The Mediterranean diet was once hailed as the most balanced and healthy diet. It was used by many professionals as a guideline towards healthy food choices as well as servings, or portion control. Doctors considered the consumption of virgin first pressed olive oil, which is easily found everywhere in the Mediterranean regions, as one of the main reasons why these cultures lived with vigor and longevity.
Let’s look at this lifestyle. Understand that changing health habits is a lifestyle change. Sure you get results while you are on a diet and maybe for a short time after, but if you swing back to your old lifestyle or eating habits then the weight comes back. To be successful at making change there needs to be a mind shift towards this, a positive lifestyle. We look for small and easy changes that can be incorporated into daily routines.
The Mediterranean diet is heavily focused on fresh fruit and vegetables. Look at any Italian table and there is always salad and a few vegetable dishes. Same with the Greeks, the Spanish and the Turks. They use beans, legumes and pulses. They use fresh herbs to garnish and add flavour. They use fresh Olive oil usually grown locally.
There are no genetically modified ingredients. There is no heat treating oil processes. Their olives are farmed on centuries old plantations with methods to match.
The Mediterranean culture is also light on animal protein, with a stronger emphasis on fish. With much of the Mediterranean coast providing ample fishing, you can see why this might be the case. From centuries past, the culture survived largely on fresh fish caught daily not farmed fish caught.
So we have an abundance of fresh produce, fruit, vegetables and fish. A little bit of land animal protein and probably more for those living in the mountainous regions that are not near the coast. Beans, legumes, pulses and olive oil. That is about the essential ingredients required for a healthy diet.
And here’s why this lifestyle stands true today. Consuming large amounts of fresh produce provides all the amino acids (which makes up protein), anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Add to this some pulses and beans for a some extra fibre, niacin (Vitamin B3), calcium, and then some fresh fish and olive oil to provide the Omega 3 and essential fats for optimal brain health.
These cultures worked on the orchards and farms giving them lots of time in the fresh air and sunshine, essential for good health. They grow their food with love. They prepare their food with love. They celebrate their food lovingly with friends and family. Food is a celebration. And so it should be. And it can be, if you make the right food choices.
Can you include some of the Mediterranean foods into your lifestyle?
Choose wisely. Live vibrantly.
Photo by Edgar Castreon on Unsplash