When everything is taken into account, the average adult will try about 126 different diets in their lifetime, according to a poll that I came across recently. That’s a lot of diets, or specific ways of eating with the hopes of reaching a goal weight, as that seems to be the number one reason for putting oneself on a crash diet. And by crash diet I mean a diet that’s far from your usual. I’m always amazed by what people will put themselves through for, say, a big event that they have coming up or they’re going on holiday, or the top reason: because they don’t like how they look in the mirror.
I have people ask me ALL THE TIME “What is the best diet?”, and some want to know the healthiest diet. My first response is, it depends. I know, I know… I too hate that answer when you just want an absolute, a rulebook of sorts or a map between A and B – you just want something to follow and get to your goal. Whenever I tell anyone it depends, I challenge them to find a better answer. It doesn’t feel helpful, but really seems like yet another roadblock and more figuring. When anyone is in a headspace of needing a change, like a hard right turn to something different, I always suggest starting with some foundation like drink more water. But after that, is there really a perfect diet?
Today on EAT THIS with Lianne – a couple of diets that I recommend most to my clients and the diet (if you need to follow one) that is the top rated in the world.
What does it mean to be the healthiest diet in the world? Well, a bunch of number crunching happens, taking into account health issues like heart disease, diabetes, longevity and overall health scoring. I am going to guess that you’ve herald of the Mediterranean diet at some point, either mentioned by me here or read it as a headline that might have caught your eye.
The root of this diet comes from a study that took place in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Researchers looked into the diet and overall health of seven countries and found that those in Italy and Greece had the lowest risk of heart disease (which is the number one cause of death), which they claimed was at least partially due to nutrition. While heart disease has really become the number one disease to measure successful outcomes when it comes to many lifestyle factors, other issues like gut health, metabolic health (which has to do with what your levels of blood sugar), triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference are without using medications. Then there’s brain health, mental health, immunity and over arching inflammation that we talked about with Julie Daniluk in Episode 67. Although heart disease is the most common to measure against, I think that these other issues need to be talked about more too.
Ok, so what is this so-called perfect diet? I’m well aware that there is no such thing, but if that title or headline brought you here, then I’m not going to leave you hanging. However, it was a bit of a typical headline meant to lure you in. Why? Because I am sick of hearing people’s failure with sticking to one way of eating and the shame that’s associated with the failure, leaving people not feeling good within themselves or about themselves. As I’ve said before, a diet and lifestyle that works for YOU is most important, and if you can ride on the coattails of those who follow what I believe to be the most well rounded, easiest to follow diet, I believe you will be better off.
Let’s get to what on earth you can eat on this diet, and not eat.
A quick sidebar, before I get there: I’m aware that I’m using the term diet here because well, it’s the best catch-all term to talk about what you eat every day, but please know that this is not only about what you eat, but a lifestyle too. Movement, like walking daily, plays into this lifestyle pattern. The stats that have made this the healthiest diet also include areas like Spain, where 40% of the population are walking to where they need to go instead of jumping in their car. So while I tend to focus on eating and food on this podcast and episode, it’s only one slice of the healthy pie of life.
The Mediterranean Diet
- fat-rich nuts and seeds
- fibre- and protein-rich legumes
- whole grains (including breads, rice, and quinoa)
- herbs and spices
- animal protein from fish and seafood
- extra virgin olive oil
Foods to eat in moderation
Foods to eat occasionally
- red meat
Foods to not eat at all
This is where it becomes difficult, especially in today’s busy lifestyle, but I’m hopeful that if what I’m about to list isn’t on the total avoid list, it’s on the rarely list along with red meat. And most will say that I’m a party pooper with these, but you can’t get away from it, I’m sorry. They’re just not good.
- sugar-sweetened beverages like pop, iced tea, lemonade or that Red Bull that gives you wings
- added sugars, including glucose, dextrose or any other version of sugar on the ingredient list
- processed foods and refined grains
That fast sandwich with processed meat, hot dogs for dinner, or pepperoni on your pizza does fall under processed to a certain extent. Then there’s the refined grains: cereal, crackers, baked goods made with white flour and pretty much anything that you buy in a box or container. Remember when we talked about refined oils and just how unhealthy they are? Don’t buy them, or have them in the house for “sometimes”. Just ditch them. Then there’s all other highly processed foods including chocolate, candy, sweets, and the syrup that you just added to your last coffee or tea for flavouring.
Did you take all that in? It’s quite the list, I know, and likely killed your next snack plan, right?
Start With Breakfast
When we focus on what you can eat, it doesn’t seem all bad. Start by improving breakfast! Wherever you are at, start here:
- Whip up whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana slices for a simple and fun breakfast.
- Whole grain English muffin piled high with hearty toppings like hummus or smashed avocado.
- Wilted or fresh greens with eggs and hemp seeds, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice is a favourite of mine.
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries and topped with hemp seeds, chia seeds and even some nuts is super fast.
- Smoked salmon is versatile and great along with avocado, with or without whole grain bread.
Eating a diet with minimal packaged food is where you want to really focus next. Consider if there is another option to the next snack or part of a meal that comes from a box or needs you to open a plastic bag. Could you have something fresh instead? Or less refined? There is always a way. It’s your job to find it!
Please share, rate and comment with your thoughts about the Mediterranean Diet, and how close you already are!
And as always, please remember to EAT THIS, one mouthful at a time.