Dietitians, nutritionists, GPs and doctors are all big advocates of the Mediterranean diet: not only because it is a low cost way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but it’s also recently been linked to improved mental health.
But what we love about it – apart from the fact that a major aspect of it is using Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) liberally – is that it’s not a diet at all, it’s quite simply a way of life.
There’s no caloric cuts offs, weigh ins, or a specific Mediterranean diet plan to adhere to, and it doesn’t even restrict you from eating the finer things in life.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners list the Mediterranean diet as an easy non-drug related intervention for reducing cardiovascular risk, outlining it simply as a diet that increases the intake of “fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and fish” and decreases the consumption of meat and dairy.”
“There is no specific fat restriction, as long as fat is mostly derived from fatty fish and plant sources (particularly olive oils or nuts),” the website states.
“Patients view the Mediterranean diet as tastier and more filling than low-fat diets, which leads to increased long-term compliance.”
And you can’t argue with that!
For anyone who has ever been on a “diet” we all know they’re hard to maintain. Life is for living, food is for enjoying and when there’s so much fresh, delicious, healthy, local food at our fingertips in Australia we’d be mad not to enjoy it.
The thing is, enjoying food on the Mediterranean diet is about enjoying the truly good things in abundance and keeping the not so good (for you) things on the backburner. Simple, right?
But when you’ve grown up getting “treated” with lollies and ice cream and white, buttery fairy bread at parties, or “rewarded” for a great day on the sports field with a trip to McDonalds, it’s hard to change your mind-set.
One motivational place to start is to think of the Mediterranean diet as replacing energy-sapping foods with life giving foods.
Just think about how you feel after a delicious barbecued salmon steak served with blanched broccoli and baked sweet potato smothered in EVOO, lemon and garlic? Then think about how you feel after a McDonalds burger and fries, or a packet of lollies?
Why would you think that the latter is a treat, when it leaves you feeling so lifeless, still hungry and even a little unwell?
Now, we’re not the fun police, we like to have our cake and eat it too… but it’s what goes in to the cake that counts!
And it’s not just TV journalists and GPs who think the Mediterranean diet a winner. Diabetes Australia is a strong advocate for the Mediterranean diet, and suggest that we even allow a glass of wine with meals.
“Following a Mediterranean-style eating pattern has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in people who are at high risk,” the website states.
So, for those looking to make a lifestyle change for the better, avoid the “diet mindset” and just follow these top ten rules to live by for a happier, healthier you!
- Use Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil as your oil of choice (locally sourced, certified, fresh AEVOO is the best for you)
- Eat lots of different coloured vegetables with every meal
- Eat fresh fruit and nuts every day
- Include at least two legume-based meals a week
- Eat at least two servings of oily fish per week
- Reduce consumption of all other red and white meats to once per week
- Keep dairy up by consuming natural yoghurt every day and cheese in moderation
- Include wholegrain breads, cereals and carbohydrates with your meals (cut out the white stuff)
- Consume wine in moderation (100mls/day) and always with meals. Also aim to have a few alcohol-free days each week.
- Save sweet desserts, cakes and sugary drinks for special occasions only and stick to dark chocolate in moderation.
Want to get started? Try these 5 Mediterranean diet recipes using just 20 core ingredients!