For the past few weeks I have been talking about the merits of the Mediterranean Diet. However, I have to acknowledge that no diet is perfect for every single person and Mediterranean diet is no exception to that rule. The Mediterranean Diet is not for everyone.
There may be some people who find that they have negative reactions to some of the foods on the diet – others may find that it simply is not suitable for their lifestyle.
Excellent Choice for Most People
However, it is an excellent choice for most people because the health benefits are tremendous. Lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and much more.
The diet is based on consuming wholesome fresh foods in their natural state and by cooking them in a healthy ways.
Red meats are eaten only on occasion; sugar, processed foods filled with additives, fast foods, and junk food, which are the cause of so many illnesses in today’s world are simply not eaten.
It should not be news that most health problems in the US can be attributed to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
The Mediterranean diet solves both problems, if you let it. It provides the healthy nutritious foods your body needs for energy and well-being; plus, it incorporates exercise to solve the sedentary lifestyle issue.
Let’s look at some of the potential difficulties.
1. The diet can be expensive.
When you eat primarily fish, fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc. you will find that they are more expensive than grabbing a cheeseburger from a fast food joint or buying junk food from the vending machine at work.
But . . . if you consider the health problems you may endure in the future and the cost of health care that goes with those problems, you may want to think twice about the actual cost. The healthy foods on the Mediterranean diet may not seem so expensive after all.
2. Possible food allergies.
It is possible that some people may have allergic reactions to some of the foods in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil may not agree with their digestive system, etc. It happens. If you have serious reactions to any of the foundational foods of the diet, you would probably want to choose another diet – just make sure it is a healthy one.
3. The toxicity of fish.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and is one of the most toxic foods on the market today because of pollution in the world’s waterways
Educate yourself and find out which fish are richest in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury contamination, and sustainably produced. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are better (and worse) choices when buying fish. Check out their website for details on how to buy fish – The EWG’s Seafood Guide.
You can also get your omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and Brussel sprouts.
4. Cost and availability of fruits and vegetables.
It may not always be easy to obtain fresh seasonal produce and some of the more common choices in the Mediterranean Region may not be available in your area – or the cost will be prohibitive – especially for organic.
Easy to Adapt?
Will it be easy to adopt the Mediterranean Diet with a full commitment? Maybe not. It may take some serious adjustment and determination to stay with it.
As Americans we are used to eating whatever we want, whenever we want it. If we are feeling hungry or blue – grab that tub of ice-cream. When we are bored, frustrated or angry, we reach for comfort foods like a bucket of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and biscuits form KFC.
Food has become far more than sustenance for many people. It is frequently used as a form of ‘medication’ for emotional problems. It that plays into your eating patterns, staying with any diet will be challenging.
When you start the Mediterranean Diet it can take time to adapt to the practice of thinking about what you are eating and being willing to make healthy choices. Eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes with thick gravy is not encouraged. The tub of ice cream should be replaced with a bowl of sweet, healthy fruit that is preferably high in fiber.
Such dramatic changes in your approach to food and eating habits may not sit well with some people. It may be too different and troublesome. Maybe that will be the case initially. But, you know that anything worthwhile often has challenges that must be faced. Major accomplishments rarely come easily.
Adopt the Mediterranean Diet! Give it your best shot (including your time and energy), keep a positive attitude no matter what, and you may be surprised at how fast you realize that this is diet you want to stay with the rest of your life.
Your body and health will reflect the benefits of this diet in time . . . give it a real chance!
Hopefully you are convinced (as I am) that the Mediterranean diet is fantastic. It has proven to be a healthy way of life for many people – why not you? Unlike other diets such as the Atkins diet or Paleo diet there is little debate over whether or not it is good for you.
Of course, we have established that it is also quite different from other diets because it is more about food choices and cooking methods – a way of eating – rather than focusing on restrictions. In fact, it doesn’t really even talk about portion control. Although, I do recommend that you use good sense and eat moderately.
Other than that, this is one of the best diets on the planet. It’s tasty, easy to follow, and has multiple health benefits, such as: reducing your risk of getting nasty diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Also – if you need to lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol . . . the Mediterranean diet is for you. If you want to live a long and healthy life . . . you got it! The Mediterranean diet is for you.
It you are focusing on clean eating, this is a diet that allows you to follow that philosophy, eat well, and enjoy the food.
The diet itself is quite simple and very flexible. You should be able to find most of the food at your local supermarket.
Mediterranean Diet Shopping List
The diet can be broken down into a few groups, which makes it easy to shop:
Healthy oils & fats
Nuts and seeds
Vegetables and fruits
Yogurt and cheese
Herbs and spices
That’s pretty much it. There may be a few other items, but for the most part, if you stick to these eight categories, you will be eating healthy.
Please notice it says “whole grains.” In fact, look for the word “whole” or 100% whole wheat or whole grain on the label. Examples would be whole grain bread or whole grain pasta. Good whole grain items would be: pasta, tortillas, bread, oatmeal, cereals, polenta, brown rice, quinoa, barley and pita.
Whole wheat bread dipped in olive oil is a tasty treat.
Healthy oils are a key ingredient In the Mediterranean diet. Replace butter with healthy fats – especially extra-virgin olive oil, which is excellent for cooking and on salads.
Other suggested oils are: canola, grape seed, sesame, and avocado oil. In the Mediterranean diet, the staple oil used is olive oil. Oils have lots of calories, so try to limit yourself to no more than three tablespoons per day.
Keep the oils in a cool, dark place so that they last longer.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are another group of healthy fats. You must be a little cautious with this group, they are calorie dense. Don’t go nuts with the nuts. Consume them in moderation or you will end up adding pounds you do not want.
A handful a day will provide our body with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Buy them in bulk and pack them in small snack bags – limiting yourself to one bag per day.
Almonds, cashews, flax, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pine nuts are all good choices.
Vegetables and Fruits
These are nutrition-packed foods filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Always buy fresh, organic produce when it is available. Seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily.
Frozen fruits and veggies are also fine as long as they are quick frozen with nothing added. Avoid canned vegetables, if possible. If you must use canned, be they are low sodium.
Vegetables – you have many choices: All the green leafy vegetables, plus broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, celery, onions, radishes, tomatoes, squash, beets, mustard greens, avocados, green peppers, etc. Obviously, it is a long list!
Fruits are eaten in place of sweets on this diet. Recommended are: apples, cherries, dates, peaches, kiwi, mango, papaya, grapefruit, oranges, melons, and strawberries. Again . . . buy organic if at all possible; or, you may be ingesting pesticides that are harmful to your body. If not organic, wash extremely well and peel if possible.
Yogurt and Cheese
Dairy is not a major focus on the diet. It is usually eaten in the form of yogurt and cheese. Both are good options as a calcium source. Stay with whole natural cheeses and plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt (need sweet, add a little honey).
Seafood is heavily consumed in the Mediterranean region. Shrimp, salmon, cod, clams, tilapia, tuna, sardines, scallops and crab are excellent seafood choices and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs are also eaten as a source of protein and a regular part of the diet. Chicken is also served on occasion. Red meat is eaten rarely – so go very easy on this one.
Lentils and Beans
These are high in protein but low in fats and calories. You have many choices: lentils, chickpeas, clack beans, pinto beans and white beans.
Herbs and Spices
Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to season your food and enhance the flavors. You will not need to use salt or unhealthy fats to make your food tasty. Garlic, mint, cumin, coriander, parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro and pepper are good choices.
Don’t forget the garlic – a favorite in the Mediterranean Region.
I know this isn’t one of the categories – and is optional on the diet. But if you enjoy good red wine, a glass each evening is encouraged (one for women and no more than two for men).
That pretty much sums it up. The diet is primarily focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and seafood with limited poultry and practically no red meat plus minimal sweets – all good reasons why it is so healthy.
Lead researcher, Cecilia Samieri, DVM, PHD, Boston University School of Medicine stated, “Women with healthier dietary patterns at midlife were 40% more likely to survive to age 70 or over.” That is proof that a diet does affect your longevity. But you already knew that.
But, why is the Mediterranean Diet specifically an excellent choice for women?
The average American woman’s diet is filled with highly-processed foods, high in unhealthy fats, high in refined sugar and white flour, filled with additives, and low in nutrition.
Continual consumption of such an unhealthy diet wreaks havoc on a woman’s skin and her body. It causes her to age more quickly; it weakens her muscles; her energy levels drop; inactivity sets in; and she eventually loses her natural sense of well-being.
The Mediterranean Diet is primarily a natural food diet made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts, and a little red wine. It is high in monounsaturated fats due to the use of extra-virgin olive oil which is extremely beneficial to the body. Processed foods, fast foods, high sugar content and unhealthy fats are not part of the eating plan.
A Different Way of Eating
The Med-Diet is a different way of eating – you will be feeding your body natural foods that are healthy for the body and mind!
Most women who are struggling to lose weight generally reduce their food intake and start exercising vigorously. While both of these things can be helpful, reducing your food intake, but continuing to eat unhealthy foods is not a wise choice.
It is much better to choose a healthy diet and to eat in moderation to lose weight. You could possibly eat junk food in moderation and stay slim; but, think about what are you would be doing to your body in the process. You may be choosing to lose weight at the cost of your good health.
It isn’t difficult to see that it would be much better to eat healthy foods like salmon drizzled in olive oil, Greek yogurt with a little honey, stir-fried broccoli, or Quinoa Pasta Primavera, etc.
That is what makes the Mediterranean diet so fantastic. The food you get to eat is actually delicious, nutritious and beneficial to your health. No more forcing yourself to eat another bland steamed chicken breast or chalk-like protein shake – or caught between feeling half-starved or binge eating when no one is looking.
Reap the Rewards
Fresh vegetables and fruits will ensure your body has adequate fiber and vitamins.
Calcium rich foods such as kale, Brussel sprouts and spinach will prevent the dreaded osteoporosis.
Legumes and potatoes, which are rich in potassium, will prevent you from losing muscle tone and will also lower your blood pressure.
Olive oil will reduce your risk of heart disease.
The healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish that you eat will do wonders for your health. The modern day diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet will reverse this awful trend.
Honey as your natural sweetener along with generous servings of fruit will help minimize your sugar intake and help avoid Type 2 Diabetes.
Unlike the Atkins Diet, Paleo Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet, the Mediterranean Diet is not too restrictive, which makes it much easier to follow and to sustain over the long-haul. You will be able stay on the diet because you will be enjoying yourself rather than suffering and staying on track through pure will power.
The Mediterranean Diet is a way of life. It will work wonders for your health and peace of mind. All it takes is a desire to be healthy and a willingness to prepare and eat the wonderfully delicious foods in moderation and daily exercise to start living a healthier lifestyle.
To all women, I say, “ Make this choice as soon as you can and enjoy the health benefits and sense of well-being that come from being on a nutritious, well-balanced diet.”
Losing weight seems to be a national activity today. As a result, the question that often arises is which diet is the best to help me lose all my extra weight? Mediterranean vs Paleo? Or, some other diet?
Comparing diets is like comparing apples to oranges – it is almost impossible to do so because they are all different. When trying to compare the Mediterranean Diet to the Paleo Diet – they are worlds apart and both have pros and cons to consider.
Popularity and media hype should not be the factors that determine your choice. The choice should be based on your personal preferences and what is best for your overall health.
Yes, the Paleo Diet is currently extremely popular. Everyone from your TV repairman to your best friend is considering this diet. Coupled with the popularity of Crossfit and its ardent enthusiasts who endorse the diet, it has been given an extra boost in popularity.
Regardless of its popularly and vocal supporters, the real question you must ask yourself is: Is the paleo diet right for me?
Paleo Diet – Sacrifices and Changes Required
For me the term “paleo” (from the “Paleolithic” age) conjures up images of dirty, uncivilized cavemen hunting and eating raw meat, which I suppose has a certain appeal to the masculine gender.
However, the diet requires huge sacrifices and changes that are not particularly good for your health beginning with lots of meat, animal organs such as the liver and heart – all prepared in a specific way. You will probably need a freezer to store your meat. Personally, it makes me shudder to think about the stress a heavy intake of red meat will put on my body.
Eating dinner in a restaurant will always be a hassle since most restaurants do not prepare meals in a paleo manner. I doubt you mainstream American cities you will be able to find a restaurant that uses pure coconut oil to prepare their dishes.
Mediterranean Diet – Easy and Natural
The Mediterranean diet on the other hand is uncomplicated and easy to follow. Even the name makes you feel good – bringing pictures to mind of sun-kissed beaches, good food, beautiful women, etc. Nothing even remotely related to a hairy caveman.
The diet is rich in olive oil, fish, fruit, nuts and other healthy fats. Eating out is easy because. It does not create a problem when you ask the chef to prepare your fish using extra virgin olive oil. Any good restaurant will be happy to accommodate you.
Another big plus for me is that I am not required to develop a taste for animal organs. Yes, the Mediterranean diet can be potentially more fattening than the Paleo Diet. But, you can lose weight on any diet if you exercise regularly and take in fewer calories that you burn – moderation is key!
So, if you like tasty, healthy, natural foods that are easy to prepare and do not include large quantities of red meat and animal organs, you will definitely be better off with the Mediterranean diet.
A diet that is restrictive and has demanding preparation requirements is difficult to sustain over time, which is all true of the Paleo Diet Recipes.
With the Mediterranean Diet, the recipes are much simpler and easy to prepare – using basically natural foods that can be purchased at any good grocery store, which makes it much easier to follow and stay with over time.
Adapting to the Paleo Diet takes time and some serious adjustment in taste preferences. When trying to lose weight – watching your calorie intake and establishing a good exercise routine is difficult enough. Compounding those challenges with a complicated diet may defeat you before you really get started. It requires too many changes – too fast!
The Mediterranean Diet is simply a healthy eating plan that eliminates the normal processed and junk food diet that most people have adopted.
The Choice is Yours
Mediterranean vs. Paleo . . . Of course, ultimately, the choice is yours.
Just be smart about your choice and give it careful consideration. Do not allow yourself to be swayed they media hype. The Paleo Diet will not make you stronger. The Mediterranean diet will not make you an oily creature.
Both diets can be effective. The main question is – which will work best for you, which will you be able to sustain long-term, and which will give you the long term results you want?
Examine the pros and cons and make a decision based on your body and your habits. Knowing yourself and taking care of your health are more important than the diet you choose.