Mediterranean Diet: Not A Diet But A Lifestyle Of Healthy Choices

Did you know that the Mediterranean diet is not really a diet but a choice of a healthy living lifestyle by people who live in the 21 countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea?

“Even though it’s called the Mediterranean diet, it’s not really a diet,” said Atlanta registered dietitian Rahaf Al Bochi, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It doesn’t tell you what to eat and not eat. It’s a lifestyle that encourages consuming all food groups but gives more weight to those which have the most health benefits.”

Scientific research says it promotes healthy weight loss, lowers risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, strengthens bones, improves brain health and wards off dementia and depression?  That’s a long list of benefits!

So what is the Mediterranean diet really?  Well, as mentioned earlier it’s really a Mediterranean Lifestyle and at its foundation are social interaction, exercising which includes dancing and sports and of course eating with family and friends with enjoyable conversations everyday.

This is what the Mediterranean Diet is based on and from there going up the Mediterranean Diet pyramid ladder is a list of foods eaten by people who live in the Mediterranean countries. 

In 1993 a non-profit organization called Oldways, created a Mediterranean diet pyramid together with the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization.  It’s interesting to note at the first level of the pyramid the greatest emphasis is on exercise and social interaction as mentioned previously.

So then, when it comes to eating, what does the Mediterranean diet consist of?

A lot of plant based foods to begin with! Like lots of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors to get the highest benefits of nutrients, phytochemicalsand fiber.  Also beans snd lentils are filling and provide muscle-building material without any of the fat that comes with meat. Add some whole grains and use nuts and seeds as a garnish or small snack.  

Then at least 2 to 3 times a week have some fish or seafoodfor the benefits of Omega 3s.  Include some meat in small portions the rest of the week. Add yogurt and cheese daily in small portions and eggs occasionally and top it off with a modest desert of fruits if possible. A glass of red wine can be added if you wish. But moderately!

The Mediterranean diet also uses extra virgin olive oil which is readily available to the area.

If you are interested in switching to the Mediterranean diet, which U.S. World and News Report today has rated to be the healthiest diet to be on, don’t be overwhelmed.  Do it slowly.  Change one meal at a time.

“It doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul overnight,” registered dietitian Kelly Toups said, “or be all-or-nothing for you to start to shift your health. When it comes to healthy eating, every bite counts.”US News and World Report provides detailed meal plans, health and nutrition information and much more on the Mediterranean diet.  For more information go to: