Lifestyle

Mediterranean Diet Guide: Benefits, Meal Plan & More


When it comes to health and fitness, one size does not fit all and your diet is no exception. You need to do your research to make sure you pick a diet that not only fits your goals and lifestyle but is sustainable long term.

Today I’m going to break down the Mediterranean Diet to better help you understand if this is the right choice for you.

The Mediterranean diet was adopted from what is typical in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Spain, Italy, France, and Northern Africa. Those in this region tend to look at the social component of meal time and believe it’s a time to be shared with family, friends and a glass of wine.

Let’s dive into what the diet is and what you might eat on a regular basis if you were on the Mediterranean Diet!

What Is The Mediterranean Diet

A breathtaking view from a city in the Mediterranean region, home of the Mediterranean diet

As mentioned, the Mediterranean diet stemmed from the way people in Mediterranean countries enjoy their meals. The diet is not calorie or fat restrictive which is appealing to many people.

The diet focuses on balance along with color, flavor, and texture. The Mediterranean diet favors plant-based foods, healthy fats, whole grains, and red wine.

The first step to getting on board with the Mediterranean diet is to start switching over to olive oil and avoid trans and saturated fat as much as possible. By doing so you will realize that your food will not come from your pantry but rather from fresh food sources.

The diet encourages many fruits and vegetables with every meal. This, paired with healthy fats and seafood, will make for the perfect meal.

Red wine is encouraged at dinner time as a destresser and helps to enhance the flavor of your food. The Mediterranean diet believes there is a social component when it comes to enjoying your meal. It’s more than a diet, it is a nutritional method that taps into how we live and interact with others at dinner time.

The idea is to eat slowly and savor every bite while being surrounded by the ones you love.

Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Karina elle eating Mediterranean style foods

Many people flock to the Mediterranean diet after hearing that it encourages a glass of wine with dinner and is not calorie restrictive.

However, there are a handful of health benefits to the diet as well! A number of studies suggest that this lifestyle not only helps with weight management but may also help lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain cancers and chronic diseases.

It has also been said to help prevent diabetes and control glucose levels in the body!

Is This Diet Right For You?

While the diet is popular for its encouragement of wine and lack of restricted calories, that doesn’t mean this diet is for everyone.

If you are a person who struggles with overindulging you might need stricter boundaries to follow.

You should start slowly, making small changes as you go. You can begin by switching over to olive oil and cutting butter out of your diet. Then, transition away from red meats and processed foods that are high in trans and saturated fats, while adding more fish to your weekly meal plan.

When you want something sweet reach for fruit, and add vegetables to every meal. The more color and texture the vegetables and fruit have, the better.

Consult with your healthcare provider or dietitian to see which diet is best for you.

Mediterranean Diet Food List  

A spread of delicious Mediterranean diet foods including avocado, lean meat, fruits and veggies

When following the Mediterranean Diet here are some general foods to add to your grocery list.

1. Vegetables – Raw, grilled, steamed or roasted with every meal. The more color the better.

2. Fruits – A great way to get in a sugar fix and high in fiber. Often fruit is a go-to for dessert.

3. Healthy Fats – Olive oil is a must-have for this diet. Along with canola oil, peanuts, and safflower.

4. Whole Grains – Brown rice, oats, quinoa, and buckwheat.

5. Proteins – Fish, shellfish, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The diet allows for poultry in moderation and as little red meat as possible, although it isn’t strictly forbidden.

6. Red Wine – The diet recommends one serving daily with dinner. If you are not a drinker or struggle with drinking you are not urged to start.

Let’s go over some Mediterranean food ideas to help you get started.

Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan Ideas

Here you will find a number of nutritious dishes that are all Mediterranean Diet approved. The perk to this diet is that you can have a wide range of delicious meals. Be sure to only select one item from each list.

Mediterranean Diet Breakfast Ideas

A woman picking up a slice of toast topped with mashed avocado

Oatmeal with raisins  

Greek yogurt topped with dates and drizzled with honey

Veggie omelet piled high with all of your favorite colorful veggies

Avocado toast

Greek yogurt with berries and oats

Mediterranean Diet Lunch Ideas

A mediterranean diet salad

Whole grain sandwich with veggies

Tuna salad over lettuce or on whole grain bread

Leafy greens topped with salmon and veggies

Avocado toast

Grain bowls

Mediterranean Diet Dinner Ideas

A family style miderranean diet based dinner

Veggie pizza

Whole wheat pasta with fish

Mediterranean Lasagna

Broiled salmon with brown rice and veggies

Mediterranean Diet Snack Ideas

A lovely mediterranean diet snack made with avocado, tomato, and corn, and drizzled with olive oil. Talk about a heart healthy snack!

Air popped popcorn drizzled with olive oil

Nuts

Fruit and veggies, lots of them

Hummus and veggies

Greek yogurt with fruit and honey

Apple with almond butter

Tying It All Together

The Mediterranean Diet is a more laid back style to dieting and is still backed by major health benefits. This diet is not meant to feel restrictive and it taps into the social component of enjoying your meals with family and friends.

It focuses on consuming vegetables and olive oil with moderate amounts of protein. The benefits of the diet range from weight management to lowering the risks of certain cancers and chronic diseases.

The diet is meant to be a lifestyle and not just a tool to weight loss. The diet should be paired with regular exercise. You also want to avoid sugary drinks, added sugars, processed foods, and processed meats.

While the diet favors wine, you shouldn’t include it if you do not already drink, or if you have an issue with drinking.

When selecting a diet, you want to make sure you pick something that is sustainable over the long term. This type of diet should be a lifestyle and not a short-term solution.

If done right, this diet can provide you with many health benefits. Be sure to consult with your health care provider or dietitian to help you select the perfect diet for you and your goals!

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Faith Barbare

Faith Barbare

Writer and expert


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