Every few years a new ‘diet' hits the scene - from GM to Atkins and from Blood Type to Paleo, every one of them promises miraculous results ranging from weight loss to world peace! Yet, if you examine these diets closely, most of them cut out entire food groups, carbs and fats are usually the first ones to be banished from your plate. If you find yourself sliding back into old ways once the diet is done and dusted, and are looking for a way to make a lifestyle change, then perhaps take a closer look at the Mediterranean Diet.
What is it?
Though it's named as Mediterranean Diet, it is more representative of the diet followed in Greece, Spain and Southern Italy. It is less of a diet and more a way of life in these parts of the world. The focus is on a high consumption of vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and nuts, along with a moderate intake of dairy products (mainly yoghurt and cheese), and even wine. There isn't a high consumption of meat and meat products.
Seasonal eating is an important factor in a Mediterranean diet as well, as the fact that more whole foods (and less processed products) are consumed.
Why follow it?
The traditional Mediterranean diet has long been recognised as a model for a healthy lifestyle. It has been linked to a lower incidence of cardiovascular ailments as it is low in saturated fats. The higher usage of olive oil, which is rich in anti-oxidants, leads to lower cholesterol levels.
Intake of red meats is limited and these are instead replaced with fish and poultry. The diet is also associated with lower risk of certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. It also can help in weight loss and may lead to a longer lifespan. Of course, these health benefits are not just due to the diet. People who live along the Mediterranean also tend to lead a more relaxed lifestyle, take leisurely meals and engage in moderate exercise.
A Lifestyle Change
The word ‘Mediterranean' doesn't mean that you have to cook Greek or Italian and abandon the food you have grown up eating. It is just a matter of slightly changing the way you cook and consume foods. Indian diets already include a large number of vegetables and legumes. However, instead of overcooking them and using heavy spices, try making simpler dishes where the vegetables retain their freshness and therefore, nutrients.
Though many fruit and vegetables are available year-round these days, the taste and nutritional value is at its peak when they are in season; so eating seasonally is a good idea. Switching to olive oil and rapeseed (canola) oil or even sesame oil is another way you can incorporate this diet in your life. Avoid deep fried dishes and processed foods. The diet also advocates a restricted intake of sweets, so all those mithais, cakes and pastries are a no-no. Also, remember to include some level of daily exercise in your lifestyle.
In comparison to other fad diets, the Mediterranean diet seems to be a promising on for healthy eating. But remember, it is important that your nutritional plan takes into account all factors in your life including you age, sex, level of physical activity and your eating habits and lifestyle.
So will the Mediterranean diet make it to your list of New Year resolutions? Make this lifestyle a part of a healthier you and see the difference.
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