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6 Ways to Follow the Mediterranean Diet Print

CL LogoRead my quotes in Canadian Living about the 6 Ways to Follow the Mediterranean Diet.  It is rare that dietitians, chefs and environmentalists agree, but the Mediterranean diet offers excellent nutrition, flavor and earth friendly meal planning.  Find out more here:

It’s not often that a diet encourages you to indulge in bowls of pasta, deep glasses of wine and rich cheeses – but that’s exactly what the Mediterranean diet does! And, surprisingly, it’s really good for you.  – Alyssa Ashton

The Mediterranean diet can help prevent cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease, says Andrea Holwegner, registered dietician and president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. in Calgary, Alberta. Here she offers six tips to help you indulge in this delicious and heart-healthy diet.

1. Bring On the Diet Taboos

Most diets scare you away from carbohydrates, but according to Holwegner, “grains and carbs are villainized in the diet industry.” The Mediterranean diet is all about eating grains in combination with healthy fats, such as those found in avocados and olive oil. Holwegner recommends opting for an Italian pasta, like Barilla Plus, which has extra protein, omega-3s and fibre. Or try making your own dough for a pizza topped with tomatoes, bocconcini and arugula.

6 Ways to follow mediterranean diet image2. It’s Got to be Fresh

Tomatoes, eggplant, kale, strong cheeses, chickpeas, nuts and crusty breads are all must-have ingredients in the Mediterranean diet. “The key to the Mediterranean diet is that it’s all fresh ingredients,” explains Holwegner. You want to replace all of the processed foods in your diet with plant-based foods. Farmer’s markets – and even your own backyard – are great places to find fresh veggies and herbs, and make sure to buy fresh olive oil to sauté or grill your vegetables in.

3. Vegetables Are the Stars of the Show

Meat is often the main part of a meal in North America, but in the Mediterranean it’s all about the vegetables. While a Canadian dinner often consists of a big bowl of pasta with a thick meat sauce, a Mediterranean meal usually consists of a fresh salad – perhaps arugula in a lemon vinaigrette – with a small bowl of pasta that is full of vegetables – tomatoes, kale, garlic and herbs, for example – topped with a lean meat or seafood sauce.

4. It’s in the Cooking

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes food’s natural flavour, which is brought out through the cooking method. The problem is that many people don’t know how to cook vegetables, says Holwegner. You can steam, roast or stir-fry veggies with olive oil, but Holwegner loves grilling veggies on the barbecue best. Try slicing eggplant into thin circles, brushing them with olive oil and then throwing them onto the grill till they’re caramelized.

5. It’s About Connecting

Mediterranean meals aren’t a rushed affair eaten in front of the TV. Rather, they’re a feast of both food and conversation. “It’s as much about how you’re eating as what you’re eating,” says Holwegner, so sit down at the table, eat at a leisurely pace and take the time to chat with friends and family members while you enjoy your meal.

6.  Add Some Wine

Of course, the best way to enjoy a meal with friends and family is over a bottle of wine. “No good Mediterranean meal is complete without some wine, particularly the red wines,” explains Holwegner. That means it’s time to pop the cork, dig into your pasta and imagine you’re in Italy, France, Greece or Spain.

To help your whole family indulge, we’ve got tips on getting your children to eat a Mediterranean diet.

Download a printer-friendly PDF of this article:  HSN 6 Ways to Follow the Mediterranean Diet

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
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“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
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I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
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Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
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