The Mediterranean “Way of Eating”

Disclaimer: I AM NOT A DIETITIAN OR A DOCTOR. ALWAYS, ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR OR OTHER PROPERLY LICENSED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE JUMPING INTO SOMETHING LIKE THIS. This is just what works for me, and apparently others, and happens to have quite a bit of support within the medical community as a healthy way to eat.

As you can tell, I am someone who has some serious issues with her weight and overall health. This is a problem that doesn’t just plague me, but also everyone else in my family. A few years ago, I even topped the scales at 310lbs.

Which, honestly, wasn’t even the wake-up call to make that change…

…No, I had to wait until a close family member died of a massive stroke before the age of 65.

Right after that I took a breath and stepped on the scales, and almost needed a trip to the ER myself when I had the shock of my life.

Three hundred and ten. 310.

Holy shit.

When I was high school, I was very physically fit. I topped the scales at a mere 135lbs, which might sound like a lot to some for someone only 5’4, but I had almost zero fat on me. It was carved of muscle on muscle. I could bench press twice my own weight, and every summer I didn’t drive—I rode a bicycle and could ride that bike up Airport Hill in North Bay, Ontario.

For those from North Bay (or even familiar with the hill), yes, I said up the hill on a bicycle—without dismounting—just for the rush of riding back down it again.

My diet sucked back then, but money was tight and I wasn’t even 25 so my metabolism could take it.

Flash forward to now. I am turning 40 this spring and my metabolism not only can’t take it, but my body looks back to that point of my life and says, “Are you sure that was me?”

I look the mirror, and I have the same doubts even as I remember what I was able to do once.

And 40 isn’t old. It’s at the mid-point of life. Women can still have babies and run around at this point in their lives. I should still be able to do some of the things I could. I should be in my prime but yet I look like Jabba the Hutt’s long lost sister. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I walk the suggested 10,000 steps a day until my Fitbit holds its own little celebration and my Google Fit keeps telling me I meet the WHO’s daily aim for heart and physical points.

Except… I wasn’t losing any weight. Or sizes.

I wasn’t expecting a miracle or my own weight back. I was just hoping for less than 250lbs, figuring that even losing 60lbs would be a huge benefit to my health (not to mention finding clothes that fit easier) and perhaps take it to the next level that much easier.

But, nope, couldn’t shake the weight.

So I tried Keto, and while the diet wasn’t too bad I found two things that didn’t sit well with me:

  1. Somehow pork rinds were healthier than certain other snacks. Holy salt and not so great fat… especially after what we’d gone through after my Uncle died of a stroke.

  2. Zero carbs, and I do mean zero. There was absolutely no balance.

While having a fat rich diet did keep me full and helped stave off some of the cravings I had for sweets, my cholesterol levels went through the roof, as did my blood pressure and I was watching which kinds of fats I was consuming. I cut out the “bad” fats and kept only the “good fats”.

Considering the family history of heart attacks and strokes, this was not a good thing.

I will admit, however, that I did lose weight—I went from 310lbs to 275lbs and I did so very, very quickly in combination with the exercise, but the continued health risk wasn’t worth the trade-off.

Finally, just after New Years, an article was released on the best diets, as pointed out both by doctors and the people on them.

At the top of this list was the Mediterranean diet.

In many ways, the Med Diet is very similar to the Keto one, except for two primary differences:

  1. You are allowed carbs, in moderation, and then only the healthy ones.

  2. It leans heavily on only including healthy fats. Unhealthy ones are cut out.

Looking at the primary points of the diet, I quickly noticed some other points:

  • It’s dependence on heart healthy fats as the only fats really encouraged in the diet means means you still get the same health benefits that fat gives you (*fat is still a necessary part of the diet, but unhealthy fats are the ones that will cause the health changed side effects that can cause heart attacks and strokes)

  • Like Keto, it also leans on a diet heavily dependent on plants that are relatively lower in carbs, but is far more lenient and sustainable in the long run. Instead of counting only carbs, it also concentrates on the overall health benefit of what you get in nutrients in both short term and long term.

  • Healthier and leaner meats, relying on healthier cuts of meat and omega-3 rich fish which contributes to healthy brain function and energy.

  • Higher fibre and whole grain pastas and grains, cutting out or at least minimizing the highly processed and high sugar foods, which keeps glucose levels even and the insides moving.

  • The allowance of wine and some other alcohol, in moderation and less frequently, as red wine has been shown in some studies (although inconclusive in others) to help lower blood pressure and be rich in anti-oxidants, as well as dark chocolate.

Don’t get me wrong, none of this gives me free rein on going crazy on carbs and other high sugar foods, but it is far more balanced and I find I feel more energetic and sharper mentally. Moving away from the higher carb meals also keeps my glucose levels in check, and considering diabetes also runs in my family, that’s a good thing.

The final numbers on my cholesterol and blood pressure?

Both back to normal, and no sign of diabetes either. My weight loss is still pretty steady, although I can’t report the same dramatic changes as my job has gone from very physical to quite the opposite with me chained to a desk, but I haven’t gained it back either.

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