The beginning of a new year often brings a wave of information on weight loss strategies. On January 2, U.S. News & World Report published an article with their “2019 Best Diet Rankings.” Not surprising, the Mediterranean Diet made it to the top of the list again this year.
The Mediterranean Diet focuses on eating plant-based foods, beans and legumes, whole grains (yes, bread included!), and healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado as well as a daily glass of wine (or two). Growing up in a household where Mediterranean cooking was the norm, I view this way of eating not as a “diet” but a lifestyle. Embracing the Mediterranean Diet has been associated with several health beneﬁts including improved heart and brain function, weight loss, and diabetes management and prevention.
There are many different ways to eat on the Mediterranean Diet and making simple changes each day will help transform how you prepare and enjoy food. Some guidelines include switching to whole grain foods that contain more fiber. For example, making a sandwich with whole wheat bread or serving brown rice instead of white is an easy way to obtain a nutrient-rich diet. Prepare a few vegetarian meals each week by swapping meat for beans, legumes, or tofu. If you eat meat, especially red meat, choose smaller portions and load your plate with veggies. Eating fish a few nights a week is also a good alternative to meat and a heart-healthy choice. Incorporate good fats when cooking by using extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter. Snacking on nuts or pumpkin seeds is another way to add good fats to your diet. One of my favorite ways to eat whole grains with good fats is to spread avocado on toasted Ezekiel bread for a satisfying breakfast. If you want to incorporate some of these choices easily, start by snacking on some raw vegetables with hummus. A family favorite!
Choosing a lifestyle vs. a diet is an important step to long-term weight management and good health. The choices outlined above are achievable, as it does not involve eliminating certain foods, but instead offers delicious alternatives that could improve your health. Setting realistic goals for nutrition and physical activity is the key to success. The daily practice of healthy eating and exercise as a lifestyle may ward off disease and extend your life. Cheers!
Quote of the week:
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~ Jim Rohn
Recipe of the week:
Winters in New England call for savory, satisfying soups. Lentils are a heart-healthy way to include protein, fiber, and minerals into one meal.
Lentil Vegetable Soup
2 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
Canned diced tomatoes (15 oz)
2 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
Dried herbs including basil, oregano and thyme (I also use organic no-salt seasoning)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped carrots, celery, and onions and sauté two minutes then add garlic and sauté for two more minutes.
Pour in vegetable broth, water, and tomatoes. Add in lentils, basil, oregano, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice and add up to 1 cup (or more) of water to thin as needed (as the soup cooks the lentils soak up more of the broth). Serve warm with Parmesan cheese if desired.