Mediterranean Diet – Torres Strait Style

Each year there are new diet trends promising to make us slimmer, healthier and happier. The diet that has truly done the test of time, however, is the Mediterranean Diet.

Reducing risk with the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet reduces risk and helps manage chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. It reduces risk of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression and also  supports a healthy weight.

The Mediterranean Diet, however, is not just one diet. There are many different styles of Mediterranean eating, each with similar principles believed to support good health.

The traditional Torres Strait Island diet shares many of the key components of a Mediterranean style diet.

Similarities in both diets

Both diets are:

  • High in fish and seafood;
  • Rich in seasonal fruit and garden vegetables (bell fruit, star fruit, custard apple, taro, greens);
  • High in gut loving resistant starch and fibre (green banana, cassava, green mango and paw paw);
  • Inclusive of the regular consumption of nuts (beach almonds, wild peanut);
  • Low in red and processed meats;
  • Low in sweetened drinks and processed foods;
  • Focused on eating and sharing meals with friends and family;
  • Focused on the active means of collecting foods – hunting, gathering, gardening.

The Mediterranean Diet also includes regular consumption of legumes, high intake of wholegrains and olive oil is the main oil used.

Affordable and available options

The table below shows affordable and readily available options for a Mediterranean-style diet in the Torres Strait.

Mediterranean diet Torres Strait Island Options
Fish and seafoods  3 x per week Locally caught fish and seafood
Vegetables and fruit at each meal Locally grown vegetables and fruit or tinned, canned or fresh fruit and vegetables from the shop
Wholegrains daily Weetbix, wholemeal bread/damper, Vitaweet or Ryvita
Nuts and legumes x 3 each per week Baked beans, four bean mix, canned chickpeas, hummus, locally sourced wild nuts and nut pastes like peanut butter
Olive oil daily Olive oil or canola oil
Less than 100g red meat or processed meats per week Choose mostly fish and white meats and limit red meat to once per week. Try to have a meat free dinner once per week.
Limited soft drink, juice, processed foods Drink water, tea, coffee and small amounts of fresh coconut water.

Going back to solely traditional eating patterns may not be realistic. Fortunately, the availability of foods with proven health benefits remain accessible in the Torres Strait.

The ocean is rich with delicious seafood, the soil is fertile for growing garden fruit and vegetables, and the beautiful tradition of sharing meals remains common.

 

By Kiah Peterie

Accredited Practising Dietitian

 

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