The Mediterranean Diet 101

Maybe you’ve heard of it and thought hmmmm, a ‘diet’ that includes wine?! Sign me up! But then never looked into it anymore. There are SO MANY health benefits that result when you subscribe to following a Mediterranean way of eating.

To begin, it’s one of the most studied lifestyles out there. It’s based on the traditional foods that people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea ate about 50 – 70 years ago. Back then, in the mid 20th century, researchers noted that people in Spain, Greece, and Italy lived longer and healthier than North Americans. And they had lower levels of heart disease, the #1 killer.

The research keeps coming in on determining what is so healthy in this part of the world and what we’re seeing is pretty impressive.

Eating a Mediterranean based diet is linked with:

  • Less risk of being overweight and obesity
  • Better blood sugar control (for diabetes and metabolic syndrome)
  • Lower risk of heart disease and stroke (and blood markers like cholesterol and triglycerides)
  • Reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
  • Fewer cancers (breast & colorectal)
  • Less premature death

Overall, it’s simply really good for you.

BREAKING NEWS: Recent research even links the Mediterranean diet to better gut microbes! This makes sense when you feed your gut, friendly, microbe-loving foods including fibre, fruit, and vegetables.

Here’s another bonus: Most people that I work with want to make changes in how they look and feel but struggle because they focus on restrictive diets that make it difficult to maintain long-term. I’ve found that many women and families who start eating a Mediterranean diet can stick with it long-term. How’s that for a healthy whole-foods health-promoting not-so-restrictive diet?

So, what are you actually eating on a Mediterranean diet…and what’s the bit about drinking wine?

It’s quite simple to follow since the Mediterranean diet is chock full of healthy whole foods. #myfavourite

Foods like:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fish and seafood
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Herbs and spices

These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre. And they’re often eaten in social settings where the food (and the company) is enjoyed so people don’t ever have to feel like they are missing out or that they have to pack food to bring along. The other BONUS to the Mediterranean diet is that it discourages being too sedentary, eating alone, and being overly stressed…all habits that result in weight-gain and sickness.

The go-to beverage for the Mediterranean diet is water. Coffee and tea are also regularly consumed (but without the addition of lots of sugar or milk).

And YES, red wine (about 1 glass per day) is very commonly enjoyed. #canIgetanAMEN

Some foods and drinks that are eaten in moderation include:

  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Cheese and yogurt

Red meat, unfermented dairy (e.g., milk), and salt are rarely consumed, if at all.

Although this is not a restrictive way of eating, there are foods that are not consumed when eating Mediterranean. Not surprisingly, this includes many highly processed and unhealthy foods like:

  • Processed meats
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices
  • Refined grains and oils (including hydrogenated oils)
  • Too much salt
  • Added sugars
  • Desserts

Overall, the Mediterranean diet is a very healthy way of eating. It is a whole-foods diet based on fish, olive oil, and herbs and spices and focussed on plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains). It is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre; all of which are health-boosting from your head to your heart… and the rest of your body.

Health isn’t just about what you put in your body…it encompasses body, mind and spirit. I love that the Mediterranean lifestyle incorporates regular exercise, eating with people whom you care about, and overall enjoyment of life. ALL the keys to health and happiness!

Do you think you could add or ditch certain foods to get closer to the Mediterranean diet? Do you have a favourite recipe that embodies this way of eating? I’d love to know! Add it to the comments below.

One Pan Mediterranean Cod

mediterraneancod5

photo credit: kit coastal

Ingredients:

  • 4 cod fillets
  • 1 cup Basil Leaves
  • 1/4 Lemon (juiced)
  • 1/2Garlic (clove)
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsps Hemp Seeds
  • 2 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 handfuls asparagus, ends removed
  • 1/4 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
  • Tomato (large, quartered)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Make pesto by combining basil, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt, hemp seeds and olive oil together in a small food processor. Pulse until smooth.
  3. Lay cod on baking sheet and arrange the asparagus, olives and tomatoes on the baking dish around the fillets. Top each piece of cod with a generous spoonful of pesto.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Divide onto plates and enjoy!

One thought on “The Mediterranean Diet 101

  1. Katherine Jennifer Helm

    Love this! Thank you Melanie. This I think I can do more of. Especially with Summer coming.

    Katherine Jennifer Helm Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

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