It’s hard to keep up with all the different diets and trends that we hear about each day, and it’s impossible to find a one-size-fits-all eating plan. Making the decision to follow a specific diet can get complicated, and if the diet is too strict or drastically different from your former routine, it can quickly become discouraging and easy to quit. If you haven’t found the perfect diet yet, or if you’re simply looking for an easy way to prepare healthy, delicious meals, the Mediterranean diet may be the best place to start!
The Mediterranean diet is different in the sense that you don’t have to count calories, and you don’t have to eliminate certain foods (or wines) from your diet. The meals are bright, versatile, and filling, as well as full of long-term health benefits. In fact, over the past 50 years, research has continually shown the life-long benefits of eating fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and fish. From this research, the Mediterranean diet began to take shape, and has since been linked to life longevity, improved brain functions, weight loss, disease defense, heart health, and protection from certain cancers.
To begin with, the Mediterranean diet encourages us to eat fresh vegetables as often as possible, whether that means snacking on bell pepper strips throughout the day or preparing a gourmet green salad. The diet involves eating smaller portions of meat (if you already eat meat) and adding at least one or two nights of seafood each week to get started. It’s also a great opportunity to explore vegetarian cooking with one night a week that’s meat-free. While following this diet, good fats, whole grains, dairy products, and fresh fruits are also highly encouraged.
Since the Mediterranean diet is more focused on long-term health and a lifestyle change, there’s no need to empty your kitchen, avoid your favorite restaurants, and start from scratch. Living a little more like a Mediterranean is actually easier than you may think. Start by picking up extra-virgin olive oil to cook with and to replace butter in your favorite meals. Reach for fresh Fall vegetables, whole grains, and nuts to snack on. When it’s time for dessert, indulge with a delicious piece of fresh fruit. Lastly, enjoy every bite. This diet is all about loving the life you live, and it’s easy to watch your portion size when you’re splitting the meal with a loved one, or to truly savor a daily 3-oz serving of your favorite wine over a delicious dish and comforting conversation.
While you certainly don’t have to commit to any one eating plan, hopefully there’s something you can take from the research behind the Mediterranean diet to include in your future meals. If you’d like to catch more tips and advice for healthy eating and cooking like a chef, be sure to follow me on Instagram at OfficialChefT, check out SimpleEatsTV on YouTube, and find my podcast, Simple Eats w/ Chef T, on iTunes, Google Play, Overcast, Pocket Cast, and Radio Public.
Always remember to Eat with a Purpose!