Since grade school we have known about the food pyramid, but the food pyramid I want to discuss today is quite different: The Mediterranean Food Pyramid.
The pyramid is used by countless health organizations, clinics, doctors and many others to guide people to eat in a healthy manner. It is the standard to live by and health professionals unanimously agree that by following this diet pyramid, your health will benefit tremendously.
The pyramid is a wonderful synopsis of what the Mediterranean Diet entails. It shows four different food groups and the optimal number of servings of each group that should be consumed.
The pyramid was created based on research of the diet that the people in the Mediterranean countries consume. The area was selected as the model because of the low incidence of heart disease and high life expectancy found in the region.
One of the primary reasons for the healthy results of the diet is that the people not only use fresh, unadulterated ingredients, they also cook their meals in very healthy ways.
They are among the minority of the world’s population that have not embraced the fast food culture that dominates the US and Australia. It should be noted that both countries are battling an obesity epidemic.
You Will Eat Fresh, Healthy Foods
There are no processed foods, colas, white flour products, pizzas or any unhealthy food in the food pyramid. There are only categories of fresh, healthy foods: fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, beans, fish and seafood, and healthy oils (primarily olive oil) – plus a little red wine.
Your fat consumption should be moderate along with consumption of dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Eggs can be consumed daily.
Fish (seafood) is preferred over meat and should be consumed twice a week. Poultry is also preferred over red meat and should be consumed once a week. Red meat should only be consumed 3 to 4 times a month. The rest of the time, vegetables, legumes, and/or pasta should be the focal point of your meals.
Fruit and vegetables (7 servings) should be consumed daily.
Get rid of your salt shaker and start seasoning with fresh herbs and spices. Don’t forget the garlic and onions.
Cook primarily with olive oil. Butter should be used minimally, if at all. NEVER use margarine or hydrogenated oil products.
The use of unhealthy hydrogenated oils is very rare in Mediterranean cooking – and they rarely eat red meat or sweets (other than fresh fruit)
Avoid all foods that contain processed sugar. That means chocolate, candies, and most rich desserts are to be consumed minimally.
One of the distinctive characteristics of the Mediterranean diet is red wine. This is not an open invitation to include all alcoholic beverages such as beer, vodka or bourbon in your diet. The Mediterranean diet advocates ONLY wine. About 1 glass for women and no more than 2 glasses a day for men and usually, consumption is after dinner.
The food pyramid is just a guideline to help you eat in a healthy way. You do not need to be overly strict and get upset if you do not follow it exactly. As long as you eat the foods on the pyramid and stop eating the healthy damaging junk/processed foods that are typical on the American diet, you will be doing well. If you make those changes, you will be giving yourself one of the greatest gifts possible: Good Health!
From the same site, check out the 7-day Mediterranean Menu (Autumn/Winter). Not only does it suggest full menus for all meals, it includes recipes and calorie count for the day. ENJOY!