*Welcome to my blog post series about the ups and downs of my adopting a healthy, Mediterranean diet! I had to get help from one of my favorite experts in dietetics. I hope this helps! Enjoy!
I wanted to adopt a Mediterranean diet as a lifestyle, not just as another diet. I solicited the help of Shawn Beasley, a registered dietitian, who gave me tips on how to start this journey toward healthier eating habits. See the interview below:
Tawanda: I want to lose more weight. I want to transition from what I am doing now to more of a Mediterranean, plant-based diet, but I’m not sure where to start. I have talked to my doctor about this change. My doctor agreed that this is a good lifestyle to adopt. However, it hasn’t been an easy transition. I was wondering, as a dietitian, do you help people with the transition? And how do you help them transition into a healthier lifestyle?
Shawn: You’re trying to find the best way to transition from what you have been eating to a healthier way of eating in a realistic manner?
Tawanda: Yes, and thank you! You said it much better than I did! Yes, in a realistic manner. . . because. . . I don’t want to say I’m addicted to sugar, but sugar is my downfall when it comes to transitioning to the Mediterranean diet. I know I can’t go vegan. No. It’s just not for me, but I’ve heard that plant-based diets are the healthiest. But I can be bad with sugar. For example, I love chocolate chip granola bars. Another one of my problems is eating Peanut M&Ms. I’m trying to be honest. . . even though it’s quite embarrassing (laughing).
Shawn: One good thing that you’re doing is telling someone and being honest about your eating habits that you don’t like. It’s important to be honest with yourself and talk to someone you can confide in and support you because that is something you will need along the journey. That’s one thing I have to tell my clients: be honest with yourself and have support. I have clients who are uncomfortable with sharing their eating habits honestly. I get it because sometimes you’re sharing some embarrassing things you may not want others to know.
Tawanda: It’s harder than I thought because this week, for example, I started with soup and salad. But one thing I seem to keep going back to is sugar! For example, I have a bunch of granola bars at my desk at work. If I don’t have those, then I’m going to the vending machine for M&Ms! Sometimes I like eating sugary cereal or sugary oatmeal in the morning, which is bad, I know. . . because of the sugar factor. Those are the things I just thought of…I think that’s what is holding me back from achieving my health goals.
Shawn: OK. You’ve listed a lot of areas you feel you can work on, and one suggestion I always give is to focus on a small goal, something that you feel you can work on for like a week or two. Gravitate toward that. It’s all about experimentation. So, you said you want to adopt the Mediterranean diet. OK, cool. You told me some of the benefits of that diet and what you’re looking to gain from it. I always ask my clients about what they want to do because there are so many trends. There is so much information out there. And just researching something you have a passion for and are trying to do can be a challenge. As RDs, we’ve learned overtime that we have to be open-minded about those things because everyone has different preferences, and we just want to be respectful and empathetic toward what that client wants to do. I often suggest working on one small change that you can make—something that’s realistic—and move forward from there. Looking at your week, what is a small goal toward adopting the Mediterranean diet you feel you can implement within one week?
I guess I could implement more fruits and vegetables. In the morning, I usually eat whatever I want, and the only time I’m eating more of a Mediterranean diet is . . .for dinner or lunch. So, I probably could change my breakfast to reflect that.
Shawn: That’s a perfect example of a goal. You’ve found an area you can focus on—breakfast. What would be your vision for breakfast? What would be considered a success for you there?
Tawanda: I don’t know. I’m trying to figure that out because I know that, even though eggs are OK, it’s not something this diet would allow every single day. Based on my research, we are to eat plenty of fish, whole grains, beans, and fruits and vegetables, but chicken, being poultry, we’d consume in moderation—maybe once a week. Eggs are OK. I saw a few breakfast ideas on the internet. One was a recipe for avocado and eggs on toast. That was gross to me because of all the mushiness. LOL. I thought Ewwww, GROSS!
Shawn: That’s funny! (Laughing) No, I’m not big on that texture either, but it seems you already know what’s not going to work for you.
*This is part one of this conversational blog series. It’s actually hilarious to me now that I’m reading it again!