May is Mediterranean Diet Month. The diet is based on different eating traditions from countries on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Crete, and Southern Italy. Mediterranean food may include a plateful of pasta with grilled aubergines, tomato sauce, feta cheese, and a splash of olive oil. Topped off with focaccia bread and a glass of red wine, this way of eating can summon the essence of “la dolce vita”—the sweet life.
Mediterranean eating features plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread, pasta, milk, and dairy. It also includes lean meat, eggs, fish, beans, and a small amount of sugar and fat. It centers on the basics of healthy eating, characterized by the ever-present olive oil and red wine. Vegetables play an especially prominent role in the Mediterranean diet, with people in the region consuming as much as six or more servings of vegetables each day.
Bread in the Mediterranean diet is usually whole grain with no unhealthy trans fats. Bread is dipped in olive oil instead of butter. The diet also includes plenty of nuts that are rich in healthy fat. Many people consider the Mediterranean diet to be among the healthiest in the world.
People with allergies, however, should be cautious when they eat Mediterranean-style. Though there are many health benefits of this diet, there are also a number of common ingredients that could compromise the well-being of people with food allergies.
Paella is one of the most popular items in the Mediterranean diet. Paella uses chorizo as an important ingredient. Chorizos contains milk and gluten. Paella is also made with seafood, such as squid, clams, and prawns, which could cause allergic reactions in people with seafood allergy. Sulfites in the wine, chorizo, and pancetta could also trigger allergic sensitivities.
Lasagna, another popular item in the Mediterranean diet, is made with milk products. The lasagna sheets contain gluten, and the sauce may include vegetables that induce oral allergy syndrome.
The Mediterranean diet is not complete without pizza, but the allergy-prone should beware of dairy products and gluten. If you have food allergies, you can still partake of the fresh and flavorful Mediterranean diet, but use care to avoid food allergy triggers.