5 Easy Ways to Transition to a Mediterranean Diet

September 6, 2017

The Mediterranean diet has been studied for over 60-70 years now. Starting with the Seven Countries study and continuing from there with several large observational studies, research repeatedly has shown that compliance to the Mediterranean diet appears to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions

The diet was initially based on the traditional diet of Greece (particularly Crete) and Southern Italy circa 1960’s. While it can never be exactly replicated, you can follow a Mediterranean diet wherever you are.

Not Sure Where to Start?

No worries! We have you covered, here are few ways to get there. You can start with one of these and try it out for a week or so and then add the next.

5 Easy Ways to Transition to a Mediterranean Diet

1. Switch to olive oil and do not skimp on it.

Trying to follow a Mediterranean diet using very little olive oil defeats the purpose. Olive oil is the basis of the diet and many of the benefits appear to come from the good monounsaturated fats but also the polyphenols in the olive oil. However to get the benefits, you must replace other fats with olive oil, making it your type of fat in the diet. In addition olive oil is what helps with such a high consumption of vegetables. Greeks consume many vegetables and one of reasons for this is because they cook them with olive oil which makes it easier to eat large amounts.

2. Eat vegetables as a main course.

The high consumption of vegetables is a main characteristic of the Mediterranean diet. Greeks consume almost a pound of vegetables a day. In order for this to be accomplished vegetables such as green beans, peas, eggplant, artichoke, and okra are cooked in olive oil, tomato and herbs and accompanied with bread and feta cheese. A dish of these vegetables can provide 3 servings of vegetables.

3. Learn to cook a few basic Mediterranean meals.

The Mediterranean diet is about real food. That does not mean one has to cook from scratch everyday but learning 2-3 basic dishes will greatly improve your diet. Here are my 3 suggestions:

Spanakorizo (Spinach and Rice)

Greek Style Green Beans 

Greek Lentil Stew

4. Go vegan one or two days a week.

When we look at the traditional Greek diet, the Greeks abstained from animal products about 200 days a year for religious reasons. This most likely played an important role in the health benefits that were seen in that population. Check out the guidelines here.

5. Stop adding meat to everything.

I often see in recommendations for healthy eating plenty of vegetable dishes but also quite a bit of meat. We do not need that much meat (even if it is lean), and studies have shown that reducing meat is correlated with better health. Try the following guidelines: red meat once a week, chicken once a week and fish once a week.

Photo by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved

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3 Comments

  • Reply Priscilla B. September 7, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    Hello.
    I’ve just discovered your site and have been reading for the past few hours. Good stuff!

    I’ve a question…
    Do you think dietary preferences are inherited?

    I absolutely did not grow up eating any thing Greek or Mediterranean. My mother is the daughter of a butcher (gag) and was forced to eat the most disgusting meat and body parts, along with a heavy European (German and Czech) influence, coupled with American things like meatloaf.

    Being on my own for many years now, I’ve discovered Mediterranean food and am obsessed with it. I tell my husband, who eats much like what I grew up with, that “I have to feed my Greek”, and he understands.

    I literally mean OBSESSED. I can’t stop shoving Greek food into my face, like it’s a missing link to something. My mother turns her nose up at everything, which is fine. More for me. 🙂

    Inherited or no? I ask the question because my sister took a DNA test and found out we’re a small-ish % Greek and Spanish. HUGE surprise!

    I suspect these are from my father, who’s up for eating anything. And I’ve got his nose.

    Ever thanks!

  • Reply Elena September 12, 2017 at 5:33 am

    Thank you Priscilla! I’m not sure about inheriting dietary preferences, we know that many food preferences are learned. but it looks like you may have something from your father.

  • Reply plant based protein powder September 28, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    There’s more to Mediterranean diet than just insalatas and souvlakis. Since I got gluten allergy, chickpeas are one of my go to carbs.

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