I know what you’re thinking. New year, new me, new diet…. What fad diet shall I choose to follow this year? While we understand the appeal of fad diets, nutrition experts are typically not huge fans of them. People ask me all the time what the best diet is and I inevitably answer “the one that you create and fits your personal health needs.” Since this is not a popular answer, I then point to the eating patterns that have risen to the top five of the U.S. News & World Report Best Diets list for the last several years.
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#1 The Mediterranean Diet. Yes, I’ve written about this before and after reading a recent Chicago Tribune article about Dr. Joseph Stamler, I feel inclined to emphasize it again, especially when folks are looking to make changes in the new year. Dr. Stamler is now 100 years old and has been a pioneer in preventative medicine and nutrition research since the start of his career in 1947. And he’s still at it. He was an early adopter and advocate for learning how and what to eat from our friends living along the Mediterranean coast.
It is through his research and that of so many others that we know the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Touted as one of the world’s healthiest eating patterns, a Mediterranean style may help reduce the risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic inflammation
- Some cancers
- Alzheimer’s disease & other types of dementia
Yes, and weight loss too.
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Now, I am a true believer in the fact that there is no “one-diet-fits-all” prescription when it comes to healthy eating. However, so many of us crave structure, guidelines, and rules or else we don’t believe we can make effective changes to our diet and maintain them. Following guidelines for a specific diet is just fine, but don’t forget to make it fit you and your lifestyle. As I discussed in my last blog post, adjusting your eating/food behaviors is the first step to success. If you are looking for a diet pattern to help you get healthier (and maybe shed some pounds), try this on for size. Keep it simple and make it your own.
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The Mediterranean Diet Made Easy
Here’s a really simple way to approach a Mediterranean-style of eating:
- High Intake: The good stuff. Eat more of these foods.
- Medium Intake: The “good, but not every day” stuff. Practice moderation here.
- Low Intake: The “not so good” stuff. Limit how much we eat.
- Use this table to help guide your food selections and meal planning. I suggest printing this or your own version to have on your refrigerator as a constant reminder.
- Track what you are eating a few days a week. Accountability is essential when installing new habits.
- Reflect on what you ate at the end of each week.
- Decide on one thing you can change or add for the upcoming week. Pursue and modify that one habit until you feel like you have it down. Make adjustments as needed.
The classes at The Chopping Block are always a good resource for cooking techniques and new recipe ideas!