People who choose the Mediterranean diet can eat satisfying, filling meals full of great nutrition, and still lose weight. While it is not low in fat, it is good for your health and for weight loss. Dr. Hassell does not recommend switching to low-fat or diet foods, he says, because fat is what satisfies your appetite. People tend to eat more in the end when they restrict themselves to low-fat diets. Hassell says that if you are trying to lose weight you might want to reduce your fat intake a little, but more important is to cut out sugars, and processed junk foods.
Instead of going on a restrictive diet for a few weeks, the Mediterranean diet, combined with physical activity, offers you a way of eating that will bring you to your target weight and help you maintain it. Don't let a few pounds of extra weight get you down. According to Dr. Hassell, "Being fit is more important than being thin. You are probably still making great metabolic strides."
If you are eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and healthy grains, beans and fish, you won't feel so hungry for junk food. To make sure you lose weight, avoid all sugars, processed foods, sodas and white cereals, such as white bread, white rice and white pasta. But you don't have to feel hungry or deprived. Whole wheat breads, brown Basmati rice and fruit are all part of the diet along with moderate helpings of fish, meat, cheese, eggs, chocolate and red wine.
Any kind of exercise is the good kind.
Running around comes naturally to little children, and so long as they have safe places nearby to play ball, children and teens often stay active. But as we grow, more and more of us fall under the spell of television and video. We become couch potatoes. That causes problems, since our metabolism is built for physical work.
"We're pretty sure you need exercise as well as diet to get all the benefits of the Mediterranean diet," says Dr. Miles Hassell. "If you are fit your chance of getting diabetes goes way down. If you do two and a half hours a week of brisk walking, you will have a 30 percent lower risk of diabetes."
Getting fit offers you protection against other diseases too. And the fitter you are the lower your risks of getting diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and so on.
Heather Carey, a cardiac rehabilitation nurse with Kaiser Permanente, works to get heart patients into better shape so they can avoid problems and improve their lives. Many of her patients have trouble starting an exercise program because they are out of practice, overweight and have other health problems, such as diabetes or joint problems. But so long as you start out slowly, she says, regular exercise is the best thing we can do for ourselves. "The American Heart Association recommends exercising briskly for 30 minutes to an hour, five times a week." Carey said. "That's the minimum. And you also should do some kind of strength training a couple of times a week."
Carey recommends building exercise into your routine. Park further away from your job and walk, she suggests, or walk to the store and carry your purchases back. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Bike or walk with your children. And find a buddy or a group to help you stay motivated.
If walking is difficult because of joint problems, swimming or water aerobics make a great substitute. Swimming pools and community centers around town offer all kinds of fitness classes. And you can access many of the classes at no cost through the African American Health Coalition.