Tag Archives: Processed Foods

Mediterranean Food Pyramid

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.

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!

Photo from: https://www.unitypoint.org/madison/filesimages/News%20Article%20Images/mediterranean-diet-pyramid.jpg

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!

How to Avoid Processed Foods

Avoid Processed Foods for Good Health

Good nutrition plays a major role in keeping your body healthy but sometimes trying to eat properly can be confusing – especially because of all the well-designed, high-powered, convincing ads in the media – placed by major food manufacturers – BUT, you should do your best to avoid processed food. This is the quickest and easiest ways to improve your health through diet. The food companies are very clever and have sophisticated marketing experts that develop programs and promotions to convince the public that their products are healthy.

They are very smart and study food trends carefully. When there is a new fad or even a rumor that there is a new healthy food about to be introduced to the market, they jump right in and add that particular ingredient(s) to everything, which often destroys any health benefits the ingredient(s) may offer when eaten in the natural state.

Hamburger and Fries
Image by Joey

The best way to protect your health is to simply avoid commercialized processed food completely – including all fast foods. You don’t need super food powders, potions, or pills to be healthy – if you eat right.

If you are unwilling to change and know that you will continue to make the choice to eat unhealthy foods, it could be a wise decision to add the pills, powders and potions to supplement your diet. But . . .  for the most part, if you choose to eat a highly-nutritious diet that contains little (preferably none) processed food you will be much better off.

Back to the Basics

A healthy diet does not have to be complicated. All it requires is to select food in its most natural state (as close to nature as possible).  In the cooking process, add only natural herbs, spices, and healthy fats (in limited amounts) so you do not turn healthy food into an unhealthy meal. Steamed veggies with salmon drizzled with lemon juice and a wild rice pilaf needs nothing extra.

Learn to Be a Smart Shopper

Reading Food Labels

If you haven’t already noticed, please check out your grocery store the next time you shop. You will find that the fresh food is placed around the perimeter of the store. That is where you should shop. AVOID going up and down every aisle. You don’t need most of those products anyway. If it had to be made in a factory, it probably isn’t something you should be eating.

If you must buy packaged goods, learn to read labels! 

Always plan your menus in advance, make a grocery list, and stick to it! Do not impulse buy, unless it is fresh fruits and veggies.

Make the Change Slowly

Finally, allow plenty of time to change your eating habits. Some people can go cold turkey – that is the way I did it, but it doesn’t work for everyone.  You know yourself, so plan accordingly.

You may want to start deleting one group of bad foods at a time.

For example:

  1. Phase One:  Stop eating fast foods.
  2. Phase Two: Stop eating unhealthy fats.
  3. Phase Three: Stop eating refined sugar and sugar products.
  4. Phase Four:  Stop buying and eating processed foods.

Of course, you can do it in any order you choose. As you delete each bad category, start adding more and more fresh, healthy foods. You will find that in a very short time you will be eating better and feeling better.

Eliminating one type of unhealthy food group at a time and focusing on all the healthy, nutritious foods you can eat will make the change process much easier.

Final tip . . . measuring cups and spoons are your best friends when cooking and adding any type of fat, sugar or salt to your meals. Always go on the light side!