We all want to be healthier and live longer. How do we do that?
The Mediterranean plan is one way.
It emphasizes a plant-based diet with importance placed on whole grains, legumes (peas and beans), nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruits, extra virgin olive oils and red wine.
The Mediterranean plan is more than just diet.
It also includes slowing down, especially when eating, engaging with friends and family, sharing meals, cooking and taking care of each other.
Physical activity, such as walking, cleaning, climbing and stretching, are also part of the plan.
Try to increase your movement in small increments over time. Some ideas include parking far away from the front door, a short walk after lunch and dinner with a friend, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator (start by going downstairs and then incorporate steps going up).
Having a purposeful life is another key ingredient to living healthier and longer.
It takes practice, but be mindful of yourself and others around you.
Savor the food you eat and notice the taste, aroma and texture of the dish.
When you eat, be present by thinking only of the meal in front of you and who you are sharing it with.
Other ideas include writing down goals for yourself and your family. Make small changes, such as incorporating a new vegetable into your diet each week.
Have fruits and vegetables accessible so there are no wrong choices. Involve the whole family when making decisions about leading a healthy lifestyle.
Pre-planning is essential to eating well.
Start with the meal-planning grid suggested by dietitian Virginia Cambalik in the March 15 Healthy Living section, and then have a shopping list ready before heading to the grocery store.
Most importantly, remember to place priority on your health and the foods you eat.
This is all part of the Mediterranean plan.
Indrani Dhar is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and the clinical nutrition supervisor at Putnam Hospital Center. She has spent more than 35 years helping people become healthier.
Bean, Corn, Onion Salad
I make this recipe every week as a complement to any meal. It highlights all the important elements of a Mediterranean diet.
1/2 can garbanzo beans
1/2 can pinto beans
3 ears of fresh, uncooked corn, kernels removed
2 small diced tomatoes
1 small diced bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fine red onions
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.