Does the Mediterranean Diet work?
Maybe it’s because of my Italian heritage, or maybe it’s because I have been along some of the Mediterranean coast line and seen this work in real life. Or maybe it’s the amazing research that has proven beyond doubt for me, that the mediterranean diet is a good fit for many people.
The Mediterranean Diet refers to the eating habits adopted by countries that circumvent the Mediterranean Sea. The region has balmy summers and mild winters. The water is a beautiful deep blue and always inviting.
The Mediterranean Diet is definitely a way of life ( the actual food is only one component). Its about the gardening, the connecting to Earth and getting dirt under your nails, it’s being able to read the weather and about sharing fresh produced.
It is not just about food.
It is definitely a matter of don’t pull it apart into individual components (e.g. red wine, olives, fresh fish, vegetables) because it is the cumulative effect that matters most.
The mediterranean diet is about lifestyle.
It is about being cheeky, pushing the limits, loving food, wine and life.
Eating the Mediterranean way is just as much about what you do and what you don’t do.
YOU DON’T :
– Eat on the run, always sit down
– Count calories – there is no need to when you eat to satiety
– Skip lunch
– Drive when you can walk (or use a vespa)
– Hate when you can love
– Use packet foods, every thing is fresh
– Bottle things up when you can just deal with them then and there
– Waste food – you can make a soup out of anything
And the MUST DOs
– Praise your food and LOVE IT (many are catholics and say grace)
– Grow your own if you can
– Fresh breads, not necessarily yeast but certainly not made for long shelf life
– eats lots of omega 3 rich foods (olive oil, fish, nuts)
– Share your food (i.e. extra produce from the garden can be given to your neighbours)
Last year I was in Monte Carlo for a week and marvelled at the amazing fresh produce available all along the Mediterranean Coast line. Some things grow exceptionally well (olives, tomatoes, herbs) and there is access to fantastic seafood but I must say there seems to be a good supply of everything you can think of food wise. All fresh and vibrant.
This was what I ate for breakfast. All made from fresh produce (purchased from the local deli).
Every day for me, entailed a visit to the local super marche, vegetable shop or deli to buy amazing fresh garden salads, crunchy fresh bread and other goodies for the day. IT is almost ritualistic so no one rushes, everyone is friendly and has a chat and the food is devine!
It encompasses ALL the things I love about eating. It is a lifestyle not just a food list and menu. The key aspects are:
- Food is a currency of love (If I love you, I feed you with food that I have grown myself)! The person serving the food in the delis usually tells you a tale about where it was grown, how it was picked and prepared.
- It’s not about calories its about state of mind when eating, its about being grateful, its about being fresh and its about variety
- Its about LOADS of fresh salads or boiled veggies, some meat, fish sources, some grains if you want them, wine and some naughties (pastries or deserts but they are morsels not monster serves).
- It’s about great hormone balancing activities before you eat – relax, switch off from work, (I am a huge fan of the miday siesta), engage with loved ones while eating, don’t eat alone, laugh, respect food and cook the food to it’s best attributes (which might be steamed briefly with squeezed lemon, olive oil and some chopped parsley).
I am sure half the appeal of the food is it’s vibrant colour, hypnotic smells and simple flavours.
It’s about eating in company and not on your own, even if you are on your own. Food is social!
As you can see I am a BIG FAN of the Mediterranean diet. I try to live this way.
It is a lifestyle and an embracing of life, not something to be feared or analysed. Just be active, attentative, enjoy life and eat well. I don’t eat lots of pasta, grains or breads. Some Italians do, some French do but not all parts of the Med are big bread eaters. It will often be used as an accompaniment, or something used to suck the juices of your plate up.
The other quirky thing I have noticed when traveling around the Med, is the very slow start to the day – none of this rushing around. Mornings are nearly a right off business wise. Especially as most retail outlets open at 10am and close at 12pm for siesta (and forget trying to get service in a shop after 1130am… They are in wind down mode)!
Siesta can vary from 12pm -3pm or 12pm – 4pm in some places.
Retail shops re-open late afternoon and a whole new energy ignites. This is really when the med comes to life. Chit chatter, coffees, vino, tapas, nibbles then retail shops shut at 8pm.
People grab jackets, re do their lipstick and head out for a few drinks with friends, or meet their family for dinner. Eating out is very common place in summer when the weather is balmy.
If you stick by the basic principles, the Mediterranean Diet permits a bit of everything with out guilt. The perfect female diet (well anyone’s diet).
To recap on some distinguishing characteristics:
1. Appreciate the simple things in life (sculpture and form, Art, music, food and wine).
2. Food principles:
– Lots of herbs and fresh produce is key! You fall in-love with the new combinations, of citrus and parsley, garlic and coriander, dill and lemon. There are some amazing combinations-
– Go crazy with olive oil. The mediterranean diets includes lavish serves of olive oil. The oleic fatty chains are really good for cardiovascular health (your heart, blood vessels and circulation), joints, is anti inflammatory and helps with shiny healthy skin.
– Use fresh, home grown preferably vegetables and produce.
3. Try to see the funny sife of life. Work hard and play hard.
Health Queen Rating
If you don’t go over board with grains , pulses and beans are ok and they cook with a lot of these, then this diet is more than a diet(the Med diet does actually include a lot of grains which I don’t think you need unless you are highly active) . It is a wonderful set of lifestyle rules and can lead to great health. If you want to give it a go, try to embrace all of the components. Why not go over there for a week or two to suck it all in first hand. Bring back the elements you like.
Siestas, happiness, fresh, organic, eating variety etc.. are all very good food habits.