How I Learned to Eat Better with the Mediterranean Diet

One of my new year’s resolutions is to eat a Mediterranean meal for dinner 275 times this year. I know that 275 sounds pretty weird, but that’s about 75 percent of the time, which I think I can do. Anytime I try to go 100 percent on any sort of lifestyle change, I end up failing miserably. So, my best bet is to try to make a good effort in positive improvement in my life, while leaving myself some wiggle room for chicken fingers and cheeseburgers! 

I chose this goal because my doctor recommended the Mediterranean diet to me last year. Of all the different diets out there, this one seems pretty good to me. There are tons of health benefits and I don’t feel super restricted with the food options. Plus, with my iLevel Power Wheelchair, I have fun in the kitchen as I try out new recipes. 

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The basics of the Mediterranean diet are:

Eat regularly: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil.

Eat in moderation: poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt

Eat rarely: red meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, and other highly processed foods.

The hardest part of eating Mediterranean for me is that I hate all seafood and I love sugar and red meat. I am, however, working on trying different types of fish (so far I still hate everything) and cutting back on my sweets and red meats. 

Some Changes I’ve Made So Far

Some of the simple switches I’ve made include switching out white pasta for whole wheat pasta or veggie pasta like zoodles. I also switch out white breads/tortillas with whole grains. It was pretty painless to switch to cooking with olive oil more and cut out the butter. Lastly, you’re going to need to just trust me on this one: cauliflower pizza crust is actually not a bad substitute! I was really skeptical and then pleasantly surprised!

I am feeling confident that I’ll be able to reach my goal of eating 275 Mediterranean dinners this year. I got a head start by learning some of the tricks of the diet and some staple recipes at the end of last year. I learned that always having fruits and veggies in the house makes it a lot easier to stick to the diet. So, regular grocery shopping is a must.

Having Variety Keeps Me on Track

I also learned that it helps to try out different fruits and veggies each week so that I don’t get bored. For example, I thought that the Mediterranean diet meant that I would be eating a ton of salads and that I would be miserable eating the same thing over and over. It turns out that I do eat a lot of salad, but it also turns out that there’s a million different salads out there! As long as I always mix up what fruits and veggies I buy, the salads are always different and I will not get bored. This week I’m having a Greek salad with a chickpea base. Next week, I plan to have a delicious butternut squash salad with spinach, cranberries, goat cheese, and a maple vinaigrette!

Tracking My Progress

In addition to always trying new recipes to keep things exciting, I use a coloring chart to track my progress. It might sound childish, but I find that tracking my goals visually really helps me stay motivated throughout the year and it helps me to see if I am truly meeting my goal. Plus, I get a little satisfaction out of coloring in the box for every day that I meet my goal of eating a Mediterranean meal! 

So, here’s to 2022 and my new Mediterranean eating habits! Wish me luck! 

About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.

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