Eating the Italian way: Mediterranean Diet (Part 1)

With the arrival of the New Year, many of us set out to improve our lives by eating better and becoming more active. With the abundance of fast food and prepackaged meals on the market, it’s not hard to understand why so many people with busy lifestyles or limited resources have become reliant on food that isn’t exactly good for the body or mind.

Instead of looking to a boxed-food diet system or anything that hails from an infomercial, consider taking a gander at the many benefits of adapting a Mediterranean style of eating to help you reach your new goals for the year. Eating fresh and wholesome foods is undeniably better and sustainable than any kind of over-promising diet supplements or cardboard-tasting frozen meal plan with minimum variety and nutrients.

While pizza and pasta are “Italian food staples”, there are many benefits of the Mediterranean diet that aren’t as obvious. The typical Italian way of eating maintains a balance of nourishing and fresh food that can also be rich and filling. When people hear the word “diet” they tend to infer that it means a restrictive or limiting way of eating. However, the Mediterranean way of eating is much more of a “lifestyle” than a “diet”.

The basic components of a healthy Mediterranean diet are plant-based foods, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, nuts and oils. Some simple changes like replacing butter with olive oil, sauces and heavy marinades with spices and herbs and limiting red meat are just a handful of the many lifestyle choices that are easy to make in order to improve overall health. Surely, drinking red wine in moderation and enjoying meal with your family and friends isn’t part of just any regular diet, but when you’re living the Mediterranean lifestyle, it definitely is. As they say, “when in Rome”!

Outside of the initial factors of this diet, there are proven medical benefits of this method of eating that can really change your life for the better. The Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced incidences of cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and even breast cancer.  Research has also shown that this lifestyle also reduces the rate of heart disease, the current #1 killer of both men and women in America. The diet has been associated with lowered LDL cholesterol that can deposit build up in arteries, leading to strokes and heart attacks. The overall reduced inflammation of the body that is emphasized in this diet helps keep you healthy without having to make any outrageous sacrifices when it comes to enjoying food.

So, now that we’ve gotten all of the logistics out of the way, it’s time to get to the fun part- THE FOOD!

Top food goals for 2017:

  • Make extra virgin olive oil your main source of fat ~ around 1tbsp a day
  • Eat fruit as dessert or for snacks ~ 2 servings a day
  • Stock up on legumes ~ at least 1 x per day
  • Eat greens and vegetables with every meal ~ at least 2 x per day
  • Eat more nuts for omega-3 benefits ~ 1 x per day
  • Eat fish often ~ 2 x a week
  • Indulge in red wine and dark chocolate for anti-oxidant benefits ~ up to 1 x per day

What’s the simplest way to adapt the Mediterranean lifestyle? It all starts with your grocery cart. Here’s a list we’ve come up with to give you some ideas of foods that you should start incorporating into your daily diet. Stay tuned for our next post for some easy and delicious recipes that will make your weight-loss or health resolutions a breeze.

Grocery List:

  • Grains
    • Pasta & Breads: Try gluten free blends and whole wheat too!
    • Rice
    • Polenta
    • Steel cut oats
    • Whole grain crackers
    • Bulgur
    • Barley
    • Quinoa (actually a pseudograin)
  • Fruits & Veggies
    • Don’t feel limited, explore the rainbow with all the produce aisle has to offer
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Grapes
    • Cherries
    • Oranges
    • Kiwi
    • Plums
    • Peaches
    • Blueberries
    • Broccoli
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Zucchini
    • Squash
    • Mushrooms
    • Spinach
    • Leafy greens of all kinds
    • Parsley
    • Onions
    • Garlic
    • Peas
    • Eggplant
  • Seafood
    • Tuna
    • Salmon (both fresh and canned)
    • Cod
    • Shrimp
    • Scallops
    • Lobster
    • Mussels, clams
    • Crab
    • Tilapia
  • Oils/Fats
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • Avocado
    • Grape Seed oil
    • Canola (preferably spray)
  • Herbs & Spices
    • Garlic powder
    • Rosemary
    • Sweet paprika
    • Parsley
    • Cumin
    • Mint
    • Oregano
    • Basil
    • Peppercorns
    • Anything else you’re interested in!
  • Legumes
    • Any beans! Try a different variety
    • Hummus
    • Lentils
    • Carob
    • Alfalfa
  • Ovo-Lacto (Dairy/Eggs)
    • Milk: try almond, soy, coconut, hemp, cashew milks too!
    • Kefir
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese: think quality > quantity
    • Eggs and Egg whites
  • Pantry stock
    • Stewed, chopped and pureed tomato products
    • Coffee, tea
    • Broths
    • Tahini (for hummus)
    • Roasted red peppers, artichokes and olives
    • Honey
    • Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts and more!
    • Red wine
    • Dark chocolate (60% or higher)

While on your journey towards better health and eating, don’t hesitate to ask Doris staff for assistance when picking out produce, or any items you are new to. The first step to trying a new lifestyle is exploring and learning what foods you like best and which ones you’d like to implement into your diet.

We wish all of our customers a happy and successful new year full of positivity and happiness!

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