Registered Dietitians at the Crittenton Diabetes Education & Nutrition Counseling Center are long-time supporters of the Mediterranean diet. This particular meal plan has gained recent attention from other medical centers advocating for the heart health benefits of the diet. Are you curious about the meal plan that has been credited with a longer life, heart health, kidney protection and a decreased risk of peripheral artery disease?
What You Need to Know About the Mediterranean Diet
- The word “diet” is deceiving. The Mediterranean diet isn’t a “diet plan” in the sense that you strictly avoid certain foods or severely restrict your calorie intake. Instead, it is a modified nutrition plan that really focuses on certain lifestyle changes.
- The Mediterranean diet is really tasty! That’s right; you can eat healthy without giving up delicious meals. The Mediterranean diet is built around local resources in the Mediterranean like fish, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil. These foods have anti-inflammatory qualities and are also rich tasting foods to create quality meals that are meant to be eaten slowly and savored.
- People with food allergies or restrictions can still enjoy it. If you have a gluten or diary allergies, you can still benefit from this meal plan. The Mediterranean diet focuses much less on diary and foods like milk or cheese are eaten only in moderation, usually as a topping for a side dish and can easily be cut out. If you have gluten allergies, whole grains can easily be replaced with gluten-free foods like quinoa, buckwheat, or rice.
- The key is moderation. For some, the most challenging part of committing to eating healthy is saying goodbye forever to their favorite sweets or snacks. A Mediterranean diet doesn’t eliminate any one food, but focuses on moderation. A small piece of dark chocolate or a 4 ounce glass of red wine is acceptable, as long as it is enjoyed in moderation.
- The beverage of choice is water. When people are trying to lose weight, one of the first places to look for empty calories is in beverages. Sugary drinks like pop, sports drinks, or sweetened teas carry an abundance of extra sugars that add up to empty calories. The Mediterranean diet focuses on drinking water as your main drink. Spice it up with a wedge of lemon or some cucumbers if you need a little more zing in your water.
If you are looking to start eating healthier and incorporating new lifestyle changes for a healthy future, the Mediterranean diet could be a heart healthy meal plan option for your family to try out. It is easy to make kid-friendly meals and it’s also inexpensive.
You can find more resources about the Mediterranean diet on our heart health assessment. Answer a few lifestyle questions about your heart health and you can access a heart healthy diet plan and other heart resources like a healthy heart checklist.