by Tracey Pollack
Welcome to the Mediterranean, where days are filled with healthy activity, relaxation fills the air, fresh foods are on the table and meals are shared with smiling faces. Long a picture-perfect postcard of white sands and sparkling seas, the region comprises the countries embracing the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, Greece, Spain and France. The region is loved for its natural beauty, but what truly defines the destination is a leisurely way of living where simple pleasures are slowly savored and healthy habits come naturally. In recent years, the foods and flavors of this region have traveled to American shores in the form of the Mediterranean Diet to improve the health and lives of its followers. But there’s more to the Mediterranean than a delicious way to eat, it’s also a satisfying way to live. Bring the healthy pleasures of this way of life to yours with these secrets of a Mediterranean lifestyle.
Explore Fresh Foods and Flavors
While the Mediterranean lifestyle is about much more than a diet, the way you eat is a vital part of the way you live. In the Mediterranean Diet meals are made around the goodness of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats like olive oil. Herbs and spices bring a dash of flavor and variety. Lean proteins like fish, seafood, beans, legumes, poultry and nuts replace red meat, which can still be served on occasion. Low-fat cheeses, yogurts and milk are welcome in moderation. Water is the drink of choice, but you can still enjoy that morning mug of coffee, a soothing cup of tea and a daily glass of red wine! With its focus on plant-based foods, whole grains and healthy fats, vegans are also at home on the Mediterranean Diet and can pump up their protein intake with a high-quality vegan protein powder. And unlike those frustrating fad diets, the Mediterranean lifestyle is not about counting or cutting anything, but simply savoring a well-balanced approach to eating.
Share Moments and Meals Together
In the minds of the Mediterranean people, happiness comes from savoring good food and good times with loved ones. Spending time with family and friends is the highlight of every day. And the good relationships that result are the key to a good life and good health. In Mediterranean countries, leisurely meals with friendly faces tend to last for hours. Shops close for nearly half of the afternoon so people can have relaxing lunches together. Meals are about more than eating, they’re about sharing time together. From gathering around the table for a lively meal with family to meeting friends to laugh over lunch, enjoying the pleasures of life and food with those you love is a happy and healthy way to live.
Trade Grab-and-Go for Stop and Savor
If you’re used to grabbing breakfast as you’re running out the door, racing through a quick lunch at your desk, devouring a snack in the car and mindlessly eating a frozen dinner while watching TV, you may feel full but not fulfilled. But taking time to enjoy every bite of every meal is part of the Mediterranean way of life. The Mediterranean Diet is about making eating a pleasure. This begins by making time to savor your meals. Slowing down and paying attention to your food is a healthier way to eat. After all, it takes around 20 minutes for your brain to signal that you’re full. If you eat too quickly, you will end up consuming more food, fat and calories than you need. But slowing down and tuning in to both your food and your appetite make it easier to get greater satisfaction from smaller portions since you’ll sense when you’re really full.
Move to the Mediterranean
In Mediterranean countries, you won’t find crowds sweating in a gym, lifting weights for hours or signing up for boot camps to stay fit. Instead, you’ll see people strolling around the market, working in the garden, taking evening walks with family, and walking and talking with friends. Exercise happens naturally as staying active is a part of life. It’s truly a different world than in America, where people drive everywhere and look for excuses to skip the gym. But physical activity offers benefits for your body, your mind and your mood. The Mediterranean lifestyle is not about working out, but about working in daily activities you enjoy like tennis, swimming, gardening and even dancing!
Get Away From it All
If your life is filled with stress and schedules, it’s time to escape to the Mediterranean where it’s not just the pace that’s relaxed, it’s also the people. Studies show that slowing down and taking time to relax is one of the healthiest habits you can adopt. Relaxing refreshes your mind, restores your energy, renews your outlook and reinforces a positive sense of self-esteem. The way to bring this Mediterranean habit home is by taking time to rest and relax, such as catching an afternoon nap, taking a walk in the woods, reading a good book or simply sitting by a soothing lake.
Make Life a Laughing Matter
It may seem funny, but a good laugh is the best medicine in the Mediterranean lifestyle. Laughter and a sense of humor are important parts of life. And the physical, emotional and social benefits of laughing are no joke because laughter lowers your blood pressure and strengths your immune system. It also releases feel-good endorphins that ease stress, reduce tension, improve your mood and boost your confidence. And laughter is good for your social life because it strengthens your relationships and connects you with others. When you’re living and loving a Mediterranean lifestyle, laughter is just what the doctor ordered.
The Mediterranean lifestyle is a refreshing way to live. It’s about sharing meals and sharing time. It’s about a sense of belonging and sense of humor. It’s about balanced eating and balanced living. It’s about staying active and staying happy. And it’s about time to embrace the satisfaction of the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle. Bring the beauty of Mediterranean living home with these simple pleasures for a healthy and happy life.