19 Mar 2019

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

I know what you're thinking; another day, another fad diet. Right? Well, despite the misleading title, this isn't really a diet at all but a healthy way of incorporating Mediterranean style food into your life.

Whether you're trying to lose weight or just interested in healthy eating, a traditional Mediterranean diet could be just the answer you're looking for, without having to resort to any drastic measures.

Who invented this diet?

This is not a fad diet made up by a celebrity personal trainer with false promises of extreme weight loss. The Mediterranean diet is actually a term used to describe the way of eating by a broad range of countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, Greece, Croatia and Spain. Although each country has its own way of doing things, you will notice they each follow the same principles of fresh fruits, plant foods and fish.

Foods to concentrate on:

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables

  • Moderate amounts of healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil and fish like salmon

  • Small amounts of red wine Lots of legumes, nuts, beans and whole grains

Foods to avoid:

  • Too much red meat - a small amount is fine

  • Too much dairy

  • Saturated Fats

  • Highly processed and/or sugary foods

What are the health benefits?

So, what's all the fuss about? Studies have shown followers of a Mediterranean diet experience less heart disease, lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduced risk of cancer, diabetes and mental health disorders, amongst other health benefits. The Mayo Clinic even has a lot of good things to say about the Mediterranean Diet eating plan. Even if you're not interested in over-hauling your entire way of eating, making small changes will go a long way towards a healthier lifestyle.

Is it a good fit for me?

If you want to reduce your risk of heart attacks, reduce your chronic disease risk, maybe lose some weight, feel healthier and feel fuller for longer, this may be the answer for you. If you struggle to get all the food groups into your diet and would like to find a more interesting way to do so, the Mediterranean way might be worth a try. This way of eating can be beneficial to anyone and has no known detrimental effects, unlike many other diets out there. Read this great ABC News article for a more in-depth look at the origins of the diet, as well as an expert’s advice on the best way to go about it.

How do I get started?

There are many great articles on how to get yourself started with the Mediterranean diet. Eating well do a good job of breaking things down and even providing some recipes along the way. For a sneak-peak into the diary of a blogger who tried the diet, check out Business Insider's article. Oldways have even gone so far as to develop a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, and you can even sign up to their e-newsletter for handy info and great recipes.

The elements to remember are:

  • Use extra virgin olive oil

  • Make sure you eat vegetables in every meal with a focus on leafy green vegetables and tomatoes

  • Include at least two legumes per week

  • Eat two servings of fish per week with a focus on oily fish such as salmon, trevally, mackerel, gemfish and sardines

  • Small portions of meat

  • Fresh fruit every day as well as a small amount of nuts and seeds

  • 200g of yoghurt each day

  • Include wholegrain bread and cereals

  • One standard wine a day (100mls). Remember to have at least two alcohol-free days each week and only drink with a meal.

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