Diet trends come and go faster than we can start them, but that does not hinder our curiosity. Consistently, they are chalked up to eliminating food groups or a restrictive food intake, setting us up for a mid-diet burnout or dangerous eating habits. Although some plans may achieve the desired results, they are often short-lived and lack practical healthy lifestyle choices. If you are ready to give yet another diet a go, we are happy to present our Mediterranean diet 101.
Consisting of well-balanced and relatively non-restrictive foods, the tried-and-true Mediterranean diet sets you up for a healthier, extended future. It focuses on the type of fats you eat, rather than how much. Online nutrition program, Real Living Nutrition Services, breaks down the difference between the three main fats found in our food. Along the way, you will learn about what food contains and how it has an impact on your overall health. As one of the few diets that will leave you both happy and healthy, it may be the right plan for you.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet encapsulates the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the 1960s. But why should you try the Mediterranean diet over other plans? To start, it was not developed in a lab, but evolved over 5,000 years based on a natural way of living. While the diet consists of a few basic rules, the meals created can be adapted to any local and seasonal food availability.
Elena Paravantes a Greek-American Registered Dietitian, founder of OliveTomato, and Culinary Nutritionist specializing in the Mediterranean Diet, explains that, “the diet is characterized by a high intake of vegetables and olive oil, moderate amounts of carbohydrates, and small amounts of meat.”
Equally important, it is not just a weight loss plan, but promotes healthy living. The Mayo Clinic calls the diet “heart-healthy”, as it is associated with lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, thereby reducing your chance of heart disease. It is also said to reduce the chance of diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. For these reasons, most major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a similar diet. Notably, the base of the Mediterranean diet food pyramid consists of physical activity and interactive mealtimes. The Mediterranean lifestyle considers this aspect important, as it encourages healthy socialization.
Mediterranean Diet Meals
So what areas of your diet will change? Like the DASH Diet and Ketogenic Diet, it begins with a set calorie goal. A typical Mediterranean diet will range between 1,200 to 1,500 calories daily. This list will inform you about what you should and should not consume, as well as the recommended daily servings.
Meat and seafood – The ‘bad’ cholesterol previously mentioned is due to saturated fats ‒ which are the highest in red meat. The Mediterranean diet replaces meat with plant-based foods, although red meat can be enjoyed a few times a month. Eggs and poultry are better than red meat, but only in moderation. Instead, fresh fish or seafood is recommended up to twice a week, cooked in olive or canola oil.
Fruits and vegetables – As the base of every meal, an average of nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables should be consumed every day. At least one meal a day should include a salad or other leafy greens, so get your kale on! Other fruits and vegetable servings can include olives, figs, cherries, dates, tomatoes, grapes and melons, among others.
Grains – Unlike most diets, and a relief to many, bread is a staple in every Mediterranean meal. The only stipulation is that they are whole-grain. These contain tons of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Other grains and pasta are also regularly featured, from five to six servings a day. Whether it is dipped, smeared, or twirled on a fork, enjoy your carbs!
Nuts and seeds – A popular snack, raw nuts or seeds contain high doses of healthy fats, fiber and protein. You can have three to five one-ounce servings of raw nuts a week. The most popular are almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts and sesame seeds. A fresh pesto or tahini is perfect for dipping whole-grain bread!
Dairy products – Approved dairy products are few and should be consumed in moderation. Try to stick to unprocessed and low-fat cheese and yogurt. For example, Greek yogurt, feta and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Other dairy products are eliminated, or can be replaced with olive oil, which is much more flavorful and rich in monounsaturated fats, omegas and antioxidants. Seven to 14 tablespoons is recommended weekly.
Seasonings – One large hurdle for many to overcome is the use of salt. Often consumed with pastas and grains, large amounts of salt can increase your blood pressure, putting you at risk for heart attack, stroke, dementia and kidney disease. Instead, the Mediterranean diet utilizes fresh herbs and spices, which have a variety of health benefits.
Beverages – If you have a hard time coping with a lack of your favorite dairy, take solace in the occasional glass of wine ‒ with your doctor’s approval. The Mediterranean diet allows up to five ounces of wine daily. Like any good diet, at least six glasses of water a day is recommended. If you want a little pick-me-up, a small unsweetened coffee or tea is fine.
Sweets – Unfortunately, sweets have no place in a Mediterranean diet, including sweeteners. If you are craving something sweet, a fresh and juicy piece of fruit will keep you full. A large grapefruit, nectarine or apple can go a long way.
Conveniently, most Mediterranean meals require little preparation. For example, our easy Mediterranean omelet. Like all dishes, it contains the freshest ingredients and consists of a range of flavors. Many assume that Mediterranean meals are strictly Greek, but they include foods from many countries, such as Morocco, Spain and Turkey. Don’t be afraid to look further! If you have a hard time discovering dishes, Healthline offers a helpful example of a week’s worth of Mediterranean meals.
If you are still feeling uninspired, Dr. Newsome would love to assist you in your diet plan decision. Start your weight loss journey with the care and knowledge of a physician who understands the frustrations and challenges of weight loss. Contact us at Solutions Weight Loss, the preferred Orlando weight loss clinic.
Yes, it’s summer in Florida again!
Not that we ever really bundle up in fall and winter, but this is the time of year when we’re all conscious about those dreaded words, “swimsuit season.” So if your anxiety levels are rising because those few extra pounds are stubbornly staying put, here are 10 ways to lose weight fast!
“Good news,” says world-renowned fitness and nutrition expert Jay Cardiello. “The secret to quick weight loss doesn’t mean you need to spend more time in the gym.” Writing for Shape magazine, Cardiello provides helpful tips, accompanied by a fast-paced video, “The Weight-loss Workout Formula.”
Cardiello bases his workout on metabolic conditioning or interval-training workouts, which he says win for burning the most calories during and after your workout, since they combine multi-joint exercises and cardio. The master of fitness didn’t claim this would be easy – just fast! And no, Cardiello does NOT advise cutting calories to mere survival levels for this program. He recommends 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily, and keeping a food journal.
Modifying your food intake – rather than slashing calories – is also behind the step-by-step diet plan created by fitness site Thrive/Strive: “How to Lose 10 Pounds in One Week Without Starving.” The program is essentially a carb detox, high-protein diet, with a big emphasis on hydration. For example, the first step before breakfast is the classic glass of lemon water to kick-start the metabolism.
The basic breakdown is fruit and nuts for breakfast (after drinking the lemon water); a protein-dominant lunch (NO BREAD); fresh spinach salad drizzled with olive oil for a snack; two hard-boiled eggs and green salad for dinner; and a liter of green tea after dinner (although not too close before bedtime, for obvious reasons). Green tea is full of antioxidants that will help clean out your system, like the lemon water. By speeding up your metabolism, green tea will help your body burn fat while you’re sleeping. How sweet is that?
Just in case you need to be reminded of what not to eat, our blog post of October 2017 – “7 Foods to Avoid if You Want to Lose Weight” – lists all of the usual suspects: fried foods, high-carb foods, pizza (sorry), soft drinks, fruit juice, alcohol (especially beer) and any food with added sugar. You already know this, but the post explains exactly why each is bad, and how any one of them can seriously undermine your weight-loss efforts.
Speaking of undermining your weight-loss efforts, our blog post of February 2018 has a self-explanatory title: “9 Common Mistakes People Make When Trying to Lose Weight.” These mistakes can be categorized as focusing on what you can’t have as opposed to what you can, improper nutrition (not enough protein and fiber, for example), and lack of hydration and exercise.
Either of these programs can get results if followed faithfully, and boost your self-confidence at the pool or beach! However, Cardiello acknowledges, “Losing weight is a 24-hour-a-day lifestyle that consists of proper sleep, nutrition, hydration, and fitness.” Once you reach your summer weight goal, make sure you maintain it by committing to a healthy lifestyle year ‘round! If you need help, Dr. William E. Newsome and our expert team at Solutions Weight Loss can discuss your options for a personalized, medically supervised weight loss program. Schedule a consultation to learn more about what we offer.
Obesity and Hypertension: Breaking the Deadly Link
Statistics aren’t always boring. There are many statistics about hypertension (high blood pressure) and obesity – and all are (or should be) alarming. Both are major health problems in the United States, and the subject of intense medical research. Increased awareness of the link between obesity and hypertension is leading to new campaigns to educate people to lead healthier lives. While some of the more sobering statistics follow, the optimistic message is that it is possible to take ownership of your health and get the help and motivation you need to reduce – or eliminate – your risk.
The Grim Statistics on Obesity & Hypertension
According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults has high blood pressure, a leading cause of stroke. Approximately 30 percent of hypertension cases may be attributable to obesity, and the figure may be as high as 60 percent in men under age 45. People who are overweight are more likely to have high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats and high LDL (bad cholesterol), which are all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. These disturbing statistics are courtesy of The State of Obesity, a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Our March, 2018 blog post, Obesity and Heart Disease: How to Lose Weight and Keep Your Heart Healthy, focused on the link between these conditions, and a balanced approach to achieving a healthy weight. The Obesity Action Collation (OAC) includes a study by Jaymee Delaney, MD, which states that people with obesity are more likely to have hypertension. There are 58 to 65 million U.S. adults who have hypertension, which is the most common reason for office visits of non-pregnant adults to their physicians and for the use of prescription drugs.
Dr. Delaney also notes, “… anti-hypertension medications should be started if hypertension is diagnosed. But, with weight loss, a significant fall in blood pressure may permit a decrease in the number of medications taken or decrease the amount of medication taken. Prevention would be better than any drug.”
One example Dr. Delaney mentions is the DASH diet, which was the subject of our April, 2018 blog post. This popular diet was initially developed for people who want to take control of their hypertension. But the diet soon gained traction among dieters, who found it helped them lose weight more effectively.
Need More Help? Try The 10 Day BP Challenge
The DASH diet is one of the more high-profile programs that encourage people to be proactive in preventing or reversing hypertension. But another program with the same goal is gaining an enthusiastic following: the 10 Day BP Challenge.
The challenge originates with the BP Owl website – an online resource of articles on diet, exercise, relaxation and other non-medication ways to manage hypertension. The 10 Day BP Challenge is an app you can download to access a step-by-step program designed to help reduce high blood pressure through diet and lifestyle changes, monitored regularly over a 10-day period via the app. There is a free trial period, after which users must pay to continue the program.
BP Owl also has a social media presence, with Facebook and Twitter pages for sharing advice, tips and inspiration for following a healthy lifestyle.
The emphasis on lifestyle is key to reducing blood pressure or keeping it within normal range. So what’s considered normal and high blood pressure? Physicians use the following:
Normal blood pressure: systolic (top number) equal to or less than 120 mmHg and diastolic (lower number) equal to or less than 80 mmHg
Pre-hypertension: systolic 120-139 mmHg or diastolic 80-89 mmHg
Stage 1: systolic 140-159 mmHg or diastolic 90-99 mmHg
Stage 2: systolic greater than or equal to 160 mmHg or diastolic greater than or equal 100 mmHg
While the 10 Day BP Challenge and DASH diet can be helpful programs, you may still want to consider other options. Our experienced physicians at Solutions Weight Loss are here to provide you with an individual, medically supervised plan to help you meet your goals. We also apply advanced weight loss treatments and protocols that are not available over the counter. We welcome you to schedule a consultation to discuss the best program for you.