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4 Weeks on the Mediterranean Diet

The visit with my doctor started routinely, but five minutes in and the conversation took a dreadful turn. She said, “You should consider the Mediterranean Diet.” Her words pierced my heart like a steak knife entering a tender cut of prime rib. My recent weight gain had not escaped her notice. I tried to blame the pandemic, but the argument felt as flabby as my own waistline. There was no escaping it. My eating habits were about to change. I was trapped between my doctor’s data and a stubborn scale. My fast food lifestyle was slowly slipping away like a wet noodle from my fork.

So four weeks ago I went Mediterranean. What does that mean? Well, it means lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grain breads, nuts, beans (lots of beans!), and extra virgin olive oil. Fish is the preferred meat on this diet, but meats are not consumed with most meals. Having fish a few times a week is recommended. Chicken maybe once or twice a week at most. Eggs and dairy are okay, but not eaten on most days. Red meats are rare (and I don’t mean under cooked). Sweets, other than fruit, are gone. Processed foods of all sorts are out. Butter is out. What follows are my thoughts and the results I have experienced.

THE UPSIDE

The upsides to the Mediterranean diet are many! First, I’ve had some very delicious food (see below!). Salads with various beans and veggies and balsamic dressing are very tasty in my opinion. Salmon is encouraged, and I’ve learned to make some really amazing salmon patties. Stuffing a bell pepper with basmati rice or quinoa, along with tomatoes, olives, or an egg and then cooking in our air fryer is really good.

Second, no hunger! There really isn’t a calorie restriction per se. And the food choices are pretty filling. Whole wheat and other whole grain breads are very hardy. Nuts are filling. Beans are filling. You can eat all the fruits and veggies you want. No calorie counting! Now, to be realistic, if your goal is to lose some weight (like me) you have to still exercise moderation.

THE DOWNSIDE

For a downside, I guess it is fair to say that this way of eating takes some work. I mean, if all you are doing is counting calories or points (like some other diets), you can basically eat anything in the house as long as you still have calories to spare. But the Mediterranean diet focuses more on the “ingredients.” That is harder. You have to shop the right way (thank you Bonnie!!) Things that I normally thought of as “side dishes” or “snacks” (like fruit, veggies, or beans) are now the main course. So it feels like there is more cooking and preparing involved.

Secondly, to be honest, it is hard to say goodbye to virtually all processed snack foods, red meats, regular breads and pasta, fried foods, and sugary treats. It’s not that you can never eat these. But they cannot be a daily, or even weekly indulgence. You have to be willing to just eat and live differently. So far, four weeks in, I’m doing okay. But it may be hard to keep it up when surrounded by less healthy options in the store, at restaurants, and pretty much everywhere else.

THE RESULTS

Well, you may be wondering if I have noticed any changes. I’ve lost about 4 pounds. My blood pressure is modestly better. My cholesterol is really good. I have no doubt that I would have lost more weight if I could combine some more regular exercise, but for now finding a way to squeeze that in has escaped me.

So that has been my first four weeks eating the Mediterranean way. For more info on following this diet, you may be interested in the following websites:

Mayo Clinic – Mediterranean Diet

Harvard Health – A Practical Guide to the Mediterranean Diet

Cleveland Clinic – Mediterranean Diet

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