What is all of the fuss with the Mediterranean Diet?

What is the mediterranean diet?

The term ‘mediterranean diet' is actually more accurately described as a way of eating, living and socialising as opposed to a ‘diet’. Partaking in physical activity, getting adequate rest, eating meals socially with family and friends and enjoying wine are key components of The Mediterranean Diet (TMD). Traditionally speaking, TMD is a dietary pattern that collectively describes the exchanges of culture, food and people in all countries around the mediterranean basin who value the incorporation of biodiversity, eco-friendliness and traditional and local food products.

Food-wise, TMD focuses heavily on including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereals and olive oil in every meal. It is advised that dairy, olives, nuts, seeds, garlic, onion, herbs and spices are included every day. TMD has less of a focus on animal based foods, with the recommendation to include fish and seafood a few times per week, white meat 2 times per week, and red meat/processed meats less than twice a week. Legumes are also encouraged to be eaten more than twice a week.

What is the mediterranean diet?

The term ‘mediterranean diet' is actually more accurately described as a way of eating, living and socialising as opposed to a ‘diet’. Partaking in physical activity, getting adequate rest, eating meals socially with family and friends and enjoying wine are key components of The Mediterranean Diet (TMD). Traditionally speaking, TMD is a dietary pattern that collectively describes the exchanges of culture, food and people in all countries around the mediterranean basin who value the incorporation of biodiversity, eco-friendliness and traditional and local food products.

Food-wise, TMD focuses heavily on including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereals and olive oil in every meal. It is advised that dairy, olives, nuts, seeds, garlic, onion, herbs and spices are included every day. TMD has less of a focus on animal based foods, with the recommendation to include fish and seafood a few times per week, white meat 2 times per week, and red meat/processed meats less than twice a week. Legumes are also encouraged to be eaten more than twice a week.

Image via: Bach-Faig, A., Berry, E., Lairon, D., Reguant, J., Trichopoulou, A., & Dernini, S. et al. (2011). Mediterranean diet pyramid today. Science and cultural updates. Public Health Nutrition, 14(12A), 2274-2284. doi: 10.1017/s1368980011002515

Why is it beneficial?

Studies show that following a mediterranean dietary pattern can improve various markers in cardiovascular disease risk (reduction in stroke risk, reduction in peripheral arterial disease and reductions in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels), reduces the risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease, reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes, improves insulin sensitivity and reduces liver steatosis.

Okay, great, I’m convinced… How do I start to follow a Mediterranean style of living?

Although tempting, try not to take an all or nothing approach with this. Depending on your current dietary intake and lifestyle patterns, TMD may be easy for some of you to follow and much harder for others. However, rather than feeling like you have to strictly follow these guidelines, a really easy way to slowly incorporate TMD pattern into your daily life is to simply reduce your meat consumption and increase your intake of vegetables!

This week’s recipe of choice is inspired by the mediterranean diet and will help you do exactly that.

Click here for a really easy, mediterranean style, family friendly recipe: Spanish tuna pasta bake.

Why not take the extra step and enjoy this meal family style? Serve the dish in the centre of the table and allow each family member to serve their own portions. Take the time to sit down and enjoy the meal together. After all, TMD has a large focus on celebrating, embracing and enjoying the social aspect of eating.


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