The Mediterranean style of eating, which is based on foods that are traditional to countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, is about enjoying healthful foods as a way of life. It aims to look at ways to add nutrients to our diet rather than restricting what we eat, and it focuses on healthy lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity, getting enough rest and sharing meals with family and friends. In addition to being enjoyable, flexible and easier to sustain, the Mediterranean style of eating benefits health and a variety of health conditions.
This well-studied way of eating is tied to many physical and mental health benefits, including: a lower risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer and metabolic syndrome; lower blood pressure and cholesterol; improved blood sugar control for individuals with type 2 diabetes; and better brain health. It can also support a healthy digestive system, as well as a body weight that aligns with your goals and allows you to live a lifestyle you enjoy.
To eat in a way that aligns with the Mediterranean style of eating, consider applying some of the following key components:
- Building every meal around: vegetables and fruits (fresh, frozen or canned), whole grains (e.g. bread, pasta, rice, quinoa), legumes/beans and nuts, and using olive oil instead of butter or margarine when cooking
- Eating moderate portions daily to weekly: poultry, dairy, cheese and eggs
- Eating at least 2x/week: fish, seafood
- Eating less often than other foods: red meat, saturated fat and sweets
- Flavouring food with spices, herbs, garlic and onions instead of salt
- Making homemade meals and enjoying them with loved ones
This may seem like a lot to focus on at once. If you are interested in trying this pattern of eating, get started by choosing one key component you wish to improve. For example, cooking more meals at home or adding more vegetables and fruits to your meals. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. Small steps can make a positive difference in your health and in the way you feel.
Looking for guidance on how to apply the Mediterranean style of eating into your lifestyle? Health Connect Ontario can connect you with a Registered Dietitian 24/7. For access to free nutrition information and advice, call 811 or check out the online chat option.
Marathon Family Health Team also offers a program called HealtheSteps which includes setting nutrition goals based on the Mediterranean way of eating, as well as individualized physical activity and mindfulness goals. Email [email protected] or call 807-229-3243 to schedule an appointment today!