5 W’s for eating the Mediterranean way

No fad diet in the world can replace this healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
Mediterranean Diet
Did you know eating a Mediterranean diet could prevent or even reverse metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes? (For Spectrum Health Beat)

We always hear about the latest fad diet, but don’t we often wonder what really works?

Where should we really start? How should we start?

In an effort to develop positive eating habits, many of us have tried several diets over the years. More often than not, these diets provide only short-term solutions that leave us without a strong foundation to make significant, long-term behavioral changes.

The Mediterranean diet, however, isn’t a diet so much as it’s a way of living.

It’s a lifestyle.

Who?

Who should be interested in the Mediterranean diet? You, me and anyone who wants to cook and eat real, healthy, whole, unprocessed foods that bring your weight, health and life back to their prime.

We all know that eating the right fats, reading labels and watching carbs is beneficial, but what does that really mean? We go to the grocery store and we fill up our carts with products we either know, or think we know, are good for us. But are they really?

The Mediterranean diet offers many healthy options, no matter what your taste palate. It balances carbohydrates with grains, good fats and proteins, promoting optimal health and natural weight loss.

Great taste and zero calories aren’t the only benefits of infused water—it can also help flush toxins, improve skin and enhance mood. (For Spectrum Health Beat)(For Spectrum Health Beat)

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Infused Water

Lemon Mint or Lemon Basil
¼ cup lemons sliced
1 ½ cups firmly packed fresh mint or basil leaves
6 to 8 cups water
6 to 8 cups ice cubes
Fresh mint or basil sprigs to garnish

Honeydew Lime
1 cup slices of ripe honeydew melon
¼ cup lime, sliced
4 sprigs of mint
1 half-gallon of water

Herb & Berry
½ cup fresh blueberries, lighted crushed
2 4-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary, lighted bruised (to release more flavor)
1 half-gallon of water

Raspberry Lime (no herbs)
Quarter 2 limes
2 cups raspberries
1 half-gallon water

Add fresh fruits and ingredients into a beverage pitcher or carafe. For best flavor, leave at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavors of the fruit infuse into the water.

What?

The Mediterranean diet is not a “fad,” but a long-term solution: Eat low-glycemic-index foods to help you keep your metabolism steady, feel full longer and eat less.

Low-glycemic foods break down slowly, allowing you to feel satisfied and lose weight at the same time. Examples include: berries, citrus, apples, pears, vegetables, legumes, minimally processed grains, oatmeal, nuts, hummus, kidney beans and chickpeas.

With this type of meal plan, you can still fit in your favorite foods. It’s a way of cooking and eating that’s non-restrictive, so you don’t have to suffer through deprivation.

Based on the cuisine of Greece, Middle East, Southern Italy and Spain, the diet entails less consumption of red meat, sweets and saturated fats that are found in butter or high-fat dairy products.

It’s also a sustainable diet that you can live with. If you like to eat “real” foods, if you shop at farmers markets, or if you eat farm-to-table, the Mediterranean way could be the right plan for you.

It’s worth noting that U.S. News & World Report ranked the Mediterranean diet first place in the “plant-based diets,” according to Best Diets 2013 rankings.

Why?

How about, why not? How about cooking like a Greek islander, or learning a gourmet dish from Spain or Italy? Eating like a Greek is not only healthy, it’s delicious.

In Spectrum Health’s “Eating the Mediterranean Way” classes, we share techniques that will turn you into the gourmet foodie you are, or that you always wanted to be. Plus, you’ll impress your friends and family in the kitchen. The Mediterranean diet provides an excellent foundation on which to build your cooking knowledge and meal prep expertise.

Mediterranean foods are rich in antioxidants and they have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. So you can live longer, with less disease.

Learn—and live

Join the next session of “Eating the Mediterranean Way” to learn how you can follow this healthy lifestyle. You’ll get tips and great meal plans, and you’ll reap lifelong benefits.

Class benefits include:

  • Delicious healthy snacks
  • Easy meal plans for healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners
  • Easy shopping lists that teach you what to buy, what to look for, what to avoid, and how to read labels
  • Education on healthy eating and cooking for long-term health and wellness

Register here or call 616.774.7779.

Most importantly, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to prevent or reverse these common health problems:

When?

Realistically, we can follow it every day. And since it’s proven to help us live longer, healthier lives, we should.

By incorporating techniques that improve our eating behaviors—meal planning, food choice, and cooking prep—we can reap a lifetime of benefits.

Where?

In the kitchen, the heart of the home, and just about everywhere else. The Mediterranean diet fits a busy, healthy lifestyle, whether you’re learning the art of cooking at home or you’re working to educate yourself on healthy food choices when dining out.

Let’s not forget: How?

Here’s how to follow a low-glycemic diet such as the Mediterranean diet:

  • You do not need to memorize the glycemic index or count grams of carbohydrates in foods.
  • Choose fiber-rich, natural carbohydrates, including vegetables, fruits and legumes. Eat them along with a source of protein and a healthy fat.
  • Eat grain products in the least-processed state possible. Examples include stone ground whole wheat bread as opposed to white bread.
  • When you have a sugary treat, do it in moderation—and after a balanced meal.
  • Limit fruit juice and avoid sugary soda. Drink more water. If you don’t enjoy drinking water, try an infused water recipe to add a little excitement to H2O.

Learn more about eating the Mediterranean way taught by Irene Franowicz RD CDE. Register online or call 616.774.7779 to join the next class.

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Comments (4)

    • Thank you very much for your question Jerry. Add fresh sliced (and peeled) fruits and ingredients to 1/2 gallon or a whole gallon of water. For best flavor, leave at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavors of the fruit infuse into the water. Hope this helps. Thanks again! Let us know how it turns out.

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