Can The Mediterranean Diet Help You Lose Weight?
When we hear or read the words Mediterranean diet, we all instinctively think of olive oil, feta cheese, cucumber salad, and citrus fruits. They are, indeed, representative of the diet in question, but their action goes far beyond weight loss.
This healthy way of eating was conceived following the principles of the poor villagers living in Crete (a Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea) between the 1950s and the 1960s and popularized by Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University’s School of Public Health.
Basically, foods included in this plan are beneficial because they are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber, although the salt content is a little high, mainly because of the olives.
But, it is famous for reducing calorie intake and helping people shed unwanted pounds. Not surprisingly, it is also an excellent treatment for really serious diseases, such as Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, and Alzheimer’s. This is starting to sound good.
It took numerous studies and decades of research in order to understand the diet’s basic components, but the results are more than satisfactory. You do not have to stuff yourself with Greek food, falafel, and other traditional foods.
You only have to follow 12 simple but fundamental rules, not only to lose weight but also to be healthy, relaxed, and content with yourself and your body.
Here are the 12 most important rules of this Cretan Diet :
- Vegetables should be eaten several times a day;
- Fruits should be eaten several times a day;
- Legumes like beans, peas, and soy should be consumed daily;
- Whole grains should also make your daily meals plan;
- Nuts should be consumed several times a week;
- Food should be cooked and seasoned mostly with olive oil;
- Fish should be consumed at least once a week.
- Foods rich in saturated fats, like butter, eggs, and meat should be avoided.
- Red meat should be eaten only rarely.
- Luncheon, deli, or cured meats should be avoided completely.
- Sweets and refined sugars should only be eaten on special occasions.
- The alcohol consumption should be reduced to 1, two drinks a day at most.
Don’t forget to exercise – even walking a few times a week is very important. If you break one or two of these guidelines, it is certainly not the end of the world, but it is important that you keep them in mind and you do your best not to step too far away from them. Every rule that you follow is one more measure taken to ensure your health and well-being.
As you will notice, there are certain foods that the diet excludes completely, such as fast food, fried food, packaged and pre-cooked food. And, although present in many diet recipes, dairy products are not very important or highly recommended in this way of eating. If you do like them and you are not sure that you can give them up, at least make sure that you resume to fat-free products.
The focus in this Greek cuisine concentrates on organic, wholesome products, consumed raw, boiled, or barbequed.
There are a few basic principles worth mentioning. First of all, we are talking about a diet very low in fats. The Cretans did eat a lot of fat, but mostly unsaturated. Some of the studies performed in Northern Europe showed that not only olive oil is very healthy, but also other vegetable oils proved to bring benefits similar to those offered by olive oil, as opposed to butter and other animal saturated fats.
Then, their lifestyle was more oriented towards physical exercise, compared to our activities ranging from watching computers, TVs, and isolating us in an office, or in a car, for hours in a row.
More than that, in the 1950s or 1960s, the food did not contain so many additives and preservatives, the air, and water were not so polluted, and life, in general, was not that stressful. People lived in harmony with nature, took advantage of its resources, and enjoyed every minute of their existence. That is exactly what this European program is trying to teach its followers.
We think of those times long gone, as lacking progress and technology, but, in terms of food and lifestyle, they were superior to us, as they did not need to go to the gym, they did not follow diets and they did not have so many deadly diseases to fight.
The only thing we can do, given the circumstances, is to learn from them, to try and copy their lifestyle and eating habits as much as is possible and enjoy the benefits.