Because the Mediterranean Lifestyle is more of a lifestyle than a diet, the benefits are life-long! A Mediterranean lifestyle (ML) leads to weight loss…I lost the 6 pounds I gained over the past year while writing a book and sitting too much. But it also promotes a healthier way of life without deprivation, or starving yourself.
I will not sugar coat this. Without deprivation does not mean you can eat ANYTHING all the time. A ML covers all the basic requirements of healthy eating. Nothing is forbidden, but people from the Mediterranean area do not eat packaged or convenience foods the way we do in America. Their emphasis is on whole foods that promote good health, and satisfy us with interesting flavors and variety. No visits to a specialty food store required!
They also do not drink soda, diet drinks, or eat anything that has lots of sugar. Fruit is often their dessert, and dark chocolate can satisfy a sweet-tooth.
If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, your doctor may have recommended the DASH diet to you. Both the Mediterranean and DASH diets are plant-focused diets, rich in fruits and vegetables, and nuts. Both include smaller portions of low-fat and non-fat dairy, lean meats, fish, and poultry. Whole grains, such as oatmeal, 100% whole grain bread, brown rice, and smaller amounts of pasta are also enjoyed. You fill up on delicious fruits and vegetables, paired with protein-rich foods, to satisfy your hunger. This makes a life-long eating plan that is so easy to follow.
Physical Activity is a Natural Part of the Mediterranean Lifestyle
Mediterranean people follow a more active lifestyle. Walking, chores, gardening, etc. are a natural part of their social structure. We’ll do a future blog on the benefits of walking for overall health, but everyone can start walking more as part of their day. Even if it’s just up and down the block to start, you can start walking.
For this week, I’d like to ask you to do two things. First, pay attention to what you eat and when. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself:
- Do you eat breakfast? If so, what do you usually have?
- Do you drink coffee? What do you put in it?
- Do you eat lunch? On the go, or sitting down? What do you usually have? Anything to drink?
- How about snacks? Do they include some protein and a little fat, or are they more of the carbohydrates and sugar type? Do you sip on a drink all afternoon? If so, note what it is.
- Dinner: Does it include a fresh salad? Protein? Many carbs?
- After Dinner Snacking: This can be a real problem area for most of us, myself included. Note what you usually snack on, and how much. A true ML does not include eating before bed.
Second, begin taking a daily walk. I am not looking for distance now; I am looking for consistency. The most important first step (no pun intended!) for an exercise program is to find something you can actually do anywhere. If the weather is still bad where you live, you can walk in a mall, or around the building at work. As the saying goes: Just Do It!
Next week, we’ll talk specific foods and recipes you can try. I’m looking forward to your feedback and recipe requests/suggestions.
Have a blessed, healthy week.
Suzanne Bonner, Author
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“But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.” Psalm 52:8 (NLT)