Curious about the Mediterranean Diet?

Wendy Jo Peterson photo

Mediterranean dietwhat’s it about? With Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RD

Wendy Jo Peterson is a registered dietitian in San Diego, owner of Fuelin’ Roadie and Edible Nutrition and author of Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For DummiesCurious about the Mediterranean Diet?. (To view the video, scroll to bottom or click here.)

Neily:Let’s talk about the Mediterranean diet. What is it?
Wendy Jo:Mediterranean diet is based on research that has been done throughout the Mediterranean region about why the longevity of health has been so prevalent over there. People live longer and not only do they live longer but they live healthier, longer. So, the quality of life is improved. I always think back to my girlfriend’s grandmother. She is 96 and when I traveled to Italy for her   wedding, she literally—in a dress and all, and heels—was riding her bike to and from the grocery store. It just showed right there how people live their lives. That’s the base of it. Based on that research they looked and said let’s figure out what they are doing right. And so the obvious things that we have talked about for years—the olive oil, the fish-based diet, the plant-based diet, a lot of nuts and tons of legumes (beans). Legumes are a huge part of the everyday diet in that region.
Neily:Any particular ones?
Wendy Jo:You know, it depends on where you are. You’re not going to really see the black bean or the pinto bean that you would see throughout more South and Central American in the United States. But, more of the white beans, the chickpeas, the garbanzo beans, lentils. Lentils are stars—they take shape in a lot of foods over there. I have a lot of recipes that are lentil-based in my cookbook.But   the biggest thing that I found interesting is that they really grace their plate with 3 to 5 servings of vegetables or fruits at each meal. I always say to my patients—really look at breakfast as a great starting point to kind of boost it. Because you will find tomatoes or fava beans or spinach—those types of hearty vegetables—served as a breakfast starter for most people. They do a lot of paninis for breakfast or beans are a huge part of the breakfast food throughout the region. And so, what a great way to start your day but with something such as that. And not just berries and stuff, that we love here, which is great but to really complement and offset days where you do berries one day and get vegetables other days. Three to 5 servings per meal.IMG_0727 good veggie pix porch
Neily:So, what would be an example of a meal?
Wendy Jo:A meal would typically look like salmon, some type of fish, they like their fatty fish with capers or olives and then maybe some sliced cucumbers like spears of cucumbers, the Persian cucumbers are very popular, maybe some slices of tomatoes, and then maybe a handful of grapes. And right there, that’s 3 servings. All raw, all simple. No prep time. Quite easy to palette. Even the pastas, where people really think, oh pasta makes us fat. The portion distortion that we have in our country is outrageous. And it is so evident because when you go over there, pasta is a primi so it is a first course. And the portion is—I always tell my clients—when you think of a Mott’s apple sauce cup, a half cup, double that or the little milk carton that’s the   actual portion of one cup of pasta. And maybe, really don’t eat that much. That’s their primi.And then they do their secondi, which is usually meat. So, often times for them, proteins are combined with a lot of vegetables; they’re also combined with legumes. So, lentils may be paired with chicken or maybe white beans with fish. So they will be paired together.And then they do their anti-pasta. Over there, they have a belief about eating your digestive foods after. So they eat their salads after their meal.
Wendy Jo:And the idea is it helps push things through your system. Then they will also have a digestive drink. So like a grappa or some type of alcoholic spirit that will also help burn the system through.Some interesting techniques but, you know, over there as well they do… they drink wine like water but you don’t see the overconsumption as you see in our country or in our culture. And you just don’t see the overconsumption in the food. The other thing that I always look at is how mindful they are eating—really in tune with savoring every bite.
Neily:Enjoying it.
Wendy Jo:Yes. You sit down to a meal—they dissect the food. As a family, everybody is talking about the food, what they are tasting and whether or not Nonna (which is grandma) did the spices correctly or did she change it. Or what did she have on hand that they normally didn’t have in it. It is comical but it is so in tune with what you are eating which we know mindful eating really does help with satiation.
Wendy Jo:So, to me, it think, there are many facets that make up the Mediterranean diet. It’s not just the food they consume but how they approach food.
Neily:So, it is a real plant-based diet, olive oil, fish and legumes.It’s a great book, Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For DummiesCurious about the Mediterranean Diet?.
Wendy Jo:Or my website Thanks so much. Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video.Mediterranean Diet cookbook photo


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