The Military Diet is designed to make people lose weight quickly, but it’s not a way of living or a ‘lifestyle diet’. Once you’ve lost weight on the Military Diet, you need a healthy way to eat for the rest of your life that doesn’t involve deprivation and hunger pains.
The Mediterranean Diet is mostly common sense but it also includes seven glasses of wine per week. The diet would probably be more popular if it was actually called the “Seven Glasses of Wine a Week Diet.”
The diet has long been known to be a healthy way of life, but the proven results of a five year study in Spain are in – the Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease by 30 percent. The Mediterranean Diet’s main benefit is that is can be followed for a lifetime, instead of just a few months.
The Europeans seem to have it all figured out. In the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat, the author explains how French woman eat bread and pastry, drink wine, and regularly enjoy three-course meals but remain thin and chic despite their cheese loving ways. The Mediterranean Diet is a similar phenomenon in Greece, Spain and Italy. The French also live a partially Mediterranean Diet along the coast.
What to eat on the Mediterranean Diet
The staple of the Mediterranean Diet is olive oil – also the diet’s primary source of fat. The Mediterranean Diet doesn’t limit fat consumption, but chooses good fats instead of bad fats. On the Mediterranean Diet, you don’t eat saturated fats and trans fats, both of which are leading contributors to heart disease. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that reduces LDL cholesterol. Virgin olive oils also have antioxidant effects. Try olive oil on bread instead of butter, maybe with balsamic vinegar. Cook your veggies in olive oil. Pasta is great with olive oil, garlic and green onions.
Nuts and seeds:
Nuts are also staples of the Mediterranean Diet because they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. A handful of nuts a day is recommended. Keep almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts around for a filling snack between meals. Peanut butter also works on the diet, but try to choose a natural peanut butter instead of one with hydrogenated fat added. Tahini (pureed sesame seeds) is delicious as a dip or spread for bread. Hummus is a very Mediterranean dip that includes both tahini and chick peas.
Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are mega sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is eaten at least twice a week on the Mediterranean diet. Omega-3 fatty acids lower cholesterol, moderate blood pressure and improve heart health. Canned tuna on whole grain bread is a good idea for a packed lunch. Grilled fish like salmon is ideal, but if you’re going to fry your fish, use olive oil.
Spice up your cooking using herbs for flavour instead of salt or artificial flavourings.
Veggies and Fruits:
Unprocessed fruits and veggies should be eaten at almost every meal on the Mediterranean Diet. Try to eat fruits and veggies that are fresh and in season. Keep carrots, bananas and apples around for in-between meal snacks. Zucchini sauteed in olive oil and topped with crumbled feta is an amazing side dish.
If you haven’t already, switch to whole-grain bread and cereal. Eat brown rice instead of white. Whole wheat pasta tastes better and leave you feeling less ‘blah’ after than white pasta. Whole wheat Mac and Cheese anyone? And the bonus: people who eat whole grain foods lose more belly fat than those who eat naughty white bread and rice. Quinoa is great in a salad or pilaf. And who knew popcorn was a whole grain – try it with olive oil and parmesan. Whole grains are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber.
Finally, a diet where wine is included on the shopping list. On the Mediterranean Diet, a glass of wine per day is recommended – that’s 5 ounces per day for women and up to 10 ounces per day for men. Nobody in the medical profession wants to encourage excessive drinking, but alcohol in moderation has been proven to lower the risk of heart disease. If you don’t drink alcohol, you don’t need to start. A glass of purple grape juice has similar benefits.