Is the Mediterranean Diet Worth a Try?
There is no doubt that you have heard of the Mediterranean diet and its benefits for cardiovascular health. But have you also heard about the benefits for type 2 diabetes? A large popular study called the PREDIMED study found that people with diabetes who followed a Mediterranean diet experienced lower blood sugar levels.1 Let’s dive in and see if you think following a Mediterranean style diet could be part of your life!
What is the Mediterranean diet?
I hate to even call it a diet. This way of eating pulls together not only foods, but also eating and drinking styles that have shown great benefit to people across the globe. Here is a breakdown of this healthful eating style.
Load up on vegetables
The Mediterranean way is to eat small portions of lean meats such as chicken or fish and then pile the rest of the plate with vegetables. These vegetables are most likely cooked in or drizzled with a small amount of olive oil that is also a large part of this eating style. It is also common to season with lots of herbs and spices, which not only add flavor, but also antioxidant value to any meal.
Choose healthy fats
It is important to remember that the way we prepare a food counts towards the benefits of it. If you eat only chicken, but always have it fried, you are not actually getting the benefit of a lower fat diet by avoiding red meat. In the same way, choosing healthy fats to cook or season with is important. Olive oil is one of the main fat sources in the Mediterranean diet. They also choose nuts and fish, two foods that are also loaded with healthy unsaturated fats. Try replacing butter and coconut oil with olive oil.
Find other protein options
In America, we often think a meal has to have steak, beef, or chicken to be complete. But this is not true. The Mediterranean style often chooses legumes such as lentils, garbanzo or kidney beans. Try adding these to a salad for some extra flavor and satiety. Nuts, as mentioned earlier for their fat value, are also high in protein and can be added to steamed vegetables or salads to bulk up the meal and keep you full longer.
Monitor alcohol intake
It is common for people that eat the Mediterranean way to drink one glass of red wine during dinner. It is not common for them to drink multiple drinks as we often do in America. This is not a required part of the diet, so if you do not drink red wine, do not feel like you have to start.
Baked goods are rarely found in the Mediterranean style of eating. Instead they often eat a small piece of fruit, dried fruit and a few nuts to satisfy a sweet tooth.
In conclusion - Mediterranean diet
The largest difference between this way of eating and the American way of eating, is that meal time is a leisurely event. People take their time during their meal, eating slowly and enjoying each bite. This is very different than our fast food mindset. Try to pay attention to the speed of your next meal. Is everyone eating so fast there is not even time for conversation? Are you trying to eat quickly so you can get back to work? These habits can lead us to eat more calories than if we took our time, since it can take the stomach some time to send the message of fullness back to our brain.
Do you think these changes are worth a try?
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?