Every few years, a study is published, showing the superiority of the Mediterranean diet. We have all heard about the French paradox: heavy consumption of wine and cheese and yet they have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease than Americans.

Because elements of the Mediterranean can benefit Americans (although the hype makes me roll my eyes sometimes), I’ve created a 3 part series on it. Please read both A Forgotten Superfood at the Heart of the Mediterranean Diet and 3 Tips for Keeping Olive Oil Fresh, Healthy & Delicious (being released next week!).

Many myths exist about the Mediterranean diet.

  1. The Mediterranean diet can be defined in one book or country. First of all, there is no one traditional Mediterranean diet. The countries that ring the Mediterranean include Turkey, Greece and Spain as well as France and Italy. The Mediterranean diets vary depending on geographical location, seasonal availability of food, regional traditions, etc. The coastal regions of all countries tend to have a diet higher in fish. In the mountains, families typically eat more goat, sheep, and dairy products. The French enjoy duck confit and liver pate, while the Greeks feast on chickpeas, lamb and stuffed grape leaves. When I was growing up, we had liver once a week and fish once a week, not pasta every day.

If you would like to read more about regional cuisine of Italy (just one of the many countries in the Mediterranean region), I would recommend Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

  1. I was born and raised in Italy, and more often than not, when I introduce myself, someone quickly brings up [B]pasta, pizza, and gelato[/B]. These popular imports absolutely do not stand at the center of the Mediterranean diet, and certainly not in the fat-laden form to which American chefs have inflated them!
  2. Mediterranean dishes do not contain mysterious and heretofore unknown ingredients or combinations thereof.  All of the oils, protein sources and vegetables they use, Americans have. THEY SIMPLY EAT FAR LESS than Americans. There is no little need for “portion control” since natural portions—what would be small to many Americans—are standard Mediterranean fare.

Nutrient-Rich, Calorie-Reasonable Diets in the U.S. and Overseas

While the Mediterranean diet contains some great lessons for Americans, the best diet for you is one that is tailored to your stage in life, medical/physical issues or activity level, and your goals! It contains the nutrients optimize your health, athletic performance and even your mood. As a nutritional therapy practitioner and certified GAPS practitioner, I can help you develop new eating habits, prepare for the big race, address mood disorders, ASD or ADHD. I’m happy to provide a free 15-min consultation when you contact me or call at 619-208-8159. Get helpful tips and notification of great healthy events when you like us on our Healthful Living Facebook page page as well!