The New Year signifies a fresh start to accomplish new goals or try new things. One of the most popular goals people adopt during the New Year is a healthy lifestyle change. JPS Family Medicine physician Kimberly Wolfshohl is sharing tips that can help people lose weight, manage diabetes, and maintain overall health.
In the world of dieting, there are many options, and what works for one may not work for another. One of the most healthful options is the Mediterranean Diet.
"There is no single definition of the Mediterranean diet, but it consists of a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds," Dr. Wolfshohl said. "It does use a lot of olive oil, and has very little red meat. The main meat sources in a Mediterranean diet are fish and poultry, and then you can also eat some dairy products."
The Mediterranean diet incorporates foods from all food groups. It offers foods with a wide variety of flavors, which reduces the feeling of restriction, but choosing the right portion is essential.
"It's all about moderation and eating a well-balanced meal. You don't want to eat just carbs, and you don't want to eat just meat or vegetables either. You want a little bit of everything," Dr. Wolfshohl said.
Despite the diet including foods from all food groups, the Mediterranean diet has many health benefits.
"The main health benefit of a Mediterranean diet is that it helps reduce cardiovascular events. Cardiovascular events include stroke, peripheral artery disease, and heart attacks. In some cases, research studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet can even reduce your risk of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Wolfshohl.
While the Mediterranean diet may benefit heart health, it also has a positive impact on other factors like weight loss and diabetes. Since the diet consists of foods with unrefined carbs, such as whole grains and high-carb vegetables, it does not affect the blood sugar like refined carbs such as potatoes, white bread, and corn.
"I think the Mediterranean diet is still good for patients with diabetes because diabetes increases your risk of cardiovascular events, and the Mediterranean diet lowers your risk of cardiovascular events," Dr. Wolfshohl said. "If you're approaching diets from a 'what can I do to control my blood sugar and improve my diabetes' standpoint, the best diet would be one that reduces carbohydrate intake. So essentially, a low-carb diet."
While beginning a new healthy lifestyle journey can be difficult, Dr. Wolfshohl suggests starting slow and celebrating your success when you accomplish the goals you've set for yourself. Building new habits take time.
"The key is to choose something small, but you want to make it a habit. If your goal is to lose a hundred pounds by doing this diet, try to reduce that goal to something minor first, then work your way up," Dr. Wolfshohl said. "You must choose an achievable goal, then every time you achieve that goal, celebrate it because it's the emotions that hardwire in habits."
Making small changes to your daily lifestyle is essential to improving your overall health long-term. If you have made it a goal this year to incorporate changes to your diet or daily habits, be sure to consult your primary care physician to be sure you are choosing the right diet for you. Need to make an appointment with a doctor? Visit jpshealthnet.org/get-care/services to get started.