Throughout the years, researchers have studied a variety of diets and food philosophies for different health benefits. When it comes to overall benefits, the Mediterranean diet often comes out on top, helping to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
The Mediterranean diet refers to the traditional eating patterns of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as coastal parts of Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Libya. These areas tend to consume higher amounts of fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, and healthy fats like olive oil—and lower amounts of red meat, processed foods, and added sugars. Learn more about the Mediterranean diet here.
But adopting a Mediterranean diet doesn’t automatically make you healthier. As with any eating pattern, this heart-healthy diet requires a bit of conscientiousness to avoid making blunders.
While your goal should never be perfection, and balance is important, be careful with these common mistakes that could sabotage your Mediterranean diet:
1. Going overboard on oil
Yes, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.” While the Mediterranean diet is famous for embracing olive oil—and healthy fats in general—you may want to avoid freely dousing all your meals in pools of oil.
Think of it this way: The ideal amount of fat is about 30 percent of your total calories per day, so you should aim for just one or two tablespoons per meal.
2. Going overboard on alcohol
One beloved aspect of the Mediterranean diet is wine, but that means having a glass of wine with dinner—not half a bottle (sorry). It’s true that alcohol has potential health benefits in small amounts, including a potential positive effect on cholesterol levels.
That said, the benefits of alcohol can all be obtained from other (less risky) sources, such as fruits and vegetables. In larger amounts, alcohol can carry serious risks, such as alcohol use disorder, hypertension, stroke, and breast cancer, according to the American Heart Association.
To stick to the Mediterranean diet, enjoy water with most of your meals.
3. Speeding through meals
When doing the Mediterranean diet, many people simply focus on the food that goes on the plate, but this diet is actually more of a culture or lifestyle. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes mindful, slow, and even pleasurable dining. (Yes, pleasure: A healthy diet should not feel like deprivation or punishment.)
That’s because eating more slowly tends to result in more satisfaction from your meal, and studies have shown that people tend to consume fewer calories when eating slowly. Find out all the health benefits of eating more slowly here.
In other words, eating while on the go, while working at your desk, or while sitting in front of the TV might not be the way to go. Instead, find a calm environment free from distraction, and eat with others when possible. To slow things down, try putting your fork down between bites, or try to eat with chopsticks.
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