|Still Life with Mackerels, Lemons and Tomatoes – Vincent van Gogh, 1886|
Obesity is one of the world’s top health problems and the problem is growing worse each year. We, believe it or not, are in control of what we eat. No one is force-feeding us. Because the Mediterranean diet is both healthy and flavorful, it is possible to lose weight and control our weight without being deprived of delicious comfort foods. Part of the success of this diet is that it is very satisfying.
Following this diet is not expensive, and the cooking is simple. It allows for a great amount of flexibility and customization, too. This diet is also a heart healthy diet and its environmental impacts are gentler on the land. It fits the smart adage “everything in moderation”.
Finally, I can't emphasize enough that the success of any diet is to control your portion sizes. Don't go back for seconds. Keep yourself moving, too, and Bon appétit!
1. Meals should be primarily vegetarian and include whole grains, legumes such as cooked dry beans, peas, or lentils, and vegetables. Use lots of herbs and seasonings for flavor.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables every day, several times a day. Good choices are tomatoes, grapes, broccoli, olives, spinach, eggplant, beans, peppers, and berries. Try to eat fresh, local, in season, or from your own garden. Include fermented olives and capers.
3. For dietary fat, use olive oil. Use it on breads, vegetables, and for cooking. Nuts are also good, especially walnuts.
4. Eat whole grains daily such as whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice, and couscous.
5. Fish should be eaten a few times a week, especially oily fish like mackerel, tuna, wild salmon, trout, herring and sardines.
6. Dairy should only be eaten about once a week. Eat cheese and yogurt occasionally. Eggs should be limited to four per week.
7. Red Meat should be eaten only once every week or two, in a small portion size about equal to a deck of playing cards. Small portions of poultry, lamb or pork can also be eaten once a week, or so. Use meat for flavor.
8. Feel free to eat dessert guilt-free once a week. Ideas for fruit as dessert include broiled grapefruit with brown sugar, pears with honey, a bowl of fresh cut-up banana with grapes, or baked apples with brown sugar and raisins. Note that this is mostly a no-sugar diet.
9. A glass of red wine with one meal each day is fine. Drink plenty of water.
10. One of the healthy lifestyle secrets of the Mediterranean is to do moderate movement throughout the day such as noble work like sweeping the floor, gardening, or hanging out laundry, and walking or biking instead of driving to do errands and visit friends and family. Frequent social interactions and connections are also important, including dining with friends, family, and neighbors. Take an afternoon nap, if you can.