Medical specialists recognize the Mediterranean diet as a real foods approach to healthy eating. Science indicates transitioning to a Mediterranean diet improves cholesterol and stabilizes blood glucose, while boasting long-term weight management, improved mental health, and decreased risk of certain cancers. The best part is the variety, flavor, and balanced nutrient-content, which makes this diet overwhelmingly successful for health. A key component of the Mediterranean diet is altering your meal choices for fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
First, choose the right fats for the Mediterranean diet. Use olive oil mostly for cooking purposes while sometimes adding other fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, oily fish, and dairy. Try not to cut fat completely from meals because your body needs fat to maintain health. A portion of a fat is about the size of a small spoonful. Fat recommendations are 1-2 servings per meal. When you transition to the Mediterranean diet you should learn to measure your fat portions and choose Mediterranean-approved options.
Protein recommendations for the Mediterranean diet include focusing on meat intake, type and amount. Consume small portions of seafood and fish in place of red meats and poultry. A portion size for meat is somewhere between 2-4 ounces, depending on your body’s needs at each meal or snack. Other protein options for meals and snacks are nuts and seeds. Most importantly, the goal is to consume red meat less than three times each week.
The diet encourages meals of mostly plant-based carbohydrates and limited refined grains. Mediterranean dishes have smaller portions of unrefined grains with larger portions of fruits and vegetables. A portion of a grain is about half a cup while a portion of fruit or vegetable is about one cup. Carbohydrate recommendations are 1-3 servings per meal depending on the person. The health benefits of these carbohydrates are infinitely justified for health, but with flavor and variety–they can surely please your palette every time you eat!
The Mediterranean diet focuses on enjoyment, proper portion size, and meals in the company of your loved ones. Meals are meant to be cherished and this diet guides you to live in the moment and eat for wellness. Remember, the Mediterranean diet is intended for wellness and happiness, make small changes at a slow, steady pace to improve overall health or diet.
To learn more about the Mediterranean diet, recipes, meals, or get tips on healthier eating, follow the blog and schedule with Deidra Wood, MS, RDN.