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What's a Trick for Staying Slim at Holiday Time?

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Q: What's a Trick for Staying Slim at Holiday Time?

A. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points toward an answer: researchers found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet prevented weight gain and obesity. The people in the study filled out detailed dietary surveys and their eating habits were scored for how closely they matched a Mediterranean dietary pattern:

  • eating high amounts of olive oil, vegetables, fruits and nuts, legumes, fish and seafood, and cereals;
  • drinking alcohol moderately; and
  • eating low amounts of meat and dairy products.

The results showed that eating a Mediterranean-style diet was associated with slightly less weight gain and a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese.

This study suggests that we can add obesity prevention to the growing list of health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet. One previous analysis involving 1.5 million healthy adults found that following a Mediterranean diet reduced the risks of overall and cardiovascular mortality, cancer and cancer mortality, and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

So, this holiday, if you’re making the switch to a Mediterranean diet, remember these important aspects:

  • Cut down on meat. Have small portions infrequently, and choose plant-based alternatives like protein-dense beans and lentils whenever possible. Cold-water fish like wild salmon, tuna, and herring are another good meat-replacement once or twice a week.
  • Beef up on fruits and vegetables. All healthy diets emphasize fruits and vegetables, and this one is no exception. Aim for seven to ten servings per day.
  • Unrefined is the rule. Choose whole grains like wheat berries, bulgur wheat, brown rice, and oats instead of refined grain products such as breads, pasta, and crackers made from white flour.
  • Pick healthy fats. Olive oil is a Mediterranean staple. It can be used instead of butter on cooked or raw vegetables and in many recipes. And don’t feel guilty about having nuts and seeds as snacks or in salads or other dishes—they are firmly established as heart-healthy.
  • Celebrate with a glass of wine. Two glasses for a man and one glass for a woman every day is just about right, but check with your doctor if you have a health condition that might make drinking any alcohol a poor choice.

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