Why the Mediterranean diet might be the most sustainable diet you try

When you think of the word “diet”, you think of the outrageous restrictions, the fads, the counting calories, fasting, and most importantly: it being temporary. Diets nowadays are obsessively centered around losing weight fast, but are those results ever long-lasting? Very rarely. From a nutritional standpoint, diets should provide a balanced amount of healthy fats, proteins, and vitamins. A diet shouldn’t be a three-day juice cleanse- it should be an everyday way of life.

With this in mind, I do not have a good diet. My meals primarily consist of granola bars, Goldfish, and coffee. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the importance of real nutrition because it affects digestion, eyesight, quality of sleep, and basically every other facet of life. So I’ve decided to try a new diet for seven days and report my findings here. And no, it’s not the Keto diet, or a juice cleanse, or eating a block of cheese every three hours. I am a healthy weight and have no intention to lose weight, but I am in desperate need of a balanced diet.

Diets have evolved into this monstrosity that is nowhere near their original purpose, and at this point, most people don’t take them seriously. So I am determined to restore the honor of nutritional eating one day at a time by adopting the Mediterranean diet for seven days.

The Mediterranean diet is not primarily intended for weight loss. It includes substantial amounts of healthy fat and has very few restrictions when it comes to carbs. Yet despite its lax requirements, doctors and nutritionists across the country rave about the benefits. Why? Let’s find out.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating habits of the people that live in 22 countries located along the, you guessed it: Mediterranean sea. Researchers have found that natives from this region live longer, have little to no heart issues, and largely avoid type-2 diabetes. They are said to be the healthiest in the world.

So, what makes this diet so healthy? One of the biggest components is the use of extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter and other saturated or trans fats. Olive oil is a healthy fat that is unsaturated, whereas butter, lard, and shortening are all very saturated fats that wreak havoc on any person’s diet.

Unfortunately, in America and particularly the South, butter reigns supreme. Switching from butter to olive oil in cooking is a super simple and easy way to make leaps and bounds in your diet.

The Mediterranean diet also largely avoids added sugars and refined grains, which are both detrimental to one’s weight. Basically, all of the processed and saturated junk food that we love so much is the root of the issue- and this diet eradicates those key components.

The primary reason I selected this diet over any other is it’s sustainable and balanced. The only main food group it restricts is sugar, making it easy to find plenty of recipes at home and at restaurants to fit the diet. Dairy, healthy fats, and gluten are all encouraged, which is not only great for a balanced diet, but it also allows for this to be a permanent lifestyle change, not just a temporary fad.
Now that we know what a diet should be and why I’ve chosen the Mediterranean diet as the basis for my nutritional experiment, let’s look at what’s actually in this diet.

The Mediterranean diet primarily consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean or plant-based proteins. Foods to eat daily include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats from olive oil or avocado, beans, potatoes, legumes and nuts. Foods to eat weekly include poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy products. The main food that should be eaten only monthly is red meat. Foods that should never be eaten include added sugars, trans fats, refined grains (white bread and things that aren’t whole-grain), processed deli meat or hotdog meat, and anything over-processed.
Not too bad right? So let’s get started.

SUNDAY: This first day wasn’t terrible! I had scrambled eggs with bell pepper and tomato, sauteed potatoes, and fruit for breakfast. That was very good and filling- I think itś smart when dieting to start with a hearty breakfast. For early dinner, I had a salmon patty and sauteed spinach. At work, I got slightly hungry and was VERY tempted by the brownies and cookies. I can tell that abstaining from sugar will be the hardest part of this week.

MONDAY: Today was good. For breakfast, I had steel-cut oatmeal with banana, apple, cinnamon, and honey. I’m glad I filled up before going to school because usually I don’t eat breakfast and I noticed I had a lot more energy in the morning. l had a simple spinach-and-cranberry salad for lunch, and finally chicken kabobs for dinner. I definitely still feel cravings for sugar, but I haven’t cracked. So far, this is easier than I thought it would be and I’m surprised by how filling my salads and healthy choices can be.

TUESDAY: I didn’t struggle with cravings as much today, but I definitely was more hangry and on-edge. I’m waiting for the extra energy and mood boost from the diet, but honestly, I was just kind of an empty feeling today. Maybe it’s because I only had toast and salad for breakfast and lunch. However, I had a hearty dinner and went for a run afterward, and had plenty of energy during it. Also, I noticed my skin is really clear and I haven’t had any kind of headache or stomach ache during the diet.

WEDNESDAY: The sugar withdrawals hit hard today. I’ve had super bad cravings and a slight headache, but I will say that eating a cup of fruit helped a lot, so natural sugar can curb some of those symptoms. I had avocado toast for breakfast, vegetable pasta for lunch, and a chicken wrap for dinner. All of my meals were very filling and satisfying and I’m still going strong.

THURSDAY: SO I woke up super late today but still managed to make corn tortilla and avocado tacos for breakfast this morning. That’s one of my favorite meals and I actually made it even before this diet. I went to a coffee shop to study and was VERY tempted by the baked goods but made it through. Today was probably the easiest day of my diet- I was never overly hungry or unsatisfied.

FRIDAY: Today I only had two meals because work starts before dinner time, and I was STARVING by 6:00. I made sauteed Brussels sprouts and zucchini over pasta for lunch and it was delicious, but definitely not filling enough to make it all the way through my shift. I was definitely a little hangry.

SATURDAY: The LAST DAY! For breakfast, I had a small bowl of oatmeal before heading to Orange Theory and doing a killer workout. I felt super energized and fresh all day and I made sure to eat a big lunch before work this time, which helped. For dinner, I tried butternut squash tortellini with potatoes and Brussels sprouts for my side and I’ll definitely be making that again. I made it the full seven days with no added sugar, no white bread, and no red meat. It’s a miracle.

MY TAKEAWAY: Honestly, the biggest surprise about this diet is how easy and sustainable it was. I suffered a little bit from cravings, but never so much that I gave into temptation. I used to have such a poor diet so I assumed nixing all these unhealthy foods for a week would be impossible, but I’ve learned the human body is capable of more than we give it credit for. I definitely plan to continue this diet with a few cheats a month, but I am so much happier and healthier with these new eating habits. I am very glad I decided to do this and I recommend the Mediterranean diet to anyone looking for non-restrictive, sustainable, healthy change.