Ask a Nurse: A Winning Diet

Pamela is an RN, MSN/Ed.

Pamela is a mother of 6 amazing children ages 11 to 24. She is a nurse educator and loves to travel overseas to work in medical clinics and teach health-related topics to schools and communities. She has been married to her best friend, Steve, for 29 years. She has many different interests including reading, writing (NOT arithmetic!), baking, teaching, and spending time with her family. She lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband and two youngest daughters.

A Winning Diet

Has the Olympic fever hit your house? As I watch these incredibly fit athletes, I think of the Olympic roots which had its beginning in Greece. Over the last few years, the Mediterranean diet has gained popularity among health experts. According to the Mayo Clinic, “The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.”

The Mediterranean diet is easier to follow than many other “diet plans.”  This is more of a way of life, which is the best way to develop a healthy and fit body.

Here are the basics of the Mediterranean Diet:

  • Eat a mostly plant and grain based diet

Residents of Greece eat very little red meat and average nine servings a day of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Use whole grains and a small amount of nuts daily.

  • Limit fats to healthy fats found in olive oil, nuts, fatty fish and canola oil

These healthy fats help lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, are associated with decreased sudden heart attack, improve the health of your blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon — are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is eaten on a regular basis in the Mediterranean diet.

  • Wine

The Mediterranean diet typically includes a moderate amount of wine. This means no more than 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine daily for women (or men over age 65), and no more than 10 ounces (296 milliliters) of wine daily for men under age 65. More than this may increase the risk of health problems, including increased risk of certain types of cancer. As always, if you have you have a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, or if you have heart or liver disease, refrain from drinking wine or any other alcohol. Also keep in mind that red wine may trigger migraines in some people.

  • No red meat, or limited

The Mediterranean Diet limits red meat to once or twice a month, and only very lean cuts about the size of a deck of cards. It is best to avoid higher fat meats such as bacon or sausage.

  • Low fat dairy

Switch to skim milk, lowfat cheese and fat free yogurt.

  • Eat fatty fish such as fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring once or twice a week.

The food pyramid for the Mediterranean Diet looks like this:

As with any healthy lifestyle, make sure you get exercise on most days of the week!

I hope you have a great week! I would love to stay and chat some more, but I need to get back to the Olympics!

Be Well,

Nurse Pam

To see all Ask a Nurse articles click here.

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  1. Erma Wenger says

    FYI, grass-fed beef–red meat!–lowers cholesterol same as salmon for a lot less money, especially if you buy directly from the farmer! People vary and just b/c the Mediterranean Diet works for some doesn’t mean it works for all. Some people can eat whale blubber and not gain weight but gain weight if they eat wheat, barley and rye (grains with gluten which are called “dangerous” by some experts). Doctors have known for years that fat is not the issue but the food industry is greatly invested in low-fat foods so the truth is not widely told to protect the industry.
    The biggest problem in bacon, sausage and other processed meats (even deli turkey breast!) are the preservatives (nitrites). I buy grass-fed hamburger and have my own Lebanon bologna made by a local butcher; I cook beef and poultry to slice for sandwiches and use it or freeze it so it doesn’t need preservatives.
    Ancient grains were healthy; today’s grains are so hybridized that they are no longer healthy, including corn and also soybeans. Raw nuts are healthy but many are roasted with soybean oil made from genetically modified beans so that the oil makes the roasted nuts unhealthy.
    And speaking of corn, high fructose corn syrup is in most every baked item on your grocer’s shelves as well as pancake syrups, beverages, etc. It is probably the main culprit in America’s weight gain of recent decades altho’ eating too much of everything and being too sedentary are also major factors.

    • pamela jablonski says

      I agree, Erma! Some people can’t handle any kind of red meat, my one sister gets ill with red meat, the other gets ill with pork! It is best to eat foods as un-processed as possible! This was just a quick overview of the Mediterranean Diet, there are other ways to eat healthy, as you pointed out! Thanks for your comment1

  2. says

    I have been eating like that for a long time. I don’t get the fish in as often.I have limited red meat for quite a few years. I maybe have a little too much dairy at times…although not ice cream…if I have it…it is Ben and Jerry’s Fro Yo (frozen yogurt)..and it is always Cherry Garcia! I have been eating good helpings of fruit and veggie’s daily..As fresh as I can get it. So, I guess i’m on the right track…just a little changd here and there. You have given me more interest in shaping it up!

    Love you. Proud of you. Mum

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