In this blog post you will learn how to get started on the mediterranean diet by discovering which foods are allowed and which foods are not allowed or should be eaten in moderation.
How to gradually adopt the Mediterranean style of eating, it's benefits, and how it can Improve your health and well-being. It's quite easy.
How To Get Started On The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet Is Not What You Think.
The Mediterranean diet, like most diets, has certain requirements that must be met in order to live a healthy lifestyle.
Remember that the word "diet" does not mean that this style of eating is calorie-restricted or low in calories. It entails altering your diet in order to gain the health benefits this way of eating has been proven to give.
Misunderstandings Of The Mediterranean Diet
There is a widespread misunderstanding that the Mediterranean diet has strict rules stating that you have to stop eating any forms of meat, dairy products, or grains.
This is not correct, they can all be consumed, but in much smaller quantities than you are most likely used to.
What Are The Food Types To Avoid On The Mediterranean Diet
However, some food choices do have to made when adopting this diet.
You should avoid 'ultra processed foods', for example animal products like sausage, burgers, nuggets, etc., fall into this category.
Packaged, pre-cooked meals are another type of food that should be avoided, as they usually contain high amounts of salt and saturated fats but low in heart healthy fats and dietary fiber.
What Foods Do You Eat On The Mediterranean Diet?
One of the main principles of the Mediterranean diet is to add more vegetables especially, leafy greens, fruits plus, nuts, and seeds into daily meals.
Mediterranean Diet; Not A Quick Fix.
It is important to keep in mind that Mediterranean-style eating is not a "quick fix" for weight loss. It requires a change in lifestyle. One that has the potential to result in positive health outcomes of much more than simply losing weight.
When thinking about switching to this healthy diet and the delicious food, it is good to have other reasons besides simply wanting to lose weight.
These Reasons Could Include:
- Cancer risk is reduced (1). Having said that, there is a link between drinking alcohol and an increased risk of breast cancer. Even though drinking red wine is permitted on this healthy diet, those who come from families with a history of breast cancer should limit their consumption to an absolute minimum (2).
- Reduces the likelihood of developing heart disease and stroke.(3)
- Reduces blood pressure. (4)
- Reduce levels of cholesterol.(5)
- Improve cardiovascular health.(6)
The Change In Diet And What To Expect.
If you frequently eat non-healthy meals like frozen dinner ready meals, ultra processed foods, like canned meat, and take-away meals, It may take some time to adjust to this Mediterranean-style eating
Since many of the fresh foods on this diet are eaten in their unprocessed state, they are likely to have a variety of fresh tastes that you have never experienced before.
But stick with it and as soon as you start to notice improvements to your health and well-being, there will be no turning back.
The Best Tips To Get Started On The Mediterranean Diet
The best way to get started on the Mediterranean diet is to start slowly. Especially, if your current style of eating includes a lot of ultra processed foods and take-away meals.
Don't completely stop eating something simply because it's 'not allowed'. Remember, this is not a race or a faddy diet, it's a lifestyle change. Instead, find healthy alternatives that are just as flavoursome as the unhealthy options while still being beneficial to your health.
Food Swap Examples To Getting Started.
For example, if you typically prefer white bread, you might want to experiment with whole-grain bread or 50/50 bread, (bread that is 50 percent white bread and 50 percent whole-grain) and them move on to whole-grain bread which will increase your fiber intake.
Seeded bread is the next step after getting used to whole-grain bread. It's better for your health in every way, tastes better, has many more nutrients as well as being better for your overall health. (7)
A straight swap for butter is olive oil. Instead of cooking in butter, which is high in saturated fats, use virgin or better still, extra virgin olive oil. It is low in saturated fats but bursting in heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood.
The Mediterranean Diet And Weight Loss.
To lose weight successfully on the Mediterranean diet, you must be willing to commit to a lifestyle change, i.e. an eating/life style that you commit to for your entire life, not for a few weeks before you jet off on vacation.
The wonderful thing about this Mediterranean-inspired diet is that, after a little time has passed, the changes will start to feel more normal. As soon as they do, the pounds will start to drop off. And stay off.
It's important to know what foods are permitted on a Mediterranean diet before beginning the plan to lose weight or simply to improve your health.
When you go shopping for groceries, you should make sure to get foods from each of these categories:
The Mediterranean Diet Food Groups That Are Allowed.
From cherry tomatoes to leaf greens, there are wide variety of options when it comes to vegetables, and there is no limit on the number of vegetables you can have,
The best part is that vegetables are low in calories, but high in vitamins, minerals, and fibre.(8)
Make it a goal to eat at least four to five servings per day and to include them with each meal, making it easy to increase your dietary fiber intake.
Get your free Mediterranean Diet Food List pdf here
Download our free food list and discover exactly what delicious foods are allowed on this amazing diet. Get Started Today!
As with vegetables, there is a large variety of fresh fruit available, and they are an excellent source of various nutrients (8).
Experiment with a variety of them. Try some new ones you have never tasted before don't be afraid to branch out of your comfort zone.
The Mediterranean diet recommends two to three servings per day. Snacking on berries instead of candy/sweets is one way to make a healthy swap and include them in your daily allowance.
Because of the high sugar content of candy/sweets, and their extreme effect on your blood sugar, they become very addictive. Making this simple swap is far easier said than done, it will take considerable effort and time to conquer.
These include beans, peas and lentils. They are low in fat and a great source of protein, slow release complex carbohydrates as well as a source of extra ﬁber. This excellent combination of properties will satisfy your hunger with ease.(9)
Include legumes in dishes such as salads, soups, or stews. When following a Mediterranean-inspired diet, the recommended daily intake for adults is one to two portions.
Many weight loss diets do not include a handful of nuts per day because they are high in fat and calories.(10)
More importantly, nuts are also high in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, some of which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, nuts are also high in nutrients.
On the Mediterranean diet, they make an excellent snack. Just be mindful of how many you eat, as overindulging can result in weight gain.
When it comes to seeds, it's the same as with nuts. They're delicious as a snack or as a topping sprinkled on your meal, and they're packed with nutrients (10). Eat them sparingly if you do decide to bring them into your Mediterranean diet.
Olive oil's high antioxidant content has many health benefits, including lowering one's risk of cardiovascular disease.(3)
When following this healthy diet, only 3-5 tbsp of olive oil is recommended per day, so don't go overboard due to its high fat content. It's delicious drizzled on salads. It is best to use extra virgin olive oil for salads rather than cooking.
The fatty acids play a role in reducing inflammation in the body as well as lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.(12)
Aim to consume at least two portions of oily fish in addition to white fish and seafood each week.
Whole wheat and brown rice are great examples of nutritious grains.
They contain fibre, which can help you feel fuller for longer and maintain a healthy gut. Refined grains life white rice or white pasta have much of the fiber removed when they are processed.
Healthy grains are an important source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also contain prebiotic compounds that feed beneficial probiotics in our intestines. These probiotics promote good digestion and keep harmful bacteria from causing inflammation or infections.
Include these in your diet on a regular basis.
Cheese, from dairy, is high in fat and salt so it should be eaten in moderation. Italians love their goat and sheep cheese, which typically comes from herds they care for themselves.
You are not expected to start sheep farming, but having this type of cheese is easier
on your digestive system, benefits gut bacteria, and lacks lactose, so you are less
likely to develop an allergic reaction to it. (13)
Sweets And Desserts
Sweets and desserts should be eaten sparingly because of their high sugar and fat content, the sugar content causes blood sugar levels to spike, then slump, leaving you craving for more sugary snacks.
Having fruit for dessert is a better option than chocolate or ice cream if you're craving something sweet, but generally these are not allowed when following the Mediterranean diet.
If you must have cakes or cookies, they should ideally be made from wholegrain flour.
Bringing It All Together
It is time to get started on your Mediterranean diet plan now that you are familiar with the foods that make up the basis of the diet.
Create Your Own Custom Mediterranean Diet Plan
Take a 1 Minute Quiz To
Create Your Own Perfect Diet Plan
Make a few meal plans for the upcoming week, and then go shopping for the ingredients.
You won't regret your decision once you've given it a shot.
- Does a Mediterranean-Type Diet Reduce Cancer Risk? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4778149/
- Alcohol and breast cancer https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/alcohol-related-diseases/alcohol-and-breast-cancer/
- Vasculoprotective Role of Olive Oil Compounds via Modulation of Oxidative Stress in Atherosclerosis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6308304/
- Dietary Salt Intake and Hypertension https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105387/
- Cardiovascular disease risk factors and dietary habits of farmers from Crete 45 years after the first description of the Mediterranean diet https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20531009/
- Widmer, R.J., Flammer, A.J., Lerman, L.O. and Lerman, A., 2015. The Mediterranean diet, its components, and cardiovascular disease. The American journal of medicine, 128(3), pp.229-238.
- Health Studies https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/health-studies
- Why 5 A Day? https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/why-5-a-day/
- Beans and other legumes: Cooking tips https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/legumes/art-20044278
- 8 Health Benefits of Nuts https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-benefits-of-nuts
- 6 Super Healthy Seeds You Should Eat https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-healthiest-seeds
- Omega-3 fatty acids: cardiovascular benefits, sources and sustainability https://bit.ly/3qtZv4D
- Health Benefits of Goat Cheese https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-goat-cheese#1