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The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

April 19, 2010

There have been some changes around our house recently. We’ve made a few lifestyle and dietary choices over the past several months that have contributed to some very positive health benefits for us. While I’ve made every effort to lose weight (24 pounds so far), my husband, already at a fairly good weight, didn’t need to lose much. However, he was happy to learn at his last checkup (a few weeks ago) that he’s lost six pounds as a result of going along with a few modifications to his diet.

I reduced the portion sizes of my meals. I won’t kid you. Eating less was part of my plan, but my husband didn’t eat less food. He did, however, change the kinds of foods he ate. His weight loss was completely inadvertent. He wasn’t focused on it like I was.

When he got the results of his tests, he learned that his cholesterol had dipped lower, and his blood pressure was down to 120/80. It hasn’t been that low in years. I would say that the most significant change in his diet occurred when he gave up his usual lunch, a salami sandwich, for a high fiber roll up with beans, sprouts, chopped fresh vegetables, avocados, salsa, etc. He buys the soft shells that have 9 grams of fiber, and he makes sure that he has lots of high fiver choices in the fridge for a filler.

Exercise was the other component. That was a big change for me. I’m the lazy one. My husband, an exercise nut enthusiast, was already exercising almost every day. I now hit the bricks four times a week with a walking DVD, or I walk around my neighborhood, and I do some wimpy moderate weight training. I do not enjoy exercise, but I made the commitment and I’ve stuck with it. I sometimes work out more, but I always try to meet my minimum commitment of four times a week.

My daughter-in-law directed me to a new website that we’re enjoying very much. New to me anyway. MediterrAsian.com/ is just what it sounds like. It features recipes with ingredients found in Mediterranean and Asian recipes. It also offers a guide on  how to stock a pantry with authentic ingredients of Asia and the Mediterranean, and it includes a printable shopping list.

Even though we’ve just found this website, we actually started applying some of the principles of the traditional Mediterranean diet a few months ago. We haven’t been perfect. Don’t think that for a minute, but we do eat greater amounts of Greek yogurt, poultry, fish, beans, vegetables fruits, and nuts, and we’ve reduced our beef and pork and sugar consumption. It’s pretty easy for us because we like most of the foods on the list. As with most things, the longer we do it the easier it gets.

We’ve only tried a couple of the recipes on the site so far, but I know we’ll try more.  The Tuna & Chickpea Salad was my favorite so far. I omitted the tuna and used it as a side dish. I added a little diced red bell peppers and celery for crunch. I think a few black olives could be nice, too.

We’ve enjoyed this way of eating and plan to continue, but as they always say, be sure to check with your doctor before making changes in your diet or lifestyle.

Here’s a little more information. These pyramids will help you see at a glance how you can apply the dietary and lifestyle practices of the Mediterranean and Asian cultures to your own life. If you have difficulty reading the information, click on the image to enlarge it.

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