The word “Mediterranean” evokes visions of beautiful shorelines with cascading waves, lustrous wildflowers, and white sandy beaches that are overflowing with attractive people in skimpy bathing suits. These locals eat a diet that help them naturally sustain their sexy beach bodies, without having to go to extreme measures (like over exercising or starving themselves).
Scientists have studied this diet to determine why these people manage to stay so slim, while the waistlines of people in most other countries continually increase. Through their studies, they’ve developed a formula that others can utilize not only to slim down but to also live a healthier lifestyle overall. They called this diet: The Mediterranean Diet.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
The best aspect of the Mediterranean diet is that it has guidelines that can be followed by literally anyone. It isn’t a strict diet that prohibits the consumption of certain foods or requires counting calories; in actuality, it’s just a sensible diet. When put into practice, this diet can have amazing results, including weight loss, lowered risk of diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and every other malady that’s caused by poor eating habits.
According to the Mediterranean diet, there are four categories of food:
- “Eat every day”: Which includes foods such as fruits/vegetables, nuts/seeds, herbs, spices, whole grains, fish/seafood, legumes, potatoes, and extra virgin olive oil.
- “Eat in moderation”: This category is constituted by cheese, yogurt, eggs, and poultry.
- “Eat less often”: Foods such as sweets and red meat.
- “Don’t eat”: Which includes processed foods and food additives.
As previously mentioned, this diet is more of a way of looking at food rather than an actual diet. If what you’re eating comes from the earth and is fresh, eat it often. If it’s created through a chemically induced process, avoid it like the plague.
More than Just a Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is also a way of life. The people of the Mediterranean enjoy their food. They eat slowly to savor the flavors and appreciate the people they are sharing their meals with. They enjoy going for long walks and other physical activities that get their blood pumping.
This slow and fun lifestyle will improve your health in three ways.
- The physical activity will help you burn calories and increase your physical health.
- Eating slowly will allow you eat less, as it takes less food to satiate your cravings. Your body will have time to register when it becomes full.
- Lastly, as these eating habits are relaxing, they’ll help alleviate stress and will increase your emotional well-being.
We have lost the tradition of sitting with our loved ones or close friends to enjoy a meal. Instead, we hurry to get food and hurry to eat it. We say hi as we pass each other in the midst of our chaotic days. This type of lifestyle is the exact opposite of the Mediterranean diet.
Even More Benefits
Although water is one of the only beverages that the Mediterranean diet suggests, the other is red wine. That’s certainly a plus! I don’t know of any other diet that encourages alcoholic drinks. Be aware, however, that over imbibing is never healthy, and you should limit your drinking to under 2 glasses per day.
The reason red wine is allowed is because of its high antioxidant content. It’s believed to be one of the main reasons Mediterranean people are in such great physical health.
The other drinks that you are permitted to drink on the Mediterranean diet include coffee and tea. Don’t add creamer and sugar though, because that would be cheating!
How a Mediterranean Diet Looks Like on a Plate
This diet really does look beautiful and appetizing when it’s served. Your plate will look like a rainbow from all of the different colors of vibrant fruits and veggies. The meat on your plate will never be fatty, it’ll be juicy. There will always a variety of foods to tease the palate.
You’ll often begin your meal with a delicious whole-wheat baguette, dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with a sprinkle of Italian and Greek spices. Imagine a broiled or poached salmon on a bed of greens, accompanied by wild rice and sautéed spring veggies. For dessert, you’ll indulge in a sliced pear drizzled with honey and chopped walnuts.
Does that sound delectable or what? It certainly doesn’t sound like anyone would go hungry or feel bored with this diet.
Proven Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
If these delicious food options haven’t convinced you to try this diet, perhaps these proven health benefits will:
- Boost your heart health. The Mediterranean diet has been proven to reduce your chances of death by cardiac arrest by one-third. Check out this study for proven results.
- Fight cancer: Remember when I said that red wine has a high antioxidant content? These very antioxidants help ward off any cancer cells in your body.
- Great to treat or cure diabetes. As this diet is extremely low in sugar (and the small amounts of sugars you consume are natural sugars), it’s s ideal for anyone who suffers from diabetes. Even if you don’t have diabetes, this diet will help ensure you keep it that way.
- Lower stress. The lifestyle associated with the Mediterranean diet is a powerful part of this diet. Spending time doing things you love with people you enjoy can significantly improve your health. Stress can cause weight gain, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, and so much more.
- Boost brain health. The healthy fats in this diet will truly fuel your brain. They’ll help fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s as you age, and improve your memory now.
Certainly, this diet is one of the healthiest available to follow as it isn’t a crash diet and is more of a lifestyle. It makes you healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take advantage of Mediterranean Diet Month and make it work for you!