The Mediterranean Diet is considered the healthiest of all diets and is inspired by the traditional habits of people who lived in the Mediterranean region. (1) We’re talking Italy, Greece, Spain and France… mmm wish I was on a terrace soaking in the Italian sun right now… Anyway, whilst it does involve eating lots of fresh produce, wholegrains, legumes and healthy fats, there’s a lifestyle aspect to it too. It’s shaped by the notion that you “eat what you grow” and it celebrates seasonality, local produce, and traditional preparations. (2) According to the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, the majority of our diet should include foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, and herbs and spices. (3)
Why is it beneficial?
When looking at all the different food groups incorporated into the Mediterranean diet, we can see why it’s so heavily encouraged. It’s full of unsaturated (aka healthy) fats and low GI carbohydrates to help with satiety as well as anti-inflammatory foods and lots of dietary fibre for gut health.(4) It’s not only about the food on your plate, but also involves more holistic measures such as siestas, exercise and strong relationships. (5) When referring to medical research, this diet can also be beneficial for health conditions such as the preventative effects of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers as well as a decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, mental disorders, and metabolic-related diseases.(2)
Tips to start incorporating the Mediterranean way of living:
Exercise more often
This doesn’t have to be a HIIT workout every day of the week. It can simply involve walking or riding to the shop around the corner opposed to driving or trying out 10 mins of yoga in the morning to get your day started!
A 30 min nap everyday isn’t sustainable or achievable for everyone, however, it’s quite common for shops and businesses in Mediterranean towns to close up shop in the afternoon for a quick 15min-1hr catnap. Before you get the eye mask out and turn on the sleep meditation, it may be worth ensuring you’re having breaks throughout the day. Just a little time to yourself every now and again is fantastic for our mental health. And ensure you’re getting enough sleep at bedtime!
Relationships, such as family, friends, and a sense of community are important for our mental health. Human connection may have been a little difficult during times like COVID and being in lockdown, however it’s important to take time to phone a loved one or to have a chin-wag with a friend at work. If you’re surround by good people, you’ll start feeling good on the inside too.
How much of the food groups you should have per day (3)
- 5 serves of vegetables
- 4-6 serves of wholegrains eg. sourdough, rye bread, brown rice, barley
- 2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 serves of fruit
How much of the food groups you should have per week (3)
- At least 3 serves of unsalted nuts
- At least 3 serves of legumes eg. chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans
- At least 2 serves of fish or seafood
- 2-4 serves cheese eg goats cheese, feta
- 4-6 serves of unsweetened yogurt
Dineamic and the Mediterranean Diet
At Dineamic we’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the Mediterranean diet and it's approach to food. You can see it in our love for spices, fresh herbs, and olive oil, not to mention our ‘local wherever possible’ ethos. These are important to us, not only because of health factors, but also because we believe that good flavour begins with good ingredients.
Here’s a a few of our meals that adhere to the Mediterranean diet:
Lamb Souvlaki with
Roast Potato, Olives
If you haven’t tried the Mediterranean Duet already, why not start small and work your way up. Remember, it’s as much about how you eat as it is about what you eat. If you would normally eat in separate rooms or in front of the TV, why not get the family together around the table, catch up and enjoy the meal together. Another way to get started can be something as simple as switching your oil to Extra Virgin Olive Oil or tucking into some Greek Yoghurt with nuts for something sweet after dinner. So there you have it! The ins and outs of the Mediterranean Diet.
By Kobe Ferteis
- Dernini S, Berry E. Mediterranean Diet: From a Healthy Diet to a Sustainable Dietary Pattern. Frontiers in Nutrition. 2015;2.
- George E, Kucianski T, Mayr H, et al. A Mediterranean Diet Model in Australia: Strategies for Translating the Traditional Mediterranean Diet into a Multicultural Setting. Nutrients. 2018;10(4):465.
- The Mediterranean Diet [Internet]. Health Queensland Government. 2021 [cited 10 September 2021]. Available from: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0032/946049/cardiac-meddiet.pdf
- Bailey M, Holscher H. Microbiome-Mediated Effects of the Mediterranean Diet on Inflammation. Advances in Nutrition. 2018;9(3):193-206.
- Yannakoulia M, Kontogianni M, Scarmeas N. Cognitive health and Mediterranean Diet: Just diet or lifestyle pattern?. Ageing Research Reviews. 2015;20:74-78.
Disclaimer: These recommendations are a guide only and does not constitute tailored medical or nutritional advice