We see new people come to our Facebook group looking for answers. in a lot of cases they have been told by their doctors that they must fully adopt the Mediterranean Diet, as whatever combination of way of eating or lifestyle they have is causing disease or weight gain or both. Many people have yoyo dieted for years or maybe even decades, trying the diet of the month or paying Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem to figure it all out for them. Some of those diets have merit and may work for a while, but only a few are sustainable.
Two movements are colliding with disastrous results. The first trend has been growing for about a century as people in the developed world started consuming processed, packaged food and far more meat for the first time in history. The natural urge to consume more salt, fat and sugar was finally easy to do and cost effective as well. As discussed in this article these were scarce commodities and were necessary for survival through drought, famine, attacks by wild animals, and all the other hardships of life before the twentieth century. When these substances became readily available they also were consumed at an increasing rate, with the result of an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and diseases linked to an unhealthy lifestyle.
As our societies moved from agrarian to industrial then the information age there are more single parents, more two income families, more things to keep us busy and less time for preparing and eating food. These factors and more disposable income have caused us to embrace fast food, microwaved meals, and prepackaged, easy to prepare foods. In addition, sugary drinks like soda and even juice are taking their toll on our health. This means that weight loss, losing belly fat, and returning to overall health is harder than ever if we succumb to the pressure of society and for convenience sake.
Bucking this trend means taking the time to plan to prepare or cook nutritious meals using the right ingredients. This does not have to be more expensive than your current way of eating, particularly if you frequently go out to eat for anything except fast food. Planning and preparing food can be time consuming but it can also be very rewarding as family and your own body begins to appreciate the clear benefits of eating the Mediterranean Diet. The many people in our Mediterranean Diet Facebook group who have successfully adopted this way of eating are finding gratification from knowingly doing something good for their bodies, losing weight, losing belly fat, feeling better, and reducing or eliminating the diseases that prompted them to start. Making that effort to make yourself healthy is something to be proud of, continuing to make that effort is very well worth the time and energy to do so.
The second trend is one the glut of information and social media making it more difficult to research and make good decisions. It is easy to get overwhelmed with information and advertisers on any subject and it is fact that diet, weight loss, and health is and will continue to be a hot topic. Since we are talking about making choices and making changes that are vitally important to your health and wellbeing it is critical that the choices be well researched, well thought out and carried out in a way that is sustainable, in other words change for good.
What we have found in the Mediterranean Diet Facebook group is that people are at all different levels when they start this. The folks who already cook most or all of their meals actually find it easier to modify the ingredients by reducing meats and increasing vegetables and adding EVOO so that their diets align with Mediterranean Diet guidelines. What may be more difficult for this group is reducing or eliminating sodas and other high calorie drinks, drinking more water, and controlling portions.
The group that is more challenged is those whose bodies are addicted to fast food, or sugar, fat and salt. The people who do not frequently (or ever) cook have a steep learning curve to get to the point where they are preparing the 90-100% of their meals needed to ensure a healthy diet. That group has to overcome some deeply engrained habits and the body has a way of fighting changes that are so drastic. That is not to say it cannot be done, it will just take more than willpower to make that change. Finding a supportive group is very helpful in this regard, out Facebook group does a good job with this if you are willing to share your challenges. Family and friends concerned for your wellbeing can also help, as does reducing or eliminating moral licensing as mentioned in this article.
Once you have made the transition and are committed to continuing finding recipes can be easy. There are many favorites posted here, and more being added all of the time. My Pinterest Pins have many more recipes and ideas for great meals. That is really the easy part, the hard part is finding the right information to make the change, because there is more to it than just cooking differently. Most of the articles on this site are geared toward that challenging part, making and sticking with the changes that will improve and maybe even save your life. I have also been helped by TED Talks that can be found on YouTube that provide strategies for making the changes. The point is to commit and do whatever is necessary to change your way of eating, incorporate exercise into your daily schedule if you haven’t already and embrace the Mediterranean Diet and the better health that will follow.
The articles on this site discuss a few of the pitfalls to change giving readers insight into what to watch for and steps to take to stay focused on better health. Whether it is reducing moral licensing, which is giving yourself a unhealthy treat for accomplishing something; or embracing behavioral economics as a tool to support you change, everyone is capable of returning to health by combining knowledge with the delicious Mediterranean Diet.
To Your Health!