At the heart of Mediterranean eating are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs, spices, and red wine. Each day’s meals are built around these foods. Rather than meat playing the central role, vegetables and other plant-based foods do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have lean protein at most meals.
Choose fish and seafood at least twice a week. And include chicken, turkey, eggs, dairy, and other poultry in moderate portions. Many people adhering to the Mediterranean diet eat these kinds of proteins every day. Less frequently, include beef, pork, and lamb with your meals. Maybe once or twice a week. And keep sweets to a minimum. That isn’t to say you should never indulge… a dessert once or twice a week is fine, but try to break yourself from the habit of eating sweets every day.
Aim for nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day… five at a minimum. This may sound tough, but it’s an easy adaptation to make. For breakfast, enjoy a piece of fresh fruit or sauté some veggies and add them to an omelet. A glass of orange juice or tomato juice will round out two servings for the meal. For lunch and dinner, add a side salad to your meal, and make sure there’s an additional serving of veggies in whatever you’re eating. Between the two meals that adds in four more servings, at least.
Reach for fruit instead of sweets and reach for veggies before you indulge in other snacks, and you’ll rack up nine servings before you know it. In this regard, the Mediterranean diet ties in well with another popular eating plan, the Mayo Clinic Diet, whose author recommends beginning and ending every meal with fruits and vegetables.
Nuts and seeds are another great snack food. They are calorie dense and rich in healthy fats. Munch on a handful a day, but don’t go overboard. Those extra calories can result in added pounds if you’re not careful.
An added benefit of the Mediterranean diet is that it’s easy on the pocket book. Cutting down on red meat and eating more veggie-centered meals can help you save on grocery bills. In one study, volunteers of modest means took cooking classes to learn more about the Mediterranean diet and how to cook in that style. Six months after taking the classes, most of the participants had cut their grocery bills in half and reduced or eliminated sodas and junk food. They also shaved their dependence on food banks and government programs for assistance with their grocery bills, which is a good thing for everyone. And they “accidentally” reduced their weight, even though that wasn’t even one of the goals of the study.
The facts are clear. The Mediterranean diet saves money on your grocery bills, and you lose some extra pounds. This is one eating plan that has a lot going for it. Give it a try!