The ‘Mediterranean Diet is often typecast as one that uses a lot of herbs and olive oil. This isn’t a misconception exactly, but it is a very limited description for a diet that’s actually pretty inclusive. And pretty darn delicious, too.
So, What’s the Mediterranean Diet About?
Let me preface this by saying that there are at least 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean, which means that you have to consider at least 16 different eating styles when talking about a “Mediterranean” diet. That’s not counting the cuisine, culture, ethnic, and agricultural variations among regions within each specific country.
Point is, there are definitely diet differences across these countries – which would explain why the Mediterranean diet is so extensive. Thankfully, it focuses on what the different regions have in common when it comes to food, food prep, and food preferences.
Here are a couple, to start:
- Low to minimal servings of red meat
- Low to minimal servings of processed food
- Low to moderate servings of dairy products
- Low to moderate servings of eggs
- Low to moderate consumption of alcohol
- Moderate servings of fish and poultry
- Lots and lots of olive oil (primary fat source)
- Lots of potatoes
- High servings of vegetables, nuts, and seeds
- High servings of bread and other grains
- Fruits as a sweet/sugar source
Sounds simple enough, yeah?
And that’s why everyone’s talking about it.
Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet
Despite the fact that fad diets and 30-day diet challenge programs are oh-so trendy right now (thank you, Tik Tok), no one can really stick to them. They’re limited, restrictive, and have way too many hard rules for anyone to truly enjoy them.
Some do, sure. But not a lot. Not most of the population.
The Mediterranean diet, in contrast, is more of a dietary guideline. It’s a set of principles and best practices that basically tell you what to eat, and in what quantities. It adopts more of an “eat this, eat that, don’t eat this if you can, and if you have to, only eat this much,” sort of tone.
Which, honestly, is quite refreshing.
Especially since most other diets are more of a “eat this much of this and don’t eat that. At all. No exceptions,” type of tone.
Also: no counting calories on the Mediterranean diet. Yay!
The Mediterranean Diet (guidelines) is based on the typical food patterns the 16 Mediterranean countries had during the 1960s. Statistics show this to be the Golden Era for that particular area. Life expectancy was the highest in the world in these countries, and chronic diseases related to diets were at an all-time low.
It didn’t take long for medical science to figure out the reason behind it. Removing processed food from your diet, limiting your red meat intake, and indulging in red wine instead of hard liquor are all steps that have been proven to reduce the risk of stroke and heart diseases.
A growing body of research also points to the positive correlation between the Mediterranean diet and improved levels of cholesterol and overall blood vessel health. And because so many approved dishes in this diet are high in fibre, you also minimize drastic swings in blood sugar – great for weight maintenance and preventing Type 2 diabetes!
It Tastes Great
Come on. Even though you’re cutting out red meat, you can’t argue with a diet that allows for potatoes, grilled salmon, and red wine! You can have Mediterranean pizza (who doesn’t love pizza?), sandwiches (just make sure it’s whole grain bread!) lasagne, and grilled lamb! This diet is said to be quite rich and satisfying, and it’s not hard to see why.
Rather than focus on the quantity of the food (aka calorie counting), the Mediterranean diet wholly supports focusing on the quality.
So if you’re tired of restrictive diets with all those ridiculous rules and hard-to-find alternatives, give the Mediterranean diet a try. We can say with confidence that it’s one of the friendliest diets out there.