So I’ve been trying out the Mediterranean Diet for a few weeks now and want to share with you how I found it as an IBS sufferer.
But first, I want to share with you what I discovered when researching why the Mediterranean Diet is considered such a healthy diet. My ignorance was instantly realised when I had to go back to basics of what even counts as the Mediterranean, not realising that this was all the countries that border the Mediterranean sea (duh!). So this include countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and many more. It became obvious that the Mediterranean diet is actually quite a loose term, and surely is only super healthy if done in a certain way. Dietitians now tend to understand this diet as the traditional Mediterranean way of eating, characterised by an abundance of fruit and vegetables, whole grain starchy carbs, fish and seafood instead of meat, and lots of healthy fats. While the health benefits of eating lots of fruit and veg are more obvious, there is still ongoing research into the health benefits of choosing certain types of fats over others. The Mediterranean diet is high in polyunsaturated (nuts, seeds and oily fish) and monounsaturated fats (olive oil). Switching out trans and saturated fats for these fats is now understood to lower blood sugar and cholesterol which in turn will reduce risk of heart disease. Also, sourcing sugar through fructose instead of glucose is a much healthier way of eating, lowering blood sugar and reducing risk of diabetes.
When trying out cooking mediterranean-style I opted for a diet more reminiscent of Greek and Spanish food, instead of the traditional pasta/pizza cuisine of Italy, simply to encourage a lower-carb and also meat free approach to the diet. As you will see, I ate lots of olives and feta, and thoroughly enjoyed doing so!
However, I did experience some issues with the diet. At the start, I was snacking on foods high in healthy fats and having lunch which had no proper carbs in. I found this did not settle so well with my stomach, but that the discomfort eased off once I had some rice. I didn’t find too much online about this but after reading basic IBS diet tips, having a diet higher in carbs and lower in fats was one of them. I already knew that I couldn’t have too much fat in my diet, and I did tend to use less oil than the original recipes I took my meals from. However, I felt that I still could eat a descent amount of fat if I ate them with carbs as well. I admit I do not know the full science behind this, and have struggled to find online research about it. But perhaps it is just too much for the stomach to digest if you are consuming fats and proteins without diluting them or effectively lining your stomach with easily digestible carbs as well. This has now opened my eyes to the fact that many weight loss low-carb diets which are advertised all over the place simply wouldn’t be suitable for IBS sufferers. This is probably just another example though of how these quick weight loss diets are simply just not very good for our bodies.
Apart from this obstacle, the Mediterranean diet was great. It was yummy, filled me up, powered me with lots of energy and goodness from all the vegetables, and was not at all restricting. While many recipes I found online I had to avoid all together due to the core ingredient being beans, I found that it was generally quite easy to find a recipe that only needed a few adjustments.
I would highly recommend the Mediterranean diet for IBS sufferers and would also like to have a moment of appreciation for the friend I never realised was so good to me until now – the carb!