Thursday, February 14, 2013

Are You Ready To Go Mediterranean? -- Guest Post by Cyndi Fales

30 Day Mediterranean Lifestyle Challenge

I asked Cyndi Fales from Lifework Strategies to help us kick off our new challenge with an introductory post. You'll be hearing a lot from Cyndi and her team at Lifework Strategies over the next two months. We partner with them on many of our wellness activities and we'll be relying on them to provide nutrition advice. 

A healthy Valentines Day dessert
created by my niece, Emily.
Are you ready to go Mediterranean? We are excited to kick off this new Challenge during March—which is also happens to be National Nutrition Month!  Whether you are looking to lose weight, improve heart health or just eat healthier, the 30 Day Mediterranean Challenge can help you get off on the right start towards a healthier you!

There isn’t one Mediterranean Diet.  As you probably know Greeks, Italians, French and Spanish all eat differently.  The concept of the “Med Diet” reflects the food and lifestyles of the all the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.  The best part about a Mediterranean diet is the foods are readily accessible and affordable at your local grocery stores here in the U.S.  When we are talking about a diet here—we are not talking about a weight loss diet, but rather habitual nourishment or our regularly consumed food as the dictionary may define it.

We have chosen to use The New Sonoma Diet by Connie Gutterson as a resource for us to follow.  The Sonoma Diet is actually named for California wine country but is strongly influenced by a Mediterranean diet and is laid out in 3 “Waves” that fits well with our 30 day challenge.  Wave 1 is geared towards “rapid weight loss” and is pretty restrictive on food and calories, but it is just for 10 days and if you are looking to lose weight this could be a great kick start!  The first wave is almost like a cleanse in that you will avoid processed/refined foods and focus on balanced meals and portion control in order to re-train your tastebuds and your way of eating.  Wave 2 is designed to help continue weight loss but is less restrictive and incorporates dairy, chocolate and wine (my three favorite food groups). And then the final wave, Wave 3 is about maintenance and continuing the Mediterranean/Sonoma lifestyle.  The book offers food lists, meal plans and recipes to get you through the first two waves.  The recipes are easy and don’t involve too many ingredients or steps for preparation.  Many of the recipes you can cook once and eat twice which can be a huge time saver during the work week.

If you aren’t looking to lose weight—but just eat healthier the Med Diet can be a great resource still—you can just start with Wave 2 or 3  and enjoy the recipes and variety of food.  The Med Diet can easily be adapted for families too, check out these tips.

So my personal favorite part about the Med Diet— it strongly encourages the enjoyment and pleasure of food with others. Further, eating without distractions of cell phones and TV helps us be more mindful of the amount we eat at each meal.  Research shows that when you enjoy a meal with family or friends you tend to eat healthier, feel more connected and lose weight.  I know this is so much easier said but definitely worth a try!

Stay tuned for tons of resources on this blog as well as activities at the office to support you through the 30 days!  We will be posting daily on the blog so you and your families can join the challenge!

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