The Complete Mediterranean Diet Guide
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet was created to mimic the way of eating in countries such as Greece and Italy in the 1960’s.
It was discovered because there were very few heart related deaths in Mediterranean countries compared to the rest of the world, and is now ranked the healthiest diet by professionals.
It is mostly plant based. The meals are centered around vegetables and foods such as lean meats or dairy are eaten moderately.
Today, many people choose this diet to improve their health and lengthen their life. There are loads of benefits that come with the Mediterranean diet, which we will get to in a bit!
It’s best to call this diet a way of eating instead of a diet. There is no calorie restriction or elimination of food groups. It is much more a lifestyle change and not just a temporary diet.
This way of eating can also help you lose weight. Mainly because it is not very restrictive, no food groups are eliminated. Healthier options of the different food groups should always be chosen over foods high in sugar and foods high in trans or saturated fats.
Counting calories is NOT important. You should always eat responsibly and stop eating when you are satisfied. When you eat a reasonable amount of food, you feel fuller for much longer than when you restrict yourself because of a “calorie allowance.” Do not make yourself miserable when you don’t have to.
Eating on the Mediterranean diet.
Eat often: Vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, whole grains, beans, healthy oils, fresh garlic, herbs and spices.
Eat moderately: Dairy products, like milk, cheese, and Greek yogurt. Protein, like fish and poultry, and red wine. (Fish should be consumed more than poultry)
Eat rarely: Red meat, processed foods, sugar, and refined oils (like canola and vegetable oil).
It is important to include variety and balance in your diet. Meals should be created based on the foods in the “Eat often” category, aka plant based. Add in the “Eat moderately” category to your meals occasionally. You should avoid red meat, sugar, processed foods and refined oils as much as possible.
What to drink.
Water should always be your beverage of choice, no matter what diet you’re on. It’s the best drink for you, so guzzle it down!
Coffee and tea.
Great essentials to the Mediterranean diet, just stay away from adding sugars or sweeteners.
Should be enjoyed moderately. A glass per day is fine.
- Omelette with spinach, tomatoes, and basil.
- Whole grain toast with avocado.
- Whole grain oatmeal with nut butter.
- Mixed greens salad with tomatoes, grilled chicken, and olive oil and vinegar dressing.
- Chickpeas and quinoa with sun dried tomatoes, onion, feta cheese, garlic and olive oil.
- Pita bread with tuna, hummus, and spinach.
- Salmon foil packets with tomatoes, olives, fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil.
- Grilled kebabs with chicken or fish, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions.
- Mediterranean Shrimp Stir-Fry
Image Credit: Kenton & Jane // Lemon and Olives
- Nuts or nut butter
- Greek yogurt
Meal planning tips:
- Eat fish at least twice a week.
- Eat 7+ servings of veggies daily.
- Vegetables should be the bulk of your meals.
- Always choose whole grain over refined breads, cereals, and pasta.
- Use extra virgin olive oil as a butter replacement.
- Fruit is typically eaten as a dessert.
How to eat at restaurants.
- Avoid any fried foods.
- Choose lean meats, chicken or fish.
- Ask if oil is used in your dish, if so, request olive oil or avocado oil.
- Request steamed veggies without butter.
- If you’re not sure how something is prepared, or what exactly is in it, then ask your server.
- When in doubt, choose a salad with olive oil and vinegar on the side.
Why choose the Mediterranean diet?
It can reduce your risk of heart disease.
A 5 year long study was conducted in Spain on around 7000 people who were at risk for heart disease. Their risk for disease dropped 30% while eating a Mediterranean diet without caloric restriction.
It can help you lose weight.
The foods in the Mediterranean diet are very healthy, nutritious, and filling, which can contribute to weight loss. Eating unprocessed foods low in sugar and artificial ingredients will also cause reduced cravings, especially those for junk food.
It can prevent type 2 diabetes.
During the same study conducted in Spain, a large group of people from the study were selected to see if they developed diabetes during the years. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet had a 52% less chance of developing the disease.
Another way it can help prevent diabetes is that the carbohydrates consumed in the Mediterranean diet are on the low end of the glycemic index, meaning they don’t spike your blood sugar too quickly.
It can increase brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s.
This benefit is likely due to the high amount of healthy fats consumed during the diet. Good fats are great brain fuel.
Studies have shown that those who ate a Mediterranean diet has a slower cognitive decline than those who did not.
It can improve digestive health.
Yet another study was conducted on those who ate a Mediterranean diet. This time, it showed that the participants had increased healthy gut bacteria. The good bacteria has important jobs like, fuel cells, reduce inflammation, and put those important nutrients from food to good use.
Ready to jump in?
Change your health for the better and choose the Mediterranean diet.
Remember to choose high quality foods and eat fresh as often as possible.
Are you excited to get started?