The Mediterranean Diet is different from other diets. Instead of including restriction, elimination of food groups and health claims without evidence, the Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle. It includes an abundance of delicious tasting and nutritious foods from all food groups and has solid evidence to back up its claims.
One month we are told to cut fat from our diet, the next sugar is the root of all evil. We have no doubt that there will continue to be unqualified individuals who decide to write a book about their ‘new amazing’ strategy for fast weight loss and make some quick cash for themselves to sweeten the deal. Different fad diets look at eliminating different groups of macronutrients – Carbohydrate, Protein and/or Fat. The problem is that cutting an entire food group is completely unsustainable for long term success and can have drastic health consequences over time. Studies have shown that a simple reduction in total calorie intake throughout the day (in conjunction with increased calorie expenditure due to exercise) is all that is needed to achieve weight loss goals. Weight loss through healthy eating doesn’t sound that trendy. It may not be great for marketing, however, it has been researched, tested and reviewed for many years – and has been proven to work!
What are the basic rules of a Mediterranean Diet?
Our top 10 ground rules will ensure your confidence in implementing the Mediterranean eating plan long term:
- Use extra virgin olive oil as the primary source of dietary fat. Include whole olives; Weight loss goals may temporarily require a reduction in your olive oil consumption. However, when your goal is weight maintenance, aim to consume approximately 40ml daily. As well, consume 1 – 2 serves of whole olives per week, 1 serve is 8 kalamata olives.
- Eat at least 5 serves of vegetables each day; Load up on 200g (2 cups) of green leafy vegetables, and then pack some punch with 200g (2 cups) of other favourite vegetables throughout the day. Be sure to use onion, garlic and herbs for loads of flavour and nutritional benefit.
- Consume 2 serves of dairy each day; Get your dairy from either 30g of reduced-fat feta, 200g (¾ cup) of low fat natural Greek yoghurt and/or 250ml (1 cup) of low-fat milk.
- Have red meat no more than once a week and preferably choose grass-fed meat. Consume up to 2 serves of poultry and up to 2 – 3 serves of eggs per week; Aim for lean cuts of red meat at 120g a serve. Avoid processed meats such as sausages and deli meats. White meat includes chicken, quail and turkey at 150g a serve. 2 eggs are equivalent to 1 serve of protein. N.B. For protein alternatives for people who follow a vegetarian diet include eggs as well as vegan choices such as legumes, lentils and nuts.
- Include at least 3 legume-based meals each week; ½ cup of dried legumes or 1 cup of cooked legumes is equivalent to 1 serve.
- Eat at least 4 serves of fish and up to 1 serve of other seafood once a week; Prioritise oily fish (rich in omega 3) such as salmon, blue-eye trevalla, blue mackerel, sardines (fresh and/or tinned), tinned salmon, barramundi and bream with a serving size of 150g. In addition to this, enjoy the same portion of seafood (octopus, oysters, prawns, squid and cuttlefish) once a week. N.B. Protein serves per day: Consume 1½ – 2 serves of protein per day of fish, chicken, eggs, lean meat and/or legumes.
- Get a variety of fresh and dried fruit each week aiming for 2 serves daily; Choose 40g of dried figs, prunes and dates as your dried fruit choice or 1 medium-sized piece of fruit, citrus or ½ cup blueberries. Be sure to add 100g (½ cup) tomatoes throughout the day.
- Choose wholegrain bread and cereals with meals. Include up to one serve starchy vegetable, 3 times a week; Depending on activity levels choose 3 – 8 serves daily. A serving size is roughly 1 slice of bread or ½ cup of cooked grains or 1 medium (½ cup cooked) potato.
- Have 1 serving of nuts each day; A handful (30g) of mixed unsalted almonds, walnuts and/or pistachios each day. 1 serve of nuts equates to 12 – 15 almonds, 7 – 8 walnuts or 20 pistachios each day
- Adults: Drink wine in moderation;
Consuming no more than 1 standard drink each day, and preferably red wine (150ml).
*Drink plenty of water and stay active (try walking at least 3 – 4 hours per week)
Purchase a copy of Lisa & Desi’s Mediterranean Cookbook for just $39.95 today! To find out more, and to purchase our cookbooks, visit our books and resources page over at Two Greek Girls Cooking.