The Mediterranean Sea is surrounded by 21 extraordinary and diverse groups of countries. They include Italy, France, and Spain to the north; Greece, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria to the east: Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Libya to the south. The spicy flavored dishes of Morocco do not resemble the lemony flavors of southern Italy. Rather than a “meal plan” these countries found their similarities in their food ingredients. The daily emphasis on fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, seafood, and healthy olive oils contributes to timeless, incredible, delicious meals. And let’s not forget the incredible Mediterranean spices. Trust me.
Eating less doesn’t work. Eliminating macros doesn’t work. Dieting doesn’t work and I know you know this, because you’ve tried it before. It is a temporary success. This is a permanent solution. More important, it is a solution that you can stick too.
Sometimes it’s not about what you restrict from your meals, but what you ADD.
So, if you are curious, here are the commonly asked questions….
What is Mediterranean Diet?
I’ll tell you, I dislike how the word “diet” has become about restriction and guilt in our society. It should center around health and bitterness’ which is how I will use it from now on.
The authentic Mediterranean Diet is a sustainable eating pattern that is strongly correlated with disease prevention and longevity.
In the 1960s, researchers discovered that people living in the Mediterranean region suffered from significantly lower rates of chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. There were many factors which contribute to these lower disease rates, some being diet, social influences, and levels of physical activity. Decades of research have revealed that people living in the Mediterranean region consume a variety of whole, minimally-processed, and plant-based foods, which contribute to their longevity, happiness, and overall health.
A Mediterranean diet “pyramid” was developed in the 1990’s as part of a collaboration between Harvard School of Public Health and Oldways, a non-profit whose mission is to inspire good health through cultural food traditions. The pyramid was based on the outcome of the famous 7 countries study which began in 1950 in Crete, Greece. That pyramid sparked interest outside the Mediterranean, especially in the US, and the term “Mediterranean Diet’ was created.
What makes it a long term solution?
Each year, U.S. News & World Report ranks the world’s best diets, and the Mediterranean Diet consistently ranks as number one.
Because of it’s focus on meal patterns and food groups, people find it it very enjoyable to adopt as a lifestyle. Imagine that….enjoyable! You don’t have to count calories or cut out entire food groups.
Here are few more reasons why the diet has gained popularity.
Easy to Follow
Rather than dictating what not to eat, it focuses more on what to eat: more fruits, more vegetables, more whole grains, more beans, more nuts and seeds, and more healthy oils & spices.
Adaptable to Any Cuisine
You don’t have to live in Turkey, Italy, or Egypt to enjoy the benefits of Mediterranean eating. Although people in these countries likely have easier access to freshly pressed olive oil and catch-of-the-day seafood, global supply chains and grocery stores allow foreigners to enjoy many of these same foods.
Plus, because mediterranean eating focuses on food groups rather than specific foods, you can enjoy authentic Slovenian, spain, , or Italian cuisine and still follow the plan. Want seafood? You can cook up small plates of Gambas al Ajillo (Spanish Garlic Shrimp) ( attach recipe link), grilled grouper mediterranean style ( add link), Psari Plaki Tilapia , ( attach link), linguine in a white clam sauce, or a quick simple turkish spiced halibut skewer. While your grilling, how about a throwing fresh vegetables brushed with olive oil to go with a meal, or a refreshing watermelon-feta salad? Maybe a little wine to unwind while you graze and relax with a dinner. Now we’re talking.
Sustainable for the Earth
The plant-focused nature of the Mediterranean Diet makes it planet positive! A sustainable diet ensures we can feed the current generation without degrading the environmental resources needed to feed future generations. Sustainable diets make eﬃcient use of resources like water, land, and fertilizers while producing fewer of the greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.
Plant-based foods tend to be less expensive than animal products, so a Mediterranean eating pattern can be more sustainable for your budget along with the earth.
What are the health Benefits ?
One of the most studied benefits of the Mediterranean Diet is its effects on bolstering heart health . Studies have shown that individuals who follow this eating pattern suffer from lower rates of heart disease, dyslipidemia, and hypertension . A key component to this cardioprotection is replacing saturated and trans fats—which can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease—with mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
Decreased Cancer Risk
Understandably , not all cancers are preventable, however there are certain lifestyle factors that can decrease one’s risk. For example, chronic inflammation is a major contributor to cancer risk, and there are dietary factors that can lower levels of systemic inflammation .
High-fiber diets have been shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers, and many of the foods in the Mediterranean diet, such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are great sources of fiber.
Long-time followers of the Mediterranean Diet suffer lower rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This can be attributed to many dietary factors: limited intake of refined carbohydrates, high intake of healthy fats and oils, and low intake of saturated and trans fatty acids .
The Mediterranean Region is home to two Blue Zones – areas of the world with the highest reported concentrations of centenarians . Less cancer, less heart disease, and less dementia naturally lead to longer lives. Again, the combination of the foods consumed in the Mediterranean Diet is what provides the recipe for a long, disease-free life.
What Do I Eat?
Although this isn’t a strict diet in the traditional sense, there are still certain foods that should be included and others that should be limited/smaller portions. These recommendations are based on the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.
Aim to consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils every day. Consume animal proteins, such as poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy a few times per week. Choosing beverages such as tea, coffee, water, and red wine present tasty ways to stay hydrated.
The majority of your diet should focus on the following foods. The examples listed in each category are just some ideas. The swapping and choices span 21 countries, and there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.
EAT THESE FOODS DAILY
- Fruits: apples, apricots, avocados, berries, dates, figs, grapes, lemons, limes, olives, oranges, pears, plums
- Vegetables: beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, garlic, herbs, kale, onions, peppers, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes
- Whole Grains: amaranth, brown rice, corn, farro, millet, quinoa, whole wheat, wild rice
- Beans/Legumes: black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, navy beans
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts
- Seeds: chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Healthy Beverages: water, tea, coffee, red wine
EAT THESE FOODS A FEW TIMES PER WEEK
- Dairy: kefir, Greek yogurt, feta cheese, goat cheese, parmesan cheese
- Poultry: turkey, chicken
EAT THESE FOODS ABOUT TWICE TO THREE TIMES PER WEEK
- Fish: salmon, sardines, anchovies, tuna
- Shellfish: shrimp, clams, mussels, crab
Foods to Limit on the Mediterranean Diet
It’s not necessary to avoid these foods entirely, but try to think of them as seasonings or side dishes, not the bulk of your meal.
- Red Meat: beef, pork, lamb, bison
- Processed Meat: bologna, bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni, sausage
- Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar: cake, chips, cookies, crackers, donuts, pastries, soda, white bread, white pasta
Getting exercise/movement, taking time to enjoy your meals, and social connection are pieces of Mediterranean eating as well, so don’t forget to connect with the people you are cooking for and eating with.
Want to learn even more ? Your in the right place!
Join our 30 day mediterrean makeover.
Once you join, you will notice, the heart of the 30 day mediterranean makeover is 100% the food!
It is my experience, personally and professional , that no “diet,” “plan” or “lifestyle” is sustainable unless the food is satisfying and , dare I say, exciting….. to every one of your senses. Being satisfied starts when you look down at that plate. Anyone who has been brought up or have visited the mediterranean region knows that food can be both healthy and delicious.
I have said “mediterrean principles with a twist “ ( just like a martini) because I am going to figure out what works for you so , when there is a moment when you want to “do you” ( think nachos and frozen margs) , feel like you did not “blow it” and can still get the results you want. I also teach some cool stuff about important topics like health, hormones and circadian rhythms . I am here to give you the simple mediterranean structure, and empower you with knowledge to get the results you want .
So grab a glass red wine and your laptop and join us. You’re 30 days away from an incredible makeover!