Today I’m going to be talking about The Mediterranean Diet…another diet that I don’t have any personal experience with.
The Mediterranean region is a vast region, encompassing many countries, lifestyles, eating habits, and cultures. As such, it would be difficult to say that the diet is representative of the whole region. When I started researching the Mediterranean diet, I learned that people from Greece and Italy (and some other surrounding countries) have fewer medical problems per capita – like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac problems, etc. When researchers first noted this trend, they started comparing lifestyles and eating patterns and turned up a number of interesting facts. One of which was that the Mediterranean island of Sicily has historically had one of the healthiest diets in the world. Eventually, The Mediterranean Diet was born. Due to its simplicity and flexibility, it now remains quite popular.
The Mediterranean Diet advocates an eating pattern containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish (for a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and Iodine), a lesser amount of white meat, and as little red meat as possible. Additionally, it includes foods rich in fiber (plenty of whole grains) and allows for the moderate consumption of wine. (I don’t drink wine, but I know that alcohol consumption is a big no-no on many diets so for many of you, this might be exciting news.)
You can also consume oil in abundance as long as it’s unsaturated oil, preferably olive oil. This is in sharp contrast to some other traditional diets where the intake of fatty substances is limited as much as possible.
While some diets expect you to pay attention to the size of your portions and expect you to consume everything in moderation, the Mediterranean Diet is rather nonchalant about the total amount of food eaten. As long as you consume the right percentage of each food group during any meal, the size of your meal or portions is irrelevant.
Additionally, people from the region tend to drink large amounts of water due to the heat. Considering the benefits of drinking healthy amounts of water daily, it is easy to see why people are not only losing weight, but also feeling better.
Lastly, the Mediterranean Diet advocates the consumption of nine servings of fruit and vegetables each day. The common belief in the western diet industry is that four to six will suffice – so this is a marked increase from traditional nutritional wisdom. The additional fiber will definitely aid the digestive system, and help the body to cleanse itself – almost like a constant detox process.
As far as pros go, eating plenty of fish, fruits, and veggies is definitely a good thing. So is drinking a lot of water. Also, diets that allow healthy fats such as olive oil are great in keeping you feeling full longer. Also, if you’re a volume eater, the relaxed views on portion control might be something you’ll enjoy!
On the whole, this plan is medically sound, except for one thing: excessive consumption of whole grain products can increase blood sugar levels. For those people who are consuming large portions regularly, the possibility of potential diabetes exists. By choosing whole grain products that are as close to their natural source as possible (very little processing), you can alleviate some of this concern.
Have you had any experience with the Mediterranean diet? I’d love to have you share your experience.