How to Start the Mediterranean Diet

How to Start the Mediterranean Diet - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
Photo by Brynn McDowell

You may have heard about all the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet and maybe you’re ready to give it a try to see if it’s a right fit for you. But how do you start?

One of the best parts of the Mediterranean diet is that the focus is more on adding healthy ingredients to your diet and meals instead of eliminating certain food groups. The key to setting yourself up for success with this way of life is making small changes. You must find what works best for you and make it your own.

There are no hard fast “rules” with this way of life. There are guiding principles that lay out areas to focus on, but the specifics are meant to be customized to your individual lifestyle.

Here are my simple tips for going Mediterranean

Slowly increase your fruit and vegetable intake each day

  • Add fresh fruits and vegetables to each meal.
  • Consider using fresh fruit as a dessert in place of cakes or pies.
  • Try going vegetarian one day each week to incorporate more vegetables into your meals.

Enjoy fish at least two times a week

  • Fatty fish like mackerel, trout, sardines and salmon are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids and staples in the Mediterranean style diet.
  • Try replacing a poultry or pasta dish each week with a new fish-centered recipe.

Focus on heart healthy fat sources like olives, nuts, seeds and olive oil

  • Cook with olive or avocado oil in place of butter
  • Add nuts and seeds to salads, pastas and meals for increased protein and heart healthy fats.
  • For example, try pistachios in place of breadcrumbs on baked chicken or walnut baked cod one night for dinner (it’s delicious).

Use fresh herbs and spices for flavor

  • The Mediterranean style diet includes recipes that are full of flavor thanks to herbs like dill, oregano, parsley and basil.
  • Try making a vinaigrette with fresh herbs for salads.
  • Marinade chicken or steak in a hearty healthy, herb-based marinade like olive oil, thyme and rosemary.
  • A little lemon and fresh herbs go a long way to season things like chicken, fish and pasta.

Make Food Something to Enjoy

  • Throw a Mediterranean-inspired dinner party and invite friends over to enjoy all the flavors and food.
  • Don’t concentrate on calories, just enjoy food and sharing it with family and friends.

Get Active

  • Make daily physical activity part of your lifestyle – take an evening walk, try a new fitness class, sign up for a fitness related event, start a challenge with friends.
  • Find something you love to do and make it feel less like a chore and more like a fun hobby.
Brynn McDowell on FacebookBrynn McDowell on InstagramBrynn McDowell on LinkedinBrynn McDowell on PinterestBrynn McDowell on Twitter
Brynn McDowell
Brynn McDowell, RD, is a dietitian based in Livermore, CA, and owner of The Domestic Dietitian. She blogs at www.thedomesticdietitian.com where she focuses on helping people create a healthy lifestyle in their homes. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.