Tag Archives: Healthy and Nutritious Diet

Why Choose the Mediterranean Diet

Why choose the Mediterranean Diet? The answer is quite simple. You eat lots of fruits and vegetables with olive oil and feta cheese, plus red wine, hard cheese, salads, garlic, nuts and seeds, plus lots of fish. What can be better than that?

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

If you are unfamiliar with this diet, it may seem completely counter-intuitive when you think about dieting for weight loss.

Of course, eating fruits, vegetables and lots of salad, even fish makes sense; but how can adding fats (even healthy fats) and wine help you lose weight?  Also, when you read about the diet, there are no restrictions in quantities of food that you can eat.  Strange . . . right?

Let’s take a closer look to see exactly how this diet works.

The Origin

Unlike most of the popular (or fad) diets that are rampant on the Internet and through all types of media, the Mediterranean Diet was not created to sell a book or to make the author famous.

It is simply a natural diet eaten by people who live in Mediterranean countries. That alone makes it far more appealing than an extreme fad diet created by some unknown doctor, nutritionist, or health “expert” with specific (sometimes unusual) recommendations or restrictions that most of them include.

I love this quote from the NIH (National Institute of Health), “Mediterranean tradition offers a cuisine rich in colours, aromas and memories, which support the taste and the spirit of those who live in harmony with nature.”

Unfortunately, for some time, there were many who did not consider this a healthy diet primarily because of the olive oil and the wine, which are major components of the diet.  It wasn’t until some of the “experts” began studying statistics regarding the health of people who lived in the regions where the diet originated.

They quickly found the population had longer lifespans and a much lower incidence of  heart disease, diabetes and cancer!

The Science behind the Phenomenon

What is really going on?  It is not so strange when you take a close look. First – people in the Mediterranean enjoy eating more than most Western cultures like the U.S. and the U.K.

Sadly, the Western cultures see  preparation of meals and the necessity of eating are seen as more of an inconvenience than something to enjoy.  The majority of us eat to live – to fuel our bodies, nothing more.

We eat quickly with no thought about what we are eating – much of it extremely unhealthy. We eat large quantities of  junk food like Big Gulps, candy, cookies, potato chips . . . anything that can be purchased, opened, and gobbled, or chugged down.

It is no wonder so many people have serious health problems and that as a society we are on the verge of a pandemic of obesity

Delicious, Nutritious Food

In direct contrast to the way many Americans eat, the people of the Mediterranean region enjoy eating. They take the time to create and savour delicious dishes made from fresh fruits, vegetables, lots of fish and delicious cheese – cooked or topped with olive oil (not butter) and served with whole grain bread and red wine. That sounds like a great way to live!

It spite of what we have heard for years, fats are not bad for us. In fact, our bodies need some fat and healthy fats are good for us. When they are eaten with fruits and vegetables they actually help absorb the nutrients more easily.

When people embrace the Mediterranean way of eating, they learn to eat natural foods that strengthen and nourish their bodies – and – they learn to truly appreciate what they are eating. More time is taken to prepare and serve the food and it is eaten with much greater relish – all of which has a huge impact on health and well-being.

To me, it sounds like something everyone should incorporate into their lifestyle!  I challenge you to give it a try very soon. You have nothing to lose (except weight) and everything to gain

Steps to Start a Healthy and Nutritious Diet

Healthy and Nutritious Diet

If you have never learned to eat healthy and have no understanding of proper nutrition, making the choice to live a healthier lifestyle can seem difficult, but it really doesn’t have to be.

All you need to learn are a few basic pieces of information. The reality is that with a little knowledge anyone can start on the road to good health.

Healthy eating is essential if you want your body to continuing functioning properly over the long-haul; if you want to have lots of energy and vitality; and if you want to live a healthy, disease-free life.

The biggest challenge for most people when they first start the process of changing their diet for the better is breaking unhealthy habits that have been in place for a long, long time. But, if you are committed to living the best, healthiest life possible, you cannot compromise on your diet. You must choose a healthy, nutritious way of eating and stay with it for the long term.

The first and most important step in the process (once you are fully committed) is to clean out your refrigerator, pantry, and cupboards.  You must clear your home of bad foods.

Get Rid of All Bad Foods in Your Home

Packaged food with additives
Unhealthy Food
Image by Honey Bunny

Get rid of anything (and everything) that is processed. This means all packaged foods, including snacks, chips, cookies and soda (especially energy drinks). Processed, packaged foods typically contain very few nutrients that the body needs AND are filled with additives.

If you don’t have junk food, processed snacks, pre-packaged dinners, and soda in your kitchen you will not be continually tempted to eat them.

In place of all those “bad foods” you should stock your kitchen with healthy snacks, such as, fresh fruit and veggies, cheese, unsweetened non-fat Greek yogurt, and if you must have carbs – try 100% whole grain products, like crackers and rice cakes. (Read the labels and avoid those that contain additives.)

If you know you will struggle with a sweet tooth, try eating a spoonful of peanut or almond butter, or a handful of nuts.

If you still struggle and are unreasonably tempted by bad snacks, opt for Atkins Nutrition Bars that come in a variety of flavors, including, Brownies. They taste good and have zero sugar.  If you can avoid going this route, I would encourage you to do so, but it is a good choice if you MUST have something sweet.

Learn to Cook Healthy Meals

Healthy meals are made up of lean proteins, and healthy carb sides, including whole- grain starches and vegetables. Fruit and/or nuts are good choices for dessert.

Overall, a healthy eating plan includes the recommended daily allowances from all the food groups. Please note when you look at the chart that SUGAR IS NOT a FOOD GROUP, in fact it is not listed at all.

It is important to take the time to learn which foods are healthy and how they work in the body. I am sure that you already know that fruits and vegetables are at the top of the healthy food list.  You have probably also heard that low-fat and skim dairy products are better for you that whole milk products. But, you may have no idea why any of those foods are healthy.  The secret is the nutrients they contain – you should not only know what they are, but also how they contribute to your health.

Once you have a clear understanding and appreciation of how specific nutrients work in the body, you will be more likely to make healthy choices at meal and snack times. Knowledge is power – so take the time to educate yourself!

Start Cooking at Home

The only sure way you can control the ingredients in your meals and the cooking methods used to prepare them is to cook at home.  Don’t leave the health of your family in someone else’s hands.

Once you are clear on the healthy foods that you should be eating, take the time to learn healthy cooking methods to ensure that you are preparing and serving your family the meals they deserve.

Eat at Regular Times

When you first start on the journey of eating a new and healthier diet, it is wise to eat on a regular meal schedule. The majority of people who eat unhealthy foods most of the time are always in a hurry and frequently eat in a rush or at odd times of day.

Yes, people lead very busy lives, and eating junk and fast food on the go is typical – so, to break the pattern, you must plan ahead.  To avoid grabbing whatever fast food is handy, get a small cooler and take your lunch with you. A fresh tuna salad, or roast chicken sandwich on 100% whole-wheat bread is much healthier for you than a Big MAC. If you have the convenience of a lunch room, try packing a nice salad.

Plan Ahead

The weekend is a good time to plan for the week, and prep food that can be used easily throughout the week.

Plan ahead for healthy dinners as well, by cooking ahead of time and using the freezer to its fullest advantage. Check out my cookbook, Cook Ahead – Freezer to Table, which can be purchased through Amazon.com.  It is filled with healthy recipes that can be prepared ahead of time, frozen, and pulled from the freezer for quick, healthy meals any time.

There are healthy frozen meals available at the market as well, and can be a good alternative for those who really cannot cook. These include, Healthy Choice and AMY’S Organic Meals, among others. Be careful with your choices, not all frozen meals are healthy – read the labels carefully.

Shop the Periphery of the Market

The periphery of any super market has all the healthy foods, and  the inside aisles carry all the processed and unhealthy ones. Think about it, the produce section, the fresh meats, and the dairy products are all on the periphery. Next time you are at the market take a stroll and look around the periphery to see what is there. In fact, do most of your shopping there.

Final Thoughts

Begin with small steps. Some people can make the change to a healthy diet cold-turkey and be highly successful at it. If you do not believe that is possible, take it one small step at a time.  Even if you merely substitute one soda a day with a glass of water, or one candy bar with an apple, it counts. If you normally eat fast food each day for lunch, try eating a healthy meal instead at least every other day.

When you begin with tiny steps, it will not feel as drastic. This will also give you plenty of time to learn about healthy foods and healthy cooking methods, which I promise you will learn to love over time, if you stay the course.

AND . . . the best part of all is that you and your family will look better, feel better, stay more in control of your weight, and live longer, healthier lives.