Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is a simple way of eating healthy. The diet, known for its origination in the Mediterranean, has a focus on oils, good fats and complex carbohydrates. The Mediterranean diet is a realistic diet that can be used by anyone. The benefits of the diet are far reaching and will continue to help people lose weight, feel better and live healthier. 

Mediterranean Diet Graphic

The Origins

The origins of the Mediterranean Diet go back much further than the middle ages. Early inhabitants of the Mediterranean, who followed Greek traditions, found eating large amounts of fatty fish, olive oil, vegetables and cheese was not only healthy, but a sign of their cultural significance and religious faith. [1] After periods of political and social change, the peoples of the Mediterranean found themselves eating new imported foods from Germanic tribes and the Muslims, which provided new types of red meats. 

However, stuck in their ways, the peoples of the Mediterranean remained loyal to their customary diet. So, instead of conforming to the diet of others, the Mediterranean people remained eating their natural diet. This Mediterranean diet soon became the staple of the Christian diet in Europe. Wine, bread, cheese and olive oil was then exported from the Mediterranean to the rest of Europe. The staple foods of the Mediterranean, such as olive oil, soon became an “elixir of youth”, and spread across the world. [2] Today, many of the natural Mediterranean foods fill our pantries, plates and kitchens.

Mediterranean Island

Health and The Mediterranean Diet

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, a doctor by the name of Ancel Keys began doing research on the health and eating patterns of people around 7 countries throughout the world. Keys and his associates noticed that people living in Crete and southern Italy were living longer, healthier and had much less cases of heart disease and cancer. [3] Convinced the diet was responsible for the good health of the Mediterranean peoples, Dr. Keys and his wife created many books promoting the diet. After many years of continued research, the Mediterranean diet was thus popularized.

Since the initial studies of the Mediterranean diet by Dr. Keys, many more studies have surfaced. A popular study released in 2013, called “PREDIMED”, found a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease. [4] However, this study was only conclusive in showing significant reductions in men. The PREDIMED study was substantial because it included over 7,000 people. The results of the original PREDIMED study was then used in many other research projects.

A year after the original PREDIMED research, a large portion of the subjects (over 1,200 people) were then analyzed to see if the Mediterranean diet helped assist in reversing metabolic syndrome. [5]  The results concluded that the Mediterranean diet may indeed help reverse metabolic syndrome. Many other studies, assisted by the original PREDIMED study, showed benefits in avoiding heart failure [6] and coronary disease [7].

Food in the Mediterranean Diet

The basic foods in the Mediterranean diet are fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and complex carbs. 

fruit in the Mediterranean diet

Fruits are a delicious way to get our healthy calories and energy.

veggies in the diet

Veggies can be eaten (basically) without regard in the Mediterranean diet!

pic of nuts

Nuts are an important part of any Mediterranean diet.

pic of beans

Beans come in all different flavors, sizes and shapes. With the Mediterranean Diet it doesn’t matter which bean you choose.

Complex carbs are important for a good diet

Complex carbs are a great way to get full without going over budget on your daily calorie intake.

Starting with the foundational foods in the Mediterranean diet, all meals can be formulated. The main objective of the Mediterranean diet is not calorie reduction, but eating healthy. That is why the Mediterranean diet is not only successful in weight loss, but also recognized by the World Health Organization as a sustainable diet. Following the diet plans of the Mediterranean diet will result in weight loss and heart health if you maintain a negative calorie balance and follow the diet consistently. 

Foods to avoid:

  • Refined Oils (Canola, Soybean, Non-Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • Refined Grains (White bread, white rice, Pasta made with refined wheat)
  • Trans Fat (Found in Butter and other processed fats)
  • Processed Meats (Sausages, steaks, lamb, etc..)

Shopping for the Mediterranean Diet

While starting a new diet may seem daunting, we are here to tell you the Mediterranean diet is one of the easiest to shop for. In order to simplify the process, we are going to list out the basic foods to buy at the grocery store. A general rule (for any health conscious diet) is to avoid purchasing food that is processed. Keep it simple and go for natural foods. As far specificity to the types of food in the food groups, it matters little. You can get any type of veggie, fruit, or nut that you like. 

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Make sure it is extra virgin)

In order to avoid the processed version of real olive oil, it’s important to purchase extra virgin. Extra virgin is the purest, non-processed, cold pressed olive oil available. 

  • Vegetables 

When it comes to veggies, the options are endless. If you’re trying to stay as culturally Mediterranean as possible, you can eat their favorite veggies. Which are (in alphabetical order): Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Fennel, Kale, Lemons, lettuce, Mushrooms, Okra, onions (red, sweet, white), Peas, Peppers, Radishes, Scallions, Spinach, Zucchini. [8]

  • Nuts and Seeds

Cashews, Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnuts, Peanuts, Walnuts, etc..

  • Whole Grains 

Brown rice, Whole Grain Oats, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Buckwheat, Whole Grain Pasta, Bread and Cereal (avoid extreme processed whole grain cereal).

  • Fruits

Just like veggies, fruits are basically endless. So, we will list some favorites in the Mediterranean (you can chose any fruit you like): Apricots, Avocados, Cherries, Clementines, Grapefruits, Grapes, Melons, Olives, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Pomegranates, Strawberries, Tangerines and Tomatoes.

  • Herbs 

Basil, Garlic, Cinnamon, Pepper, etc…

  • Fish

Clams, Lobster, Tilapia, Salmon, Shrimp, etc… Fish should be consumed a few times a week. 

  • Dairy/Poultry 

Cheese, Yogurt, Eggs and Chicken. Most poultry items should be consumed in small amounts, with dairy products following a similar but less rigid plan. 

  • Red Meat/Desserts 

Red meat should be eaten maximum once a week. It’s better to stick to the veggies, carbs, fish and fats. For desserts, it’s okay to have a nice treat occasionally, but just avoid going overboard. Moderation is a fundamental aspect in the Mediterranean diet.

Planning Meals

Mediterranean meal chart simple

Planning meals for the Mediterranean diet is simple. By following our “Simple Mediterranean Chart”, you can create an extensive amount of meals. Below is an example day of eating the Mediterranean diet:

Meal 1

Fried Egg

Oatmeal 

Peanuts/Almonds (Any nut you want)

Banana 

Meal 2

Salad Greens (Topped with vinegar or Olive Oil)

Hummus 

Tomatoes/Onions (Any veggie you want)

Meal 3

Whole grain pasta

Eggplant (Any veggie you want)

Tomato Sauce/Olive Oil

Parmesan Cheese 

The possibility for meals are almost endless. The Mediterranean diet is filled with delicious grains, fruits and veggies. Plus, we are able to cook in olive oil, which makes everything taste better! So, follow our graph, get creative and enjoy the deliciousness that is the Mediterranean diet.

Drinks in The Mediterranean Diet

Red wine is a big part of the Mediterranean way of life

Although we are a sober living company and do not promote drinking at all, it is possible in moderation in the Mediterranean diet (for those who are not alcoholics). The diet allows for wine and finds it is acceptable to consume in moderation. Beyond wine, the major liquid component is water. It’s very important to drink at least 6 cups of water a day. Beyond wine and water, tea and coffee are also acceptable to drink.

Drinks to Avoid:

  • Sugary Sodas
  • Liquor
  • Energy Drinks

Mediterranean Lifestyle

The contents of the food are only a portion of the Mediterranean diet. In fact, the Mediterranean diet is not just a blueprint on what to eat, but it shows us how to live. The Mediterranean diet promotes eating together, daily exercise and drinking plenty of water. Because of its ancestral and cultural beginnings, the Mediterranean diet continues to promote growth between people while sharing delicious and healthy foods.

To be successful in any diet, there must be a negative calorie balance. It doesn’t matter if you choose the Mediterranean diet, the Keto Diet or choose to try Intermittent Fasting. The key to weight loss is and will always be eating less calories than you burn. 

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