Taking your diet to the Mediterranean

March brings us another fantastic blog from dietetic intern Elysia Kenyon!

How often are you ‘on a diet’? Once a year? Every other week? In our society diets are pretty common and are often associated with weight loss, restricted food intake, and - let’s be honest - endless hunger and sporadic irritable outbursts. We all get ‘hangry’ sometimes! So, I think it’s fair to say the notion of dieting certainly has a few negative connotations. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Through my studies I’ve developed a better understanding of the concept of diet and I want to share it with you. One’s diet is the food and drink that is regularly and consistently consumed; I’m referring to the quantity, the quality and the composition. It’s all in our control and it’s how we nourish our bodies! Changes to diet need to be realistic and sustainable for you when looking to achieve long term results!

Dieting culture often includes a lot of jargon and false promises, but there are some diets that are actually popular among health professionals, such as the Mediterranean diet. It offers a range of health benefits and weight loss is often just an added bonus! It has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, whilst increasing life expectancy (1). Adopting the Mediterranean diet or implementing some of its more well-known characteristics will help you to establish a more balanced, nutritious diet whilst helping to achieve and maintain a healthy weight (2). So, I think it’s time to put the days of yoyo dieting behind us and steal a few ideas from our friends across the pond!

The traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in whole grains like oats, wholegrain bread and brown rice, as well as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes – so lentils, beans, chickpeas etc. It also includes a moderate consumption of poultry and fish and a more limited consumption of dairy products, red and processed meats as well as sweets and wine (3). The Mediterranean diet is associated with good health and yet fruits, cheese and wine have been consumed along Mediterranean coast lines for centuries (4) – sounds rather blissful doesn’t it! So, no need to worry my fellow wine and cheese fanatics!
How to bring the taste of the Med to your kitchen:

- Avoid over processing foods – keep things simple and scrap salt for other seasonings! Try adding a drizzle of olive oil or a squeeze of fresh citrus juice to your meal, and add some herbs and spices too; garlic is a popular one!
- Nibble on seeds and nuts during the day – they’re rich in healthy fats which will help to keep you full between meals.
- Reduce your meat consumption, try to serve yourself smaller portions – give meat a supporting role rather than the lead! Pad your meals out with veggies instead, which follows on to my next point…
- Up your fruit and veg intake – they’re naturally low in calories and full of nutrients.
- Swap out simple carbohydrates for their more complex alternatives – think brown rice, wholegrain bread or quinoa, whatever takes your fancy!
- Consume low fat dairy products, they are still tasty but are lower in saturated fat and calories – so win win!

If you’re looking to make some dietary changes but are confused about where to start, contact us at enquiries@staner-nutrition.co.uk to book in for a dietary assessment and advice that you can trust!

References
Tosti, V., Bertozzi, B. and Fontana, L., 2018. Health benefits of the mediterranean diet: metabolic and molecular mechanisms. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 73(3), pp.318-326.
Dinu, M., Pagliai, G., Casini, A. and Sofi, F., 2018. Mediterranean diet and multiple health outcomes: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials. European journal of clinical nutrition, 72(1), pp.30-43.
Estruch, R., Ros, E., Salas-Salvadó, J., Covas, M.I., Corella, D., Arós, F., Gómez-Gracia, E., Ruiz-Gutiérrez, V., Fiol, M., Lapetra, J. and Lamuela-Raventos, R.M., 2018. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. New England journal of medicine, 378(25), p.e34.
Willett, W.C., Sacks, F., Trichopoulou, A., Drescher, G., Ferro-Luzzi, A., Helsing, E. and Trichopoulos, D., 1995. Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 61(6), pp.1402S-1406S.



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