The Mediterranean Diet isn’t a diet in the way we traditionally think of one; it’s not simply restricting the food you eat for a short time in order to lose weight. The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating foods those who live around the Mediterranean Sea (Italy, Sicily, Greece, Croatia) have naturally been eating for hundreds of years.
What Does the Mediterranean Diet Look Like?
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of:
- Vegetables (especially tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, red onions, sweet peppers)
- Fruits (citrus, passion fruit, grapes)
- Healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts and fish)
- Seafood (all)
- Nuts and legumes
- Healthy cheeses (feta, goat’s cheese)
- Red wine (1-2 glasses a day)
And avoids foods like:
- Red meat
- Sugary foods
- Dairy (besides those mentioned above)
- Processed foods
The focus of a Mediterranean diet is on filling the plate with largely plant-based, colorful vegetables, with fish and meat-free meals as staple dishes. Other foods, like chicken and beef, will be a side dish or a rare occurrence only.
Pros and Cons of a Mediterranean Diet
If you currently eat a traditional western diet, full of meat, white grains and potatoes, this diet may seem quite different from your own, but the reality of the diet is that it provides a lot of freedom and an emphasis on great tasting meals and plenty of nutritionally dense foods. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
- If you find you need a strict diet in order to lose weight or avoid unhealthy habits, the Mediterranean diet may be too vague for you.
- It will be slightly more difficult to find recipes if you don’t eat seafood.
- Meals take a little effort to put together.
- The Mediterranean diet isn’t focused on weight loss – it was identified when researchers found that those living in the region and eating this way had far fewer diseases and problems as they aged over the rest of the world.
- It’s not restrictive – you can, technically, eat anything, but the diet will guide you towards healthy, savory meals.
- It’s incredibly beneficial for heart health – it reduces cholesterol and mortality from the leading cause of death: cardiovascular disease.
- Studies have found [link: www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/mediterranean-diet/] that it also lowers the risk of cancers, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Type 2 diabetes.
- On average, people on the Mediterranean diet eat 9 servings of fresh or dried fruits and vegetables a day.
The Mediterranean diet is a great, healthy diet to follow, as it provides a huge amount of flexibility while focusing on healthy, fresh foods and delicious recipes. If the Mediterranean diet appeals to you, you certainly won’t go wrong in using it as a guide on your healthy eating and weight loss journey. If you’re looking for a diet you can follow while having the flexibility of eating with others and enjoying a glass of wine, this is it.
Remember, the key to a healthy diet is finding healthy foods you love and enjoy, so choose a healthy diet that works for you and stick to it. If that’s the Mediterranean diet, great, if not, keep searching for a diet that works for you.