Here's an easy DIY for going Mediterranean. The protocol is simple and soon registers as habits.
However, I don't consider lamb to be a true 'red' meat (as listed here) because it's nutritional profile is very different from pork and beef. See HERE.
Also of note is that under Traditional Greek Orthodox guidelines Fish (meaning fish with backbones) may be proscribed on fast days but shellfish (and octopus) are permitted. If you are like me and LOVE mussels -- well you ask, 'what fast?'
The olive oil thing is a slurp and gurgle heavy handed approach. None of this 1x tablespoon malarkey. We're talking proportions of a cup.
As my other resources suggest, another entrez is to make a pot of bean soup every week. like the recipe for Fasolada I shared.
I also make my Spanakorizo with Warrigal Greens. Just right.
The Mediterranean diet has been studied for over 60-70 years now. Starting with the Seven Countries study and continuing from there with several large observational studies, research repeatedly has shown that compliance to the Mediterranean diet appears to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions
The diet was initially based on the traditional diet of Greece (particularly Crete) and Southern Italy circa 1960’s. While it can never be exactly replicated, you can follow a Mediterranean diet wherever you are.
Not Sure Where to Start?
No worries! We have you covered, here are few ways to get there. You can start with one of these and try it out for a week or so and then add the next.
5 Easy Ways to Transition to a Mediterranean Diet
1. Switch to olive oil and do not skimp on it.
Trying to follow a Mediterranean diet using very little olive oil defeats the purpose. Olive oil is the basis of the diet and many of the benefits appear to come from the good monounsaturated fats but also the polyphenols in the olive oil. However to get the benefits, you must replace other fats with olive oil, making it your type of fat in the diet. In addition olive oil is what helps with such a high consumption of vegetables. Greeks consume many vegetables and one of reasons for this is because they cook them with olive oil which makes it easier to eat large amounts.
2. Eat vegetables as a main course.
The high consumption of vegetables is a main characteristic of the Mediterranean diet. Greeks consume almost a pound of vegetables a day. In order for this to be accomplished vegetables such as green beans, peas, eggplant, artichoke, and okra are cooked in olive oil, tomato and herbs and accompanied with bread and feta cheese. A dish of these vegetables can provide 3 servings of vegetables.
3. Learn to cook a few basic Mediterranean meals.
The Mediterranean diet is about real food. That does not mean one has to cook from scratch everyday but learning 2-3 basic dishes will greatly improve your diet. Here are my 3 suggestions:
4. Go vegan one or two days a week.
When we look at the traditional Greek diet, the Greeks abstained from animal products about 200 days a year for religious reasons. This most likely played an important role in the health benefits that were seen in that population. Check out the guidelines HERE
5. Stop adding meat to everything.
I often see in recommendations for healthy eating plenty of vegetable dishes but also quite a bit of meat. We do not need that much meat (even if it is lean), and studies have shown that reducing meat is correlated with better health. Try the following guidelines: red meat once a week, chicken once a week and fish once a week.
FROM THE ALWAYS USEFUL, OLIVE TOMATO:LINK
I may be a bit obsessive but on this topic of Medit 'diet' it warrants many provisos.
Indeed reducing any diet to supposed 'essentials' may indeed be a mistake.
How do we relate to the irony that, "The Cretan residents had the lowest rates of CVD of all populations observed in the Seven Countries Study, followed closely by rural Japanese. This statistic is interesting because Cretans had one of the highest-fat diets (37% of calories from fats), while the Japanese had the lowest (9% of calories from fats)."
Curiouser and curiouser...
Why Were Cretans So Healthy?
The best way to determine why the people of Crete enjoyed good health is not by considering the benefits of one type of fat over another but by assessing their diet in a more holistic fashion. Nutrition scientists prefer to study one dietary variable at a time to determine potential benefit or harm. Humans, however, do not eat individual nutrients; they eat foods, and these foods contain hundreds of nutrients that synergistically affect health. If the Cretan diet is analyzed integrally and in context, then the protective effects of all aspects of the diet must be considered. These include, but are not limited to, the abundance of antioxidants and ALA from wild plants; the high selenium content of the soil; the low saturated fat but high omega-3 fatty acid content of meats and other products from pasture-fed animals; low intakes of trans fatty acids; and the substantial quantities of fish consumed daily.
Cretans certainly consumed a lot of olive oil and fish and drank healthy portions of red wine, but they were also part of a culture and landscape that supported the production and enjoyment of beneficial foods. Their diet cannot be easily reproduced. Procuring 100% pasture-fed beef or eggs from chickens that are truly freeliving is challenging; current laws do not ensure truthful labeling of meats, fish, chicken, and eggs; the availability of free-range and grass-fed products is limited; and costs are often prohibitive. Not many people forage for wild greens, and most will search in vain for purslane at their local grocery store. Yet, eating the Cretan diet is not impossible. Purslane, herbs, and wild greens can be grown in a home garden. Farmers’ markets often offer eggs from freeliving hens and cheeses from the milk of grass-fed cows. Walnuts and dried figs are easily found in most stores as are other sources of healthy fatty acids such as flaxseeds, salmon, or sardines.
With a little effort, many people can follow the basic features of a Cretan diet—plant some purslane, be picky about the hamburger and eggs you buy, and, yes, consume more olive oil, fish, and wine. LINK
Good points. And probably most of today's Cretans live in a fairly un-polluted environment of both air, soil, water and seafood. And they do more fresh-air exercise than we do.