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The Mediterranean Diet Revisited

Looking for an anti-inflammatory? Weight loss? Anti-aging? Diabetic? Cardiac? and brain health diet?

You have found the right diet plan and it has been right in front of you all along.

The Mediterranean diet is the most extensively studied diet to date.

60 years of research show health benefits that include:

  •     Weight loss
  •     Lower cholesterol levels
  •     Decreased risk of stroke
  •     Improved cardiac function
  •     Improvements in Rheumatoid Arthritis
  •     Decrease risk of cancer
  •     Prevention of or improvement in diabetes

There are a lot of “diets” out there and many of them are just that- diets. Some of them with extreme restrictions. The Mediterranean “diet” is a lifestyle that consists of a variety of foods across the spectrum.

I think the key to being successful at anything is sustainability and common sense. You have to look at what you can incorporate into your life that is going to make you feel good.

Choking down Kale, starving yourself or doing some exercise that makes you miserable is NOT going to work!!

That doesn’t mean that sitting on the couch eating Pringles and drinking soda all day is the way to go either. What I mean is that we need to find those healthy things that we DO enjoy and start adding them into our lives.

The Mediterranean diet has enough variety that almost anyone can adopt this lifestyle even if it is gradual which, honestly is the best way to start.

I do not eat a Mediterranean diet 100% of the time.

I could easily convert because I just love fish, veggies, fruits, olives, pasta, and oh yes, lets not forget the red wine.

                                                        

But—can I get my husband to eat that way every day?

Nope… we need to throw in an occasional Italian sausage, hamburger, steak, some mac and cheese, a beer and then we are good.

And I have to admit I have my weaknesses also that are not in alignment with the Mediterranean lifestyle (pork roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, with side of green beans or corn- that is true comfort food on cold winter day).

I just think we really need to revisit this old fashioned but somehow sexy diet and perhaps look at ways to adopt some of its basic fundamentals.

It is based on the eating habits of the southern European countries. It has an emphasis on plant foods, fish, poultry, olive oil, beans, nuts, and grains.

What I especially like about this diet(besides the fact I am allowed to have a glass of red wine daily) is that overall it addresses the reason behind so many chronic and autoimmune diseases.

Inflammation!

Lead author Cécilia Samieri, a researcher at Université Bordeaux in France describes the outcome of a study conducted as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, “Several mechanisms may be involved, including lowering inflammation and oxidative stress, both systemically and within the central nervous system. These are two general pathways underlying many age-related chronic diseases and health conditions, such as age-related brain diseases and mental health. Other potential mechanisms include notably improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity”.

Ok, so where to start.

I would encourage you to go online and search Mediterranean recipes. 

 

-Here are some guidelines to get you going in the right direction.

  • Really load up on those fruits and veggies. This should make up the majority of your meals. Try to get in 7- 10 servings a day. This is where the magic happens.
  • Switch to whole-grain bread and cereal, whole grain rice and pasta. Happy gut and happy thyroid..
  • Use olive oil (extra virgin olive oil)instead of butter to dip your bread into. Don’t be duped into buying adulterated poor quality olive oil just because it is in a pretty bottle. Do your research and buy a good quality olive oil. I used to use Colavita and you will see it rated very well for its flavor but I have just recently discovered that AmazonFresh Mediterranean Extra Virgin Olive Oil is cheaper and tastes just as great! You can add garlic, red pepper flakes, a little Parmesan cheese (get creative). Olive oil contains anti-inflammatory substances. This is good!! Remember inflammation is the driver to many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, metabolic disease, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis.
  • Add more fish to the menu. At least once but preferably twice a week. Especially the cold water fish- Salmon, Mackerel, sardines, herring. Don’t wrinkle up your nose until you have tried it and grill on foil on the barby for easy cleanup
  • Start experimenting with herbs. Pick up some fresh or better yet try growing your own. Herbs and spices can really pack a punch of flavor while cutting back on salt.
  • Nuts are a great snack but don’t overdo it as they have a lot of calories. ¼ cup should satisfy without adding inches to your waistline. A handful of almonds or walnuts with a small piece of dark chocolate. Oh yes please..

Here is a sample meal plan:

Breakfast: 

  • Fresh strawberries and blueberries with some plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey. Stay away from pre-sweetened yogurt as is loaded with sugar and please do not opt for the ‘Light’ as they usually contain aspartame or other artificial sweeteners that will wreak havoc on your gut health and stimulate your appetite, increase cravings, and actually cause weight gain. When you use honey you are controlling the amount of sweetness and getting all wonderful health benefits that honey has to offer. I must warn you though, you are wasting your money if you are buying your honey from the grocery store. They process it at extremely high temperatures, dilute it, filter, and much of it comes from china. Please support your local beekeeper or order it from Go Raw Honey.
  • 1 hard boiled egg, ½ grapefruit or an orange, 1 piece of toast with avocado or just a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Avocado toast with a slice of tomato, salt and pepper, drizzle of olive oil, and squirt of lime juice.

Oh, sweet mother..

 

Lunch:

  • Mixed greens with tomato, cucumber, and tuna fish. Drizzle with olive oil and apple cider or red wine vinegar. Fresh dill, mint, or basil is good with a liberal sprinkle of black pepper.
  • ½ sweet potato with black beans seasoned with cumin, salt and pepper, drizzled with some pain greek yogurt. Recipe
  • Leftover grilled chicken with tzatziki and a side of sliced tomatoes and some grapes.
  • Cut up veggies with hummus and pita
  • Chicken or turkey wrap- think mozzarella, basil, fresh greens, hummus and some lemony couscous. Check this recipe out..
  • Tuna salad– try using avocado instead of mayo or just drizzle in olive oil and lemon juice for a lighter variation to old fashioned ho hum tuna. This is my favorite canned tuna fish so far. I buy mine though usually from the commissary or Walmart as I do not like buying a case of 24 at a time. I should but just don’t have the room.

Dinner:

This just give you some ideas but start experimenting with those taste buds and have a little fun. Not only is this kind of diet healthy and tasty but it can be very easy as well which is something we could all use a little more of right.

Also, this ‘diet/lifestyle’ is also based on providing high energy nutritious food to hard working peasant farmers and fisherman. Most of us today have jobs that demand a lot of sitting. So, you will want to add some some physical fitness and increase your activity. Also, go easy on the high calorie foods like nuts and olive oil. They are nutritionally dense and a little goes a long way.

To make things a little easier for your I have developed this Printable PDF Mediterranean Grocery List for you. All you have to do is go down the list and pick what you and your family like and check the box. Next time you go to the grocery store just add 1 -3 items from your list and add them to your menu. Pick on recipe from sample list or that you have found on Google and make just that one meal next week. Maybe the following week add 2 of these meals. When planning your menu pull out this checklist and try to build some of your meals around these ingredients.

So start right now!

Print this free  Printable PDF Mediterranean Grocery List right now. Take it with you next time you go to the grocery store!

The Mediterranean Diet Revisited