Want to ward off age-related weight gain? Try indulging in life like the Greeks and Italians do, Mediterranean-style. We know that eating a Mediterranean diet lowers cardiovascular risk, protects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and may reduce the risk of developing cancer and diabetes. Better yet, a recent study suggests that we can prevent the seemingly inevitable weight gain associated with getting older by eating more fruits, veggies, legumes and nuts, whole grains, olive oil and fish (with a glass of red wine here and there).
But let’s step back from the research for a moment and think about what it means to be “Mediterranean.” When we transport our mind to the cultures of people living along the Mediterranean Sea, we think of svelte figures, endless socializing and sexy meals. Yes, if you really think about it, the food is quite sensual and people aren’t afraid to pass the time exploring its many nuances with friends and loved ones. To them, life is meant for living (and eating!), not counting calories or fighting the urge to indulge.
As a nutrition professional, I use scientific evidence to back every recommendation I make. But as a foodie and wellness educator, I truly believe that if we can’t appreciate food and our bodies, what’s the point of life?
To this point, I’ve developed a few tips about living the “sensuous Mediterranean life.”
Savor everything. Savoring is about slowing down. It’s easy to do with a piece of decadent dark chocolate, but try it with your morning cinnamon raisin oatmeal — even if it means setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier. You’ll grow to appreciate these moments and the time you spend enjoying them.
Enjoy home cooked meals with your loved ones. Start with quality ingredients and focus your meals around plant-based ingredients — try this recipe for inzimino, a garbanzo bean and vegetable stew. You can bond with your friends and family and decompress from a stressful day while chopping, stirring and even doing the dishes.
Cut the meats and sweets. The Mediterranean Diet pyramid puts red meat, sweetened foods and drinks and desserts at the tip-top of the chart. This means that while they may be a part of your diet, they should be eaten sparingly. The tiny spoon you get with your tiny dish of gelato is intentional — so are the brightly colored bowls, in my opinion. It’s fun, festive and the perfect size for savoring the dessert and the moment. The same goes for a steak — a couple of slices are better than a whole rack of ribs.
While it is important to keep a healthy weight in mind, be sure you keep it all in perspective. Choosing the delectable foods from the Mediterranean diet can certainly help.