A new free-of-charge class is dishing out food for thought when it comes to proper nutrition and weight loss.
The St. Albert and Sturgeon Primary Care Network has started a monthly two-hour information session on the Mediterranean diet.
Emily Mardell, dietitian at the care network, says the diet is a popular food plan among her patients that are managing diabetes and weight loss.
"What makes the Mediterranean diet different is that it's not necessarily a diet, but more a way of life. It's an eating lifestyle," she says.
While patients need to be referred to Mardell, the educational class is open to the public free of charge.
Over the course of two hours participants learn the basics of the Mediterranean diet and about good and bad cholesterol. They even get to eat a meal created in class and watch how-to videos on dishes that fall under the diet.
The Mediterranean diet dates back to the 1950s and 1960s when Dr. Ansel Keys and colleagues observed that people in Greece had good health based on their diet.
Today the diet is based on the dietary patterns of Greece, Southern Italy, France and Spain in the 1950s.
"More and more research is supporting the Mediterranean diet as an eating lifestyle that can help manage chronic disease, in particular cardiovascular disease and diabetes," Mardell says.
The diet encourages eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, fish, whole grains and olive oil, while limiting consumption of poultry, eggs and cheese. The diet encourages people to rarely consume red meat, and allows the occasional glass of red wine.
Debi Mayes, who tried out the class, had heard about the diet years ago. While moderately interested in it, she never had taken any steps to try it out.
"I had heard about it on TV shows and a lot of movie stars are on this diet, so when I heard about this I signed up," she says. "What I like is that they tell you to take small steps. You don't have to change your life or all your food instantly, just everyday make a change or increase your knowledge on a new recipe."
When she attended the class she says she learned how easy it could be to integrate the Mediterranean diet into her lifestyle.
She says in the past she tried a high-protein diet but the results didn't last long.
"I did lose some weight, but I absolutely instantly gained it back once I started eating differently again. It works while you're on it, but the second you stop then you gain it all back."
The next class takes place on Sept. 7. For more information visit their website at https://www.saspcn.com/events/.