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What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Posted: January 3, 2019

We’ve come to the beginning of a new year, and for millions of people around the world it means a clean slate – especially where health and well-being are concerned. January sees a spike in gym memberships and sales of weight loss products, everything from meal replacement bars to the latest gadget “guaranteed” to melt away pounds. Intentions are good, yes, but how many of us return to square one by month’s end?

Some will cringe at the word diet, and to attach it to a New Year’s resolution may make your weight loss goal seem like an impossible chore. Adjusting your mindset to approach a weight loss program as a lifestyle can provide a more realistic journey. At Bon Secours, we have worked with many people to determine the best path toward goal weight and size – every body is different and therefore deserves the right program. So what is it about the Mediterranean Diet that has researchers praising its universal appeal?

The Diet That’s Not a Diet

In its evaluation of over 40 diet plans, U.S. News ranked the Mediterranean Diet first in several categories, including Best Overall Diet, Best Heart Healthy Diet, and Best Diet for Healthy Eating. Unlike certain commercial programs, the Mediterranean Diet doesn’t require one to buy pre-packaged food or eat according to a points system. As described by Rahaf Al Bochi of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it is more of a lifestyle than a diet. Three points that contribute to the Mediterranean Diet’s popularity include:

Promotion of a plant-based menu: Vegetables, fruits, and grains are the foundation of this regimen, which encourages healthy servings of spinach for iron, asparagus for folate, and dark berries for antioxidants. Beans, lentils, and fish are recommended for protein, with limited consumption of dairy and red meats.

Vegetables and lean fish are just two staples of the Mediterranean Diet.

Focus on the social aspects of eating: In 1993, the nonprofit nutrition organization Oldways constructed a food pyramid defining the Mediterranean Diet. At the base one will not find a food group, but an image of a family enjoying each other’s company over a meal. Socialization during mealtimes – putting away phones, taking time to eat – introduces positivity into this lifestyle.

Allows for flexibility in exercise: Like the social aspect, movement is important in the Mediterranean Diet, whether it happens in a gym or during a long, leisurely walk around the neighborhood. There’s no reason to feel guilty about not doing a certain exercise, so long as you move and find enjoyment in the journey.

Is the Mediterranean approach right for you? While U.S. News ranked it highest in certain categories, other plans scored better under diets designed for weight loss. As a long term lifestyle, the Mediterranean diet may work for maintenance after a successful weight loss journey. If you have set a goal to lose a significant amount of weight in 2019, the experts at Bon Secours can help you determine the best path. Contact us today learn more.

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