I’m ahead of the game with this post. I usually write a post in February since it is dubbed Heart Health month in America. I recently heard on the radio that the Mediterranean diet ranked high and is the best overall diet in 2019 according to the US News and World Report. So what is this so-called Mediterranean diet and what is its claim to fame? I don’t think we should call it a diet per se, but rather more a lifestyle. Here’s how we’ve adapted this lifestyle to suit our way of living.
Plant based foods, whole grains, fruits, legumes, loads of fresh herbs and spices, fish and some poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt should be the basis of every meal in the Mediterranean diet. We try to follow this as best we can. We’ve increased our vegetable and fish intake and find ourselves eating poultry on occasion. We try to stay away from red meats, but every so often crave a hearty Guinness stew or a succulent roast lamb with all the trimmings, so needless to say, we do enjoy those dishes in moderation.
Portion control is very important too. Jumbo size or all-you-can-eat menus really don’t do much for our waistlines and is a danger to our overall health and well being. Snacking can be another downfall, (raising my hand here, guilty as charged) however, I try to keep dried fruit and nuts around; apples and almond butter makes a great snack. Have you ever tried frozen grapes? If you haven’t you really should, they make an excellent and refreshing snack in all kinds of weather. Another snack that I often make and is pretty popular here are energy balls made with almond or peanut butter, dates, apricots and other seeds. Or how about home made granola in your oatmeal every morning? A green salad with olive oil is always on our menu rotation every day at meal times. Yogurt and fresh fruit is what we eat after every meal, I sometimes drizzle maple syrup or honey and walnuts and believe it or not, it actually satisfies that sweet tooth which can be my nemesis.
Exercise is so important too. We take classes at a senior center about a 20 minute walk from home about 3 times a week. Stretching, balance, weights and other floor exercises on a mat are covered. We also do yoga at the same center. Since we’ve downsized and moved to the city, we walk just about everywhere and actually got rid of one of our cars; we find this to be a great way of staying in shape and getting the much needed movement, Vitamin D and other health benefits that one gets from walking.
I’m really not trying to advocate what constitutes a good diet, it’s different for every family and what might work for some, might not work for others. But the more I read about the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, the more I’m convinced it definitely is the way to go. How about Olive oil and wine? So popular in Mediterranean countries. Yes, I’d say definitely swap fats. A good place is to replace butter with olive oil in your cooking. I do use butter when baking, after all what’s life without butter 🙂
How about that glass of red wine? That is definitely highly recommended in Mediterranean countries. In parts of Europe, people drink it like water. I’m desperately trying to cut out that glass of wine I enjoy every evening when making dinner. Why you ask? Just because when the bottle is open, I don’t stop at one, and 2 glasses of vino a night is definitely not something I want to indulge in. So I’m trying to limit my wine intake – only for social events perhaps? I have my good and bad days in adhering to these rules I’ve set for myself. I’m also trying to cut out refined sugars. Typically though, I do not buy cookies or cakes as I find it way too tempting, but I do bake when we have company. Still, I’d say overall I’ve been pretty pleased with the changes we’ve made.
This style of eating has so much flavor that one never gets bored with the food. I remember eating loads of olives and cheeses on trips to Spain, Italy and France, but keeping everything in moderation is ok for the body and the soul 🙂 A better balance of lifestyle to embrace I’d say. Keeping this lifestyle and diet in mind is also known to have changed numbers in cholesterol and blood pressure readings and one’s overall health. Drinking the required amount of water a day has always been tough, but we’re working on that too.
What are some of your own secrets of staying in shape and maintaining a healthy balance? Do share?