Mediterranean Diet – Love Continuing Validation

January 15, 2019 in Mediterranean, Uncategorized by Joyce Bunderson

I’ve been promoting the Mediterranean diet for well-over a decade; so, you can probably imagine why I’m doing a jig around my desk. The Mediterranean diet has won first place as 2019’s best overall diet. Last year it was tied for the #1 slot, but this year it took home the gold.

On January 2, 2019, the U.S. News and World Report published the newest Best Diets. The Mediterranean Diet not only won the number one slot for best overall diet of the 41 eating plans analyzed, but in addition, was number one for: Easiest Diets to Follow, Best Diabetes Diets, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, Best Heart-Healthy Diets, and Best Plant-Based Diets.

I mentioned in my Christmas Day article The Best Eating Style for you May Be a Customized Plan “My guess is that it (Mediterranean diet being tied for #1 last year.) is not going to vary wildly from this past year; because part of the evaluation is based upon substantial nutritional research on the healthfulness of the foods they recommend.” Since the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression and breast cancer, it’s no surprise that it was chosen as number one for the best diet for healthy eating. I’m always glad to have a large panel of nutrition experts validate my recommendation.

You’ll note in my posts over the past decade that I often refer to the Mediterranean diet as an eating style, rather than a diet; the reason is that I believe that many people think of a diet as a rather specific plan such as: eat a cup of this and 4 ounces of that; have an afternoon snack of one small piece of fruit or 8 ounces of yogurt. The Mediterranean eating style has meals that focus on plant-based foods (Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts, and extra virgin olive oil – these foods are linked with reducing inflammation, reducing oxidative stress, balancing our gut bacteria, essentially getting at the base of the cause of disease.); the style is low in refined sugar and flour, except as occasional desserts; fish is commonly served – with red meats only served occasionally or as a minor ingredient in a recipe; dairy, eggs and poultry are served, but in smaller portions than common in the traditional Western diet. This is not a strict “diet” and should be initiated with the intent of making a life change in eating style, getting a balance of plant-based foods in different categories, and keeping meats in a greatly reduced role.  It should not be initiated as something to discontinue when some weight or health goal is reached.

I definitely say that if you decide to go from a traditional Western diet to a Mediterranean eating style, think of it as a process. Study the eating plan, and decide what you enjoy and how to make it work for you. Give yourself the time to make the transition. Consider going back and reading the Christmas Day post to get yourself headed in the right direction.

And when you try it, you might heed these cautions: the Mediterranean diet encourages extra virgin olive oil (EVOO); EVOO is like all fat and essentially contains 9 calories/gram. The point is that even good oil/fat supplies calories and if you are too liberal with the EVOO it may be too many calories. So certainly, use EVOO but don’t start pouring it generously on everything, especially if you’re struggling with weight management. Ditto for super healthy avocados, seeds and nuts. Eat them, but don’t sit down to a 2-hour movie with a five pound can of cashews next to you on the sofa.

The Mediterranean diet embraces whole grain pasta; but the recommendation follows the same line of reasoning as the nuts and EVOO. Even whole grain pasta is starchy and has about 110 calories/ounce; it is a good food, but use portion control. Likewise, with beans. If you’re eating lots of vegetables, you will discover that it’s easy to be satiated with a controlled amount of EVOO, avocadoes, pasta, or beans. These all have condensed calories.  It is very difficult to take in too many calories from the vegetables alone.

So obviously with the latest list from U.S. News and World Report, you can clearly see that I’m not going out on a limb in telling you that the Mediterranean style of eating is a great choice, if you’re looking to trade up your eating style during 2019. Customize it to fit your likes/dislikes and enjoy your 2019.