Mediterranean diet for beginners – Guide

The Mediterranean diet has received a lot of attention over the years, as well as its fair share of hype. Even so, there is merit to the lifestyle as evidenced by the Mediterranean natives’ extended life spans and decreased risks to diseases.  This Mediterranean diet for beginners guide will help you determine whether this is the right lifestyle for you and your family.

Mediterranean diet for beginners – a simple guide

What does the Mediterranean diet consist of?

The Mediterranean region itself is a mixture of cultures and countries, and the diet itself is a reflection of the cuisine that you collectively find in these areas, i.e., European, North African and Asian.
Red meat is almost unheard of in these places due to the non-existence of grazing lands.
On the other hand, bread is a staple, especially in the Italian region.  The same goes for pasta, rice, and legumes. It is a heavily plant based diet.
So, what does the Mediterranean diet consist of?

meditarranean-diet-for-beginners
In a nutshell, these are the foods that become your staple should you opt for this lifestyle:

  • Vegetables – in the Mediterranean region itself, vegetables are eaten in season.  Although this may not be possible in urbanized areas,  you can still enjoy the benefits by incorporating them in most of your meals. The health benefits of vegetables are a universally known fact.
  • Beans and legumes – these are low-calorie sources of protein and are likely to be used in most recipes of the Mediterranean diet.  Legumes contain little or no fat, which is good news if you are looking for weight loss.
  • Fruits and Nuts – these are the staple snacks of the lifestyleNuts are higher in calories but contain mono-unsaturated fats (the healthy fats). One must take these in moderation.
  • Cereals and Grainwhole grains, instead of white, processed starch are a way of life in the Mediterranean diet. The best way to ease the transition is to start with the whole grain bread.  Whole-wheat pasta is also a better alternative to the highly processed one that we tend to consume often.  Cereals like oatmeal are a staple as they are not processed, and have no sugar in them.
  • Fish – with the red meat out of the way, fish is the best alternative. It consists of the good fats (e.g., Omega 3)  and is an excellent source of protein.
  • Oils and FatsOlive oils are a staple in the Mediterranean.  They are  a good source of mono-unsaturated fats (healthy fats).  It is also an excellent source of Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E, and K.
  • Moderate consumption of wine is popular on this diet (no more than one glass of red wine a day).  All things held equal; wine is proven to benefit heart health.

Now that we have addressed the question, “what does the Mediterranean diet consist of,” we will look at the food groups that the diet reduces:

foods-to-avoid-on-the-mediterranean-diet

  • Dairy – there is not much emphasis on dairy on this diet lifestyle.  In fact, once one adopts the Mediterranean way of eating, milk products become lesser than usual.  The Greek yogurt and cheese are an occasional thing when compared to your traditional Western style diet.
  • Meat – one can easily become a vegetarian through this diet.  If one must eat meat, it is better to do so only once a week at no more than 4 ouncesLean cuts are preferable.
  • Added sugars – added sugar is not a factor in the Mediterranean diet and should be dropped entirely.

As this is only a Mediterranean diet for beginners guide, details and meal plans will be included in subsequent posts.

Why would you consider the Mediterranean diet lifestyle?

  • Meeting daily dietary requirementsIt is common now for most diets to cut out considerable amounts of certain food groups for faster weight loss. As useful as this approach may seem – each food group carries essential nutrients that the body needs to function optimally.  The Mediterranean diet utilizes all the food groups, ensuring that your body is well fed.  It is a lifestyle, and not a means to an end.
  • Eating Foods that  you enjoy – The lifestyle uses rich and delicious foods. Boredom and tasteless foods are the top reasons why most people default on diets.  The foods that form part of the Mediterranean diet are anything but boring and bland.  You will look forward to meal times.
  • Wine is permitted – When deprived, you start craving even the things that you do not care for – in my case that was wine. My low carb diet did not permit alcohol at all, despite the fact that wine has some health benefits. Fortunately, the Mediterranean diet allows wine in their eating plan.  Of course, this does not mean a whole bottle in one sitting. A glass or two a day is considered to be acceptable and healthy.

These are just the conveniences of the diet; now the Mediterranean diet for beginners guide will discuss its health benefits.

Mediterranean diet for health

Are you considering the Mediterranean diet for health reasons?

  • The biggest benefit of this diet is its inclusion of essential oils and fats.  These, in turn, are said to contribute to good heart health, thanks to the Omega-3 found in fish.
  • The nutrients packed in the diet have anti-aging properties.
  • It improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  • The wine consumption has heart health benefits.

Following the Mediterranean diet for health reasons also implies that one will incorporate at least, some moderate activities into their routine.  Doing so will maximize the fruits of the diet.

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