Let's face it - our nation is obsessed with diets, especially this time of year. It is estimated that U.S. consumers spend $33 billion annually on these programs. Many of these diets promise super-fast results and have huge marketing promotions behind them. "Lose 15 pounds in 15 days!" or "Slim down and look your best in just 2 weeks!" Of course, most of these aren't sustainable long-term.
For the past 13 years, US News and World Report has ranked the best and worst diets.
What did they rank as the best overall diet for 2023?
Of the 38 different eating plans they evaluated, the Mediterranean Diet was judged the best overall diet. It also won the top spot in several categories including: best diet for healthy eating, best plant-based diet, best family-friendly diet (tie), and best diet for bone and joint health (tie).
The good news is the Mediterranean Diet and the REAL FOOD Diet look almost identical! Although the REAL FOOD Diet wasn’t one of the 38 plans evaluated, we are still working on making the REAL FOOD Diet the “next big thing!”
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
Here are some of the highlights from our How to Bring the Mediterranean to You coaching tip:
- Loads of veggies all day long…and roasting is their favorite technique!
- Seafood at least twice a week.
- Good fats: instead of butter and heavy fried foods, they focus on the good fats that come from olive oil, nuts, seeds, olives and avocados.
- Dairy in moderation.
- Fresh fruits are part of every meal, and they use fresh fruit for dessert.
- Whole grains such as bulgur, brown rice, couscous, farro, quinoa and whole grain breads. Typically, pasta servings include 1/2 cup to 1 cup, and they load up the rest of their meal with vegetables, fish or meat…and a slice of high-quality, whole grain bread!
- Meat in moderation and in “condiment-sized” portions. Instead of large portions of meat, they use meat to add flavor to a dish.
- Garlic, garlic, and more garlic, which helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and boosts the immune system.
- Fresh herbs and spices are used to flavor meals, which also means using less salt.
- Don’t forget the drinks! Water is key for hydration. Coffee, tea and red wine are also enjoyed in moderation.
Yes, it’s REAL food!
Notice the huge variety of foods that grow from the ground. Foods that come from trees. Foods that graze the prairie and swim in the ocean.
What’s missing from these diets?
Why the Mediterranean Diet (or, should we say, REAL FOOD Diet)?
It’s not restrictive. The meals are delicious and affordable. With proper planning it is easy to integrate into a busy lifestyle. It's balanced and allows you to eat a wide variety of foods. It is safe for everyone, young and old.
- Lower rates of heart disease
- Fights cancer
- Lower risk of high blood pressure and helps reduce "bad" cholesterol
- Protects against diabetes
- Aids in weight loss
- Safeguards against Alzheimer’s
- Wards off Parkinson’s disease
- Improves rheumatoid arthritis
- Improves brain function
- Lengthens your life!
The benefits of eating this way are off the charts!
Can you guess which diets were among the lowest-ranked overall diets?
Brace yourself...the ever-popular Keto and Paleo Diets were two of the lower-ranked diets because they are extremely restrictive, hard to follow, and eliminate entire food groups. Sure, they may help with short-term weight loss, but they are not the path to long-term health.
What does all this mean?
Let's make 2023 the year of REAL FOOD!
If you want to call it the REAL FOOD Diet, go for it! And, if it helps, incorporate the framework of the Mediterranean Diet! Here are a few other tips we encourage you to think about:
- Become an advocate for FINDING health, not just LOSING weight. If our society put as much effort into FINDING health as it does searching for the next great diet, the results would be ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! And remember, your kids and others are watching. You have a power to model great behavior - this is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids!
- Don’t be afraid to fight back against our culture. The reason why some areas (like the Blue Zones) are so healthy is REAL FOOD is a natural part of their culture. Unfortunately, most of us don’t live in a Blue Zone and our culture is filled with sugary concoctions from Starbucks; sugar in a bowl for breakfast; donuts and cookies in our break rooms; hot dogs, double cheeseburgers, candy, pretzels and a cheese-like substance at the concession stands…just to name a few. Let’s face it, our culture fights against us when it comes to healthy eating. Fight back and let’s make REAL FOOD part of every aspect of our culture!
- Plan, plan, plan! Making planning for your meals a priority… “know what you are eating tomorrow before you go to bed tonight.”
- Remember, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet! Exercise it critically important, and your food choices matter even more!
Try some of these fantastic Mediterranean-style dishes:
- Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Pasta
- Mediterranean Black Eyed Peas Salad
- Baked Falafel with Spicy Feta Dip
- Mediterranean Burger
- Mediterranean Stuffed Mushrooms
- Mediterranean Breakfast Burrito
- Apricot and Curry Meatballs with Rice Salad
- Layered Mediterranean Dip
- Zoodles Gone Mediterranean
- Everyday Hummus
- Mediterranean Inspired Pork Tenderloin
- Mediterranean Roasted Potatoe & Beet Salad
- Fattoush Salad
- Mediterranean Burgers with Sweet Orange Salsa
- Mediterranean Tuna & Roasted Pepper Pasta
- Cincinnati Style Chili Over Spaghetti Squash
- Middle Eastern Lamb Shakshuka
What are you going to do to bring the Mediterranean to your kitchen this week?!