By Brittany Natale
Known for its wide range of food options (you are even allowed to drink red wine while on it!) and amazing health benefits, the Mediterranean diet has definitely become a fan favourite. If you have haven't yet given this healthy lifestyle a go and are interested in trying it out, look no further. POPSUGAR spoke to expert Laura Yautz, RD, a registered dietitian and owner of Being Nutritious in Pittsburgh, PA, to get helpful advice on how to kick off your Mediterranean diet journey seamlessly.
What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet is not just a diet, but more a lifestyle. Modelled after the eating patterns of those who live in the Mediterranean region, this way of living is said to have a healthy effect on both your heart and gut. The best part? You can enjoy a wide variety of foods while choosing this eating plan, as its main pillars include plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, a moderate amount of fish, chicken, healthy fats, and some red wine. The consumption of red meat, highly processed foods, and sugary snacks are kept to an absolute minimum, though – so that means you may have to try to keep your sweets cravings at bay if you have a sweet tooth.
How can I ease into the Mediterranean diet?
Starting any new diet may be tricky. Thankfully, Yautz has some simple tips to follow to make the switch into this healthier lifestyle much easier. "To make the transition from a standard diet to Mediterranean diet easier, it's helpful to identify foods you already eat that are Mediterranean-approved, and build from there," says Yautz. For instance, if you typically have a side salad with dinner, you should try increasing your portion and including a protein on top so it becomes an entree salad or try swapping out white bread for whole grain bread when eating a sandwich.
"Another strategy is to identify foods you eat that are excluded on the Mediterranean diet or that you should eat less of, and substitute foods that are approved," says Yautz. This means that if you usually top your baked potato with butter, sour cream, and bacon, you should instead swap those extras for plain Greek yoghurt, chopped fresh chives, a sprinkle of smoked paprika, and a drizzle of olive oil. Also, do not forget about snacks – being unprepared when it comes to snacks may cause you to hastily make unhealthy decisions. "If you find yourself hitting the vending machine mid-morning, try packing a half sandwich made with whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter," advises Yautz. No matter how you begin to integrate this diet into your every day, a good strategy is to start by taking small steps – make one or healthy two changes each week, adding them as you go along.
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