What Is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is based on plant based, whole foods that are native to the Mediterranean region.
The Mediterranean Guidelines*:
- Focus on fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fish, seafood, bread, and extra virgin olive oil
- Eat poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation
- Eat red meat very sparingly
- Avoid processed meats, refined grains and oils, and highly processed food
- Eat your meals with others! It’s believed that a social aspect reinforces positive changes!
*These guidelines are broad and everyone’s different. This diet may or my not be right for you so it’s best to speak to a professional before making dietary changes.
The Mediterranean Diet Benefits
It’s Easy to Follow
The Mediterranean diet is easy to follow because you can tailor it to fit your tastes and budget. You’re not restricted from any food group or limited by quantity. Rather, you’re encouraged to focus on incorporating nutrient dense foods that leave you full and satisfied. This diet shouldn’t be stressful to follow, which gives it major (black bean) brownie points!
There are many studies linking heart health benefits to the Mediterranean Diet. This is partly because on this diet people consume two to four tablespoons of olive oil per day. Olive oil is rich in Monounsaturated and Omega 3 fatty acids, which are associated with lower levels of health disease, cancer, depression, and inflammatory diseases.
It’s important to note that not all olive oil is created equal. Studies have found benefits in olive oil that has been cold pressed and stored properly. When olive oil is exposed to heat and light it can become denatured, losing its beneficial properties. When buying olive oil keep your eye out for cold pressed and a dark glass bottle to help protect the oil. And be sure to store your olive oil in a cupboard (away from heat and light).
Over and over again we hear about the benefits of adding plant foods to our diet for longevity. This is very much in-line with the Mediterranean diet. The diet encourages eating lots of nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, and olive oil – all of which have the benefits of longevity.
To get the most benefits from these foods make sure you’re always consuming high quality ingredients. For example, buy dry-roasted or raw nuts/seeds, and always read the label. The only ingredients should be that nut/seed and maybe some salt – no added preservatives or refined oils.
My Biggest Tip is to Start Slow
If the Mediterranean Diet interests you, you can begin by incorporating aspects of it into your life – you don’t need to follow it 100%.
You can start by adding more greens into your diet. If you eat lots of meat try to implementing Meatless Monday (every Monday stay away from meat and focus your diet around the food groups recommended in the Mediterranean Diet). Another easy switch is to incorporate more olive oil, and less refined oils in your diet. This slow transition may help ease the change and make the program easier to stick with.
Here’s a great recipe that follows the Mediterranean Diet. It’s by Oh She Glows – one of my go-to recipe blogs. I love this recipe for a few reasons: it’s more of a small meal prep (you’ll get enough for a few portions), it should only take about 30 minutes, and it’s very easy to customize (you can substitute for any veggies you have on hand).
P.S. This is delicious topped with some olive oil and salt.
Aly is a Certified Nutrition Practitioner (CNP) who graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and holds a BA from Western University. Aly’s warm and approachable demeanor empowers her clients to take control of their health. She uses a realistic approach, with an emphasis on balance and whole foods to personally address your nutrition needs. Aly believes that eating healthy isn’t about being perfect, it’s about having a plan you can stick to that gives you energy while allowing you to eat the foods you love. Aly believes that with the right tools and guidance you can make positive lifestyle changes to enjoy a happier and healthier life!