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How to Get Started with the Mediterranean Diet

If last week’s blog about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet left you intrigued, we’re here to offer you some more information on this nutritious eating plan!

As we mentioned before, the Mediterranean diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein sources. If you are unsure about how to begin this diet, look no further. Here are some healthy ideas to get you started!

  • Start strong– You’ve heard it before: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” On the Mediterranean diet, start your day with a meal that’s filled with fruits, whole grains and protein. For example, pick a fruit, and accompany it with an egg and vegetable omelet along with pita bread to create a well-rounded, Mediterranean-approved meal.
  • Veggies, veggies and more veggies– The Mediterranean diet places a heavy emphasis on eating your vegetables. If you’ve never been a fan, start slowly! Enjoy a vegetable platter with hummus, or try out a simple plate of sliced tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and crumbled feta cheese.
  • Fat can be good – If you’ve fallen victim to the claim that fat is bad for you, let the Mediterranean diet prove otherwise. The fats found in extra virgin olive oil, avocados, olives, seeds and nuts are forms of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that, in moderation, can aid in heart health.
  • Dairy isn’t scary – Though there are claims that removing dairy from your diet is a smart choice, the Mediterranean diet encourages you to enjoy the health benefits of dairy, such as the vitamins, calcium and protein. Enjoy Greek or plain yogurts mixed with berries for a delicious snack, or add low-fat cheese to your salads or soups.
  • Don’t skip dessert – Yes, you read that right! You don’t have to skip dessert to reap the health benefits of this eating plan. Now, the Mediterranean diet does not advocate eating cake and ice cream. Rather, this nutrition plan encourages you to enjoy fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you want to jazz up your fruit selection, try frozen grapes. All you have to do is wash them, put them into a container, freeze them for a few hours and enjoy!
  • Where’s the beef? ­– On this diet, red meat is limited to only a few times per month in very small amounts. When you do eat red meat, the serving should be three ounces – about the size of a deck of cards. Enjoy moderate amounts of poultry or fish at least twice a week as an alternative source of protein.

Although these are only a few tips, at its core, the Mediterranean diet places a large emphasis on eating fresh, wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, whole grains, nuts and olive oil.

If you are interested in learning more or starting the Mediterranean diet, talk with your primary care physician.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/mediterranean-diet.htm

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/tc/mediterranean-diet-topic-overview

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