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 eating plan full of delicious whole foods with numerous health benefits.
In fact, year after year, the Mediterranean Diet ranks number one on U.S. News & World Report Best Diets list, and once again, it slips into the first-place spot for 2024.
This accessible approach to healthy eating emphasizes nutrient-rich 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 suggest that sticking to a Mediterranean Diet can lower a person’s risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, dementia, depression, and other serious health conditions.
If you’re in search of a diet that’s not only easy to stick to but also budget-friendly and scientifically backed, the Mediterranean Diet might just be your perfect match. Need a starting point? Check out this 7-day meal plan to effortlessly prepare a week’s worth of deliciously nourishing meals.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet is less of a diet and more of a lifestyle approach for good health and well-being. It’s all about savoring nutrient-dense, whole foods that you already love, rather than restricting food groups or counting calories.
While there aren’t strict rules about what you cannot eat, the Mediterranean Diet does
emphasize consuming only moderate amounts of poultry, dairy, eggs, and wine…. while placing stricter limits on red meat and sweets.
The Mediterranean Diet is based on the traditional foods and eating habits of people in the countries neighboring the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and Croatia.
There are actually 16 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, and each varies in terms of the foods available, cuisine, spices and cooking methods. However, the same overall basic diet principles apply:
- Eating is focused primarily on plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Butter is replaced with olive oil.
- Fish, eggs and poultry are the animal proteins of choice.
- Dairy such as yogurt and cheese, is limited to a few times per 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 plan provides approximately 1,600 calories per day, offering individuals seeking weight loss a reference point for portion size. Note: the plan includes the option for a glass of wine, a small daily treat and unlimited non-starchy vegetables; see below. Tailor it to suit your personal weight management and wellness goals—adjust portions up or down as needed.
Click here to download the plan!
- Eat on a schedule: Have a meal or snack at least every four to five hours.
- Mix and match any of the meal and snack options. Repeat favorite meals/snacks as often as you’d like.
- Plan your menu the night before, so you’re armed with a game plan.
- Drink water throughout the day. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand for continuous sipping.
- Stick with healthier snacks when watching TV or a movie: such as light popcorn or veggies.
- Enjoy unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, peppers, celery, cucumbers, etc.) at any point in the day.
- Be selective with treats and alcohol. Try your best to stick with small portions of sweet treats and moderate your alcohol consumption.
- Greek Omelet: Combine 1 egg and 3 egg whites with spinach, dill and optional feta. Enjoy with 1 slice of whole-grain toast on the side.
- PB & Berry Breakfast Bowl. This easy morning meal has got everything you need for a magnificent day.
- Oatmeal with Fruit 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 1 optional teaspoon of honey or maple syrup. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
- PB & Banana English muffin. Toast 1 whole-grain English muffin. Top with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, ½ sliced banana and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
- Avocado ‘n Egg Toast. Level up the classic avocado toast with a protein-rich twist. Enjoy with any preferred vegetables or seasonings.
- Longevity Smoothie. Make this delicious superfood smoothie. To increase the protein, add a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder, or enjoy with a hard-boiled egg or container of single-serve Greek yogurt on the side.
- Overnight Oats. Enjoy one of these delicious “make ahead” variations: Banana Bread Overnight Oats, Blueberry Muffin Overnight Oats or Key Lime Overnight Oats.
- Grilled Fish and Veggies. Enjoy 6 ounces of any preferred fish with 2 cups vegetables, grilled, roasted or sautéed in olive oil.
- Mezze Plate with Hummus, Nuts and Fruit. Create a Mezze plate with ¼ cup hummus (try my Lentil Hummus or Edamame Hummus) and unlimited crudité or raw veggies, 1 small whole grain 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 tasty standouts of the health-promoting diet.
- Lentil Veggie Superfood Stew. Enjoy 2 cups of this super scrumptious 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 a creamy avocado dressing. Bonus points for crunchy carrot sticks or bell peppers on the side.
- Wild Salmon and Chickpea Salad. Make this delicious Mediterranean-style salmon salad.
- Mediterranean Harvest Bowl. Build a nourishing bowl where each bite brings savory-sweet, crisp, crunchy goodness… and a cornucopia of nutrients.
- Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Tahini Drizzle. Make stuffed peppers and enjoy with a side salad of mixed greens and non-starchy vegetables topped with 2 teaspoons olive oil and unlimited balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
- Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo. Combine tender chicken, delicate orzo and citrusy goodness for a great big bowl of sunshine. Enjoy with a chopped salad dressed with 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil and unlimited vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
- Grilled fish with Superfood Minestrone. Enjoy any roasted, grilled or baked fish of choice with 2 cups of this flavorful and veggie-packed minestrone soup.
- Shrimp Broccoli Scampi. Make this light and flavorful pasta dish that’s fast enough to whip up on a busy weeknight but fancy enough to serve for a special get-together.
- Greek Burgers with Feta 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.
- One-Sheet Mediterranean Shrimp with Charred Vegetables. Make this one-and-done meal with shrimp, broccoli, and green beans. Enjoy this recipe with a baked sweet potato or 1 cup cooked rice, quinoa or whole-grain pasta.
- Chicken Bruschetta. Elevate your bruschetta game by making Chicken Bruschetta. Enjoy it with a side of preferred veggies and a baked sweet potato or 1 cup cooked rice, quinoa, or pasta.
• Dried apricots and almonds: 8 dried apricots (or 3 dates) with 10 almonds.
• Light popcorn: Enjoy 4 cups of any store-bought light popcorn, or make these tasty variations Rosemary-Parmesan Popcorn or Fiesta Lime Popcorn.
• Veggies and ¼ cup hummus or Creamy Guacamole.
• Hummus deviled eggs (8 halves)
• Apple with 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter.
• Greek yogurt (1 cup) + berries
• Zucchini Walnut Muffins