What Is The Mediterranean Diet: Mediterranean Diet Plan for Beginners
What is The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean dietary style has been inspired by the eating habits of people from ancient Greece, southern Italy, and Spain. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of plant foods like olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, and vegetables to moderate consumption of animal foods and dairy products. In the Mediterranean lifestyle, Water is the go-to beverage and its consumption is highly recommended here. Multiple pieces of evidence have proven the diet have lower risks related to heart diseases and early death. Olive oil is generally used for cooking a Mediterranean diet and is considered a major health-promoting component related to the lifestyle. UNESCO had added the Mediterranean diet as a part of the intangible cultural heritage of countries like Spain, Italy, and Portugal due to historical relations of people to the diet. It has been found to be useful in boosting up of our body immunity which has helped to stay away from several other health concerns which include the likes of diabetes and cancer. A Mediterranean diet plan also permits an individual to visit the restaurant if he or she is able to stick to the core requirements of the dietary regime. Whole grains are considered a very important part of the lifestyle and their consumption is an absolute must while under the dietary regime. There are several dietary choices that must be followed as a part of this dietary regime and some others which must be avoided. We have tried to cobble up a comprehensive diet plan related to the Mediterranean lifestyle below:
The Basics of Mediterranean Diet Plan
Food items to be included in our diet: Fruits, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, bread, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil. For consumptions in moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. For consuming on rare occasions: Red meat. Food items to be strictly avoided: refined grains, refined oils, processed meat, added sugars, sugar-sweetened beverages, and other highly processed foods.
Foods to Avoid in a Mediterranean Diet Plan
You should avoid these unhealthy foods and ingredients:
- Added sugar: Candies, Soda, Table sugar, ice-cream amongst many others.
- Refined grains: Include the likes of white bread and pasta made with refined wheat.
- Trans fats: Generally found in processed foods like margarine.
- Refined Oils: Canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil amongst others.
- Processed meat: Processed sausages, hot dogs, etc.
- Highly processed foods: Highly processed foods must be strictly avoided in a Mediterranean diet as such foods have become the main cause of health deterioration.
Mediterranean Diet Plan Food List
We must look to include these food items as a part of our Mediterranean diet plan:
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, etc.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, etc.
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.
- Legumes: Beans, chickpeas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, peas.
- Tubers: Yams, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc.
- Whole Grains: Pasta, brown rice, rye, corn, buckwheat, Whole oats, whole wheat, whole grain bread, and barley. Whole, single ingredient foods are the key to good health.
- Fish and Seafood: Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, etc.
- Poultry: Chicken, duck, turkey and more.
- Eggs: Chicken, quail and duck eggs.
- Dairy: Cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt.
- Herbs and Spices: Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper.
- Healthy Fats: avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, olives, and avocados.
A Few Things Worth Noting Regarding The Mediterranean Diet Plan
Mediterranean diet seems to vary for different regions in the globe. Individuals from a certain country might consider a certain dietary product Mediterranean which may not be the case for some other country. Owing to such controversies, it is advisable to stick to diets which is high in plant foods and low in animal foods while maintaining a Mediterranean dietary regime. Fish and seafood is of prime importance for inclusion in the diet and is recommended for at least twice a week. Other important aspects of the lifestyle include physical activity, sharing meals and enjoying life to the fullest.
What to Drink while following a Mediterranean diet plan?
Water is the go-to beverage when on a Mediterranean diet plan. We may also drink moderate amounts of red wine which must not exceed more than one glass per day. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is completely optional as a part of a Mediterranean lifestyle and people suffering from alcoholism must completely avoid it. Coffee and tea are also allowed as a part of the diet but avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices are the best path forward while under a Mediterranean dietary regime.
Weekly Mediterranean Diet Plan
We have tried to put together a sample menu for a Mediterranean diet plan that may prove useful to beginners in planning out their dietary sessions. Adjustments can be made according to your dietary preferences.
Breakfast: Strawberries and oats with Greek yogurt.
Lunch: Vegetables with Whole grain sandwich.
Dinner: A salad using tuna fish, dressed in olive oil. We may use a piece of fruit as a dessert.
Breakfast: Raisins with Oatmeal.
Lunch: The leftover tuna salad from previous night’s dinner may be consumed during this lunch session.
Dinner: Olives and feta cheese, Salad with tomatoes.
Breakfast: Tomatoes and onions, omelet with veggies. A piece of fruit may be consumed.
Lunch: cheese and fresh vegetables with Whole grain sandwich.
Dinner: Mediterranean lasagne.
Breakfast: Sliced fruits and nuts with Yogurt.
Lunch: Leftover lasagne from the night before.
Dinner: brown rice and vegetables served with Broiled salmon.
Breakfast: Eggs and vegetables fried in olive oil.
Lunch: Oats and nuts, Greek yogurt with strawberries.
Dinner: Baked potato and salad, grilled lamb.
Breakfast: nuts and apple, oatmeal with raisins.
Lunch: Vegetables with whole grain sandwich.
Dinner: A pizza made with whole wheat. We may use cheese, vegetables, and olives as toppings.
Breakfast: Olives and veggies with an omelet.
Lunch: Leftover pizza from the night before.
Dinner: Vegetables and a potato with Grilled chicken. Pieces of fruit as dessert.
We don’t need to keep track of the calorie consumption in regards to a Mediterranean diet.
Healthy Mediterranean Diet Snacks
While under a Mediterranean diet plan, we must limit our daily consumption to a maximum of three servings per day. In case of excess hunger, we may opt for such healthy snacks which may be considered as a part of the lifestyle. Here are some of the snacks that fall into this diet category:
- A handful of nuts.
- A piece of fruit. (Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes. Berries, Strawberries, blueberries)
- Carrots or baby carrots.
- Leftovers from the night before.
- Greek yogurt.
How to Maintain The Mediterranean Diet Plan Restrictions in Restaurants
Maintaining a Mediterranean diet while paying a visit to the restaurant requires some simple steps which may be listed as follows:
- We must stick to seafood primarily as a part of our main dish.
- Asking for our food to be fried in extra olive oil.
- Consume whole grain bread with olive oil instead of butter.
Shopping List for The Mediterranean Diet Plan
While shopping for a Mediterranean diet, it is best advised to shop at the store’s perimeters. The reason for such an advice is the availability of whole foods at the store perimeters. Organic food is a necessary option for the dietary style and processed food must be strictly avoided. The shopping list while under a Mediterranean diet plan involves this generalized shopping list:
- Vegetables: Carrots, olives, onions, broccoli, spinach, kale, garlic, potatoes and sweet Potatoes.
- Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes.
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, etc.
- Frozen veggies: Choose mixes with healthy vegetables.
- Grains: Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, etc.
- Legumes: Lentils, pulses, beans, etc.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.
- Seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Condiments: sea salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, etc.
- Fish: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout. Shrimp and shellfish.
- Cheese, Greek Yogurt.
- Pastured or Omega-3 enriched eggs.
- Extra virgin olive oil.