A Beginner’s Guide
Want to feel better and avoid chronic health issues? Rich and flavorful are two keywords to describe a Mediterranean eating plan. What foods are suggested on this eating plan? In fact, the best idea is healthy plant foods and low animal products. But, that is not all – you have to move.
What is the Mediterranean Part
The Mediterranean Plan is based on the traditional diet of people in Mediterranean countries. The countries I am referring to border the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, France, Spain, and Italy. This is a diet characterized by a high consumption of veggies, and olive oil. Further, the plan consists of a moderate amounts of protein and a couple meals a week of fish and seafood.
The Mediterranean plan has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, some cancers, and depression. In fact, it decreases the risk of frailty in older adults, along with better mental and physical function.
Additionally, studies have shown the eating plan helps with weight loss. For these reasons, the Mediterranean eating plan is often recommended for those looking to improve their health and protect against chronic disease.
Specifically what to eat
- Vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butters: almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, peanut butter
- Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas
- Whole grains: oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat bread and pasta
- Fish and seafood: salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels
- Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
- Eggs: chicken, quail, and duck eggs
- Dairy: cheese, yogurt, milk
- Herbs and spices: garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper
- Healthy fats: extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil
Exercise and the Mediterranean plan
Anytime you are looking to change your health for the better, you should always add daily movement. However, it does not mean you have exercise every single day.
Perhaps consider helping a friend who needs help with physical activity. For example, yesterday, my son needed to clean his car. I volunteered to help. While we did drive through a car wash, we needed to vacuum. In fact, he has a large dog, and she is in his car often. Therefore, there was a ton of dog hair and grass embedded in the interior. After a lot of scrubbing, we got it clean. Moreover, I got a good upper body workout!
In fact, you can also consider house cleaning, yard work, or other daily movement part of your plan. Don’t sit all day: get up and move your body. You have one body, and you want to keep it healthy, moving, and functioning.
How often to incorporate everything
Below is a pyramid of how often to incorporate each category. Keep in mind that the pyramid does not represent quantities.
Healthy dietary plan
- emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes;
- include low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, poultry, non-tropical vegetable oils and nuts; and
- limit added sugars, sugary beverages, sodium, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats.
Regardless of suggesting this healthy dietary plan, no content in this article should ever be followed as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians. If you have dietary restrictions because of medical health issues, run the suggestions by your doctor first.