Mediterranean Diet Month celebrates eating style
BATON ROUGE — As the weather warms up and outdoor cookouts ramp up, weight control is on a number of minds.
So it’s no wonder May has been designated as the month to celebrate the Mediterranean diet — which is more of an eating style than a diet, said LSU AgCenter nutritionist Elizabeth Gollub.
“Diets tend to be short-term, but this is a lifelong style of eating,” she said. “I recommend taking small steps, making small changes at first to discover what works for you.”
The Mediterranean way of eating is based on the traditions of Mediterranean countries.
Meals are characterized by vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil, yogurts and cheeses with smaller amounts of fish, seafood, eggs and poultry. There’s very little red meat and sweets.
Ample water and moderate amounts of red wine are part of the Mediterranean diet. And meals are not to be eaten alone; rather, they are considered as social time, Gollub said.
She suggests trying to share mealtime with others, to relax while eating and to enjoy your meals.
As with any diet, you should maintain portion sizes that are appropriate for you and your needs, she said. It is also highly recommended to incorporate physical activity into the lifestyle change.
“The Mediterranean style of eating emphasizes appropriate amounts of foods rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and unsaturated fats,” she said. “It also recognizes the value of social connections and physical activity.”
Some potential benefits include a reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases, strokes, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, Gollub said.
The Mediterranean diet and lifestyle also are credited with helping reduce the degree, intensity and progress of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and age-associated muscle weakness and frailty, she said.
If you are not ready to totally commit to the lifestyle, then try some small steps.
“These small steps can include adding a vegetable or a serving of vegetables to your lunch and dinner,” Gollub said. “Switch to olive oil if you are not there yet. And when weather permits, take a walk after dinner.”