A Little Intro Into the Mediterranean Diet

Have you ever heard of functional medicine? Maybe you have – I’ve mentioned it a few times in past blogs – but it’s basically the concept of using food and herbs for their medicinal properties to prevent illness and perhaps boost the efficacy of pharmaceutical medications or even help you get off pharmaceuticals altogether. In the nutrition world, we often refer to the standard American diet as the SAD diet and I think that’s a bit appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, I can get down with the concept of an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet *brilliant*. But I know better and listen to my body well enough to know that that’s not what it wants or needs. That being said, there’s not a single perfect way to eat. Food is more than just packets of nutrients and I hate to look at it in such a quantitative way. The whole process and affair of creating food and sharing it with loved ones actually impacts how we digest everything and how we reap the nutritional benefits of our food. There are many examples of this and one of my favorite cuisines to model after is the Mediterranean diet. Yes, there is the occasional pizza, no it’s not buffet-style.

The Mediterranean diet is best known for:

– Highlighting fresh, local, good quality ingredients- Leisurely enjoying meals with loved ones- High fats of good quality- Active Lifestyles

A few tips for engaging in the Mediterranean Diet:

  1. Focus on fresh first: Dump the pre-packaged and processed food items that may boast “low-fat” this and “high-fiber” that. Like success, healthy foods don’t need to brag about their accomplishments. You take out more than half the battle by focussing on fresh and local food items like leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
  2. Snack on healthy fats: Up until relatively recently we thought a “low-fat” diet was probably healthier than a diet rich in fats. This wasn’t a lie, but more like a fib. It just isn’t all around factual. We’ve been taught for so long that fat is bad when that’s simply not the case. While some fats aren’t great for you (like trans-fats), most of them are easily avoided by eliminating processed foods from your daily diet. Adding healthy fats like nuts and seeds not only satiate our hunger better, but also have beneficial effects on our glucose levels and have anti-inflammatory properties. Focus on good sources of omega-3’s like salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and egg yolks.
  3. Be sure to enjoy high-fiber foods: Non-grain sources often get overlooked when trying to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Fruit and vegetable-based sources of fiber, like the ones you’ll enjoy on the Mediterranean diet (raspberries, beans, collards, and artichokes), reduce overall inflammation and play a key role in heart health by reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. Fiber also helps keep you fuller longer!
  4. Exercise and socialize: Food is meant to be shared and enjoyed. It brings people together and creates bonds. Too often our main meals of the day are eaten in the car or in front of the tv. A main component of the Mediterranean diet that can’t be forgotten is the added benefit of social interaction and activity that go hand-in-hand with a healthy lifestyle.

The best part about the Mediterranean diet is that it’s a celebration of food and cuisine and that it’s best shared with a glass of wine! If this sounds like a celebration you’d like to join check out the October installment of our Native Plate series. Chef Devon Hammer will be creating a Mediterranean-inspired 3-course meal including appetizers, entree, and dessert, as well as beverages! Come share this meal with your friends and neighbors. For more info, check out Woodside Farms’ event page!