Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan for Beginners
The diet can generally be adapted to suit individual dietary needs and preferences, but it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian, especially for those with specific health conditions or nutritional requirements.
Keeping yourself healthy is an important task. It allows you to stay productive and have fewer risks of exposure to illness or disease.
A report shows that 35% of adults in the USA wished to engage in exercise for fitness.
An effective way to stay healthy is to get a beginner Mediterranean diet meal plan printable along with regular exercise.
The diet is rich in flavorful ingredients: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, nutritious and delicious.
It brings various health benefits, like helping support brain function and heart health, regulating blood sugar levels, and much more. (1)
There are no laws or rules for going on the Mediterranean diet, but there are general guidelines to follow and incorporate the diet principles into your daily routine.
This article will provide details on the Mediterranean diet, such as what it is, how to follow it, and how it benefits your health.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is the traditional food combination consumed by residents of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, like France, Spain, Greece, Italy, etc.
These food habits kept them exceptionally healthy with a low risk of chronic conditions because they restricted processed foods, added sugar, and refined grains.
The Mediterranean diet helps lose weight and prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and premature death.
For that apparent reason, doctors recommend the Mediterranean diet for people to improve their health and minimize the risk of chronic diseases.
- The Mediterranean diet comprises vegetables, fruits, lean meats and healthy fats.
- Consumption of sweets and red meat is limited in this diet.
- The Mediterranean diet meal plan restricts alcohol consumption but encourages red wine in moderation for you to indulge in.
- It is the healthiest to help lose weight and manage blood sugar.
Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The printable of the beginner Mediterranean diet meal plan has a long list of beneficial health results and impacts.
Many extensive observations and studies have been conducted on the Mediterranean diet to promote heart health. It proved its effectiveness in lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A study reported that the Mediterranean diet slowed the plaque buildup in the arteries, the major risk factor for heart disease. Researchers also claimed that the Mediterranean diet helped lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure, sufficiently supporting heart health.
Stable Blood Sugar Levels
A variety of nutrient-dense foods are encouraged in the Mediterranean diet, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats to stabilize blood sugar levels that protect against type 2 diabetic conditions.
It also improves levels of hemoglobin A1C for long-term blood sugar control. It helps decrease insulin resistance, which impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels effectively.
Better Brain Function
The Mediterranean diet was beneficial for brain health and could even protect against cognitive decline with aging.
A study of 512 people found the Mediterranean diet effectively improved memory and reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Another research proved that the Mediterranean diet helped lower the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.
Another review showed the Mediterranean diet improved cognitive function, memory, attention, and processing speed in healthy older adults.
5 Tips For Creating Your Beginner Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan Printable
The Mediterranean diet is an eating style with some rigid rules, but you can fully customize it to suit your preferences. There’s nothing you should worry about failing to follow the diet and last a lifetime. Below are five essential tips for getting started:
You can observe the below-mentioned tips for making your Mediterranean diet perfect.
1. Add More Legumes To Your Platter
Legumes that one may not be consuming enough of are low-budget, nutrition-packed foods, rich in fiber and protein and low in fat, including lentils, dried peas, beans, and chickpeas. You can replace your ketchup with a Hummus dip.
2. Control On Alcohol
It’s not true that you must drink a lot of red wine following the Mediterranean diet.
Moderate consumption of alcohol, if you drink, in terms of red wine, is allowed while enjoying a meal. Even outside the Mediterranean diet, a glass of wine is considered suitable for health.
3. Cut The Meat
The Mediterranean does not ban red meat but restricts or limits its consumption. Re-live the tradition of eating meat for special occasions, festivals, or weekends, but only in small proportions.
Stick to more greens and vegetable-based central course beans, tofu, or seitan. If you like meat, you cannot stop consuming it suddenly.
So the best way is to go vegetarian a day a week, and continue with two days a week, and then reach your goal of becoming carnivorous a day a week.
Meanwhile, you can continue eating skinless chicken and leave the red meat for weekends or fortnights.
4. Fewer Sweets
Not everybody eats cake or confectioneries every day and at every meal. You can consume a spoonful of sugar in your tea or coffee. But while following the Mediterranean diet, keep aside the deserts for weekends.
5. Olive Oil Focussed Cooking
The extra-virgin olive oil, rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, is the best oil for the heart, brain, and body.
So, use this oil to prepare your food in moderation because over-using can lead to weight gain.
You can apply the oil on small cubes of chicken, Broccoli, etc., and grill it alternatively, use it as a salad dressing, Hummus coating, etc.
The Process To Follow:
Preferred Foods: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil
Limited Foods: Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt
Restricted Foods: Red meat, sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils.
Food To Have in Mediterranean Diet:
The variation of Mediterranean countries creates confusion about foods belonging to the Mediterranean. The diet commonly focuses on healthy plant products with limited or restricted dairy products and meat.
Also, seafood of your choice, such as fish, crabs, or lobster, is recommended twice a week.
The Mediterranean lifestyle patterned group meals, including physical activities, to decrease stress. It is advised to eat fresh or dried vegetables, nuts, etc.
However, check the added sugar and sodium packaging if you use canned fruits and vegetables.
Below are the foods you must include in your Mediterranean diet:
Vegetables: tomatoes, Broccoli, kale, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, spinach, cucumbers, potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes
Fruits: apples, bananas, figs, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, melons, peaches
Nuts: seeds, nut butter: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, peanut butter, and almond butter
Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, pulses, chickpeas
Whole grains: oats, barley, brown rice, rye, corn, buckwheat, pasta, and whole wheat bread
Fish and seafood: salmon, sardines, clams, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, mussels; crab
Poultry: chicken, turkey, and duck
Eggs: chicken, duck, and quail eggs
Dairy: cheese, milk, yogurt
Herbs and spices: garlic, basil, cinnamon, mint, rosemary, sage, pepper, and nutmeg
Healthy fats: avocados, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, olives,
Food to Limit or Avoid in the Mediterranean Diet
Processed foods, along with some others, are meant to be limited or avoided in the Mediterranean diet, including:
Added sugar: Added sugar is an ingredient in many foods but is very high in soda, table sugar, syrup, baked goods, candies, and ice cream
Refined grains: white bread, crackers, pasta, tortillas, chips,
Trans fats: processed foods, margarine, and fried food
Refined oils: soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil
Processed meat: Processed sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, beef jerky
Highly processed foods: fast food, convenience meals, microwave popcorn, granola bars
Beverages in the Mediterranean diet:
You can drink water as much as you want because this is the only beverage with a green signal on a Mediterranean diet.
You can moderately consume red wine; a glass per day is the allowed amount, which is optional but restricted in some conditions, such as pregnancy and ongoing medications.
You can consume coffee and tea following the Mediterranean diet but with less sugar or cream. Sweetened beverages, like soda or canned tea, contain alarming amounts of added sugar and are restricted for consumption.
You can consume fruit juice, but again, in moderation. However, whole fruits are recommended as they are rich in fiber.
Restaurant foods are considered unhealthy, but to your surprise, some restaurants offer meals complying with the Mediterranean diet.
While dining out, go for whole grains, vegetables, legumes, seafood, and healthy fat and enjoy your meal with good company.
Always choose seafood as your main dish, cooked or grilled in extra virgin olive oil, accompanied by whole-grain bread and stir-fried or raw vegetable salad with olive oil dressing.
In A Nutshell
The Mediterranean diet focuses on being rich in healthy plant foods, fish, and seafood and limits dairy products.
The pattern results in various health benefits like stabilizing blood sugar levels, promoting heart health, enhancing brain function, and many more.
We will take your leave on the note that you can follow the Mediterranean diet customized.
Don’t eat what you don’t like, but be strict with the restrictions. Enjoy being a Mediterranean chef.
Add some fruits and vegetables to your food to make your Mediterranean diet and see if it works. Happy Mediterranean Dieting!