleep provides, not getting enough sleep can increase your risk for weight gain, diabetes, and heart conditions. I think that’s probably worth setting that late night show to DVR and sleeping instead.
So, what can you do about your current lifestyle to help you eat the Med Diet style? I have 3 easy tips to get you on the road to healthier eating.
- Cook at Home: Before I even start talking about what type of food you should eat, you must conquer this first step. It doesn’t do you any good to buy all the healthy food, but not commit to cook it. You do not have to be an Iron Chef, but knowing how to use your stove top and oven is a good first step. If you are a recipe follower, put “easy mediterranean meals” in your search bar and see what happens. Go with one recipe at a time and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.
- Eat More Plants: This is the basis of your cooking. Plan out your meals and then go shopping. That way, you’re not buying 5 pounds of spinach with no idea how to use it. Plants aren’t just fruits and vegetables, it’s all of your grains…ALL of the grains – oats, whole grain breads, farro, quinoa, etc. This also includes beans, peas, and lentils. The plant group is HUGE – you should not be stumped for variety. This is not to say that you don’t eat proteins, on the contrary. The Med Diet is also rich in proteins, but the portion sizes are much smaller than what you’re accustomed to.
- Enjoy Your Food: This is the part of diet culture that has really taken a hit. This isn’t as easy as it seems. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods and enjoy it…period
Do you need some inspiration? Here are some classic Mediterranean style recipes to get you started: