Tips For Creating Your Mediterranean Diet Plan
The good news is that because this is a style of eating versus a set of rigid rules, you can fully customize this approach to suit your likes and dislikes. Theres no following this to a T or falling off the wagon and feeling like a failure. Even within the Mediterranean diet there are what we call special occasion days where you may eat more or eat foods that perhaps are not very healthy, but that is actually part of the lifestyle, Paravantes-Hargitt says. Food is to be enjoyed, and the Mediterranean diet promotes a healthy relationship with food. Cheating is part of the Mediterranean diet. You just continue the next day as if nothing happened.
Still, here are five important tips to get you started:
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits
This healthy diet is exploding with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients including polyphenols, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as healthy fats, which are responsible for countless health benefits. These healthy fats are known to improve heart health and brain health. If you want to learn more about the Mediterranean diet and discover easy ways to implement this diet in your life then this article is for you. Adopting a Mediterranean-based diet can be helpful in maintaining optimal health and help treat many common health conditions. The Mediterranean diet is also great for combatting obesity due to its focus on fresh, whole foods which lead to healthy weight loss. It is hard to find healthy diets that are sustainable for life and promote weight loss, which is why we like to consider the Mediterranean diet a “lifestyle.”
Moving To The Mediterranean One Step At A Time
Take your diet to the Mediterranean with a few simple changes.
- Try oatmeal with fresh fruit and a splash of fat-free milk for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs or pancakes.
- Start lunch with a vegetable salad, dressed with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Have fruit for dessert after dinner.
Add one healthy item to replace an unhealthy item, Ahmed recommends. Stick with it for three weeks, then make two more changes. Slow and steady wins the race.
Fit Facts: Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet
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Enjoy Fruit For Dessert
Generally a good source of fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, fresh fruit is a healthy way to indulge your sweet tooth. If it helps you to eat more, add a little sugar-drizzle slices of pear with honey or sprinkle a little brown sugar on grapefruit. Keep fresh fruit visible at home and keep a piece or two at work so you have a healthful snack when your stomach starts growling. Lots of grocery stores stock exotic fruit-pick a new one to try each week and expand your fruit horizons.
Supports Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
The Mediterranean diet encourages a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.
As such, following this eating pattern may help stabilize blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes .
Interestingly, multiple studies have found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce fasting blood sugar levels and improve levels of hemoglobin A1C, a marker used to measure long-term blood sugar control .
The Mediterranean diet has also been shown to decrease insulin resistance, a condition that impairs the bodys ability to use insulin to regulate blood sugar levels effectively .
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What Is On The Mediterranean Diet Food List
Think of a really decadent Greek salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions make up the bulk of the meal, with pieces of feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil to complement the crunch. Throw in a couple of anchovies, and youre golden.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes a lot of fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, and olive oil. Fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt should be consumed in moderation. Many of the people who follow this eating plan will include a glass of red wine with dinner, though this certainly isnt required.
“While there are no set-in-stone rules to follow when adhering to the Mediterranean diet, there are some more basic guidelines to stick to so that you can ensure your best success at reaping all the health benefits,” says Ruth.
The following foods are great picks:
- Whole grains: Brown rice, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, oats, corn
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews
- Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, pears, melons, peaches, oranges
- Vegetables: Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, tomatoes, kale, spinach, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, sweet potatoes
- Seafood: Fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters
- Healthy fats: Avocado, olive oil, olives, avocado oil
And foods you should eat in moderation include:
It May Aid In Weight Loss
With its emphasis on fiber-rich plant foods, lean proteins, and healthy fatsall of which are incredibly filling and packed with nutritionits not surprising the Mediterranean diet has been associated with weight loss. In a two-year study, people following a Mediterranean-style diet lost almost twice as much weight as people following a low-fat diet. Those on the Mediterranean diet also ended up consuming more fiber and had the highest ratio of healthy monounsaturated fat to saturated fat.
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Carbs Fats And Proteins: Micronutrients And The Mediterranean Diet
No, we are not about to count macros here. Macronutrients are the nutrients we want to consume in the largest quantities and that provide us with energy . There are three macros – protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Protein and carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram while fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Each of these macros has a place in our diets and its not in the counting sense you may previously have heard. Its also important to note that every single persons ideal range will vary and depend on sex, age, physical activity, height, weight, and body composition.
Is The Mediterranean Diet A Healthy Way To Eat
Year after year, the Mediterranean diet comes out on top in the U.S. News and World Report annual ranking of best diets. A panel of experts judges various eating plans and popular diets on criteria including how healthy they are, how well they work and how easy they are to follow.
The Mediterranean diet is also touted as one of the healthiest by many health organizations and dietitians. So, does it live up to its good reputation?
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What Foods Are Limited
Red meat is high in saturated fats and so, though not completely avoided, tends to be consumed in limited quantities. You can make your diet more Mediterranean by swapping red meat for leaner protein sources such as white fish, as well as pulses and beans.
Alcohol is a defining feature of the Mediterranean diet, although it is specific about the quantity and type: 1-2 glasses of red wine, with meals, per day. While this low level of alcohol consumption is linked with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, drinking alcohol moderately can increase the risk of other health problems. It is worth pointing out that any benefits found to heart health from this low level of red wine consumption are lost when we drink more.
Ultra-processed food, industrially-produced foods with multiple additives, are consumed in the Western diet in the form of snacks, ready-meals, processed meats, sweets, soft drinks and breakfast cereals. These do not have a place in the Mediterranean diet, though the World Health organisation is reporting that more young people in Mediterranean countries are eating these foods as they adopt a Western diet.
It also pays to avoid added sugars where possible. There is no strict rule on this but a Mediterranean diet tends to avoid sweets and sugary foods where at all possible, instead swapping them for fresh and dried fruits.
Mediterranean Diet For Beginners: Everything You Need To Get Started
The Mediterranean diet may be the healthiest diet in the world. Rather than a strict meal plan, it’s a way of eating that emphasizes enjoying whole foods and regular physical activity. Here, we give you a blueprint to follow the Mediterranean diet-whether you want to make small changes or overhaul your entire way of eating.
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Ways For How To Follow The Mediterranean Diet :
The New Mayo Clinic Diet Makes Planning Mediterranean Meals Simple
Since the New Mayo Clinic Diet is also a whole foods-based eating planwhich encourages consuming unlimited vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and limiting red meat and sugarits easy to put the Mediterranean diet into practice on the program.
Our team of dietitians have developed five different meal plans which allow you to find and follow an eating style that suits your taste preferences. One of these meal plans is the Mediterranean diet.
The New Mayo Clinic Diet allows you to incorporate all the staple ingredients of the Mediterranean diet that are associated with good health and weight loss. Youll find delicious recipeslike One pan fish stew with green beans & cherry tomatoes and Pita pizza with olives & roasted veggiesthat promote heart health, weight loss, and provide an opportunity to eat more plant foods without completely giving up meat.
Wondering what a day on a plate looks like? Take a look at a sample of the Mediterranean meal plan.
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What Do You Eat For Lunch On A Mediterranean Diet
10 of the best things to eat for lunch on the Mediterranean diet
- The Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, beans, and eggs.
- A chicken wrap with apples and nuts is a filling Mediterranean-inspired lunch.
- Almond-stuffed dates are a sweet and crunchy way to get protein and fiber.
Opt For Healthy Fat Sources And Dont Go Overboard
Even with healthy fat, your total fat consumption could be greater than the daily recommended amount if you aren’t careful. Aim to get 20 to 35 percent of your total daily caloric intake from fat, and for saturated fats to represent less than 10 percent of your total caloric intake, advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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What Is A Mediterranean Diet
When you think about Mediterranean food, your mind may go to pizza and pasta from Italy, or lamb chops from Greece, but these dishes dont fit into the healthy dietary plans advertised as Mediterranean. A true Mediterranean diet is based on the regions traditional fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seafood, olive oil, and dairywith perhaps a glass or two of red wine. Thats how the inhabitants of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy ate circa 1960, when their rates of chronic disease were among the lowest in the world and their life expectancy among the highest, despite having only limited medical services.
And the real Mediterranean diet is about more than just eating fresh, wholesome food. Daily physical activity and sharing meals with others are vital elements. Together, they can have a profound effect on your mood and mental health and help you foster a deep appreciation for the pleasures of eating healthy and delicious foods.
Of course, making changes to your diet is rarely easy, especially if youre trying to move away from the convenience of processed and takeout foods. But the Mediterranean diet can be an inexpensive as well as a satisfying and very healthy way to eat. Making the switch from pepperoni and pasta to fish and avocados may take some effort, but you could soon be on a path to a healthier and longer life.
Foods To Limit On A Mediterranean Diet
While the Mediterranean diet doesn’t require you to cut out one food group or food entirely, it does encourage people to limit or avoid these items:
- Red meat. Consumed regularly in small amounts, it can increase the risk of colorectal cancer, according to the American Institute of Cancer Research .
- Sweets. In excess, they boost the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, and more, according to the American Heart Association.
- Highly processed foods. According to a 2021 study in the journal Nutrients, each 10% increase in calories from highly processed food was associated with a 15% higher risk of death from all causes.
Specific examples of foods to limit on a Mediterranean Diet include:
- Alcohol, other than red wine in moderation
Simple swaps can help curb your intake of these foods. For example, try trading soda for sparkling water vegetables in place of pepperoni and sausage on pizza or eating low-sodium canned soups instead of fast food when you’re in a hurry.
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Make Vegetables The Main Part Of Your Meal
Fruits and vegetables should make up the bulk of your meals. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but even 3 to 5 servings per day have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Think of small ways you can add more vegetables to your meals, like adding spinach to your eggs, loading up your sandwich with avocado and cucumber, and having an apple with nut butter for a snack instead of crackers.
Foods To Eat In Moderation On The Mediterranean Diet
The food groups above make up the foundation of a Mediterranean Diet. But the eating plan also includes moderate portions of poultry, eggs, and dairy . So what does moderate mean? That varies depending on your personal preference. You might choose to consume very small portions of dairy daily or eat larger amounts on a weekly basis.
Although optional, red wine is traditionally enjoyed daily by Mediterranean eaters. Just stick to one 5-ounce glass per day if you’re a woman and no more than two glasses per day if you’re a man, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.
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Healthy Fats On The Mediterranean Diet
Extra virgin olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. Aim for adding 1 tablespoon, but no more than four, to your daily diet. Other plant-based oils, like avocado oil, are also acceptable, but avoid butter and other animal fats.
Does The Mediterranean Diet Provide Other Health Benefits
Following a Mediterranean diet may also improve some health conditions:
- Diabetes and prediabetes: In 2015, researchers who conducted a review of Mediterranean diet trials in people with type 2 diabetes found that they are more effective for lowering blood sugar levels than low-fat diets.26
A low-carb or keto Mediterranean diet may be even better than a classic Mediterranean diet for lowering blood sugar.27 When people with type 2 diabetes eat very low-carb diets, their blood sugar often decreases to the point that they are able to reduce or discontinue their diabetes medication.28
- Fatty liver: Results from some trials suggest that a Mediterranean diet may reduce liver fat in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or those at high risk for the disease.29 Low-carb and keto Mediterranean diets have been shown to dramatically reduce liver fat.30
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