A Glimpse at Greek Cuisine and the Mediterranean Diet
By Guest Writer: R. Antonio Matta
The word diet comes from the Greek word "diaeta" which means "way of life." The Greek Mediterranean diet is just that. Not only is it the easiest diet to follow, but it is also rated the second healthiest behind the DASH diet. Eating like a Greek Islander is not only healthy, it is delicious! Studies show that this healthy lifestyle change can increase weight loss, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and lead to a longer life.
What to eat
Unprocessed produce is the largest part of every meal. So, you want to eat plenty of vegetables daily (spinach, kale, carrots, etc.) In addition to these, try to eat the following each day:
Herbs and Spices (ocourse!)
Eat fish and seafood at least twice a week, and eat moderately:
You want to rarely eat red meat. Stay away from sugar-sweetened beverages, processed meat (hot dogs, sausages), added sugar (candy, ice cream) and refined grains and oils (white bread, canola oil).
What to drink
Drink plenty of water. Moderate consumption of wine is acceptable (about a glass a day). A glass of wine with your dinner is also proven to be beneficial for your heart. Coffee and tea (not to exceed three cups a day) are also permissible, but stay away from sodas and fruit juices with added sugar.
Plain fat-free Greek yogurt is a perfect snack. You can add flavor with honey, nuts, or fresh fruits. If you are hungry in between meals, you can snack on leftovers from the night before or on apple slices, carrots or a handful of nuts.
Sample meal ideas
Omelet with vegetables
Yogurt granola parfait
Bagel with peanut butter
Pancakes with fruit topping
Oatmeal with raisins
Whole grain sandwich
Vegetable pot pie
Mediterranean Pizza (add vegetables)
Grilled Sea Bass
Grilled chicken with vegetables and a potato
What if you are Vegan or Vegetarian?
No problem. With a few minor adjustments, you can switch out animal products with something more accommodating to the lifestyle. You can also buy only Kosher or Halal products.
If you need a low salt or sodium meal plan, it is possible to adhere to those restrictions on this diet. You have to monitor your intake and stay under your limit, but because this diet puts a great deal of focus on fruits and vegetables, this should make it easier to do.
It is important to remember that the Greek Mediterranean diet is a way of living and not a structured diet. So, it is up to you to make healthy choices about calorie amounts and portion sizes. Also, you want to remain active as the second component.
A few key things to remember:
Cook in olive or avocado oil
Eat nuts, fruits, and vegetables
Drink a glass of wine each day
No added sugar, or refined grains
Eat more fish and poultry
Eat less cheese and meat.
Then, you will be off to an overall healthier you and a better life awaits.