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The Great Healthy Summer Slim Down

Posted by Ohan Karatoprak, MD, Family Medicine Specialist, Holy Name Medical Partners on June 11, 2019

Ohan Karatoprak, MD, Family Medicine Specialist, Holy Name Medical 	Partners

There's the Keto Diet, the Paleo, Whole30, Flexitarian, even the Mind Diet. With so many options, how do you know which one will work and is also not going to be so complicated you’ll want to give up after a week or two?

Have you heard of the Mediterranean Diet? U.S. News & World Report recently evaluated dozens of today's weight-loss plans and ranked it the #1 Best Diet to Lose Weight for Summer.

What's best about the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet) is that it's not really a diet but a style of healthy eating.

Based on traditional food eaten in Mediterranean countries, including Greece and Italy, the MedDiet consists of lots of vegetables; fresh fruits; healthy fats, such as olive and canola oil; nuts; and fish. In a typical day, you might have Greek yogurt topped with berries and drizzled with honey for breakfast. For lunch, tuna on a bed of greens with vinaigrette dressing, almonds, and olives. Dinner, sautéed salmon with zucchini and tomato tossed over farro, complimented by a glass of red wine.

When you look at the MedDiet plate, it's typically bursting with color and texture. It's meant to be savored and enjoyed, preferably with friends and family. It's a style of eating based on a region with a well-rounded approach to food that only restricts heavily processed items.

Benefits of the MedDiet

In areas where people enjoy the MedDiet, individuals live longer and have lower rates of disease and cancer. Now, more and more doctors in the United States are prescribing the MedDiet as studies show it can help patients with a variety of conditions, from depression to Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s.

Cheese and yogurt are eaten regularly in the traditional MedDiet, which is great news according to a recent new study from the University of Limerick in Ireland. The study confirmed that saturated fatty acids from full-fat cheese and yogurt are associated with beneficial effects to your heart and blood vessels. Eating high-fat cheese and yogurt during the study was associated with a 10-14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than eating low-fat cheese.

Additionally, researchers from the University of South Australia found that adding three to four servings of dairy foods to a MedDiet will help you to meet your daily calcium needs (900-1,200 mg) and significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Dairy foods also provide calcium that can prevent osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones more porous and fragile.

Previous research has shown that eating a MedDiet may substantially reduce inflammation and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease – heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease – by improving blood pressure and preventing blood clots.

In terms of weight loss, the MedDiet has been shown to be beneficial because it limits sugar and calories from bad fats, as well as preservatives and chemicals from packaged foods. The MedDiet has also been recognized as easy to follow, because there are not lots of rules, and the carbohydrate choices are more complex. This will help you to stay fuller, longer.

If you think of the MedDiet as more of a nutritional journey over the course of a lifetime, and less of a means to slim down for one summer, you may have more success.

Let’s Go Grocery Shopping

Here, we hope to help you choose your food wisely, with the following shopping list:

  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Enjoy legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas).
  • Eat full-fat cheese and yogurt in moderation.
  • Use herbs and spices to flavor food.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week; limit red meat to a few times a month.
  • Replace butter with olive oil and canola oil.
  • If you like red wine, have a glass in moderation.
  • Avoid processed foods, including soda and sugary beverages; cured meats, such as ham, bacon, and hot dogs; frozen packaged dinners; chicken nuggets; packaged snacks; and instant soups and noodles.

The Center for Healthy Living at Holy Name Medical Center offers a wide range of activities designed to encourage people to achieve and maintain good health. Through classes, discussions, and support groups, the program alerts participants to the risks for developing serious illnesses, while helping people enjoy their everyday activities. Topics range from how to recognize the symptoms of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer to how to improve your sense of well-being by changing perspective, treasuring memories, feeling the benefits of laughing, and exercising the brain.

Events and services include:

  • Health maintenance lectures
  • Medical screenings
  • Wellness programs
  • Diabetes counseling and management
  • Health fairs
  • Support groups
  • School programs

To find dates and times of these events, click on our calendar https://www.holyname.org/events/ or call: 201-833-3336 for more information.