The Mediterranean Diet is ranked No. 1 among diets by U.S. News and World Report.
With its roots in the foods of the Mediterranean Sea region, it’s easy to see how this diet can be both delicious and healthful.
There’s no calorie counting, and the diet includes lots of fresh foods. Fat isn’t off the menu, and the menu is massive. The diet gets its flavoring from Mediterranean spices, and wine is allowed (in moderation).
The diet boasts benefits for weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. If you’re sold, here’s how to get started.
A Mediterranean diet includes fruits and vegetables (7 to 10 servings a day), breads and other whole grains such as potatoes and brown rice, as well as beans, nuts and seeds. Olive oil is a primary fat source, and moderate amounts of low-fat dairy, fish and poultry are allowed.
Things to avoid include added sugar (soda, ice cream, syrup), white bread and refined wheat pasta, trans-fats, refined oils such as canola and soybean, processed meats, such as sausages and hot dogs, and processed foods.
Because the Mediterranean diet relies heavily on fresh foods, meal prepping might help you stay on the diet during busy weekdays. You can base multiple dishes during the week on the same ingredients or fully cook meals ahead of time. For example, you can cook high-protein whole oat pancakes on the weekend and freeze them separately, then defrost one each morning for breakfast. You also could cook a batch of brown rice and use it as the grain in dinner on multiple weeknights.
Although hunger shouldn’t be a problem due to the high protein intake on the Mediterranean diet, there are plenty of ways to snack without breaking the rules. Some ideas include olives, cheese cubes, nuts, seeds, roasted chickpeas, dried fruits, tomatoes and avocados.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic for being successful on the Mediterranean Diet.
You don’t have to leave bread and pasta behind. Simply switch to whole-grain versions.
» Replace the red meat in your favorite dishes with chicken, fish or seafood.
» Add more seafood into your diet, aiming for twice a week.
» Use olive oil instead of butter whenever possible. Instead of spreading butter on a piece of bread, dip it in olive oil.