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  1. #1
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    Mediterranean diet -- anyone else?

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    I'm sure some of you have read about this recent study:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/he...anted=all&_r=0

    Just wondering if anyone is still eating a Mediterranean-type diet? I know Paleo, low-carb, and gluten-free are all the rage, but I've always been a bit skeptical of anything that is "the rage". For instance, I was eating low-carb in the year 2000, when most were still eating low-cal or low-fat. Lost 15 lbs. off my small frame and have kept it off (primarily through exercise, as I went off low-carb years ago), for the most part, ever since.

    Anywho...without really trying, my DH and I eat closer to a Mediterranean diet than anything else. We eat very little red meat, nothing fried, mostly just chicken breast when we do eat meat. Would like to eat more fish, but it's not easily available fresh here (amazingly, and very sadly!) We eat lots and lots of veggies, supplemented by lots of beans, walnuts and peanuts; whole-wheat couscous, pasta, and tortillas; a bit of cheese, but not a lot, and a ton of fruit. Lots of olive oil and tomato products. Not much wine since it is so pricey here, but we'll be changing that when we move back to the US -- wine will be our "go to" adult beverage of choice. (I can't wait! I have missed wine a LOT.)

    We're both very healthy, slim, low cholesterol with great ratios, low blood pressure, etc. Not sure how much is from diet and how much from exercise.

    Anyone else hooked on the Mediterranean diet even though it's not as fashionable right now?
    Emily

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  2. #2
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    Except for rice consumption, that sounds um...close to a traditional Asian diet except olive oil and cheese (as a traditional Mediterraean oil) is not used and Asian diets use more tofu. Sure tomatoes are consumed in Chinese dishes but it is not a star centrepiece veggie/fruit, more of green diverse veggies, etc. Traditional Asian diet doesn't feature a lot of meat....lots of meat is reserved for multi-course banquets and special occasion meals.

    Contrary to what one gets in Chinese restaurants, home-cooked Chinese dishes are lower oils, fats. Over 50% of Chinese restaurant dishes, does not represent my mother's Chinese cooking. She severely cuts back on use of salt. That's how I cook, like her. It has served me well over the last few decades...and is the least amount of thinking for me, cooking-wise. I credit the foundation of my health to her healthy way of cooking Chinese dishes. (She skims fat off soup consommés, etc.)

    The biggest difference is the lack of lots of nuts at least in Chinese cooking. Do I think I'm missing something? Not really. I find eating nuts often, just makes me feel "full"/heavy in feeling.

    I don't follow a particular type of diet since I also have over 2 litres of skim milk per wk. Much of how I cook is intuitive...but probably learned from my mother mixed in with European variant dishes I cook up.

    I couldn't even write a cookbook that would be a best-seller: how I cook is such a blend of cultural cuisines and hodge-podge. Even within 1 meal it's cultural hodge podge.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 03-01-2013 at 05:56 PM.
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  3. #3
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    I eat similarly. Lots of beans, whole grains, veggies, olive oil. Meat of any kind sparingly. I also like cooking asian foods. Love tofu when prepared as tofu (not into "meat" substitutes) My blood work looks pretty awesome. I only do fish once a week though - I prefer it uncooked and I don't feel qualified to pick what's good to eat raw... but I do get sushi once a week, yum.
    Last edited by Eden; 03-02-2013 at 09:04 AM.
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  4. #4
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    Yes, the Mediterranean diet is more-or-less how I eat, and how I've eaten for years. I do not eat meat at all; I do eat fish sometimes.

    I share your skepticism for whatever is trendy; in my 62 years, I've seen many fad diets come and go. I'm especially skeptical of the idea that grains or carbs are an "addiction" that has to be "cured." People may have undesirable eating habits -- I've developed and had to stop those at times. But it wasn't a true "addiction" -- it was simply a habit that took hold for some reason (like eating candy from the machines at work because it was easy) and I changed it the same way I'd change any other habit. There was no "magic" involved, and it wasn't a question of my body "learning" to use a different type of fuel. It was a question of my remembering to shop for food and bring a better snack to work.

    Low-carb has never made sense to me because I lost weight and gained a ton of energy when I stopped eating meat. I do have a tendency to gain weight, but I easily keep my weight stable with portion control and exercise.

    I also dislike the trend toward demonizing certain foods, or talking about guilt or shame associated with food. I refuse to buy foods labeled "guilt-free" or some such nonsense. But that's a whole other rant...

    For me, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the key to optimal health and energy.

    Oh, and Eden I agree about tofu as a meat substitute -- it's good as tofu. If I wanted meat I would buy meat.
    Last edited by PamNY; 03-01-2013 at 07:56 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by emily_in_nc View Post
    I'm sure some of you have read about this recent study:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/he...anted=all&_r=0

    Just wondering if anyone is still eating a Mediterranean-type diet? I know Paleo, low-carb, and gluten-free are all the rage, but I've always been a bit skeptical of anything that is "the rage". For instance, I was eating low-carb in the year 2000, when most were still eating low-cal or low-fat. Lost 15 lbs. off my small frame and have kept it off (primarily through exercise, as I went off low-carb years ago), for the most part, ever since.

    Anywho...without really trying, my DH and I eat closer to a Mediterranean diet than anything else. We eat very little red meat, nothing fried, mostly just chicken breast when we do eat meat. Would like to eat more fish, but it's not easily available fresh here (amazingly, and very sadly!) We eat lots and lots of veggies, supplemented by lots of beans, walnuts and peanuts; whole-wheat couscous, pasta, and tortillas; a bit of cheese, but not a lot, and a ton of fruit. Lots of olive oil and tomato products. Not much wine since it is so pricey here, but we'll be changing that when we move back to the US -- wine will be our "go to" adult beverage of choice. (I can't wait! I have missed wine a LOT.)
    I agree with you. I'm skeptical of all the "wheat is the devil!" stuff, barring allergy/Celiac disease, of course. That said, I do better on a lower-carb diet--I'll still happily eat rice, but I'll eat less of it and slightly more meat or veggies.

    Most traditional diets, with the exception of near-Arctic peoples', have relatively little meat in them, because it was expensive. I'm sort of surprised that the Paleo diet thing has taken such a hold, given that some of the longest-lived populations have a diet that is quite heavy on rice and soy. I love bacon, but I'm not sure it's that good for you. (Am I going to be stoned to death for this? )

    My own diet is a mix. Whole grain cereal and bread (except sourdough), but not pasta because I don't like the texture, a mix of red meat and chicken, with occasional fish (salmon or tuna, normally), and I'm trying to get more fruit and veggies in there--I'm much better at the fruit/veggies thing in summer. Not a ton of legumes outside of hummus or in soups (don't care for them). Olive oil is my primary cooking oil, though I'll cook eggs or caramelize onions in butter. I do love cheese, but I don't eat a ton of it. Nuts are one of my go-to snack foods, mostly toasted almonds or walnuts.


    I'm also not keen on demonizing food. Everything (including dessert!) in moderation.
    Last edited by Owlie; 03-01-2013 at 09:01 PM.
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  6. #6
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    After a lot of experimentation with Paleo type eating in the last year, I have concluded that I do best on a Mediterranean type diet, which is what I have been eating, more or less for 10-15 years. I did go on "low carb" diet in 2003 for a couple of months and again in the past year. However, it's just too much meat for me. I like meat, and have no philosophical objections, but the eating felt too heavy. I missed whole grains too much to cut them out entirely. So, my diet generally has been chicken, turkey, fish, a couple of vegetarian meals a week, with some type of beef or pork once, maybe twice a week. I still will be avoiding white flour products, as I don't even like the taste of them anymore. But, I love quinoa, brown rice, and really good freshly baked whole wheat bread.
    Last winter, I had been eating Paleo type meals in the 3 months before my physical. My cholesterol went up like crazy, so I went back on the Mediterranean style of eating for 2 months and got retested; it went pretty much back to normal for me.
    Perhaps the best part of experimenting with low carb eating is that it forced me to eat more vegetables and learn more creative ways of cooking them. My DH now eats things he wouldn't even look at a few years ago. But, I agree with Pam; I feel like I have been kind of peer pressured from all sides to eat in a way that is not really best for me and probably is a fad.
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  7. #7
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    For me it is about the results...I was curious about Paleo enough to try it but wouldn't have stuck with it if all of my digestive system issues hadn't disappeared almost immediately (and my energy levels shot up). Obviously, for me, I had a lot of unknown food sensitivities or allergies that was addressed by this. My triglycerides and HDL are the best they have been in my life since making this move - my doctor was very pleased with them. In the end, Paleo/Primal/whatever you call it isn't "low-carb", though many do approach it that way - it is more about the source (veggies and fruits) rather than a specific macro split and we have to fuel our bodies for our activities. As with everything there are those who come up with a single approach & insist that anything else isn't "correct" - people do that.

    No one should be pressured into eating in any special way. Each of our bodies are different and will respond to different things - as both Crankin and I have figured out. What matters is what works for us individually.
    Last edited by Catrin; 03-02-2013 at 02:01 PM.

  8. #8
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    When the evidence came out about the Med "diet", I thought it seemed reasonable at the time. So I stuck with it. I really have not thought a lot about it. I have recently looked into the whole Paleo thing, but I guess I love my bread, rice and pasta to much to give it totally up. I have also looked into going more vegan, but then again, there are things that I could not handle leaving off my plate.

    When I was growing up, my mom like Julia Child and did a lot of French type cooking. I think Julia's main thing with food is to just eat the real thing but just in moderation. So I have been doing the moderation thing but also making sure I am eating enough fruits, and veggies as well.

    My only other problem has been my wacky thyroid. Until I was on meds, my metabolism shot through the roof. I have lost weight and had to recover from that once I was put back on the right dosage. So my snacks have been nuts, payday bars and snickers bars. A few rice cakes with Nutella, as well as, protein bars for the quick fix when needed. I have never had to balance my weight as much as I have until recently with the whole thyroid thing.

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  10. #10
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    I never really paid much attention to all the different diets in the past few decades. Instead I just "tested" specific foods which I found that by withdrawing from eating much of them, I felt better: ie. white rice (after a blood sugar lab test scare), heavy pasta, white bread. All of this has been very gradual over time, meaning over a period of the last 5 yrs. I used to eat some meat several times per wk. until I was in my early 30's or so. Then I got lazy and found it was just expensive to have it that often anyway.

    I only name my diet a certain % as Asian because it is in cooking techniques, type of cooked veggie combinations (since I can't seem to get excited to prepare a salad often for myself. So I let dearie do it), and rarely have butter in any meals at home. I'm sure a raw food enthusiast would be horrified that I actually rarely make salads for myself at home. Shrug. I just lightly sauté my veggies or blanch them. It is because my partner is around, that's when I get the salads.

    My food adjustments also is just me responding to my own (healthy) aging where my metabolism has slowed down naturally in menopause. To me, I feel I've found ways diet wise that help me deal with natural changes in me over the past few decades. However I do wonder if I didn't cycle regularily in the past 2 decades, if my diet or food choices, would be different /I might tend to want to try different diets with prescribed food types.

    I never paid attention that I rarely eat potatoes (it's not intuitive for me to have them often. I began life with rice...), etc.

    If changing to a different prescribed type of diet helps a person for awhile, great.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 03-02-2013 at 06:06 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PamNY View Post
    Thanks Pam.

    Appreciate all the discussion. I was beginning to think that I was the only one not eating Paleo around here. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I have no problem not following the crowd when I find a way of eating that makes me feel good, helps me maintain my weight, and that I enjoy. I'm not "on a diet", I just tend to eat closer to a Mediterranean diet than any other, if I had to characterize my way of eating. And I try to be as much of a "locavore" as possible.
    Emily

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  12. #12
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    We've basically been eating a combination of low fat/Mediterranean for the last several years. Lots of fruits and vegs with whole grains. We do eat lots of non-fat Greek yogurt. We could reduce the chicken breasts and up the fish a bit. We are really trying to look at the processed foods lately too. We don't eat much, but I think in the States, we all eat a lot more than we realize. We are not trying to loose weight, but don't want to gain either, important to watch the portion sizes on all those yummy, healthy fats! Thinking of trying almond milk instead of soy too. We try to limit cheese to treats.

    Its just such good food too.

    Through exercise and diet,I have gotten off the cholesterol meds.

    Plus, RED WINE every evening!!! What a deal. (Not sure about my husbands beer habit though)
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by smittykitty View Post
    We've basically been eating a combination of low fat/Mediterranean for the last several years. Lots of fruits and vegs with whole grains. We do eat lots of non-fat Greek yogurt. We could reduce the chicken breasts and up the fish a bit. We are really trying to look at the processed foods lately too. We don't eat much, but I think in the States, we all eat a lot more than we realize. We are not trying to loose weight, but don't want to gain either, important to watch the portion sizes on all those yummy, healthy fats! Thinking of trying almond milk instead of soy too. We try to limit cheese to treats.
    Plus, RED WINE every evening!!! What a deal. (Not sure about my husbands beer habit though)
    You sound very similar to us, or at least how we'll be eating once we get back in the US. We are also just trying to maintain our weight as we're both pretty much right where we should be, weight-wise.

    We can't get Greek yogurt here, and I miss it madly! And we too need to be eating more fish, less chicken, but it's so expensive here, which is crazy since I live on a tropical island! But unless you're friends with a fisherman, it's all frozen and pricey. Goes bad too quickly in the heat otherwise. In the US I used almond milk exclusively (well, occasionally coconut milk), but here in Belize it's so exorbitantly priced, if you can even find it, that I use regular low-fat dairy milk.

    Congrats on getting off cholesterol meds! I have always (since they started testing me) had low cholesterol and a great HDL/LDL ratio, but so does my mom, so I think it's partly just genetic, because she eats totally differently than me (low carb with lots of meat).

    Tonight's dinner was a layered dish with whole-wheat couscous, lots of veggies sauteed in EVOO, Paul Newman marinara sauce (over $5 a jar here), and mozzarella cheese; accompanied with a salad with homemade viniagrette, a glass of red wine, and a square of dark chocolate for dessert.
    Emily

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