We need to first look at how we are using the word “diet” in this context. The word diet is used in a couple of different ways. Many times when you hear people refer to the use of the word diet, they are often talking about how they are restricting their calorie intake or the intake of sweets or fats in order to lose weight. However,there is another meaning to the word diet. Diet can also refer to a nutritional way in which people choose what foods they want to eat more of and which foods they would like to reduce as a way of eating healthier and balanced for their nutritional health. As I share in this post about the Mediterranean diet, I am referring to the second definition.
The Mediterranean diet is based around the culture of people living around the Mediterranean Sea and the types of foods that are part of their everyday lives that can bring a more well-rounded nutritional plan into your life. This way of eating has been shown over a long period of time to assist people in reducing heart disease, lower weight and reduce the effects of type II diabetes.
So what is the Mediterranean diet? The Mediterranean diet is based on foods that include nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, olive oil and red wine. The eating style of this culture tries to limit unhealthy fats from their eating habits.
Veggies: Choose veggies that you can eat all day long. 3 – 8 servings a day is recommended. Make sure you choose brightly colored veggies and big, green leafy salad. The more colorful the better: green beans, red, green, orange, yellow bell peppers, kale, spinach, chard, squash, asparagus, beets, radishes and tomatoes.
Grains: The grains incorporated in the diet are whole grain and are low in transfats like Quinoa, legumes, barley and whole grain rice.
Protein: Fish and poultry are incorporated into meals two to three times a week. Fish high in Omega-3 are preferred like salmon and tuna. Chicken that is either baked or grilled is best to reduce the amount of fats in fried foods. Red meat is limited to being added to meals twice a month at most. Although red meat is a good source of protein, it is higher in fat and so this should be limited to reduce the amount of risk to the heart caused by high cholesterol intake.
Olive Oil and Wine: In the Mediterranean diet food is cooked in extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with red wine. Butter and salt are limited so that foods are not fried and fats are reduced.
Choosing to moderate your eating based on this diet is more about becoming heart healthy and creating eating habits that support your wellness. Before making major changes to your nutrition, make sure to consult your physician, nurse practitioner, naturopath or nutritional counselor to make sure the foods you choose are right for you and your bodies’ needs.