As summer approaches, we are assailed by as many diet choices as food choices. The idea of a quick fix to be able to expose more skin, or look good in a bathing suit, makes cleansing, juicing and fast diet plans appealing. I was tempted.
But the real reason to diet is to maintain health. And while I don’t think about my own mortality, a little fear makes choosing healthy food a more conscious decision. The Mediterranean Diet reduces cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death, and that was reason enough for me to adopt it.
The Mediterranean way of eating was first investigated by Dr. Ansel Keys, a nutritionist who invented “K rations”. In 1957, he studied a population of impoverished, subsistence farmers from Nicotera, Italy who had low rates of heart disease and long lives.
His conclusions about their lifestyle were refined and introduced as the food pyramid by Oldways, Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization in 1993.
Today the people living in Nicotera have new eating habits created by globalization and higher incomes and their families face the same challenges we do. I decided taking a trip to the Mediterranean might not be an appropriate first step.
I needed to create a new environment for eating at home. I hung travel posters, placed a bowl of fruit on the table, bought delicious olive oil, and slowly got rid of foods in my refrigerator that are not on the Mediterranean diet.
These 10 easy ideas describe the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle:
Use olive oil and monounsaturated fats instead of butter.
Make fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts part of every meal.
Use whole grains as a foundation. Consume fish and poultry. Consume moderate portions of cheese, yogurt. Eat 3 – 4 eggs per week. Reduce the consumption of red meat.
Enjoy red wine and water. Use herbs and spices instead of salt. Enjoy regular physical activity. I enjoy selecting fresh produce and sharing my new healthy eating habits with family and friends.