Everyone looks forward to summer because it’s a time to relax. The warm weather makes it the perfect season for vacations to some of the most popular tourist spots. Eating lots of great food comes along with relaxation — but that often means the foods aren’t healthy. When you picture staying at the beach, do you see a hotel mini-fridge full of vegetables, or a blanket on the beach with a margarita after eating at a local restaurant?
Traveling means fast food and large portion sizes at restaurants that will offer endless breadsticks or fries. On the weekends, you’ll have barbecues and neighborhood cookouts to go to. Grocery stores put foods on sale that are meant for these events — think potato chips, sodas and desserts. While you should take some time to enjoy your summer activities, don’t forget to feed your body healthy foods to keep it happy.
The problem, though, not only comes with sticking to healthy eating choices, but also knowing how much to eat. After all, a barbecue might provide a fruit bowl for you to pick from, but how do you balance that fruit with much-needed proteins and carbs?
A quick answer is to start up a diet, and to do that, you need to know what diet is going to work with you to help you enjoy your summer as much as possible. The solution? Think about trying the Mediterranean diet!
What Is It?
The Mediterranean diet is one that works best as a lifestyle change, and it encourages participants to do just that. The main feature of this diet is that it incorporates Mediterranean cuisine, so make sure you can eat a majority of what it recommends before going to the grocery store:
- Olive oil
- Rice, potatoes and pasta
- Poultry and fish
- Dairy products
- Lots of plant-based foods (think nuts, vegetables, fruits and beans)
- Rarely red meat and wine
One of the best parts about this diet is that you’ll have a variety of foods to choose from, and you won’t have to sacrifice too much of what you’re probably already eating. This is because the diet originated back in the Middle Ages, so people ate whatever they could get at the time.
It’s still around today because the basis of the diet is that it has extremely low levels of saturated fats. A study done by Ancel Keys in the 1970s connected this with why people in Italy and Greece were healthier than in most other countries he reviewed. The trick is to learn about the correct portion sizes needed to eat right, and then combine that diet with a steady exercise routine.
Where to Start
Picture your kitchen pantry full of potatoes and nuts, and your freezer full of fish. Those foods are going to be the foundation of all your meals and snacks.
Sometimes you’ll be able to switch out the fish with chicken, but most of the time you’ll stick with seafood since it’ll be lower in saturated fats. You can keep carbs in your eating routine, too — just be sure to buy whole wheat versions of what you usually get.
Need Some Inspiration?
It’s one thing to see a list of foods and put them in your kitchen, but it can be a struggle to try to piece them together into delicious meals. Here are some meal ideas to get you started:
- Mediterranean Scrambled Eggs
Who ever said diet foods have to be complex? Eggs are completely fine to eat on this diet, so grab a couple from the fridge. Sauté some tomatoes and spinach, and mix them in with the eggs, along with some feta cheese.
Season however you like, and enjoy your breakfast! Don’t be afraid to throw some fruit in as a side dish, either.
- Chicken Piccata With Pasta and Mushrooms
Just the name of this recipe sounds good enough to eat, and wait until you hear how easy it is to make! Boil your chosen whole wheat pasta, season and cook your chicken breasts on the stove, then add mushrooms and let it simmer.
This recipe is a great way to throw some protein into your day, and it also works as a make-ahead meal. Keep the chicken and pasta in one container and the sauce in another — it’ll stay good for the whole week.
- Tuscan Tuna Salad Wrap
This delicious, hearty wrap will be just what you need at the end of your work day. You can make it by getting fresh tuna at your local store or by stocking up on your favorite brand of canned tuna — just get the kind that’s in water, not oil.
Mix your tuna with lemon juice and as many vegetables as you want, and wrap it in a whole wheat tortilla. You’ll have a low-carb and low-fat feast that hits the spot. This meal can also be made ahead of time, but keep the mix separate from the wrap, so it doesn’t get soggy.
- Homemade Hummus
No matter what diet you try, you’ll always find you get the need to snack. While it’s not a good idea to eat too late or overeat at snack time, the Mediterranean diet means plenty of options for your snacking pleasure.
For example, grab a box of your favorite low-carb crackers and then make your own hummus. There are many ways to make your hummus creamy and healthy, too, so you won’t feel guilty next time you get hungry at your desk before lunch.
The Mediterranean diet is ideal to try if you’re wanting to lose some weight or learn how to eat healthier this summer — without the constant threat of your diet plans getting derailed.
The foods this diet includes are easy to eat at summer socials or on vacation, and you don’t have to give up carbs — or wine. All it takes is a little planning ahead, and you’ll be inspiring your friends and family to join you.