The Mediterranean diet has become increasingly popular around the world, spreading much further than the countries it originates from. It is heart healthy and non-restrictive, making it easy for people to adopt.
However, in the Mediterranean, the diet often goes hand in hand with the lifestyle. If you are interested in how people in the region live and interact, here are a few elements you can embrace to live the Mediterranean lifestyle like the best of them.
First, the food
One of the biggest exports from this region is the diet. A lot of the food, like Tabouleh, Falafel and any number of salads is characterised by fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts. Chicken and fish are more popular than red meat and when it comes to frying, olive is often the oil of choice.
While there are technically no restrictions with the diet, the portions do matter. If you look at the Mediterranean diet pyramid, you will see that the bulk of the diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, grains, with sea food and poultry taking up the next portion and red meats and sweets making up the smallest percentage.
How you eat
The Mediterranean lifestyle isn’t just about what you eat, but how you eat as well. Food is shared with family or friends. Eating with people makes meal time more sociable, can increase the enjoyment of food and also lead you to eat more slowly which can reduce the quantities of food eaten.
Being more social
How food is eaten taps into another element of the Mediterranean lifestyle; being more social. Strong social ties are not just fun, they affect the quality of life and even improve heart and mental health and those who practice the Mediterranean lifestyle are fans.
People often sit and talk long after a meal. With the easing of the pandemic in certain places, people are now able to go out and eat and socialise with loved ones.
There is still a small town in Spain that practices daily siesta. Between 2 and 5 pm, businesses in Ador close so that people can rest. It may not be possible to take a daily nap in the afternoon, but building rest into the work day is an important part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. It offers people the chance to recharge and mitigate the effects of stress.
With warm summers and mild winters in most Mediterranean countries, walking outside is easy to do. You too can get more physical daily. Don’t think of this as going to the gym, instead swap walking for driving when you can.
If you take a bus, ask to be let off at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way. Increased physical activity leads to stronger joints, improved oxygen circulation and gives a mental health boost. And as bonus, physical activity is a good way to be social. An evening walk or a bike ride with friends can be just what you both need to end the work week.