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Let's face it, losing weight and staying healthy are not easy things. They take time, effort, and self-control. The last one is probably the hardest for me. Set a pepperoni pizza in the same room and no matter how many times I tell myself I won't have a slice, I always do. Losing weight is the number one New Year's resolution made by Americans, and coming in at number five is staying fit and healthy. Now that we've made some headway into February, though, many people are probably thinking about dropping those resolutions. While exercising and resisting fatty foods can be problematic, one of the big reasons people fail these two goals is that diets are not meant for the long term. Eventually you will have to stop feeding yourself a starvation diet. Eventually you will find yourself with such a strong craving for pizza, you will eat it for dinner every night for a week. Diets generally don't allow you to have fun, but a healthy life-style does, and that makes all the difference!
There is more than one healthy life-style out there and I'm not a nutritionist, so I'm not going to compare healthy life-styles. I will tell you what has been working for my husband and I. At his last doctor's appointment our doctor told Hubby we should think about starting the Mediterranean 'Diet' (this was after finding out we'd eaten pizza on three separate occasions in one week...). Notice I put quotes around 'diet,' that's because the Mediterranean is really a lifestyle. Ever since this little chat, we've been eating relatively healthily and I've been feeling better.
My personal goal has nothing to do weight loss as I am happy with my weight, but it has everything to do with feeling healthy. If you happen to be heavier than you should be, this diet will help. It may not be as fast as a crash diet, but the effects will be longer lasting. So, what is the Mediterranean 'Diet'?
According to the Mayo Health Clinic, "The heart-healthy Mediterranean is a healthy eating plan based on typical foods and recipes of Mediterranean-style cooking."
You should be eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Within your diet replace butter with olive oil and salt with herbs and spices. Limit your red meat in take to a few times a month (pizza days!) and eat more poultry and fish, eating white meat at least twice a week. Also, the Mediterranean diet actually encourages you to consume red wine! Ok, ok, in moderation*, but hey, alcohol is in the diet. What more can you ask for?
According to the U.S. News and World Report, the Mediterranean 'Diet' may help with "weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control."
So lately I try to stick with these diet staples. When I feel like snacking? I grab almonds or hazelnuts, mmm, healthy fats. Time for dessert? Strawberries and whip cream, anyone? I even spice up my snack time with chocolate covered almonds. Bread is a big deal for me and bread made from whole grains dipped in olive oil is a YES. Of course I have cheat days. I still eat pizza once a week, and yes, I've really been limiting myself to once a week. On the weekends I have a cocktail, or two. Hubby and I go out to eat for date nights once a week to every other week and while our meals often stay within the confines of the Mediterranean life-style, they also are frequently unhealthy. Do I have ice cream for dessert sometimes? Sure, why not! But what is the big difference? 90% of the time I eat healthy foods with good fats. Does it taste good? Yes. Is it filling? Yes. Are fish tacos and ravioli on the diet? Absolutely.
Now this is the kind of 'diet' I can maintain.
Tell me about your food choices below! What's your favorite meal? Have you ever dieted before and how did it go?
*Moderation normally is understood to mean 1-2 glasses of wine for men and 1 glass for women per day.