Table of Contents
Low cards; no carbs; only carbs; high fat… It’s difficult to keep all the fad diets straight. If you’re ready to be done with ineffective fad diets, try a lifestyle change instead. The Mediterranean Diet Plan isn’t a diet in the common sense of the word. It’s more of an overhaul of your food intake, replacing processed food with natural ingredients.
A Mediterranean diet food plan is eating traditional foods similar to the ones people used to eat in Greece or Italy fifty and sixty years ago, around the 1960s. Movie star Sophia Loren most likely followed a diet plan similar to the Mediterranean diet plan.
The Mediterranean lifestyle is also about sharing meals with others and enjoying life while eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. Sounds simple, right? And that is why it works — you won’t need to count calories or track your carb intake, as long as you eat healthy foods in moderation.
If you drink alcohol, a glass of red wine every day is a big part of the Mediterranean diet.
With a pasta dish!
The Mediterranean diet not only allows pasta dishes, but it also encourages it, as long as it’s whole-grain pasta instead of refined grains.
What is the Mediterranean Diet Plan?
The Mediterranean diet combines eating healthy non-processed foods with regular physical activity. And the occasional glass of red wine, if you’re inclined. The diet utilizes the cooking styles of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece and Italy, with natural ingredients without unhealthy additives.
Spices found in the Mediterranean, such as saffron, basil and thyme, are added to the dishes to make them flavorful and colorful. A glass of red wine accompanies the dinner menu, though water or grape juice can be substituted.
Fish and seafood are staples of the Mediterranean diet, as are fresh fruits and vegetables. Various types of nuts are eaten as snacks between meals or added to the main meal. These healthy foods can help weight loss and prevent heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other fatal diseases.
The Mediterranean diet differs from other diets because it’s not about counting calories or excluding carbs and fats from your menu. Rather, it is about eating in moderation and being physically active.
While there aren’t any strict calorie limits, the diet recommends not consuming red meat very often. Many recipes call for meats and vegetables to be cooked in extra virgin olive oil instead of the typical cooking oil. Olive oil and olives show up quite frequently in the daily menus.
Unlike other diets that don’t allow breads or pasta, the Mediterranean diet encourages both items, in moderation. Whole grain breads or wheat are substituted for other types of breads and pasta. Various seeds and nuts are strongly encouraged, as they have much-needed protein, which fills you up faster. Almonds and walnuts are two highly recommended nuts that can be eaten as snacks.
Many diets remove any fats from acceptable foods. The Mediterranean diet, however, differentiates between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Olives and avocados are two healthy fats found in many of the diet’s recipes.
Mediterranean Diet Plan Breakfast Food
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. With the Mediterranean diet, you will get a healthy energy boost that will last through lunch. If you find any of the meals lacking, you can simply add a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.
Given that the diet is inspired partly by Greece, it’s no surprise that Greek yogurt is a staple of the breakfast menu. Add in some strawberries or oats for variation.
The hardest part about diets is eating the same thing every day. Here are some simple ideas for your breakfast menu when you begin the Mediterranean diet.
- Greek yogurt. Optional: add strawberries and oats.
- Oatmeal with raisins.
- Omelet with tomatoes and onions. Optional: a piece of fruit.
- Yogurt, greek or plain. Optional: sliced fruits and nuts.
- Eggs and vegetables, fried in olive oil.
- Oatmeal with raisins and nuts. Optional: A piece of fruit, such as an apple.
- Omelet with tomatoes or other veggies and olives.
- You can also add fig or avocado toast to your meal any morning
- Wine doesn’t pair well with breakfast foods. Black coffee, tea or fresh juice are great beverage options.
What Foods Should You Avoid on the Mediterranean Diet Plan?
While the Mediterranean diet plan doesn’t outright ban certain foods, it does recommend avoiding unhealthy ones. Foods that you should avoid eating include sugary beverages, processed meat, refined grains and oils, highly processed foods, and foods with added sugar.
Refined grains include white bread and pasta. Eat whole-grain foods instead.
Highly processed foods are any food that looks factory-made or have labels that say “low-fat” or “diet.” Many processed foods and margarine contain trans fats, which are the unhealthy kind.
You can and should eat meat on this diet, but avoid processed meats as much as possible.
Soda obviously has added sugar, but so do candies, ice cream and many other foods. Try rich, creamy gelato, which has less fat, calories, and sugar per servings than traditional ice cream.
7 Easy Ways to Follow the Mediterranean Diet Plan
- Meal prep. Whether daily or weekly, having a meal prep plan not only saves you time, it saves you from eating unhealthy foods.
- Make a full batch of quinoa. Quinoa is high in protein and a staple of any Mediterranean diet plan. It can be used in various ways for breakfast, lunch AND dinner.
- Roast a sheet tray of vegetables. Related to meal plan, you can pre-roast a bunch of vegetables on a sheet tray and store in the fridge for weekly meals.
- A glass of red wine. Red wines contain antioxidants, which have been shown to help keep the heart healthy. If you don’t drink, purple grape juice can be substituted.
- Eat Your Veggies (and Fruits.) You should be eating between seven and ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Plant foods should make up the majority of your diet.
- Go Fish. Salmon is the healthiest choice for fish, but trout and tuna are other great options. Grilling fish is a simple and yummy way to prepare fish, just make sure to:
- Add spices. Not only do spices make food taste great, they also contain an abundance of health-promoting substances.
How Do You Lose Weight with the Mediterranean Diet Plan?
The key to losing weight with the Mediterranean Diet Plan is the same as with any diet: consistency! Creating a meal plan and sticking to it will ensure that you maintain your healthy eating habits regardless of how busy you are with work or family.
An easy way to make sure you are following the diet in moderation is to use portion control. A handful of nuts as a snack, a piece of fruit with lunch. Creating an inventory of the food on your menu gives you accountability, which will help keep you on track.
Here are a few other tricks to staying on the diet:
- Create menus rich in plant-based foods, such as whole grains, legumes and fruits and vegetables.
- Use healthy fats, such as olive oil or canola oil instead of butter.
- Skip the salt and use herbs and spices.
- Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week.
- Limit red meat to a few times per month.
- Share meals with family and friends (more talking equals less eating)
- Drink one glass of red wine with dinner, if you want.
Maybe you don’t live on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, but you can still take walks or hikes in scenic areas. Staying active is important for keeping your body healthy, regardless if you’re on a diet plan.
Losing weight isn’t the main goal of the Mediterranean diet, but if you eat healthy foods and exercise regularly, weight loss can happen naturally.
One thing that may seem impossible with the Mediterranean diet is home-cooking every meal with natural ingredients. That’s where the meal prep comes in. You can prepare many items for a week or more in advance. This saves you time and worries about what the next meal will be. The main reason people choose unhealthy food is because it’s more convenient.
If you make a daily menu a week or so ahead of time and prep the legumes and vegetables, you’ll have half the work done for the entire week.
The thing about fad diets is that they surge in popularity and then die off in a few months or years. The Mediterranean diet is an entire lifestyle that has been successful for many years. Diets are usually about eating bland foods in an effort to lose weight. The Mediterranean diet is changing your unhealthy eating habits for better heart health and simply losing weight in the process.
If you scour the internet, you can find an abundance of recipes for the Mediterranean diet plan, as well as weekly meal plans and daily exercise ideas. The fragrant spices from your meals will make you think you’re floating off Greece in the Mediterranean Sea.
Are you going to try any of the delicious ideas in the Mediterranean diet plan? Share your favorite tips down below!