The Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

December 6, 2017

By Elena Paravantes, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Mediterranean Diet ExpertMediterranean Diet Meal Plan

I’ve been asked many times to provide an authentic Mediterranean Diet meal plan, and when we say authentic, we mean it! The reason for this is that most “Mediterranean Diet” meal plans I see online are anything but. Sorry, but edamame beans, minuscule amounts of  olive oil, canola oil, meat with every meal etc. are not part of a Mediterranean Diet.

The Mediterranean Diet is considered the Gold Standard of diets. It was voted Best Diet for 2018 from US News and is associated with numerous health benefits supported by strong evidence. This covers heart Health, Cancer Prevention, Psychological Health, Alzheimers, Fertility, Weight Loss and many more.

Now I have to say, I am not a supporter of rigid plans, however it is important to eat at somewhat regular times so you don’t end up feeling very-very hungry at any particularly moment of the day. Having said that, I also think it is important to be able to actually feel hunger, and look forward to eating a meal.  While adding a snack here and there is good to keep blood sugar and hunger levels in balance, snacking can also backfire. Many times we eat a snack without being hungry or we depend on ready-made snacks such as granola bars, juices, smoothies etc. which not only add quite a few calories but also are a processed food with all that entails.

Below is a quick graphic of a meal plan on the traditional Mediterranean diet, it is the same meal plan that I also follow. Under the graphic you can find details, tips and links to the recipes. I provide a variety of choices for meals that you can mix and match with links to the recipes. For more ideas just head over to the Recipe Index and you will find a large selection of Mediterranean recipes.

Enjoy!

The Authentic Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan

Mediterranean Diet Plan

 

 

Details, Tips And Recipes

-Breakfast-

Coffee
+
Choice #1: Whole grain bread with an unsweetened nut butter (I use tahini)

Choice #2: Barley rusk with olive oil, crumbled cheese and olives

Choice #3: Greek style scrambled egg with tomatoes (Kagianas) or other egg dishes with veggies. Click here for egg recipes.

Choice #4: Full fat Greek yogurt with nuts, fruit and honey

Choice #5: Whole grain bread + a piece of cheese + tomatoes


-Mid-Morning Snack-

*A seasonal fruit


-Lunch-

Lunch in the largest meal of the day. If you have trouble doing that, you can switch dinner with lunch and try and have dinner somewhat early.

Choice #1: Lathero Dish (seasonal vegetables or beans cooked with olive oil, herbs, and tomato sauce accompanied by bread and cheese). This is what you will have 3-4 times a week. Typically this is green beans, peasspanakorizo (spinach-rice) and cauliflower cooked in this way. This is accompanied by a slice of bread and feta. Click here for lathera recipes. Please note that one serving consists of 3-4 servings of vegetables.

Choice #2: Pita like spanakopita with a salad on the side. Click here for pita recipes.

Choice #3: Once or twice a week a chicken dish such as Greek style stewed chicken with a seasonal salad

Choice #4: A bean dish. Beans such as lentils as well as white beans are consumed as a thick stew or roasted. They are accompanied with feta cheese and some bread.

Choice #5: Small fatty fish such as sardines or anchovies roasted. Accompanied with lightly boiled greens and drizzled with olive oil and some lemon.

1 fruit


-Snack- (if hungry)

*Tomato with a rusk and sometimes cheese + a serving of fruit

or

*1/2 cup Greek yogurt with fruit


-Dinner-

Dinner is a lighter meal, so it is generally good to keep fairly light-avoid meats and heavy sauces. Typically it is a small serving of lunch or a meal rich in vegetables.

Wine (1 – 1 ½ glass) and a small meze platter (2-3 olives, a few pieces of cheese, tomato or carrot sticks)

AND

Choice #1: A smaller serving of lunch

Choice #2: A large salad (in the winter mainly greens, in the summer tomatoes) with an olive oil salad dressing, grated or crumbled cheese, and nuts (walnuts, pine nuts or almonds). Click here for salads.

Choice 3: Roasted vegetables in olive oil (cauliflower or a mix –like briami). This is an easy and effortless way to get prepare vegetables and consume it as a main course.

Choice 4: Omelette with feta accompanied by a simple salad such as tomato and cucumber with olive oil or a green leafy salad.

Choice #5: Yogurt with rusks and fruit. This is a typical evening meal, partici;ay if lunch has been a bit larger.

 

*Once a week chicken and once a week another type of meat or fish, accompanied by salad or greens (horta)

*One or two meals a week contain some sort of pasta.

Notes:

  • Beverages: Aim to drink 1 ½ liters of water (6 cups) + herbal beverages a day. Avoid any other beverages except wine.
  • Olive oil is the main source of fat, do not skimp. Benefits are seen at a consumption of at least 2 tablespoons a day. Olive oil also provides satiety (among many other benefits) which is important if you are eating a meal made only with vegetables.
  • Lathera dishes usually last 2-3 days (in fact they taste better the next day). I also use frozen peas or green beans in the winter for my lathera.
  • Pites can be assembled (and baked) and frozen.
  • Try and eat your main (largest) meal as early as you can.
  • Cheese and yogurt are your main dairy sources.
  • Finally, this is meant meant to be a guide, as each person’s (calorie) needs varies depending on age, gender, physical activity level etc. However, I advise you check the Greek Nutrition Guidelines which basically represents the Mediterranean diet that includes a range of servings. Go here to check the Greek Diet guidelines.

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Images by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved

Mediterranean Diet

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35 Comments

  • Reply Eva December 6, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this eating plan…it made a nice change not to see lukewarm lemon water to be drunk upon waking haha (although I understand this is beneficial, of course). I also love that you say do not skimp on (good quality) olive oil 🙂

    • Reply Elena December 6, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks Eva!

  • Reply Michelle December 6, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Brilliant. Thank you! I think it’s worth noting that one glass of wine is 100ml / ~3.5oz (based on low-risk alcohol consumption guidelines). Most restaurants will serve 150-270ml per glass, so people often underestimate how much they’re actually drinking.

    • Reply Elena December 6, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks Michelle! Yes! Restaurant servings are larger, so that needs to be accounted for.

  • Reply Sara December 6, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Would you be able to add serving sizes/how many servings at each meal? At least for us Americans who have no clue about what these are meant to be. Thank you!

    • Reply Elena December 7, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Hi Sara. It’s meant to be a guide, as each person’s (calorie) needs varies depending on age, gender activity level etc. However, the link to the Greek Nutrition Guidelines that I have also included at the end of the post provides serving sizes. Adding the link here too: https://www.olivetomato.com/eat-like-greek-greek-dietary-guidelines-a-better-choice/

    • Reply Laura S. June 4, 2018 at 10:08 pm

      Totally get you. That’s what I was looking for also. And yes.. because serving sizes have been so skewed in the US for so long now. I would like to know what the typical sized serving was back in the 60s and prior. Even in the US.. I remember when they came out with the quarter pounder w/cheese.. it was HUGE!! Now.. it’s a typical burger.
      For instance… rusk.. how big or small is a slice of rusk? Would there be cucumbers, bell peppers, onion or any of that in your salad? Sometimes to miss these little things could add up to missing by a mile in the long run.
      Tea? Coffee? Condiments? I know you can’t get into all those little details but those things could add up to a big mistake for some of us.
      But I am very glad to see this (I do follow olivetomato instagram too) as I was looking at a 7 day Mediterranean meal plan at Eatingwell and they have stuff like.. skim milk.. ick. I don’t believe that was part of the traditional Med diet!
      But thank you so much for this!

      • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN June 5, 2018 at 8:16 am

        Hi Laura,
        Thank you for your message! You can find plenty information on beverages, condiments etc. on the website. Using search can lead you to the right articles.
        Ha ha yes, skim milk is definitely not part of the Mediterranean diet.

  • Reply Janis December 10, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Looks delicious. I’ve never had greek style eggs before, can’t wait to try.

  • Reply Live a little longer with the Mediterranean diet | Olive Tomato January 13, 2018 at 11:56 am

    […] study basically studied older Swedish individuals and compared 70 year olds who were following a Mediterranean style diet with those who weren’t. According to one of the researchers Gianluca Tognon, who is Italian […]

    • Reply Beverly McKee June 4, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      I LOVE your recipes and entire program! You simplify eating healthfully and your recipes look delicious. I have arthritis and must eat a restricted diet that is anti-inflamatory. I can easily see ways to adapt some of your recipes. The diet forbids grains, beans, wheat, chick peas, potatoes, pasta, or any fruits or vegetables with seeds, etc. I was skeptical about this diet at first but if I stick to the diet, I really do experience less pain. I would so wish to have your recipes adapted for the home cook with substitutions of allowed foods for the forbidden. For instance, I am going to try to make your phyllo recipe using almond flour, and in other recipes using only pasture grazed dairy such as goat and sheeps milk cheeses, yogurts, eggs etc. Thank your for your inspiration and I would be so grateful if you would turn your gifted cooking attention to helping those of us in pain to adapt your delicious and healthful diet to include anti-inflamation recipes. There is a huge and eager market for this.

  • Reply Mary February 26, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    Elena,

    What is your opinion on the conflicting opinions about whether or not wine is healthy or harmful? It seems there is a daily article touting research that proclaims wine is health alternating with another article about research that indicates that even moderate intake of wine is associated with cancer or dementia. I’m trying to understand all of this conflicting data with the reality/evidence of Mediterranean cultures that include daily intake of wine. Is it the amount drunk that is key?

    • Reply Elena March 22, 2018 at 6:13 am

      Hi Mary, Definitely the amount plays a key role but also the way it is consumed-always with food.

  • Reply Miss Food Fairy March 15, 2018 at 6:43 am

    This is a great place to start when changing your diet, thanks Elena. I’ve had high cholesterol for quite a few years and my doctor has told me to concentrate on looking into the Mediterranean diet more. I’m looking forward to learning more 🙂

    • Reply Elena March 22, 2018 at 6:13 am

      Thanks for your comment! The Mediterranean diet has been shown as an effective way to lower cholesterol levels.

  • Reply Tracey March 19, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Thank you SO much for this! My husband approached me about the Mediterranean diet being good for depression and suggested I give it a try. But I already knew this was not the best term to describe what I needed, even before reading your article on the subject. However, I did have an idea of what they meant and I have struggled to find recipes that fit the bill. Too many well-meaning people have made it more “healthful” by cutting back on the fat. ANYWAY . . . This little meal plan is going to be immensely helpful to me and I am poking all around the site and your social media. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Elena March 22, 2018 at 6:14 am

      Great to hear that Tracey! There are plenty of recipes here to get you started.

  • Reply Marylin March 21, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    My doctor just recommended this diet for weight loss and heart health. Would the plan above yield weight loss in the long run? My heart is a bit thickened due to my weight. And thank you for such great resources.

  • Reply Diane April 2, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    This diet was recommended to me by Teloyears after my telomere test showed the caps on my DNA to be short for my age. I will retest after 6 months and then 1 year to see if the diet makes any difference.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 6, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      Great Diane! Yes There was a study conducted by Harvard researchers a few years ago that showed that individuals following a Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres, a biomarker of aging.

  • Reply Mediterranean Diet April 17, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Great article, Elena!

  • Reply Jac May 4, 2018 at 1:13 am

    Loved this plan but I have a question, I’ve a combination of foods I cannot tolerate – Dairy, Gluten and I’m love FODMAPS too – do you have any suggestions on what I can replace the dairy components of your outlined eating plan with?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 10, 2018 at 6:52 am

      Hi Jac, Depending on your reason of intolerance (lactose intolerance, milk allergy etc) I would recommend just using plant dairy substitutes such as almond or soy milk.

  • Reply Annie May 19, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you so much Elena! This is so very helpful!

  • Reply Sara May 19, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    What is your professional opinion about sunflower butter? Have a child with a peanut allergy so most nut butters are out

  • Reply Stevan May 20, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Hello Elena!
    Your site is amazing with so many useful tips,just keep go on.Just one question,can i use mediterranean diet and training in gym?Thank you

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN May 28, 2018 at 11:04 am

      Thanks Stevan. Yes, definitely, you would need to adjust calories for your exercise needs as well as if you are looking to build muscle. You may also increase a bit your protein intake by increasing plant proteins such as nuts, beans, fish.

  • Reply How to Eat a Mediterranean Diet - LifeCare Chiropractic and Wellness June 18, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    […] diets abound online – so if you’re not ready to invest in a cookbook, start here with some ideas for crafting your own Mediterranean meal plan. Some websites have downloadable […]

  • Reply Brooke August 18, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    When buying olives, what types and brands are best for the Mediterranean diet? Are any better than others?

  • Reply Mary Wood September 9, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks Elena … just what I needed… very nuch appreciated.

  • Reply How to Start a Mediterranean Diet in 5 Steps September 21, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    […] with one of these and try it out for a week or so and then add the next. Than you can checkout my 5 Day  Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan as well as the Mediterranean Diet Shopping […]

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