You may have heard of this eating plan, but what exactly is it?
The Mediterranean diet is known for its health benefits that range from boosting life expectancy to reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. This eating plan is thought to help reduce inflammation in the body, which is the root of many chronic illnesses.
However, the Mediterranean diet isn’t the type of diet that focuses on specific foods or nutrients—it’s more of a way of eating.
What to Eat With a Mediterranean Diet
While there isn’t a single, specific Mediterranean diet, think of it as a way of eating with certain characteristics based on the traditional eating habits of people who live near the Mediterranean Sea. Meaning, it focuses on foods like:
At most meals:
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Healthy fats, like olive oil
- Nuts and Seeds
- Herbs and spices
- Fish and Shellfish
- Low- or non-fat cheese and yogurt
A Mediterranean diet is full of minimally processed foods, as opposed to processed or refined carbohydrates, processed meats, trans fats, and sweetened foods and drinks.
How to Eat With a Mediterranean Diet
When it comes to following a Mediterranean style of eating, what you eat is only half of the equation—how you eat is equally important. To stick to a Mediterranean diet, you’ll also need to adopt these eating concepts.
- Prepare foods with healthy fats, like olive oil, and liberal amounts of herbs and spices.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water as your primary beverage (buy enjoying a glass of wine from time to time).
- Keep portion sizes in mind—especially for foods like desserts, eggs, meats, poultry, and wine.
- Everything in moderation—and when you do treat yourself, be sure to enjoy it.
- Come together. Meals are meant to be savored in the company of your friends, family, and loved ones.
Ready to Go Mediterranean?
Once you’ve educated yourself about this style of eating, make sure you get the green light from your dietitian for adopting a Mediterranean diet. Ready to get started? Here’s how.
- Stock up. Work with your dietitian to create a Mediterranean diet shopping list that includes minimally processed foods.
- Start slow. Remember, this is more of a lifestyle than a diet. So you’ll want to incorporate changes in a sustainable way. Start by committing to add more fresh fruits and veggies to each meal.
- Experiment with new recipes. Search the internet or apps like Pinterest to help you discover new ingredients and flavors.
- Host a dinner party. Make Mediterranean-inspired dishes, and focus on sharing the experience with friends and family.