Mediterranean diet means the cuisines and culinary traditions of the peoples that have lived by the Mediterranean Sea for milennia. Unconsciously, the Mediterranean peoples created a diet that today stands for both healthy and delicious eating.
Eating healthy, enjoying food is in
Indeed, the authentic Mediterranean diet benefits have been proven by many generations of Mediterranean peoples. And numerous modern research studies have validated their traditional cooking and eating practices.
Also, it's worth pointing out that there isn't a single uniform Mediterranean diet. In this respect, the name that Dr Ancel Keys coined is a little bit misleading. It makes you think of a totally homogeneous diet. Mediterranean cuisines would've been more accurate, but now it's too late to change it.
Anyway, every Mediterranean region and country has a differentiated cuisine with its own individual characteristics. However, they share fundamental elements. These patterns seem to be responsible for the general good health, absence of obesity, and longer life expectancy of the Mediterranean peoples that cook and eat the traditional way.
The beauty of it is that anyone, anywhere that follows a Mediterranean-style diet can enjoy those benefits just the same.
Why would you want to adopt the traditional Mediterranean diet?
Because it's a sensible and delicious diet with health-enhancing benefits naturally integrated into it.
What are the distinctive traits of the Mediterranean diet?
There are three general aspects that are essential and that will make it well-balanced in a natural way.
1. Variety is very important. You should regularly try to eat foods of different groups: vegetables, poultry, fruits, etc. as I disscuss in the Home Cook Food Pyramid.
2. Eating seasonal foods as much as possible.
3. The amounts of food you put in your plate should be moderate, especially meats. But remember that it's not about sacrifice, but a way of life.
Guidelines regarding Mediterranean food and eating habits
* Eating plenty of local, seasonal, and fresh fruits and vegetables daily
* Consuming fish regularly
* Consuming rice, pasta, bulgur and other grains regularly and in combination with proteins.
* Preferably eating poultry and lean meat as opposed to red meat
* Eating legumes a few times a week
* Eating some bread with meals
* Consuming olive oil in raw form: drizzled on bread, white cheese, in salads, and sauces among others
* Integrating nuts in the cooking recipes. At the same time, consuming small amounts of raw nuts a few times a week
* Drinking water with meals as opposed to sodas or similar
* In the Northern Mediterranean, drinking a moderate amount of wine over meals
Guidelines regarding the cooking practices
* Using olive oil as the main fat for cooking
* Frying food bathed in olive oil
* Cooking every day and eating most meals warm
* In some Eastern Mediterranean regions, using clarified butter for cooking instead of olive oil
* Using ingredients that didn't undergo a deep (industrial) transformation, that is, they are generally minimally processed.
Guidelines regarding the lifestyle
* Taking the time to eat without haste
* Eating in company, whenever possible, and enjoying it
* Eating at least three or four meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and possibly tea time
* Sitting at a table to eat your meals
What you don't do when you follow the Mediterranean diet
* Using butter or margarine for frying
* Eating large amounts of red meat regularly
* Eating meat by itself
* Eating processed foods, fast food or any kind of junk food
* Snacking at all times
* Drinking sodas, colas or other processed soft drinks
* Feeling guilty about food
* Counting calories endlessly
The Mediterranean diet and you
The question is: How do you apply it to your particular situation in life?
Maybe at first you think: "Oh, I can never do that". I'm positive you can. You only have to think of the benefits and the peace of mind you'll have once it becomes natural.
If you look at the guidelines and characteristics of the Mediterranean diet closer, you'll realize that everything is very sensible and down-to-earth. Perhaps a little bit unusual for some, but there are no weird ingredients or