Part 1- Embrace Healthy: The Mediterranean Way

Part 1- Embrace Healthy: The Mediterranean Way

Enjoy learning about the Mediterranean diet, written by Sonya Douglas, Director & Principal Accredited Practising Dietitian, Dietwise Nutrition Clinics.  Stay tuned for part 2, 3, 4 and 5 in this series.

The Mediterranean diet is not only a delicious way of eating but it is also the most extensively researched and scientifically proven dietary pattern to date. It has shown to be beneficial in preventing many common health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers, with recent studies even showing a reduction in the risk of dementia and reversal in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The Mediterranean diet itself is not a meal plan, a set of rules or restrictions, nor a diet that eliminates whole food groups such as other fad diets currently in trend. In fact, it is more than just a ‘diet’, it is a lifestyle of healthy eating to be enjoyed with family and friends.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t follow this lifestyle if you are not living in Greece, Spain, Italy or France, as the foundation of the Mediterranean way of eating is simply a set of guidelines based on the traditional eating patterns of people from the Mediterranean. A snapshot of these guidelines and eating principles include;

  • The use of up to 50-60mLs per day of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) as the main source of fat
  • Including wholegrains at every main meal such as grains, cereals, pastas, bread or rusks. Carbohydrates are not the enemy in the Mediterranean diet!
  • Including fresh vegetables at every meal- 100g leafy greens and 100g tomatoes and 200g other vegetables per day
  • Including 500g cooked legumes per adult (dried peas, beans & lentils) throughout the week
  • Greater focus on fish (150-200g twice per week) with red meat eaten in moderation- 90-100g, 1-2 times per week
  • 2 serves of fresh seasonal fruit per day with dried fruit, nuts & seeds enjoyed as a snack or dessert
  • Enjoy wine as part of a meal but always in moderation- 100-200mLs maximum 5 times per week
  • Save cakes, biscuits and sweets for special occasions such as birthdays, Easter and Xmas

Rather than rules and restrictions the Mediterranean diet guidelines are simple, easy and enjoyable to incorporate into our daily lifestyles. Not only will it fill your plate with colour and your palate with flavour, it will also get you one step closer to a healthier lifestyle and overall wellbeing to gain the life-long benefits of the Mediterranean diet. After all, no one is sad when they are allowed to eat pasta… When it tastes so good though, it is just about controlling the serve size!

Look out for Part 2- The Magic of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid