After a year of trying a few weird and ‘wonderful’ diets, I thought I’d finish on a high with trialling the Mediterranean Diet for eight weeks. To recap, to date I’ve trialled:
- a bodybuilder diet (remember the twice-a-day egg whites?)
- the Keto diet (don’t even go there)
- starvation (for charity!)
This time around, I’m hoping it will be more palatable and more sustainable that some of the others!
So what is the Mediterranean Diet?
The NHS in the UK sums it up nicely:
A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions. But in general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.
The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart.
Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos from La Trobe University in Melbourne is the ‘godmother’ of the Mediterranean Diet in Australia. Her team have studied and reported on its health benefits, and she’s even written a cook book based on her studies – which one of my PT clients happened to have and has leant to me for inspo! During her studies, subjects were asked to eat until they were full while following the diet, and still none of them gained weight. You could say that’s ‘food for thought’!
In this article from the ABC, Dr Itsiopoulos talks about the ’10 commandments’ of eating a Mediterranean diet, which are:
- Use extra virgin olive oil as the main added fat (aim for around 60 mls /day)
- Eat vegetables with every meal (include 100g leafy greens and 100g tomatoes, and 200g other vegetables/day)
- Include at least two legumes meals (250g serve) per week
- Eat at least two servings of fish (150-200g serves) per week and include oily fish: for example Atlantic and Australian salmon, blue-eye trevalla, blue mackerel, gemfish, canned sardines, and canned salmon. Canned tuna is not as high in the important fish oil omega-3, but still a good choice to include in your fish serves
- Eat smaller portions of meat (beef, lamb, pork and chicken) and less often (no more than once or twice a week)
- Eat fresh fruit every day and dried fruit and nuts as snacks or dessert
- Eat yoghurt every day (about 200g) and cheese in moderation (about 30 to 40 grams per day)
- Include wholegrain breads and cereals with meals (aim for 3-4 slices of bread per day)
- Consume wine in moderation (one standard drink a day, which is about 100 mls), always with meals and don’t get drunk. Try and have a couple of alcohol-free days a week
- Have sweets or sweet drinks for special occasions only
What I’m eating
I’m still working with my dietician, Ellena, to ensure my meal plan covers off my requirements for my goals (enough energy to train and build muscle while also shredding fat). In general, so far my days have looked like this:
- Breakfast: The usual overnight oats with berries. (Although I think I’m going to switch that up with something super Mediterranean … )
- Lunch: Roasted sweet potato and cherry tomatoes, with pan-fried mushies and capscium (with garlic, of course), broccoli, kale, a drizzle of olive oil, and tin of tuna.
- Dinner: Vegetables (last night it was mushies, zucchini, and capsicum), with olive oil, served with oily fish, like salmon. If I’ve trained, I’ll also have carbs like sweet potato, brown rice, or pulse pasta.
- Snacks: Fruit, zucchini slice, toast with natural peanut butter.
So I think there’s still a bit of work to make it ‘truly’ Mediterranean, but we’re on the right track!
Let’s see how we go!
PS. Did you see I’m allowed to have one standard glass of wine a day? 😀