Six-Step Guide to Following the Mediterranean Diet

A transition to a healthier diet is easier than you think. Here are six steps to get you started.

Feb. 8, 2017
By Mary West

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The ver­dict has been in for a long time now: The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) has impres­sive health ben­e­fits we all need. While depri­va­tion and self – denial is asso­ci­ated with some eat­ing plans, the MedDiet is full of vari­ety and fla­vor — advan­tages that make it sus­tain­able over a life­time. Here is a sim­ple guide that will help you con­vert from the typ­i­cal American diet to this supremely health­ful lifestyle.

1. Exchange Unhealthy Fats for Healthy Ones

It isn’t so much the quan­tity but the qual­ity of fat within a diet that is impor­tant. Most veg­etable oils and mar­garines on the mar­ket are highly processed. They may con­tain linoleic acid, a fat that causes inflam­ma­tion. Swap these prod­ucts for health­ful fat sources from the MedDiet, which include avo­ca­dos, nuts, olive oil and fatty fish.

2. Replace Red Meat with Plant Foods

A typ­i­cal American meal fea­tures meat promi­nently and rel­e­gates veg­eta­bles to side dishes. You can tran­si­tion to the MedDiet by mak­ing veg­eta­bles, grains, beans and fruit the cen­ter­piece of a meal. The plan also con­tains mod­er­ate amounts of poul­try, in addi­tion to fish rich in omega‑3 fatty acids like salmon and tuna. Save red meat for an occa­sional treat.

3. Switch Refined Grains for Whole Grains

White bread, white pasta and white rice are essen­tially devoid of nutri­tion. They are highly processed and have been stripped of fiber, pro­tein, min­er­als and the B vit­a­mins that make grains so health­ful. Instead of these foods, eat 100 per­cent whole grain bread and pas­tas along with brown rice. Adopt the Mediterranean prac­tice of includ­ing ancient grains into the diet such as quinoa, bul­gur, ama­ranth and buck­wheat.

4. Opt for Fruit Over Dessert

Most desserts are loaded with sugar, refined grains and unhealth­ful fat, dietary com­po­nents linked to var­i­ous health mal­adies. In place of such dishes, eat fresh fruit, which is plen­ti­ful in fiber, enzymes and a host of phy­tonu­tri­ents that pro­mote well­ness.

5. Swap Unwholesome Dairy for Wholesome Dairy

The MedDiet includes mod­er­ate amounts of dairy prod­ucts, but make wise selec­tions. Eat nat­ural cheese rather than processed cheese. Choose plain vari­eties of Greek yogurt and reg­u­lar yogurt instead of those that con­tain fruit, added sugar and other unwhole­some ingre­di­ents. Yogurt is a very health­ful food, as it con­tains pro­bi­otics, which are friendly bac­te­ria that nour­ish the gut.

6. Trade Rushed Meals for Leisurely Meals

It has been said that the MedDiet is a lifestyle rather than merely an eat­ing plan. Instead of mak­ing meals hur­ried affairs, savor your food. Eating slowly allows you to be aware of sati­ety sig­nals and pre­vents con­sum­ing more than what is needed. Moreover, shar­ing a din­ner around a table with fam­ily mem­bers or friends fos­ters com­mu­ni­ca­tion and closer ties.


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