Basics of the Mediterranean Diet

A lifestyle rather than a diet, this way of eating helps lower inflammation that is at the heart of many modern-day diseases. Plus it tastes good!

  • Fruits and vegetables are mainstays of the Mediterranean way of eating, as are whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and legumes.
    Photo courtesy of AutumnHoverter / Getty Images
  • The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy, brain-healthy menu that benefits from vegetables, fruit, fish, high-fiber and whole grains, and healthy fats.
    Photo courtesy of Briagin / Adobe Stock
  • Fish and other seafood are emphasized more than poultry and dairy, which are emphasized more than red meats and sweets.
    Photo courtesy of Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust
  • Add to the spice and herb pantry. Slowly increase your use of olive oil. Build up your collection of recipes using fish and seafood.
    Photo courtesy of Fatihhoca / Getty Images
  • Serve dinner to guests in the form of a mezze platter (small plates of food) to truly embody the Mediterranean lifestyle.
    Photo courtesy of Leventkonuk / Getty Images

Every year millions of us decide to eat better in an attempt to be more healthful. Every year millions of us return to our fast-food, fat-ladened, far-from-healthy eating habits.

Count me among those millions. In the past few years, I’ve made some changes in my eating habits, and while I’ve done fairly well, I’m looking for more. Mainly, I’m interested in an anti-inflammatory diet — a way of eating and living — to help with a few health concerns that have cropped up recently. In my research, the Mediterranean diet appears to be the go-to eating plan, not only for weight loss but to combat inflammation, a component of many of our modern-day disorders such as fibromyalgia, heart diseases, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease, if recent studies are any indication. It’s a heart-healthy, brain-healthy menu that benefits from vegetables, fruit, fish, high-fiber and whole grains, and healthy fats.

How can one way of eating help with all of those conditions? While it may be simplistic to say, this way of eating is simple, and full of flavor and natural foods that are good for our stressed-out human bodies–and minds. It may not be so easy to adapt to our current eating, however. We are, after all, a society that cherishes our take-out menus, store-to-door delivery, and little-used kitchens containing the microwave we need for heating up leftovers.

Let’s take a closer look and see what all the fuss is about.

The Pyramid

In a Mediterranean diet food pyramid created by Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, a nonprofit focused on food and nutrition education, the base for each meal is comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, and seeds, herbs and spices. Supporting the base of the pyramid is the suggestion to be physically active and enjoy meals with other people.

Blogger Suzy Karadsheh calls the Mediterranean “diet” a lifestyle, eschewing the ‘d’ word as limiting and unhelpful. She is also a major fan of sharing meals with family and friends, which she enjoyed during her years growing up, as a way of socializing and as a means to help us eat more slowly — a major concern for many of us seeking to become healthier.

2/21/2019 1:45:32 PM

Eating from the rainbow of colors of fruits & vegetables makes it si much more appealing.

2/16/2019 8:14:27 AM

Most Mediterranean cultures actually eat a fair amount of cheese and yogurt (especially from sheep and goats). I'm not sure how that ever got to be part of the diet, minimizing dairy consumption.

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