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Mediterranean Diet: Meal Plan & Beginner’s Guide

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The Mediterranean diet is a renowned diet that can protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This diet promotes eating more vegetables, fruits, pulses, whole grains, and olive oil (healthy fat), some fish, and less meat. Research reveals that the Mediterranean diet is abundant in antioxidants and flavonoids, which are associated with longevity.

How The Mediterranean Diet Works

Our lifestyles have played a significant role in the rise of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and other lifestyle-related diseases. Researchers have found that the Mediterranean diet can support long-term weight loss, help control blood pressure, and reduce blood lipid levels.

This Mediterranean diet encourages you to eat more natural and wholesome foods. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are rich sources of dietary fiber and help regulate blood glucose levels, lower LDL cholesterol, and improve digestion. You will eat lean protein and a minimum amount of red meat, which makes this diet greatly heart-friendly. Yogurt and cheese are good sources of calcium, good gut bacteria, and protein. Legumes are high in protein and dietary fiber. Nuts are packed with protein and healthy fats that prevent inflammation-induced weight gain.

You will need to drop all kinds of processed and artificial foods that are high in sodium, sugar, and trans fats. And most importantly, this diet highlights the importance of having lunch or dinner with family or friends, as they do in Mediterranean culture, which helps reduce stress and depression. Here’s the image of the Mediterranean diet pyramid that shows what and how much you are assumed to eat.

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Mediterranean Diet Basic Guidelines

  • Eat plant-based food like vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Eat fish and poultry twice every week.
  • Eat red meat 2-3 times a month.
  • Use herbs and spices to make your food flavorful and tasty.
  • Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil, butter, lard, margarine, etc.
  • Avoid consuming processed food.
  • Consume limited salt and sugar.
  • Indulge in a sweet treat once a week.
  • Drink wine in moderation.
  • Enjoy your meal with family or friends.
  • Drink adequate amount of water (3-4 liters) per day.
  • Exercise regularly.

Mediterranean Diet Plan

Meals What to Eat
Early Morning (6:00 – 7:30 am) 1 teaspoon fenugreek soaked (overnight) in 2 cups of water
Breakfast (6:45 – 8:15 am)

Options:

Kale and celery smoothie + 1 boiled egg+4 almonds

Vegetable quinoa + ½ grapefruit + 4 almonds

Mid-Morning (9:30 – 10:45 am)

Options:

1 bowl fruit salad/ freshly pressed fruit juice

1 cup fresh coconut water

Lunch (12:30 – 1:30 pm)

Options:

Tuna salad/tofu salad with light dressing + 1 cup buttermilk

Grilled fish with blanched veggies and a small cup hummus + 1 cup buttermilk

Evening Snack (3:30 – 4:30 pm) 1 cup green tea + 1 small cup cucumber (spice up with lime juice and herbs)
Dinner (7:00 – 7:30 pm)

Options:

Kidney bean with brown rice with a side of veggies + 1 small cup yogurt

Mushroom stuffed capsicum with whole wheat pita bread + 1 small cup yogurt

Mediterranean Diet Foods To Eat

Mediterranean Diet Foods

Veggies – Tomato,broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, spinach, swiss chard,asparagus, zucchini, bell pepper, bok choy, green chili, pumpkin, bottle gourd, snake gourd, bitter gourd, okra, eggplant, radish, turnip, beetroot, carrot, sweet potato, potato with peel, radish greens, rocket spinach, collard greens, and green beans.
Fruits – Papaya, apple, grapes, grapefruit, lime, lemon, orange, plum, pear, peach, pluot, figs, blueberry, strawberry, starfruit, green apple, watermelon, and muskmelon.
Fats & Oils – Olive oil, rice bran oil, and ghee (clarified butter).
Seeds & Nuts – Macadamia nuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts.
Beverages – Coconut water, freshly pressed fruit juice and vegetable juice, buttermilk, green tea, herbal tea, and black coffee.
Herbs & Spices – Cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg, black pepper, star anise, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder, cilantro, oregano, dill, fenugreek seeds, rosemary, thyme, clove, saffron, fennel seeds, and fenugreek seeds.

Mediterranean Diet Foods To Avoid

Veggies – Potato without the peel.
Fruits – Mango and jackfruit.
Fats & Oils – Animal fat, butter, mayonnaise, ranch, canola oil, and vegetable oil.
Seeds & Nuts – Cashew nuts.
Junk Food – Deep fried chicken, wafers, crisps, doughnut, nachos, salami, sausage, pepperoni, fries, pizza, burger, etc.
Beverages – Aerated drinks, artificially sweetened drinks, packaged fruit juices, and alcohol.

Mediterranean Diet Exercise Routine

When it comes to being healthy, nutrition plays a significant role, and so does exercising. You need to exercise constantly to keep your muscles and cells active, strengthen your body, keep your metabolism going, build resistance to diseases, and to become fit. Here’s a sample workout plan.

  • Head tilt – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Neck rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Arm circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Wrist rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Waist rotations – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Ankle rotation – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Spot jogging – 3-5 minutes
  • Jumping jacks – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Side Lunges – 1 set of 15 reps
  • Russian twist – 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Tricep dips – 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Bicep curls (5 lb weights) – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Crunches- 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Lying leg circles – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Horizontal kicks – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Push-ups – 2 sets of 10 reps
  • Forward elbow plank – 20-second hold
  • Side plank – 20-second hold
  • Stretch

Mediterranean Diet Benefits

Mediterranean Diet Side Effects

Though there are no severe side effects of this diet, if you are not used to eating much plant-based food, you might find this diet a bit difficult initially. However, once you get used to it, it will become a part of your lifestyle and it will not bother you anymore.

Bottomline

The Mediterranean diet is surely the best diet to follow if you want to enhance your health and lead a disease-free life. This diet is not a fad diet, and you have the freedom to eat anything as long as it is nutritious and unprocessed. So, discuss with your dietician today and try the Mediterranean diet to see yourself transform! Take care.

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