Custom-made decadence

Bid adieu to an unhealthy lifestyle and welcome this heart-healthy and totally delicious way to eat, as moderation is the middle name of the famed Mediterranean diet, writes Dr Pooja Sharma
Last Updated 30 December 2019, 19:21 IST

As the year draws to a close, it brings with it a gamut of memories and reasons for revelry. Let’s not forget that it’s also that time of the year when diets get thrown out of the window.

But, before you sulk over the decadence, remember it’s never too late — to switch back to a healthier way of being that would reset your body post a festive binge. While many diets in general don’t guarantee fail-safe results, Mediterranean diets have risen to prominence in the recent past, owing to their effectiveness. So just in case you’re on the lookout for a healthy diet to bounce back to resilience that would fit the bill, read on...

For starters, the term Mediterranean diet is essentially a diet comprising more plant-based foods with healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables largely, and minimal milk products (not vegan though). It is predominantly a plant-based diet and largely non-meat based (so meat is included, but minimally).

The Mediterranean diet is one of the richest diets in the world. But does that equate to the diet being pricey? Well, the answer, albeit a subjective one, can be best defined as a diet that could be customised as per one’s budget, thus making it a feasible option, if enough thought is put into it. For instance, there can be a less expansive version of Mediterranean diets mostly limiting to beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. What’s important to note is that since eating clean requires a great deal of understanding and perseverance, the money spent is often seen as an investment more than an expenditure.

While switching to a Mediterranean diet might seem like a great idea, it is important to strike a balance and not push yourself too hard. Ideally, one should restrict cheat days to once in a fortnight while on this diet. In terms of eating clean, focus on eating invisible (healthy) fats such as fish, nuts, seeds and minimising visible fats such as oils. Beans, greens and whole grains work best on Asians who’re wanting to give this diet a try.

Seasonal vegetables, beans, whole grains and herbs are some of the best foods to include in your diet just in case you wish to go the Mediterranean way. While food is one of the integral aspects of wellness, it doesn’t end at just that. In order for the Mediterranean diet to work or any healthy routine to show the desired results, one must ensure that workouts are added into one’s daily routine. Walking works wonders and can be done without a trainer.

Furthermore, occasional body weight exercises such as planks help a great deal, too.

Also, an active schedule, where one completes a certain number of steps in a day and doesn’t continue sitting at the same place for more than 30 minutes, can go a long way in ensuring that you are in the pink of health.

Simply put, a Mediterranean diet is a fine blend of the basics of healthy eating with the traditional flavours and cooking methods of the Mediterranean.

This kind of a diet gained popularity in the 1960s owing to how significantly fewer deaths, due to heart diseases, were recorded in Mediterranean countries like France, Greece, Italy and Spain. It was also noted that the main components of the Mediterranean diet entailed a daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. This was coupled with a balanced intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs. The diet also includes moderate portions of dairy products and a limited intake of red meat. A fun fact is that red wine forms an integral part of the Mediterranean diet — thus making it a lot enjoyable than one must have assumed.

Breaking down the specifics, a Mediterranean diet is largely plant-based. The meals are ideally conceptualised around plant-based foods.

Yet, what needs to be noted is that dairy, poultry, eggs and seafood are also a vital part of the Mediterranean diet. Red meat is however, avoided to a large extent.

(The author is dietitian & nutritionist)

(Published 30 December 2019, 18:52 IST)

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