Could this help you eat fewer calories?
Is snacking your downfall? Do you crave sugary treats?
The Mediterranean diet may be the answer for you. A recent study in the journal Obesity found that a diet largely based in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with lean or plant-based protein, keep people from eating unhealthy amounts of other available food.
In the Mediterranean diet, “butter is usually replaced with heart-healthy fats such as canola oil or olive oil,” says Kayla VanBergen, registered dietitian at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wis. “The Mediterranean diet consists of mostly plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.”
The Mediterranean diet varies a lot from Americans’ typical diet.
“Americans’ typical diet has a lot of protein and fat, mainly derived from animal sources,” VanBergen says. “The diet is also high in saturated fats and sodium and is lower in heart-healthy fats and fiber.”
Generally, Americans also eat a lot more processed and artificially sweetened foods. Not surprisingly, studies have found that people who consume a Mediterranean diet have lower rates of heart disease than those who eat a more typical American diet.
It turns out a Mediterranean diet can help tamp down on overeating, too, according to the recent study. That could help lower risk of obesity, diabetes and fatty liver disease when compared with those who consume a more typical Western diet.
In the study, two groups of primates were given diets that contained similar proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrates, and then placed on a Mediterranean diet or a more typical Western diet. Those on the non-Mediterranean diet consumed more calories, and gained weight and had increased insulin resistance, a symptom of diabetes.
The study is the first to show the difference in long-term calorie consumption between the Mediterranean diet and a typical Western diet, indicating that a well-balanced, largely plant-based diet can help you stick to your calorie goals better than processed foods often found in Western diets.
You can make your meals a little more Mediterranean in a few easy steps:
- Incorporate a fruit and/or a vegetable with each meal, aiming for 2 to 3 servings of each every day.
- Prepare fish for a meal at least two times a week and limit red meat.
- Use heart-healthy fats more often by preparing food with olive or canola oil instead of butter.
- Switch to whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta and quinoa, to increase fiber to help you feel full longer.
- Snack on nuts, which are full of healthy fats and proteins. But watch portion sizes because nuts are higher in calories.
Are you watching your weight? Learn more about your ideal weight with a free, quick online risk assessment by clicking here.
About the Author
Heather Collier works in Advocate Aurora Health’s public affairs and marketing department. She is based in Milwaukee.