Truth be told, I turned 40 this year. And I was tired. I had two little kids running around and no time to focus on my health. I was just trying to survive. My birthday came around and I thought it would be cute to try and do a backbend. I could barely get up. Thankfully my girlfriends told me AFTER the fact that their girls watch Youtube videos of gymnastics fails which include serious injuries from backbends. I needed a change.
I was determined to get healthy. Now, I’m not the kind of drastic measure girl. I love food so the idea of trying a traditional, restrictive diet was not in the cards for me. Not to mention that my carnivorous family would probably revolt if I made a massive immediate change. This has to be a slow progression. I knew that I didn’t want a diet per se, but more of a lifestyle change.
Then I remembered that my husband had mentioned the Mediterranean Diet in passing a few times. Boom! Let’s give it a go. As usual, he regretted those few words as I fully integrated the Mediterranean Diet within a few weeks’ time. Gone were his steaks, No helper Cheeseburger Macaroni dinners and in were fish, tomatoes and feta, a whole lot of feta. You would think he would choose his words more wisely around me by now.
Want to learn about how to do the Mediterranean Diet for beginners?
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
The Mediterranean Diet Guidelines
One attribute that makes the Mediterranean diet so appealing for beginners is that there are no strict rules simply guidelines on healthy eating. It’s so appealing because it’s about a lifestyle, not a diet. A lifestyle involving food is something I am on board with. Here are some guidelines on the Mediterranean diet for beginners.
- Eat mostly plant-based food (fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes)
- Healthy fats are good
- Eat fish 2-3 times a week
- Limit processed foods
- Limit your intake of sweets
- Meals are to be eaten with family and friends and enjoyed
- Physical activity is to be plentiful
Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet
Voted the number one diet for Overall Health several years in a row by U.S. News and World Report, the Mediterranean Diet is not so much of a diet as it is a broad outline on how to eat. Countless studies have touted its benefits. It’s been known to increase good cholesterol, decrease bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure and lower triglycerides.
According to Harvard Medical School, “past research has shown that this type of eating pattern can help lower cholesterol, help with weight loss, improve rheumatoid arthritis, and reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer.”
Disadvantages of The Mediterranean Diet
Now there are some skeptics. They state that the foods it touts aren’t necessarily part of a modern Mediterranean lifestyle and, as a result, obesity is on the rise among children in the Mediterranean. The level of obesity among young boys in Southern European countries is even higher than in the U.S. I took a pause. Is this a change that makes sense for my family?
I needed to get some answers. The studies showed that this diet had great effects so why the rise in obesity levels? Is this diet unsustainable? It turns out that the integration of processed foods into Southern Europe has caused rising obesity levels.
After trying the Mediterranean Diet as a beginner for some time one major disadvantage was that my family got tired of eating the same foods. Trying to incorporate more ancient grains certainly helped with food variety. You can learn all about the seven most popular grains here along with how to use them.
What Foods are Included in the Mediterranean Diet?
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Adzuki beans
- Black beans
- Anasazi beans
- Fava beans
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Green peas
- Snow peas
- Snap peas
- Split peas
- Black-eyed peas
- Roasted Soybeans
- Brown rice
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers
Foods Suggested In Moderation
- Red Wine
Mediterranean Diet Recipes
You know what you should eat but, pulling it all together as you embark on the Mediterranean diet for beginners can be daunting. Check out the Kitchen Chalkboard’s Mediterranean Diet Pinterest Board for tons of meal ideas and inspiration to get you cooking.
What Do You Think?
Have you tried it? Have you found it enjoyable? Let me know in the comments below.