So what exactly does that mean?
The Mediterranean Diet is grounded on the principles of enjoyment and pleasure. Foods, drinks and meals are best eaten with others, when possible, and savored. As you know from reading my posts or purchasing my recent cookbook, I try to follow many aspects of the Mediterranean diet, especially since I was fortunate to visit several Mediterranean countries over the last few years and see how this culture ate firsthand. In many ways, I follow this exactly, with one exception as you all know…seafood.
Mediterranean meals feature foods grown all around the Mediterranean Sea including Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, and Turkey to name a few. Eating the right portion sizes is key in the Mediterranean diet.
Fish & Shellfish such as tuna, herring, sardines, salmon, mussels, clams and shrimp are rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and shellfish such as are a healthy protein and are generally not battered and fried.
Here are some recommendations and guidelines from Netplaces.com.
- Bread Group: Eat no more than 1 portion of this group at any meal. A single portion size is as follows: 1 slice of bread, 1 (6-inch) pita, ¼ cup dry uncooked couscous, 2 ounces dry uncooked pasta, ½ cup dry uncooked oatmeal, ¼ cup rice (brown rice is preferable), ¾ cup dry unsweetened flake cereals, 1 (6-ounce) potato.
- Vegetable Group: Eat as much as you like in this group! Vegetables provide few calories and lots of vitamins and minerals.
- Legumes and Nuts Group: Eat no more than 2 portions from this group at any meal. A single portion size is as follows: 1 cup of beans including garbanzo, pinto, kidney, white, split, black-eyed; 1 cup lentils; 1 ounce of nuts including all tree nuts and peanuts.
- Fruit Group: Eat no more that 2 portions from this group at any meal. A single portion size is as follows: 1 small (4-ounce apple), 1 small orange, 1 small banana, 1/3 melon, 3 dates, 2 medium-size fresh figs, 1 kiwi, ½ small mango.
- Olive Oil: Use often, but use a teaspoon when pouring out of the bottle. Remember that it is very calorie-dense, so you want to keep portion sizes small.
- Cheese and Yogurt: Try to consume low-fatand fat-free versions when possible. Do not consume more than 1½ teaspoons of grated cheese and 1 cup of milk or yogurt daily.
- Fish and Poultry: Eat 15 ounces per week. A single portion size is usually 3 to 4 ounces. The rule of thumb is 1 serving size is the size of a deck of playing cards.
- Eggs: Weekly consumption should be from 0 to 4. This includes eggs used in baking and cooking. A single portion size is equal to 1 egg.
- Sweets: Generally 1 portion size is ½ cup. Sweets should be saved for special occasions.
- Red Meat: Consume red meat only once a month. A single serving size is equal to 3 to 4 ounces.
A balanced and healthy diet consists of food and drink, as long as moderation and wise choices are made. For example, enjoying a small piece of birthday cake, savoring a few slices of grilled steak, or relaxing with family and friends with a glass or two of wine or beer are important aspects of being human. As always, moderation is the wise watchword. It is also important to have daily physical activity that includes strenuous exercise like running or aerobics, as well as leisurely exercise like walking, housework or yard work.