There’s a reason why the Mediterranean Diet reigns supreme as one of the most popular—and effective—diets of all time. It’s an easy, evidence-based diet plan full of delicious whole foods with many health benefits.
In fact, year after year, the Mediterranean Diet comes out on top US News & World Report List of the best dietsand once again, it slips into the top spot for 2024.
This accessible approach to healthy eating emphasizes nutrient-dense plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes) and heart-healthy fats. The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to support weight loss, cardiovascular health, brain power and promote graceful aging.
Numerous studies indicate that adhering to a Mediterranean Diet can reduce a person’s risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, dementia, depression, and other serious health conditions.
If you’re looking for a diet that’s not only easy to follow, but also affordable and scientifically sound, the Mediterranean Diet may be your perfect match. Need a starting point? Check out this 7-day meal plan to effortlessly whip up a week’s worth of deliciously nutritious meals.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet is less of a diet and more of a lifestyle for good health and wellness. It’s all about enjoying nutrient-dense, whole foods you already love, rather than restricting food groups or counting calories.
Although there are no hard and fast rules about what you can’t eat, the Mediterranean Diet does
emphasize eating only moderate amounts of poultry, dairy, eggs and wine…. while setting stricter limits on red meat and sweets.
The Mediterranean Diet is based on the traditional foods and eating habits of people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Morocco and Croatia.
There are actually 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea and each varies in the foods available, cuisine, spices and cooking methods. However, the same general basic nutrition principles apply:
- Consumption is mainly focused on plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Butter is replaced with olive oil.
- Fish, eggs and poultry are the animal proteins of choice.
- Dairy products such as yogurt and cheese are limited to a few times a week.
- Red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month.
- Meals are flavored with various herbs and spices.
- Food is shared and enjoyed with friends and family.
Joy’s 7-day Mediterranean diet plan
This program provides approximately 1,600 calories per day, offering weight loss seekers a benchmark for portion size. Note: the plan includes the option for a glass of wine, a small daily enjoyment and unlimited non-starchy vegetables. See below. Customize it to fit your personal weight management and wellness goals—adjust portions up or down as needed.
- Eat on schedule: Have a meal or snack at least every four to five hours.
- Mix and match any of the meal and snack options. Repeat your favorite meals/snacks as often as you like.
- Plan your menu the night beforeso you are armed with a game plan.
- Drink water throughout the day. Keep a reusable water bottle handy for constant sipping.
- Have healthier snacks while watching TV or a movie: such as light popcorn or vegetables.
- Enjoy unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, peppers, celery, cucumbers, etc.) at any point of the day.
- Be selective with treats and alcohol. Try your best to stick to small portions of sweet treats and moderate your alcohol consumption.
- Greek omelette: Combine 1 egg and 3 egg whites with spinach, dill and optional feta. Enjoy with 1 slice of whole wheat toast on the side.
- PB & Berry Breakfast Bowl. This easy breakfast meal has everything you need for a great day.
- Oatmeal with fruits and nuts. Combine ½ cup dry oats with 1 cup milk of choice (almond milk, low-fat cow’s milk, etc.). Top with ½ cup chopped fruit, 1 tablespoon chopped nuts, and optional 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
- PB & Banana English Muffins. Toast 1 whole wheat English muffin. Top with 1 tablespoon peanut butter, ½ sliced banana, and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
- Avocado egg toast. Upgrade the classic avocado toast with a protein-rich twist. Enjoy with vegetables or seasonings of your choice.
- Longevity Smoothie. Make this delicious superfood smoothie. For a protein boost, add a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder, or enjoy with a hard-boiled egg or a container of single-serving Greek yogurt on the side.
- Overnight Oats. Enjoy one of these delicious “make ahead” variations: Banana Bread Overnight Oats, Blueberry Muffins Overnight Oats the Key Lime Overnight Oats.
- Grilled fish and vegetables. Enjoy 6 ounces of any preferred fish with 2 cups of vegetables, grilled, broiled or sauteed in olive oil.
- Meze plate with hummus, nuts and fruit. Create a Mezze plate with ¼ cup hummus (try mine Lentil hummus the Edamame Hummus) and unlimited crusty or raw vegetables, 1 small whole-wheat roll or ½ large pita, 1 cup grapes, and 10 almonds or walnuts (or 1 ounce of cheese).
- Mediterranean quinoa salad. This Mediterranean masterpiece incorporates all the amazing and delicious features of health-promoting nutrition.
- Superfood Vegetable Stew Lentils. Enjoy 2 cups of it super mouth-watering stew that will nourish your body from head to toe. Enjoy with fresh fruit on the side (1 cup grapes or berries or 1 apple, pear, orange, grapefruit or banana).
- Chicken Caesar Wrap. Enjoy this Chicken Caesar Wrap made with creamy avocado dressing. Bonus points for crispy carrot sticks or peppers on the side.
- Salad with wild salmon and chickpeas. Make this delicious Mediterranean salmon salad.
- Mediterranean Harvest Bowl. Create a nutritious bowl where every bite brings salty-sweet, crunchy, crunchy goodness… and a host of nutrients.
- Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Tahini. Make stuffed peppers and enjoy them with a side salad of mixed greens and non-starchy vegetables with 2 teaspoons olive oil and unlimited balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
- Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo. Combine tender chicken, delicate orzo and citrus goodness for a great big bowl of sunshine. Enjoy with a chopped salad dressed with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and unlimited vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
- Grilled fish with Superfood Minestrone. Enjoy any broiled, broiled or grilled fish of your choice with 2 cups of this flavorful and vegetarian minestrone soup.
- Broccoli Shrimp Scampi. Make this light and flavorful pasta dish that’s quick enough to whip up on a busy weeknight, but fancy enough to serve for a special get-together.
- Greek burgers with feta cheese and roasted red pepper. Make this Mediterranean inspired turkey burger.Add a side salad dressed with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil and unlimited vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice.
- Mediterranean prawns in a sheet with charred vegetables. Make this unique meal with shrimp, broccoli and green beans. Enjoy this recipe with a baked sweet potato or 1 cup of cooked rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat pasta.
- Chicken bruschetta. Up your bruschetta game by making chicken bruschetta. Enjoy with a side of your favorite vegetables and a baked sweet potato or 1 cup of cooked rice, quinoa or pasta.
• Dried apricots and almonds: 8 dried apricots (or 3 dates) with 10 almonds.
• Light Popcorn: Enjoy 4 cups of light popcorn from any store or make these delicious variations Rosemary-parmesan popcorn the Fiesta Lime Popcorn.
• Vegetables and ¼ cup hummus the Creamy Guacamole.
• Hummus deviled eggs (8 halves)
• Apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
• Greek yogurt (1 cup) + berries
• Walnut Zucchini Muffins