The Mediterranean Diet: Pulling Performance from the Past
By Brandi Goodman
Reaching peak health is only achievable when combining healthy eating and exercise. In today’s world, dozens of diets are touted as “the best,” making it difficult for people to gauge which one is truly worthwhile. For more than three decades, the Mediterranean diet has dominated as one for optimal well-being. This heart-healthy option takes inspiration from neighboring countries around the Mediterranean Sea, encouraging the consumption of plant-based foods and cultural meals from places such as Greece, Italy, and Crete. Learning more about this diet can help you decide if it’s a suitable choice for your needs.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
Though it wasn’t until the 1990s that this diet gained widespread recognition, the Mediterranean diet has been utilized by some since as early as the ‘50s. People began to realize that those living close to the Mediterranean Sea appeared healthier and in better spirits than those living inland. Individuals began adopting the eating patterns of people in this area, consuming fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, fish, whole grains, and nuts. Things such as poultry, eggs, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products are OK as well, as long as you only consume a moderate amount.
Closely following the Mediterranean diet includes more than eating the right foods. It is a lifestyle choice that focuses on producing your own food, respecting the culture from where the diet came, and working to care for your overall wellness. This includes maintaining a physical lifestyle and getting daily exercise. However, following the diet alone is worthwhile and has its advantages for improved well-being.
Foods That Aren’t Allowed
Just as important as the foods that are allowed on the Mediterranean diet, are the foods that aren’t. You want to steer clear of processed foods, red meat, saturated fat, refined grains, and alcohol. Natural foods such as veggies, fruits, fish, nuts, olives, scallops, and shrimp are highly encouraged on this diet. Ultra-processed options such as baked goods, chips, frozen meals, white bread, white rice, and fried foods are highly discouraged, as they are particularly bad for your brain and body. The foods you can gather and fish for yourself are the most recommended.
Is the Mediterranean Diet Popular?
It took decades before the diet became popular, but now, the Mediterranean diet is a favored choice for many. It is now encouraged by doctors for those suffering from poor cardio health, diabetes, obesity, and more. U.S. News even ranked it as the No. 1 best diet overall due to the many pros it offers and limited cons.
Is the Mediterranean Diet Safe?
The Mediterranean diet is a safe choice for many. It is a valid option for those facing cardiovascular disease because it provides a reduced risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and poor heart health overall. It is also recommended for those with type 2 diabetes because it can maintain blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss.
What Would a Mediterranean Diet Look Like?
If you’re ready to start the Mediterranean diet, you have some shopping to do. Clear your cabinets and refrigerator of the unhealthy foods that no longer serve you, and make room for the fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that help you lead a healthier life.
For a Mediterranean-style breakfast, try meals such as a poached egg caprese, breakfast pita pizza, quinoa breakfast cereal, or a spinach feta egg wrap.
To make the poached egg caprese:
- Boil 2 inches of water in a saucepan, then add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt and allow to simmer
- Top two English muffin halves with mozzarella cheese and a tomato slice
- Bake the muffin halves in a toaster oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese
- Crack an egg into a bowl and gently lower the bowl into the simmering water so it can be poached. Repeat the process for your second egg
- Add your eggs to your muffin halves and enjoy with pesto sauce, if you desire
For lunch, enjoy a chickpea quinoa bowl, Mediterranean lettuce wraps, a tuna-spinach salad, or a falafel bowl with Tahini sauce.
To make the chickpea quinoa bowl:
- Use a food processor to puree red peppers, almonds, olive oil, garlic, paprika, and cumin
- In a bowl, mix cooked quinoa, olive oil, olives, and red onion
- Top your quinoa mixture with chickpeas, cucumbers, feta, and your pureed sauce
When dinner time arrives, eat Dijon salmon with a green bean pilaf, chicken with roasted spring vegetables, caprese stuffed portobello mushrooms, or herb roasted salmon with vegetables.
To make the caprese stuffed portobello mushrooms:
- Combine olive oil, garlic, and pepper in a small bowl
- Coat your mushrooms with the mixture and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees
- Stir mozzarella, tomatoes, pepper, oil, and basil together in a bowl
- Fill your mushrooms with the tomato mixture and bake for 15 minutes
- Drizzle your mushrooms with vinegar, if you desire
You can’t forget the snacks. When you’re feeling famished and want a pick-me-up between meals, try a small plate of grapes, cheese, and pita crackers. Avocado toast, baked beet chips, blueberry coconut energy bites, and hummus are also enjoyable solutions.
To make baked beet chips:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set your oven to 300 degrees.
- Scrub your beets clean and slice off the tops.
- Slice your beets into thin strips, preferably close to 1/16th of an inch (a mandolin slicer works well for this)
- Toss the slices in olive oil and sea salt, then let sit for 15 minutes
- Drain the excess liquid from your beets, and bake them in the oven for 45 minutes, or until crisp
Try a Mediterranean Restaurant
You don’t have to make your meals and snacks at all if you don’t have the time. Find a Mediterranean restaurant nearby and order authentic cuisine. They’ll often have far more on the menu than what you could dream of making in your own kitchen.
How Much Do Chiropractors Know About Nutrition?
Chiropractors may not be nutritionists, but they are well-versed in healthy eating habits that are beneficial for your joints. Processed foods and alcohol, which are discouraged on the Mediterranean diet, are also discouraged by doctors of chiropractic. They can lead to joint inflammation and discomfort.
For optimal joint health, and better well-being overall, chiropractors suggest a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. These foods can reduce inflammation and keep your weight in check, which can also exacerbate or alleviate joint problems. Chiropractic recommendations align well with a Mediterranean diet or one close to it.
Pair the Mediterranean Diet and Chiropractic for Optimal Health
The Mediterranean diet offers numerous advantages to your overall well-being. With healthy foods on your daily menu, you can reduce your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems. However, a diet alone cannot ensure optimal health. Pair your healthy eating habits with chiropractic care for the ultimate wellness. With regular adjustments from The Joint Chiropractic, your body will be flexible and able to enjoy the exercise that you also need to thrive. Get started today on your journey to a healthier you.
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