The Mediterranean diet has been acknowledged as one of the healthiest ways to eat. Not only is it associated with some delicious meals but it’s also been linked with improved heart health and weight loss. Generally speaking, this diet focuses on eating fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and healthy grains, while limiting red meat, unhealthy fats and processed foods.
This diet encourages people to flavor their foods with olive oil, herbs, and spices; drink healthier beverage options like low-fat milk, coffee, tea and wine; and fill their plates with whole grains, F&Vs, lean meats, and fish. Although this diet could look different for everyone, my goal was to increase my fruits and vegetables to 4 or more servings of each per day; eat at least 2 servings of low-fat dairy per day, eat 3 servings of healthy fats per day; eat 4 servings of whole grains per day; eat 4 servings of nuts or beans per week; and eat 3 servings of fish throughout the week. Wondering what the heck a serving looks like? I like to use this resource or my hand as a general guideline.
- Palm= 3 ounces (think: 3 oz of lean meat or fish)
- A clenched fist= 1 cup (think: a serving size of fruits and vegetables or 1 cup of milk or yogurt)
- Thumb= 1 tablespoon (think: 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or 1 tablespoon of olive oil)
- Cupped handful= ½ cup or 1 ounce (think: 1 oz of nuts, ½ cup of brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or other whole grains)
Okay, and to be honest, this diet was more or less just an excuse for me to splurge on buying some more fish and further justify a glass of wine with dinner. Other than that, this diet, rich in fresh produce, is how I typically eat. You can see some of my favorite meals from this week was my nut-crusted salmon (recipe coming soon!), my Thai Peanut Umami Buddha Bowl, and a delicious Lemon Garlic Mahi Mahi meal!
Throughout the week, I felt energized for my workouts and happy with my meals. After doing Keto, Paleo and other more restrictive diets (check out these other “diets for a week” on my blog), I was happy to be able to have all foods back on the table and allow myself to choose which foods would nourish my body while satisfying my taste buds. I love this diet because it’s one that allows Intuitive Eating and listening to your body rather than relying on a set of dietary rules to abide by.
Although I personally observed lot of advantages with the Mediterranean diet, all diets have their pros and cons.
Pros: If you’re looking for doable– this is your diet. I’m especially fond of it because it doesn’t completely cut out any food group or macronutrient, instead it allows moderation of various healthy food groups. This makes it a more sustainable, realistic dietary pattern than most of the fad diets out there. I also am a fan of this diet because it reduces processed food intake, is low in saturated fat, and has pretty great evidence for reducing the risk of certain diseases.
Cons: This diet can get quite pricey with all the seafood purchases. Also, since the Mediterranean diet is not very specific in its exact servings, it could be confusing or demotivating for some people. For example, when you google what the diet is all about, resources typically use words such as “eat in moderation”, “eat daily”, or “limit”. Whereas some people do great with this flexibility, some may need more rigid guidelines in order to follow along. This is a great resource, as it attaches more specific serving amounts to foods for guidance.
Main Takeaways: I believe the Mediterranean Diet is great to follow for a general healthy lifestyle eating pattern. However, some people may have trouble with this diet if they do better with set guidelines or have certain concerns with medical conditions or food allergies. Remember: if you are unsure what eating pattern is best for you, it is always best to seek out a registered dietitian nutritionist (look for the RDN credential, not simply a “nutritionist”) who are the experts in the field and can coach you through all things nutrition.