It's the time of the year again when purveyors of diet and weight loss programs vie most fiercely for our attention, hoping to convince customers that their product can do the trick much faster and more effortlessly than the competition. But the fact is that what makes one approach more promising than another depends on a variety of factors.
The Mediterranean diet is praised by its proponents as one of the healthiest eating styles around. Dominated by fruits and vegetables, it is considered well suited for the prevention of heart disease, stroke, cancer and even mental decline. What gets rarely mentioned, however, is that it is not so much the dietary principles but rather the underlying lifestyle that sets the Mediterranean diet apart.
North America has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. The reasons are multi-faceted. Fast food; super sizing; convenience; lack of exercise; work schedules; no time; family demands and stress. People from other countries have similar factors in their lives but manage to keep their body weights at a healthier level. So what are their secrets?
Mediterranean food includes an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and legumes. By contrast, the western diet is typically heavy on animal foods, processed carbohydrates and sugar, but devoid of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Speed and efficiency are not at the core of Mediterranean cooking. But here in North America, it is.