Mediterranean Style – Di Preciso or Exactamente!
Some may appreciate that the Mediterranean Diet is more of a healthy eating guide rather than a full-fledged “diet.” However, others may crave more concrete ground rules to keep them on the right track. No matter what works best for you, everyone can benefit from learning some type of healthful eating pattern, and the Mediterranean approach to diet it a great place to start. Let’s dig in- shall we?
Before we begin, it’s a good idea to learn how to fit the Mediterranean style of eating into The USDA’s ChooseMyPlate model, which supports the consumption of a healthy and well-rounded diet, and can be a great resource for those thinking about shifting the way they eat.8 One strategy for helping us adjust to the Mediterranean pattern is to tackle food choices, plate-by-plate. This plate, which is divided into four parts, emphasizes serving fruits and vegetables on half of the plate, and an equal division of grains and protein in the other two quarters. If you pick foods that fit these categories, while making most of your grains whole and most of your proteins lean (think fish, poultry or other lean meats), it becomes really easy to avoid all those added refined sugars or fats and make quick, healthier swaps. For example, choose quinoa over white rice; it’s a less refined grain and won’t send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride.
The Mediterranean Diet works harmoniously with this model, allowing you to choose whole, plant-based foods in moderate amounts and eat balanced all day long. Oh, and looking at the model below, you might notice dairy on the side. One note about dairy: keep it low-fat or non-fat!
So Why Mediterranean?!
Unlike other diets, the Mediterranean approach to eating doesn’t have rigid guidelines. So no, you don’t have to spoon cabbage soup into your mouth forever. While there is a general diet pattern to follow, for the most part there aren’t any absolute amounts that should be achieved or strict limits to which you should adhere. Rather, there are major food groups that you should focus on, and others that you should only enjoy in moderation or on occasion.5
The Mediterranean diet has your back; it covers all of the components of a nutritious eating pattern! This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein sources.5,6 The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines emphasize eating in this overall healthy, balanced pattern instead of tediously counting nutrients or banishing entire food groups.
Many of the foods that enjoy a prominent place in the Mediterranean diet have been shown to have protective benefits for your body. Between the healthy fats in foods such as oil and walnuts and the fibrous content of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, this diet helps you stay in tip top shape by decreasing your risk of serious disease! Plus, any diet rich in fruits and vegetables is proven to be protective of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Win-win!
Get in the groove of eating Mediterranean without worrying about specific meal plans or counting calories. Instead, focus on whole foods, eating mindfully, enjoying what’s on your plate, and winding down with a glass of red wine at dinner. Additionally, remember to focus on changing habits one step at a time instead of doing a total diet overhaul – this might lead to you throw in the towel! It could be something as simple as ordering a meal delivery kit or having fish for dinner tonight! Think about a few small sustainable changes that allow you to enjoy nourishing food along with the benefits of feeling better! Here’s to your health!
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