Interested in the Mediterranean diet? Here’s how to start tonight

The Mediterranean diet is hot hot hot these days! And I am so glad. I love that there’s more focus on healthy eating plans for life instead of diets for fast weight loss. If you don’t currently follow a Mediterranean diet, ease in. Here are 10 ways you and your family can follow a Mediterranean diet at dinner.

Mediterranean Diet dinner

What a spread! My family enjoyed this tasty Mediterranean spread of feta cheese, dates, oranges, grapes, olives, walnuts, hummus, bread, crackers and an array of vegetables. What you can’t see are sardines.

Why Follow a Mediterranean Diet?

The foods are tasty, familiar and healthful! There’s nothing weird or foreign to scare you off. And you won’t go hungry.

Here’s how you can lower your blood sugar with a Mediterranean diet.

It’s important to recognize that there isn’t a single Mediterranean diet. Instead when I say Mediterranean diet, I really mean one of many traditional eating patterns consumed by people who live in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Each country has its own set of local foods, so the specific foods on the menu will differ, but the concept of the diets is similar. In short, here’s what a Mediterranean-style diet looks like.

  • More plants than animals. Plant slant your plate with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and pulses or other legumes.
  • Fish over other meats. No food is off limits, but choose fish and other seafood more often than beef, poultry, pork and others.
  • Herbs and spices over salt. Sprinkle both fresh and dried herbs and spices, which have the same types of health-boosting phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
  • Unsaturated fats over saturated fats. Reach for liquid oils like olive oil or less expensive canola or vegetable oils over semi-solid and solid fats like coconut oil and butter.

Traditionally, following a Mediterranean diet also includes eating meals leisurely and socially and drinking moderate amounts of alcohol with meals.

Following a Mediterranean diet helps prevent type 2 diabetes. Grab my prediabetes self-care checklist if saying NO to type 2 diabetes is your plan.

herbs on a Mediterranean diet

10 ways to follow a Mediterranean diet at dinner

  • Make dinner the event. Prioritize time to prepare your meal and to enjoy eating it. Break bread with family or friends as often as possible. It’s not very Mediterranean to race through a meal or to eat it in the car. It’s not very much fun either.
  • Eat just enough. This is easier to do if you’re making the meal the event rather than something crammed between two other events. It also helps to eat slowly and make an effort to find pleasure in every bite. Though the evening meal may be eaten late, it’s frequently not the largest meal of the day.
  • Enjoy raw vegetables. Dice cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions together or dig into a green leafy salad.

    Cold cucumber yogurt soup on a Mediterranean diet

    Try this delicious twist. It’s my fabulous Cold Cucumber Yogurt Soup with several ingredients found in a Mediterranean diet, including Greek yogurt and fresh mint.

  • Embrace whole grains. Try out brown or black rice, barley, bulgur, polenta and farro. Give quinoa, amaranth, wheat berries and buckwheat a go. Mix them with vegetables, herbs and spices, pulses and small amounts of fish or other meats.
  • Alternate vegetarian and fish dinners. While red meats and poultry are certainly eaten, seafood and pulses like lentils and chickpeas are more common.

    quick healthy fish recipe to follow a Mediterranean Diet

    This fish with Lemon Mustard Caper Sauce is quick to prepare and a favorite dish in my house.

  • Reach for olive oil. Drizzle it over your salad and cook your other foods with it.
  • Dip bread. Yes! Bread is common. But it’s not slathered with butter. You should not feel guilty about eating bread if you want some. (I’m pretty sure feeling guilty about eating isn’t a Mediterranean thing.) Have a small piece and dip it lightly into seasoned olive oil. And while we’re talking unreasonable food fears, it’s okay and common to eat potatoes too.
  • Drink mostly water. If you drink alcohol, choose wine more frequently, limit the amount, and drink with your meal. Health guidelines tell us to limit alcohol to 1 standard drink (5 ounces wine) for women and 2 standard drinks for men each day.
  • Sweeten your meal naturally. Save baked goods and pastries for special occasions. Most evenings, end your meal with fresh or dried fruit. Toss a few nuts on your plate too, if you’d like. Those dates, oranges and grapes above make a perfect dessert.
  • Take a walk. If you can fit it into your schedule, enjoy some time outside. A 20-minute walk is good for you in so many ways: blood pressure, mental health, blood sugar, inflammation, triglycerides and on and on.

Healthy eating & more protect you against type 2 diabetes. Get this prediabetes self-care checklist.

Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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  1. Jovia Diets on May 8, 2019 at 2:24 am

    Thanks, Jill for sharing this informative article with us. This will be helpful for people with diabetes. Keep sharing such things.

    • Jill Weisenberger on May 8, 2019 at 8:31 am

      Thanks for visiting!

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Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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