Mediterranean Diet: A Healthy Eating Plan
- January 06, 2021
- 1 What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
- 2 Why The Mediterranean Diet
- 3 What can you eat on the Mediterranean diet?
- 4 What foods should you avoid on the Mediterranean diet?
- 5 What to eat for breakfast on the Mediterranean diet
- 6 What to eat for lunch on the Mediterranean diet
- 7 What to eat for dinner on the Mediterranean diet
- 8 Snack options on the Mediterranean diet
- 9 Can you lose weight on the Mediterranean diet?
- 10 How much exercise should you do on the Mediterranean diet?
- 11 What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?
- 12 Cons of the Mediterranean diet
- 13 Final thoughts on the Mediterranean diet
- 14 Everything You Need To Know About The Mediterranean Diet
What Is The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating plan that is based on how traditional cuisines of Mediterranean countries. Contrary to popular opinion this does not include a daily serving of pizza with fresh herbs, tomatoes, and lots of cheese.
A typical traditional Mediterranean diet is very high in legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and olive oil.
The main components of the Mediterranean diet include;
1. Daily servings of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains
2. Two serving of fish and seafood every week
3. Moderate intake of dairy and dairy products
4. Red meat should be eaten only rarely
5. Limit consumption of processed foods, sugary foods, and drinks
Besides, the Mediterranean diet also emphasizes the need for daily physical activity.
It also advocates for more social interactions such as eating meals with family and friends. What’s more, you can also enjoy a glass of wine daily. But how exactly did this diet come to be?
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Why The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet came about as a result of scientific research into heart diseases in the 1960s. Researchers noticed that Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece had very low rates of deaths due to heart disease.
A look into what could be the reason as to why revealed that they had very different eating habits as compared to countries in northern Europe and even the Us.
This is what led to the development of the Mediterranean diet.
Since then the Mediterranean diet has often been recognized as one of the best diets for weight loss and health. Health organizations such as the world health organization have also recognized the diet as one of the best diets to use to boost health.
What can you eat on the Mediterranean diet?
1. Fruits and vegetables
Enjoy as much as you can aim for at least 5- 7 servings of both fruits and vegetables daily.
Choose seasonal produce that is readily available to you. Fresh vegetables are best but if you cannot find them, opt for frozen veggies too. Eat all fruits and veggies, nothing is off-limits here
2. Healthy fats
Healthy fats are an important part of the Mediterranean diet.
Meals are often cooked with olive oil. You want to choose extra virgin olive oil to get the most benefits. Aso considers olives, as part of your healthy snack options.
Incorporate foods such as avocado that are full of healthy fats if they’re available to you. Also, consider other healthy oils for cooking such as avocado oil and coconut oil.
Not only that use these healthy oils in your baking, vegetable, and salad dressings too.
Beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
These high-fiber legumes should be part of all your meals. Whats more these foods are not only high in fiber but also a very good source of plant-based protein.
If you’re trying to lose weight, legumes are one of the best weight loss foods you can eat as they keep you full for longer. A win-win for everyone as they’re also incredibly budget-friendly.
4. Fish and seafood
Eat fish at least twice every week.
Choose fish that is wild-caught and not farmed for the most benefits. Best options include; salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring. Seafood such as shrimp, clams, lobster, squid, etc are also good options
These will also serve as a good source of quality animal protein. Baking, grilling, or pan-fried are your best cooking methods. You want to avoid deep-frying.
5. Whole grains
What makes whole grains so good for you is that they have most of their fiber and nutrients that are often stripped in processing. On this diet, whole grains should be eaten daily.
Don’t just limit yourself to common whole grain cereals such as oats, whole grain pasta, and bread. Also consider grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, barley, and corn. Avoid refined grains and cereals
6. Nuts and seeds
Dry roasted and perfectly salted nuts, that will be one of your go-to snacks on the Meditteranean diet.
You can also use them to add flavor to your dishes or as toppings to your salads. Enjoy all sorts of nuts but be mindful of serving sizes as they’re high in carbs.
7. Herbs and spices
Incorporate different herbs and spices into your cooking.
They’re a great way to reduce salt as they enhance the flavor and taste of food naturally. Not only that herbs and spices can also boost your health as they full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Choose from a variety of sweet and savory to work through all your meals.
Choose from herbs and spices such as anise, basil, oregano, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, rosemary, and sage. Don’t forget mint, sage, cloves, chilies, lay leaf, and cinnamon.
Enjoy in moderation. Sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, and potatoes.
9. Dairy and dairy products
Just like seafood, dairy, and dairy products should be eaten moderately not daily. Common dairy products include cheese and greek yogurt.
These dairy products are a good source of calcium, a mineral that’s vital for food bone health. However, if you’re allergic or don’t take dairy, take them out.
10. Eggs and poultry
On the Mediterranean diet, eggs are often used in baking but only eaten a few times. You’re allowed to eat eggs of all types be it duck, chicken, quail, or turkey.
However, this should not be done daily but only a few times.
11. Red meats
Meats are very rarely eaten on this diet and if eaten, it’s in very small amounts. If you do choose to eat meat then opt for lean cuts of meat rather than fatty cuts.
Limit your consumption to very few times. Think of red meats as foods you have monthly not daily, weekly but a few times.
One of the perks of the Meditteranean diet is that it allows regular but moderate consumption of wine.
This means that women are allowed 1-glass of wine daily while men are allowed 2-glasses of wine. This will be up to you to decide, if you don’t like alcohol then don’t consume it.
What foods should you avoid on the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet has often been voted as the easiest to follow set.
This is mostly because it allows a little bit fo everything. However, there are some foods you should avoid while on the diet. These include;
1. Refined grains
What makes refined grains so bad for you is that while they’re very calories dense, they add no nutritional value whatsoever. These include common favorites such as white bread, white pasta, baked good, even pizza
2. Added sugar
Added sugar is one of the common evils of the modern diet, it’s in everything even in foods you wouldn’t think have sugar such as low-fat yogurt.
This includes limiting sugary drinks from fruit juices, energy drinks, and sugary foods such as candies, sweets, cookies, cakes, pastries, low-fat diet foods, etc.
3. Refined oils
Just like refined food are bad for you because they have been stripped of their nutrients, the same goes for refined oils. Besides, due to the chemical processes involved in processing, refined oils may contain trans fat that is harmful to your health.
Not only that, but refined oils may also contain saturated fats that increase the risk of heart diseases according to recent reports
Avoid these oils at all costs. Oils such as; Soybean, canola, sunflower, rapeseed, rice bran, sesame, safflower, cottonseed and corn oil.
4. Processed foods
Processed foods have been blamed for the rise in lifestyle diseases and obesity in many countries. And this couldn’t be truer. When foods undergo chemical processing, most of their nutrients are stripped and more refined ingredients are often added.
As a result, the end product is often high in sugar, trans fat, and low in nutrition. These include foods such as; processed meats, breakfast cereals, junk food among others
So while they may taste great, they will often affect your health and increase your risk of disease.
What to eat for breakfast on the Mediterranean diet
1. Oatmeal with raisins
2. Greek yogurt with fruits and nuts
3. Eggs and vegetables fried in olive oil
4. Whole wheat toast with avocado and humus
What to eat for lunch on the Mediterranean diet
1. Whole grain sandwich with vegetables
2. Tuna salad dressed on olive oil
3. Quinoa with grilled salmon and asparagus
What to eat for dinner on the Mediterranean diet
1. Brown rice with broiled salmon and vegetables
2. Whole wheat Mediterranean pizza with cheese, olives, and vegetables
3. Whole wheat tuna warp with vegetables
4. Red lentil pasta
Snack options on the Mediterranean diet
Whether your goal is to lose weight to just eat healthily with the Mediterranean diet. Having healthy snacks on hand is always a good idea. Consider snacks such as;
- Nuts mixed with dried fruits
- Fruits such as bananas, apples or berries
- Vegetables such as cucumber served with feta, edamame.
- Roasted chickpeas
- Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries
Can you lose weight on the Mediterranean diet?
Even though the Mediterranean diet was not intended for weight loss, it has often been featured as one of the best weight-loss diets you can use. But how exactly does it cause weight loss?
1. You’re eating nutrient-dense whole foods
Eating whole foods is one of the easiest weight loss tips you can use. And this is also what helps you lose right on the Mediterranean diet. These nutrient-dense foods help you feel full for longer hence reduce the number of calories you end up consuming.
2. You’re eating proteins and fiber foods daily
Legumes should be part of your meals on the diet. Not only are they high in fiber but also very high in protein. Both food groups that are essential for weight loss.
Fiber foods keep you full for longer by slowing down the digestion of foods. While protein foods take longer to break down and also require more energy to break down.
This will help you eat fewer calories daily while at the same time boosting your metabolism for quick weight loss.
3. Physical activity
Physical activity should be part of your daily routine on the Mediterranean diet. You can even choose simple weight loss exercises such as swimming, cycling, or walking to burn extra calories for weight loss
To speed up weight loss on the Mediterranean diet, you can also consider;
4. Portion control
Because the Meditteranean diet only gives guidelines but does not tell you how much to eat, you have practice portion control. You want to maintain a calorie deficit even on the diet to lose weight fast.
Also, common foods such as nuts and olive oil that are staples of the diet can be high in calories, so you have to stay mindful of your portions.
You can do this by either learning about macros or use these tips to control your portion.
5. Long-term use
Recent studies on the Mediterranean diet and weight loss recommend that the more you use the diet, the more weight you’ll lose. What’s more, those who lose with the Mediterranean diet didn’t gain the weight back even after a period of 6-months
So don’t view the diet as a short-term weight loss strategy, incorporate into your lifestyle.
How much exercise should you do on the Mediterranean diet?
Physical activity just like social interactions is recommended on the diet. But how much exercise should you do? This will depend entirely on your goal;
To maintain your health, the center for disease control and prevention recommends that you do at least 150-minutes of exercise every week.
This might mean the 30-minutes of daily exercise or 1-hour of exercise every other day.
However, if your goal is to lose weight, the American college of sports medicine recommends that you do at least 250-minutes of exercise weekly.
What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?
1. No calorie counting
The Mediterranean diet focuses on quality over quantity. If you’re tried counting macros you know just how difficult it can be to incorporate into every meal.
The staple foods in this diet are filling and nutrient-dense that will keep you full for longer so you don’t have to count calories.
2. It’s very heart healthy
Who wouldn’t want to reduce the risk of heart diseases such as strokes or heart attacks?
The olive oil and nuts help lower bad cholesterol while the legumes will help clear your arteries. Besides, the healthy omega-3 from fatty fish helps lower blood pressure too.
3. You will lose weight
Yes if weight loss is your goal, then give the Mediterranean diet a try. With this diet, you will achieve easy weight loss without starving or endless hours at the gym
All you have to do is enjoy your staple foods and go for your daily walks, does it get any easier than that?
Read more: How to lose weight fast
4. It’s very inexpensive
Seriously, have you checked the staple foods in this diet? Compared to other diets such as the ketogenic diet, you’ll probably cut your food expenses down to about half if not more.
5. No foods are off-limits
Have you experienced the struggle of staying on a weight loss diet when you can even eat any of your favorite foods? That’s the best thing about this diet if you want some chocolate you can have it.
It’s a healthy diet and that means it caters to all your needs.
6. Eating nutrient-dense foods every day
If you look at the staple foods you’ll notice you’re not just eating healthy, you’re getting high-fiber, brain-boosting, antioxidants on your plate every day.
You’re maintaining a healthy gut, boosting your brain and heart all at the same time. In addition to constant fresh foods for you and your family.
Cons of the Mediterranean diet
1. Not suitable for all
Because the diet is very high in starch and carbohydrates it might not be suitable for all. This is especially for those with diabetes who have to control their intake of starchy food.
However if you do wish to use this diet with a medical condition, consult your doctor or dietitian first.
2. No serving guidelines
The diet doesn’t provide any serving guidelines. Even with foods high in carbs such as nuts and olive oil. For some people, this might make them overeat.
What’s more even it can be hard to figure out how much of the limited foods you should eat.
Final thoughts on the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is an adaptation of the traditional eating practices of Mediterranean countries. The diet plan has risen in popularity due to its numerous health benefits.
The diet plan emphasizes daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. Even though it doesn’t ban any foods eggs dairy and poultry should be eaten in moderation.
While foods such as meats and sweets are allowed on the diet, they should be limited to be eaten only rarely. In addition to offering dietary guidelines for healthy eating, the diet also emphasizes daily physical activities and social interactions.