It is easy to lose sight of what represents a balanced and nutritious diet when you fixate on what the worst offenders are. Whilst it is necessary to understand how different foods and nutrients impact our health, a whole diet approach is often the best way to look at our eating habits so that we can enjoy everything in moderation.
Promoted as a sustainable and healthy way of eating by the World Health Organization, a Mediterranean diet combines the traditional nutritious living habits of those from countries neighbouring the Mediterranean Sea. Whilst this diet varies by county and region, a typical Mediterranean diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruits and nuts, unprocessed cereals, legumes, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. The diet usually includes moderate amounts of fish, and a lower intake of meat and dairy foods than a typical Western diet. A mix of all elements, rather than the consumption of a specific superfood, make this such a nutrient-rich diet that brings with it many health benefits.
Gerber and Hoffman (2015) found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce our risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol – factors which contribute to cardiovascular disease. A recent study in the journal Gut highlighted how the Mediterranean diet can vastly improve our digestive health, whilst it has also been discovered that those following this diet are at a lower risk of obesity and cancer.
To get you started, here’s a simple guide to following a Mediterranean diet:
- Ensure that 50% of your plate is made up of fruit and vegetables.
- 25% of your plate should be whole grains.
- And 25% of your plate, healthy proteins.
Processed foods are not a traditional part of the Mediterranean diet so try to avoid these alongside added sugars, refined oils, and refined grains (such as white pasta and bread). Focus on a diet that is rich in nutrients, and if you do reach for a packet at the supermarket, make sure that the ingredients contain 1-3 whole foods such as bulger or oats.
The Mediterranean diet is a winner in our eyes. It is a delicious and nutritious option for those looking to improve their diets in the long run and to those looking to promote weight loss (without feeling restricted and hungry with an unrealistically small calorie count).