Is this really the world’s best diet? Let’s find out!
What’s the best diet for me?”
This is a question I have been asked nearly everyday since I graduated from university.
I’m probably not going to tell you to cut out carbs, go keto, or try intermittent fasting. But there is one diet that the research actually supports!
Okay, so it’s not actually a “diet”. It’s not designed to be restrictive, or be used for weight loss. So, if that’s what you want from this blog, you might be in the wrong place! If you want to learn about a way of eating that is flexible, adaptable and full of health benefits, then look no further!
Of course, I’m talking about the Mediterranean Diet. But let’s call it the Mediterranean Diet Pattern (MDP for short) because there’s more to it than just being another “diet”.
What foods are allowed??
Essentially everything is allowed! But we want to prioritise some foods and only eat others a few times per week. Nothing is off limits or completely excluded here!
At the core of the MDP, there are some foods you want to eat every. single. day.
- Wholegrain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Legumes, beans and lentils
Then we have the group of foods to include a few times per week:
- Fish and seafood
- Yoghurt and cheese
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, quail and other small birds)
This group is the one we want to consume least often (once per week):
- Red meat
Your drink of choice should be:
- Red wine (if you drink alcohol)
Now, the MDP also includes a few other pseudo ‘rules’. Don’t worry, these are fun!
You’ll want to stay active in everyday life. This doesn’t mean being seated all day and then jumping up for a 45-minute workout! It means moving whenever you can. Doing the chores, cooking, using a standing desk, walking while on the phone, walking to friends and family’s houses, taking the stairs! Increasing the incidental activity in your day is an important part of the MDP.
Prioritising social engagement is another key ‘rule’ within the MDP. If you can eat with people – do it! If it means having lunch with your work friends rather than eating at your desk, do it! If it means turning the TV off while eating dinner with the family, do it! If it means not using phones during meal time and actually focussing on your food, DO IT. This also means you have my full permission to go out to brunch with friends, or enjoy a dinner party on the weekends. Be social with your food!!
Who should follow the Mediterranean Diet Pattern?
It may help reduce your risk of heart disease.
It may help reduce your risk of stroke.
It has anti-inflammatory properties.
It may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
It is great for fertility health in both men and women.
It is the best diet pattern to follow for PCOS and endometriosis.
It’s a universally good diet pattern for anyone to follow. I honestly cannot see a downside to this diet pattern/lifestyle!
Where should I start??
Let’s create a little strategy for you to begin to implement the Mediterranean Diet Pattern in your life. I’ve included 10 tips below to help you begin your MDP journey!
Please don’t attempt all of these ideas at once – pick your favourites and start there! Then, once they have been well integrated into your daily life, add one more thing in. Keep going until you’ve completed the list!
It could take you weeks, or months, or even years to get through this list. But that’s the best thing about the MDP! We’re not aiming for weight loss or drastic results. This is a diet pattern for health and wellbeing, which should probably be a lifelong goal for you. So, the timeframe doesn't matter here. This isn’t a phase, or a quick fix, or a fad diet. This is a way of eating and living that a lot of us should be following!
Without further ado, here is a very helpful list of simple things for you to try!
1. Cook with extra virgin olive oil. Sorry coconut oil, but you’re being moved to the back of the cupboard.
2. Eat oily fish at least twice per week.
3. Have some colour at every single meal! Beige meals (and days) are fine every once in a while, but if you can add a fruit/vegetable to your meal/snack, please do it!
4. Love your legumes! Start by adding lentils into your pasta sauce, or chickpeas into your curries, or black beans into your salads. Have legumes daily if you can!
5. Snack on nuts and seeds. Get as much variety in as you can. Make a trail mix and enjoy it with some fruit + yoghurt as a snack.
6. Reduce your intake of red meat. You don’t have to cut it all out at once! Even just one meal less of red meat per week is a great start.
7. Try to incorporate some vegetarian meals into your week.
8. Stay hydrated!! Set phone reminders to drink water if you need to!
9. Take any opportunity to be active. Tracking steps for a few days might give you a good indication of where you’re currently at, and how you can improve your incidental activity.
10. Don’t eat while using your phone or watching TV if you can avoid it. Be present with your food and enjoy a meal with others.
Choose your favourite, and start it today. It’s a journey, but it’s worth it!
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