Although many would find it difficult to change their eating habits, switching to a Mediterranean diet is not as hard as you may think. It’s true I was raised in a Mediterranean environment, having the great opportunity to enjoy and take advantage of a safe and tasty chewing offered in that part of the globe, but the truth is, after living in the US for so many years, I developed some sort of eating transformation, caused but the thousands of not so healthy but delicious choices available throughout the country. After realizing how privileged I was being “Mediterranean”, I decided to switch back to my old cholesterol-friendly cooking and restaurant choosing.
Like anything else in life, this is about changing a few ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator, and learning how to mix them in your kitchen to create simple but incredibly healthy and delicious meals every day.
To begin somewhere, buy some good olive oil. The best you can find will be imported from Spain or Italy, although there are some Turkish choices a little more affordable if you don’t want your wallet to suffer collateral damage, which by the way could be the only disadvantage to this diet if the right ingredients are not chosen. Browse the fruits and vegetables section of the supermarket, and avoid the frozen or prepared food aisles as if they were poisoned.
Remember is not only the quality of food you eat, but the quantity as well, which would cause you to either fail or find the right balance you are looking for. For example: it is fine to eat white toasted bread with olive oil, particularly for breakfast, but too much is not. It is fine to eat a piece of chocolate cake, but too much is not; however, if you stick to a three or four moderated meals each day, including grains, pasta, olive oil, vegetables, fruits, and some good wine, there is no reason for you to gain weight or to see your cholesterol numbers raise to four digits. Remember: a balanced diet with natural healthy ingredients is a healthy one.
Some of the meals I prepare are very simple and tasty. Avoid fried foods, even with olive oil; this liquid gold is not so healthy when cooked, so use it to dress salads, put it on bread, or whatever you want. If occasionally you want to prepare some fried breaded chicken, you may use some light olive oil to do so, instead of any other vegetable oil or fat.
Garlic, onions, and herbs are also a very important part of the Mediterranean diet. Limit your consumption of red meats, particularly with a lot of fat in them. Use the oven or the frying pan with no or very little oil to prepare fish or meats. A salad containing lettuce, avocado, onions, golden apples, carrots and tuna, and dressed with extra virgin olive oil, a little salt, lemon and vinegar, is a fantastic example or a lovely dish.
You body will notice the little changes in your diet. Mine did. Some people say we are what we eat, and I believe it to be true. By switching to the Mediterranean style, you will feel more energetic, less full but not necessarily hungry. If you can, try to exercise a little. By doing so, you will duplicate the benefits of your new diet. As I said before, some wine is a good option, maybe one glass daily. Its benefits have been well proven for years.
I never felt better after I went back to my old habits, and you should imitate them too. There are tons of websites and information containing Mediterranean ingredients and dishes, as well as how to combine them to make incredible plates. Don’t be tempted with the sugary, fatty, and juicy foods you can buy anywhere around. Buy your own ingredients and cook them at home. You will save time, and you will gain years of a good and savory life.