There are many different diets and eating styles out there, and one can get easily lost trying to decide which one might be best for them. However, there is one diet that has often been named the “best diet in the world” so we had to check it out. Called the Mediterranean Diet, it is actually more of a lifestyle than a yo-yo diet. The Mediterranean Diet is rather simple, and not based on restriction. There are three main principals to this diet- being social, physical activity, and a plant based eating style. There are many benefits from this diet, and it is easy to adapt into your lifestyle. Below we’ve skimmed everything you’d need to know about the Mediterranean Diet!
The place to start is definitely the many benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Many scientific studies have been done, and have proved that this diet reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers bad LDL cholesterol while raising good HDL cholesterol. It is also anti-inflamatory, reduces the risk of depression, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes. In the long term, it is also shown to promote long term brain health and reduce risks of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory related degeneration. With a focus on plant based and whole foods this diet also naturally has a weight loss side effect that is more sustainable than restrictive diets, as this diet is naturally low in processed foods and added sugars.
Basics & How to Adapt
There are a plethora of different foods and dishes that are available with the Mediterranean Diet. For instance, people in Spain eat very different foods compared to people in Italy or Greece, but they all follow similar basic principles.
Plant Based Nutrition: Although the diet is not vegetarian in nature, there is a big focus on veggies in this diet. Most often about 80% of the meal is comprised of vegetables and fruits, with the remaining 20% protein, healthy fats, and dairy. Try to incorporate vegetables into every meal!
Whole Grains: Cut out the white grains, breads and pastas for whole grains. Whole grains are a less processed version of the grain and contains more fiber and nutrients.
Seafood: Fatty fish and seafood is a large focus within the Mediterranean Diet, and is usually eaten at least 2-3 times a week.
Olive Oil: Reduce your butter intake by swapping with olive oil. Olive oil is a great source of healthy fats, and can be used for cooking meats, enhancing flavors, and making salad dressings.
Go Nuts: Grab a handful of almonds or cashews (or any other kind of nuts!) when you are looking for a snack. Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and will keep you feeling full between meals.
Quality Dairy: You can include a moderate selection of quality dairy products in this diet. Think milk, yogurt, and cheese to enhance your flavors and recipes.
A Pinch of Spice: Always grabbing for the salt when you need to add a bit of flavor to your food? Start reaching for different spices to enhance your flavors instead. Lowering your salt intake is a healthy move, and you’ll expand your flavor palate testing out new spices!
Red Meats & Desserts: Keep the red meats and desserts as an every once in a while treat. Reduce this intake to about once a week, and in terms of desserts opt for a homemade treat instead of something processed. If you are having a sweet craving, try having some fruit or yogurt with honey for a natural fix.
Drink Up: The Mediterranean Diet has a huge focus on sociability, and often people eat together and enjoy the company. With this, it is common to have one glass of wine with dinner most days. Red wine can have many health benefits, but is not required for this diet. If you have any issues with alcohol or simply don’t drink, there is no need to start specifically for this diet.
Is This Good For Diabetes Management?
So how does the Mediterranean diet fit into the diabetes lifestyle? A naturally low in processed foods and added sugar eating plan with a strong focus on veggies and whole foods will help to lower blood sugar levels and control excess insulin. The diet also helps prevent the peaks and valleys in order to regulate blood sugar levels. To get more details on how this diet can improve diabetes management, check out this informative article.
This diet also helps to promote healthy body weight. When switching to a plant based eating style people often shed some weight naturally and are able to maintain this change much better than with restrictive diets that cannot be maintained in the long term. When this diet is taken as a full lifestyle, with a focus on eating as a social event, no processed foods, and an active lifestyle, the multitude of health benefits can keep you in optimal shape both physically and mentally.
So, how do you know if you should adapt to the Mediterranean lifestyle? There are so many benefits of this style of life, but you should always check with a dietitian or your doctor before making a big switch! Also consider making small changes over time towards the Mediterranean Diet, so as not to overwhelm yourself. Let us know in the comments what you think about this diet or if you have any questions!