What constitutes a healthy diet?
In my opinion, a healthy diet would be one which focuses on inclusion. You can have your cake and eat it. It supports general physical health, as well as a healthy relationship with food. With all the flotsam and jetsam floating around in the sea of the destructive diet industry, it’s no wonder we’re all tired of the counting, restrictions, lack of of results, and side effects linked to restrictive, poorly researched diets.
So, which diet ticks all the boxes?
If you’re looking for a sustainable way of eating, which encourages a glass of wine with meals, and allows you to have treats (within reason), look no further than the Mediterranean.
Ah yes. Even the image conjured by the mere mention of the word Mediterranean is serene and stress-free. Can you imagine yourself lounging on a beach in Mallorca, snacking on tapas while sipping a tall sangria?
Well, now you can. I mean, there are some rules but they aren’t restrictive. The diet focuses more on portion control, and where there is portion control, there’s a caloric deficit. The truth is you could throw down a few Snickers and a pint of ice cream in a day and still lose weight if you are in a caloric deficit, but you’d feel pretty sickly and we don’t want that. I bring you the Mediterranean diet cheat sheet:
Allowed foods on Mediterranean diet, ranked from ability to be enjoyed most frequently to least:
- Daily: Whole grains, breads, pasta, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, wine;
- A few times per week: Fish, seafood, olive oil;
- A couple of times per week, where you didn’t select fish as a main protein: Poultry, eggs, dairy-based yogurts and cheese;
- A few times per month or on special occasions: Sweets, cakes, chocolates, desserts, red meat
NB: Nothing is off-limits.
The idea is to eat intuitively and slowly, encouraging chatter at the table, and to enjoy the good food and company. To make a fairly crude comparison, the Mediterranean diet is similar to that study in Brazil where inmates were given the keys to their cells, and most of them just stayed put in prison and served their sentence.
The takeaway message:
The idea is that if you have the freedom to eat whatever you want, you will make healthier food choices. It becomes increasingly difficult to focus on eating intuitively when you are worried about the amount of calories you are consuming and the carbohydrate content of each meal. Eat your damn carbs. They will keep you alive. On that note, set a long-term personal goal when starting a new diet. You’re going to have to think long and hard about what you really wish to achieve with the diet. Do you want to live long enough to play with your grandchildren, and have the energy and stamina to do so? Or would you rather shed five kilos in a month, and fight against all odds to keep that weight off?