Want to lose weight healthy and enjoy food? The Mediterranean diet is exactly what you need. We reveal to you the tricks of healthy weight loss!
The Mediterranean diet was created on the basis of the traditional diet used by the inhabitants of Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Israel. A large number of studies [1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] done on this topic have shown that the Mediterranean diet allows for gradual weight loss, with the use of healthy and nutritious foods. Also, food prepared in the Mediterranean way has a preventive effect on people with heart disease and reduces the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
The secret ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine
Although the benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been known for decades, new research makes it active again, adding something new to its already known characteristics each time. However, what this diet is known for is the ingredients that are used for preparing meals.
This diet contains a low percentage of protein and saturated fats, and the emphasis is on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
Cheese and yogurt can be consumed daily, while eggs, fish, red meat (usually lamb and beef) are recommended once or twice a week.
Olive oil is the main source of fat in this diet, and fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables are an ingredient in (almost) every meal. In the Mediterranean diet, the use of plants such as mint, basil oregano, primrose, or rosemary is used a lot. They also use a special flavor by using garlic or lemon. Dinner usually includes a glass of red wine.
Properly combined, these ingredients are not only a healthy choice for every meal, but they also create a feeling of satiety.
Although many argue that the Mediterranean diet contains a high percentage of fat (35-40 percent), here we are actually talking about healthy fats  found in olives, nuts, avocados, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flax, and nuts. Research has shown that these fats are very useful – those who follow a Mediterranean diet high in monounsaturated fats remain lean despite its high percentage.
If you decide to follow this diet, you must know that in addition to the ingredients in the preparation of food, the lifestyle itself plays a big role.
People who live in the Mediterranean like to be outdoors with family and friends. On such occasions they are relaxed, surrounded by positive thoughts. These circumstances are important if you also want to follow this diet. In this way both mind and body benefit.
Mediterranean food was included in 2013 on the official list of intangible cultural assets of UNESCO . Countries whose food has come under protection include Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Croatia.
Who is the Mediterranean diet for?
The Mediterranean diet is recommended for people who:
- are looking for a healthy diet to lose weight, healthy ingredients, and gradual weight loss
- cares about their health and want their heart to be healthy
- they choose quality over quantity
- like simple and easily prepared meals with fresh ingredients
- after a meal like to drink a glass of wine
Food to eat in the Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean cuisine and menus are based on healthy, Mediterranean ingredients, and in large quantities include:
- vegetables: tomato, broccoli, spinach, onion, carrot, cucumber, zucchini, potatoes
- fruits: oranges, grapefruit, watermelons, melons, strawberries, apples, tangerines
- nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflowers
- legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas
- whole grains (whole grains) rice, cornflour, rye flour, oats
- fish and seafood: shellfish, squid, crabs, tuna, sea fish
- meat: chicken, goose, beef, lamb
- dairy products: cheese, yogurt
- spices: garlic, mint, rosemary, cinnamon, primrose
- healthy fats: cold-pressed olive oil
- large amounts of water
Using these ingredients is the key to losing weight and maintain good health.
It is best that ingredients that are not healthy and not used in this diet are not nearby. Because, if there are, you will be tempted to eat them. If there is only healthy food in the house, you will not make a mistake.
Although we do not belong to the Mediterranean countries, we are able to adjust and adapt the Mediterranean diet to our characteristics, without major changes in the regular diet.
Rules of the Mediterranean diet – how to eat and stay slim?
This is exactly the characteristic of the Mediterranean diet – weight loss without dieting! In the countries from which the Mediterranean diet comes, there are so many tempting, world-famous, and not so healthy dishes, but their inhabitants still live the longest.
Small portions and balanced meals
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by smaller portions. It is eaten more often, but less. Also, the balance of everything has a very important role in the Mediterranean diet: healthy foods are eaten, the required amount of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins is ingested. It is eaten relaxed, without haste and the meal is enjoyed. Calories do not count – Mediterranean peoples stop eating when they are full, and always remains space for a Greek frappe or Italian cappuccino.
The Mediterranean diet cannot be imagined without olive oil. This oil is rich in monounsaturated acids, which are considered healthy fats, very suitable, and recommended for nutrition. Most Mediterranean countries have a tradition in growing olives and use only the best oil for food.
Olive oil is used in salads, as an ingredient in spreads and most dishes. There is no representative of the Mediterranean country who will not ask for olive oil during a meal, to add it to at least one dish.
Use of fresh food
Mediterranean countries are lucky enough to be rich in fresh food at all times. The favorable climate allows fresh fruits and vegetables to be grown at any time of the year, so it is the main ingredient of every meal. This is very important for the Mediterranean diet because fresh fruits and vegetables are very important for a balanced diet, which is at the same time healthy and gives a feeling of satiety. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also added to meals – pasta in Italy is unthinkable without fresh tomatoes.
Fresh air and the benefits of staying outdoors
Is there anything more beautiful than a walk to the nearby square, the seashore, the park? The Mediterranean peoples are lucky enough to have a lot of days with good weather, which allows them to walk more than the representatives of some other countries. Doctors recommend walking and moving for those who are on a diet, for at least 30 minutes every day.
With the obligatory bottle of water, use every free moment, and take a walk. If there is a natural oasis nearby (park, lake, river), the enjoyment will be even greater.
There is no place for fizzy drinks
Members of the Mediterranean peoples rarely drink carbonated drinks, which is understandable because they have fresh fruit in abundance. Eventually, after a hard-to-digest meal, they drink carbonated water, but even that doesn’t happen often.
What Mediterranean peoples practice is a large amount of water. It can be plain water or some flavored variant such as Sassy water that melts fat deposits. Anyone who has visited a cafe or restaurant in Greece at least once has noticed that the first thing they serve is a glass or a bottle of water. Freshly squeezed fruit juices are also very popular drinks, most often squeezed oranges, with the addition of grapefruit, lemonade, or fruit mix. Of course, there is also the inevitable coffee, which Italians like to drink especially after lunch. Just like the Greeks, a glass of good wine is not foreign to them. The inhabitants of North African countries prefer to drink tea.
Fast food is not their type
Members of the Mediterranean peoples are proud of their national specialties. Because, we all know Italy by pasta and pizza, Greece by Greek salad and gyros, Spain by tapas and paella. Then why, with these delicious meals, would any of them eat fast food? Of course, it happens to everyone that sometimes wants something from the menu of kiosks and fast food restaurants, but that really rarely happens. Mediterranean people know where to eat well, because they enjoy it, so they will avoid places where the food is not tasty and prepared from good ingredients. And for a meal at home, they will always choose only the best.
Pizza or gyros are not eaten every day
The fact that these countries are known for specialties that may not be very suitable for the Mediterranean diet, does not mean that they consume them every day. Everyday meals include healthier ones, with lots of fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables. And they are aware that eating pizza or gyros every day will not help them to stay as healthy and vital as their ancestors, so they consume them most often when they go out in the evening with friends.
It’s not all about diet, it’s about lifestyle
Sometimes it’s not what you eat that matters, it’s how you eat. Meals are a kind of ritual that is repeated several times during the day. The secret of the Mediterranean peoples is that they enjoy this ritual! They choose to consume meals in the company of family and friends. You will often see whole families on the weekends, from grandparents to grandchildren, enjoying the open-air restaurant at the family lunch. They talk, laugh, eat slowly, enjoy small portions. They are in no hurry. If Mediterranean peoples hear waves or smell the sea nearby, then during a meal they enjoy even more!
Mediterranean diet – diet plan
There is no strict schedule in the Mediterranean diet, not only certain types of food are eaten, which are repeated from day to day. So, there is no right or wrong way to hold this diet. The way of food preparation as well as the use of individual ingredients differs from country to country, which makes them a real treasure trove of a variety of foods and tastes.
The menu we will suggest is the one that gives effects, but is, of course, suitable for adapting to your habits.
The first step
- Procurement of foods that are used daily in the Mediterranean diet and taking into account their frequency
- This should be eaten daily: fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, cereals, spices, olive oil
- This should be eaten occasionally: eggs, cheese, yogurt
- This should be eaten less often: red meat
- This should not be consumed: sweets, carbonated drinks, meat preparations, refined oils, and other industrially processed foods
During the Mediterranean diet, avoid these unhealthy foods:
- Foods that contain a lot of sugar: carbonated drinks, candies, ice cream, sweets
- Cereals: white bread, white flour macaroni
- Trans fats: margarine and a large number of industrially processed foods
- Refined oils
- Meat products: pâtés, salamis, hot dogs
- Industrially processed food: Anything that says it has fewer calories or is dietary and looks like it was made in a food factory
Before buying any industrially processed food, it is always advisable to read the composition on the packaging and avoid those that have unhealthy ingredients.
Healthy Mediterranean snack
The Mediterranean diet does not recommend more than 3 meals a day. But if you get hungry in the meantime, here are suggestions for a healthy snack:
- a handful of walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds
- carrots cut into thin slices
- a handful of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
- a dish left over from yesterday
- yogurt (Greek)
- apple cut into slices, with honey and almonds
How to adhere to the Mediterranean diet in a restaurant
Most restaurants generally have a selection of dishes suitable for those who are on a diet. However, if you can’t decide, these tips will be useful:
- for the main course, you should choose a dish that contains fish or seafood
- ask if and for what dish they are using olive oil for preparation
- you should eat only whole grain bread
- instead of margarine or cream cheese, use olive oil as a spread
The countries of the Mediterranean are home to the sun, the sea, and excellent food that is the key to good health.
This is a meal suggestion for a week. Portions and choice of dishes can be adjusted according to the needs and availability of food.
Breakfast: Yogurt (Greek) with oat bran or flakes and strawberries
Lunch: Briam (recipe below). Fruit.
Dinner: Tuna salad seasoned with olive oil
Breakfast: Oat bran with raisins
Lunch: Lentil soup (recipe below)
Dinner: Salad – tomato, feta cheese and olive oil
Breakfast: Omelet of 2 eggs, tomato and onion. Fruit.
Lunch: Lasagna in the Mediterranean way
Dinner: Sandwich with vegetables in a muffin made of whole grain flour
Breakfast: Yogurt with seeds, nuts and fruits
Lunch: Grilled sea fish, rice as a side dish, salad
Dinner: Whole grain muffins
Breakfast: Boiled egg, whole grain toast and fresh vegetable salad
Lunch: Grilled lamb with roasted potatoes, seasonal salad
Dinner: Pie sandwiches with Greek salad (recipe below)
Breakfast: Yogurt, honey and seasonal fruit, whole grain toast
Lunch: Pizza in the Mediterranean way, with vegetables, cheese and olive oil
Dinner: Grilled vegetables with basil, bread, a glass of red wine
Breakfast: Toast with avocado (recipe below)
Lunch: grilled chicken with vegetables and baked potatoes. Fruit.
Dinner: Sandwich with vegetables in a whole grain muffin
For the Mediterranean diet, counting calories and monitoring other parameters (fat, protein intake) is not necessary.
Briam is a Greek dish that is still often on the menu of Greek families. It consists of a variety of vegetables (tomato, zucchini, eggplant, paprika) baked in the oven. It is prepared with olive oil.
Ingredients for 6-8 people:
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 3 medium zucchini cut into thin slices
- 3 onions cut into medium pieces
- 4 smaller blue eggplants cut into thin slices
- 3 smaller peppers cut into larger pieces
- 4 medium tomatoes
- 8,5 fl oz (250 ml) of olive oil
- 12 fl oz (350 ml) of water
- 5 fl oz (150 ml) of fresh tomato juice
- salt (preferably sea), pepper, primrose
- Turn on the oven to 400°F (200°C)
- In a large baking dish, arrange the sliced tomatoes, add salt and pepper, and then arrange the potatoes and zucchini. These three types of vegetables require a little more time to cook, so they should be placed on the bottom. Add salt and pepper, and then add half the amount of onion and sliced blue eggplant. Add salt and pepper, add chopped paprika, primrose, and the rest of the onion. Add olive oil, water, and fresh tomato juice. Finally, stir, but so that the order of stacking the vegetables is not disturbed, add salt and pepper.
- Put in the oven and stir a little every half hour. The brim will be ready after 2 hours when the vegetables should be soft.
- Serve warm. Sprinkle with primrose.
Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes)
Ingredients for 4 plates:
- 250 grams of lentils
- 2 finely chopped onions
- 2 finely chopped carrots
- 2 pcs of garlic
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- 25 fl oz (750 ml) water
- 5 fl oz (150 ml) of fresh tomato juice
- primrose, salt, pepper
- olive oil
- spoon of vinegar
- Pour olive oil into a large pot so that it covers the bottom. Fry the onions, then add the carrot and garlic. Add the lentils and mix well. Add water, fresh tomato juice, bay leaf, oregano, and spices to this mixture.
- Leave to cook on medium heat for 30-40 minutes
- Finally, add a tablespoon of vinegar
- Serve warm
The advantage of this lentil soup is that it can be adapted to every taste. Those who like it a little more spicy, can add a little hot pepper. Apart from being the main dish, many also use it as a side dish with potatoes or macaroni.
It may seem strange that vinegar is added to this dish, but vinegar gives it a special note, which everyone should try.
Pie sandwiches with Greek salad
Ingredients for 10 pies:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 large tomato or 10 cherry tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1 green pepper
- ½ onion
- 3 radishes
- 250 gr Feta cheese
- 10 pcs of Greek whole grain pie (whole grain muffins can also be used as a substitute)
- Pour olive oil and vinegar into a larger bowl, add salt and pepper, and make a salad dressing. Add sliced tomatoes, cucumber, paprika, onion, zucchini, and primrose.
- Mix all the ingredients well with your hands, then add the feta cheese.
- Cover the bowl with the salad and leave it in the fridge. It is best if the mixture is prepared a few hours in advance.
- Take the salad out of the fridge and carefully place it on the pie (muffins cut in half).
- Serve immediately.
- 2 small avocados, peeled and peeled
- 80 gr feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint
- juice of one fresh lemon
- 4 slices of whole grain bread or toast
- Put the avocado in a medium-sized bowl and mash it with a fork. Add chopped mint, lemon juice, and stir until all ingredients are combined.
- If desired, add sea salt and finely chopped paprika.
- Divide the mixture into 4 parts and coat all 4 pieces of bread with it. Strew with feta cheese.