Nearly two-thirds of Americans plan to change their diets in 2022. They’ll try fasting, calorie counting, low-fat diets, and low-carb diets.
These diets tend to help people see short-term results, but they don’t teach people how to eat and enjoy themselves.
That’s why the Mediterranean diet rocks!
If you’re looking for an excuse to eat delicious food and live a long, healthy life, look no further than the Mediterranean diet. This way of life has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic illnesses while maximizing lifespan.
It’s hard to adapt to the Mediterranean lifestyle when you live outside of the Mediterranean. The food options, timing, and portion sizes are different.
How can you adapt to a Mediterranean lifestyle without leaving your home? Well, read on because I’m going to bring the Mediterranean lifestyle to you.
Read these Mediterranean lifestyle tips that will make you enjoy food like you’re living on the Mediterranean.
Cook With Love and Joy
There are actually dozens of different cultures that make up the Mediterranean lifestyle. You have regions in southern France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, and more.
Each country has towns and cities where there are unique traditions and cultures.
There’s one thing that all of these places have in common: the enjoyment of food.
It’s not just in eating the food. It’s in the shopping and supporting local businesses like the neighborhood butcher, fish store, and bakery.
It’s in the preparation of the food, too. There’s love and joy that goes into most meals. Bring that enjoyment and creativity to your kitchen. You’ll love your meals and enjoy them more.
Minimize Processed Foods
Whole, minimally processed foods are at the center of the Mediterranean Diet. What are considered whole, minimally processed foods?
Fish, lean meats, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, etc.).
You can argue that all foods have some kind of processing, and you’d be correct in saying so.
What you want to look for is the nutritional value of food. There’s a huge difference between things like quinoa and lentils and a bowl of cereal.
A good guideline is to look at the labels of food products. If it’s full of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, then it’s highly processed. If you can identify and pronounce the ingredients, then there’s a good chance it’s minimally processed.
Share Food As Much As Possible
There’s nothing like sharing the love of food with others. To see people enjoy and appreciate what you created in the kitchen is something special.
Sharing the experience of food is essential because you can connect and be with other people while having a great experience together.
I’m single and know how hard it is to share a meal with folks at times. The one thing that I learned is that eating alone isn’t common in Mediterranean cultures.
You’re usually with friends or family.
Personally, I feel pretty damn awkward about it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t go out because I’m alone. I’ll invite people out for get-togethers.
If you’re single, enjoy being single. Invite people over for a home-cooked meal. Good food, good conversation, great company.
Enjoy Small Portions of Things You Really Enjoy
When you start a new diet, you’re given a set of rules. You can eat this, but you can’t eat that. You have to eat at a certain time, and you have to eat a certain number of calories.
That kind of structure is disempowering. Not only that, but it also gives you little room to have things that you enjoy.
I have a massive sweet tooth, and have had it as far as I can remember. I was always the type that wanted dessert first before the meal.
I get cravings for sweets, but I don’t give into them every day. I pick a day when I go out for ice cream or have cake with my afternoon coffee.
One of the things I love about living here is that the portion sizes for sweets is so much smaller than what I would find in the U.S.
It’s a lesson in having just enough to satisfy the sweet tooth.
I’ll have a small cup of ice cream or small portion size of what I want once a week. That’s plenty to keep me satisfied and love what I do.
Try Something New
Creativity brings so much joy to the kitchen. It’s easy to get into a food rut where you’re eating the same five meals because they’re easy to prepare and you don’t have to put much thought into them.
It gets boring after a while.
It doesn’t take much to mix things up in the kitchen. All you have to do is try one new meal a week.
Go through cookbooks, search for recipes, and try one new meal each week.
Don’t stress about fitting it into your schedule. You can pick a meal that has very few ingredients and is easy to prepare. I find that winter time is a good time to try elaborate meals while spring and summer are good times to keep things simple.
If you find a meal that you really love, add that to your cooking arsenal. You’ll have a broad range of meals to choose from in just a couple of months and you’ll break the food boredom rut.
Let Go of the Need to Be Perfect
This needs to be said, especially after talking about trying something new.
Those meals that you try aren’t all going to be masterpieces. You might screw up the recipe or it doesn’t come out as expected.
That’s fine. You don’t need to be perfect. You can go out instead.
I find that people have the mindset that every single meal has to be 100% perfect in order to see results. Here’s the truth: if you can be consistent for 80% of the time, you’ll see the results that you want.
That’s true for weight loss, living a healthy lifestyle, business, relationships, and every other area in your life.
Letting go of the need and pressure to be perfect creates more room for joy and fun. That’s where the real action’s at!
Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re full?
Let’s say that you’re hungry and eat an entire meal in just a few minutes.
I talk about this in the Getting Started on the Mediterranean Diet Course in detail. Eating slowly is one of the top Mediterranean lifestyle tips for a reason.
It’s an ingrained part of every culture along the Mediterranean. There’s a reason why businesses shut down for several hours in the afternoon.
People stop and have lunch. It’s the largest meal of the day and people here take their time eating. They eat until they’re satiated, not when they gorged on everything in sight.
Try practicing eating slowly at home. Start by seeing how long you take to eat a meal. Each time you sit down at the table to eat, stretch it out for another minute.
Don’t Look at Your Phone
This actually isn’t something that’s part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. It turns out that phone worship is universal.
I can walk past a restaurant, go to an event, or walk to my office. Every single time, I see scores of people on their phones.
We eat in front of the TV, we put our phones in front of us, we eat at our desks, etc.
When you’re eating in front of a screen, you’re not paying attention to hunger cues. You end up eating a lot more. One study done in 2020 showed that university students between 18 and 28 years old consumed 15% more calories.
Other studies put that figure as high as 40% for adults.
Do yourself a favor. Step away from the screen, sit down, and enjoy your meal. You’ll enjoy it more!
Get Out of the House
This is one of my favorite parts of the Mediterranean lifestyle. People get out of the house!
I live in a city that has dozens of parks. There are three or four of them within a 5 minute walk from my apartment. It’s rare to see them empty.
Even in the rainy winter months, people go out for walks. Friends go on casual strolls through the park or older folks hang out and talk story on park benches.
It’s the primary mode of transportation for most people in the city center. You walk to the stores and carry your groceries home.
You might not have that luxury, but you can still take a lesson from this way of living. Activity is a huge part of weight loss. It’s not always about lifting heavy things.
You can maintain and lose weight by walking. The main thing is to spend quality time outdoors.
Mediterranean Lifestyle Tips to Apply to Your Own Life
You might not want to live on the Mediterranean. You can live as if you’re on the Mediterranean. These Mediterranean lifestyle tips show you what’s possible if you want to eat healthier and with more enjoyment.
You don’t need to try all of them at once. Pick one on the list and practice it. Remember, you don’t need to be perfect. Just strive for a little bit better than before.
Do you need help applying these tips into your life? Check out these online nutrition coaching programs to get the support and accountability you need to get results.