The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.
When you hear the word “diet,” you probably think of calorie counting, long lists of forbidden foods and much shorter lists of “allowed” foods. Perhaps you’ve even tried your fair share of popular diets and the thought of entertaining another one is enough to make you polish off a pint of ice cream.
Relax, put down the spoon and let’s consider how Merriam-Webster defines “diet.”
- Food and drink regularly provided or consumed
- Habitual nourishment
The words “regularly” and “habitual” describe more of a lifestyle, or pattern of eating. One such lifestyle is the Mediterranean diet—a balanced way of eating reflecting the traditional food patterns of those countries surrounding the Mediterranean.
A great body of scientific research supports the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, including:
- Longer lifespan
- Improved brain function
- Lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- Lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure
- Improved weight control
- Prevention of depression
- Reduced risk of dental disease
The good news is, when you eat according to the seven Fx Pillars, you’re also following a Mediterranean-style plan. Both emphasize a plant-based, whole food approach, while leaving room for your favorite foods in moderation.
The Mediterranean diet promotes:
- Whole, unprocessed foods with simple preparation
- A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans
- Small amounts of healthy fat with meals, including extra virgin olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados
- Fish as the preferred animal protein, especially those high in omega-3 fats like salmon, tuna, herring and sardines
- Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation
- Herbs and spices to flavor your foods versus salt, sauces and gravies
- Water as the predominant beverage of choice (but a little wine is OK too!)
- At least one vegetarian meal per week
- Very little red meat
- Infrequent servings of sweets
The evidence is clear that eating more plants is the way to go! Whether Mediterranean or Fx, when you adopt a lifestyle of eating more vegetables and fruits, an interesting phenomenon occurs. Processed foods with little nutritional value will push themselves off your plate with zero effort on your part. Now that’s a diet I can get behind. How about you?