∼ by Cara Rosenbloom
Take a deep breath and envision the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. All around you, people are enjoying a late lunch in the afternoon sun. Children are laughing, parents are sipping wine, and everyone is enjoying plates of tomatoes drizzled with basil and olive oil and succulent fresh fish baked with lemon.
This idyllic scene can be your state of mind if you embrace the Mediterranean diet.
The word “diet” is often associated with weight loss. But in reality, a diet is defined as “the kinds of food that a person habitually eats,” which may have nothing to do with weight control! That’s where the Mediterranean diet comes in. It’s not a diet solely for the purpose of losing weight, although you may lose a few inches on this eating plan. More than a diet, the Mediterranean plan is a way of life.
Embrace the Mediterranean way
Eating well, keeping fit and enjoying friends and family are the pillars of the Mediterranean diet. These enjoyable lifestyle patterns can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, dementia, and certain types of cancer. Whether you live on the fabled shores of the Mediterranean or in the cold climate of Canada, you can still embrace these healthy goals:
- Be physically active.
- Enjoy meals and good times with friends and family.
- Base every meal on whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, olive oil, beans and seeds.
- Have fish or seafood a few times each week.
- Enjoy poultry, eggs and dairy products in small servings, daily or weekly.
- Add flavour to foods with fresh herbs and spices.
- Have smaller portions of meat and eat it less often.
- Buy and consume fewer sweets, such as pastries, candy, cookies and ice cream.
- Cut back on processed foods and eat fresh food more often.
- Use olive oil as your main fat, more than butter, margarine or other oils.
Choose foods wisely
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole grains, including bread as an important part of the diet. However, it’s eaten plain or dipped in olive oil — not with butter or margarine. Grain dishes are made from a variety of delicious options, such as bulgur, wheat berries, brown rice, oats and pasta. They are eaten at meals, mixed with vegetables and good quality protein-rich foods such as lentils, fish and Greek yogurt.
Imagine an eating plan where you can enjoy a variety of mouth-watering foods, from grilled salmon to a lively Greek salad to garlicky hummus with pita. The Mediterranean diet is proof that you can eat well and enjoy every bite. Need more proof? Try this Mediterranean penne with tuna, kale and artichokes, or Almond butter & honey overnight oats.
For more information on the Mediterranean diet, visit http://healthygrains.ca.