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During my time on the Mediterranean Diet, I actually ended up eating out several times. My husband and I make a point to have date day once a week, and then a couple of other family outings and lunch meetings worked their way in as well. It gave me lots of opportunities to see how eating out at different types of restaurants worked with the general Mediterranean diet guidelines.

 

General tips for eating out on a Mediterranean Diet

  • Base your choices around your overall diet – how big a piece of your life is restaurant eating? If you go out once or twice a month, don’t stress too much about your choices. If you eat out a few times a week, you might want to be more intentional about your choices because they make up a much greater percentage of your overall diet.
  • Choose a vegetarian entree – this is certainly not your only option, but will often put you smack in the middle of Mediterranean Diet recommendations. Vegetarian entrees will usually have a plant-based source of protein, a grain or starch, and plenty of veggies. That checks most of the Mediterranean boxes!
  • If you’re planning to get alcohol, wine is a great way to go – other alcohols aren’t too prominent on the Mediterranean Diet, and wine in moderation (4 oz. or less per day for a woman, 8 oz.or less for a man) contains some heart protective antioxidant benefits.
  • At most restaurants, plan to eat half the plate – take the rest home or share with a friend. Eating the entire amount of a meat served at a restaurant is almost always going to be more than one serving. I found that if I ate primarily plant-based or seafood-based proteins at home, then I could choose whichever protein I wanted when eating out and still eat the leftovers the next day.
  • Let the oil go – one of the components of the Mediterranean Diet is incorporating primarily olive oil as your fat source. When you’re eating out, you rarely know what cooking oil is being used. You can ask, but most likely the answer is not olive. Either try to avoid dishes made with lots of oil (go for grilled, baked, or roasted) or just accept that you’re unlikely to be getting olive oil in this particular meal.



 

Mexican

Mexican food can actually be a really great cuisine to choose foods within Mediterranean guidelines. Plant-based proteins like beans are used widely in Mexican cuisine. Pair those with some brown rice or a corn tortilla, lettuce, fajita vegetables,and salsa and you’re good to go! Add fish if desired. Of course, feel free to go for white meat or red meat if you are eating those sparingly overall.

 

One day after church hubby had a hankering for the taco truck. The taco truck serves monstrous portions and their typical burritos are very heavy on rice, beans, and meat and very light on veggies. I opted for the bowl-rito (all the stuffins’ without the tortilla) which contained chicken, rice, beans, fajita vegetables, salsa, and avocado. I ate half and saved the rest for another day.

 

 

A week or so later I met a friend for lunch at Chipotle – she needed gluten-free, I needed veggies! I opted for basically the same meal as I got at the taco truck: chicken, brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, corn salsa, pico de gallo, and lettuce. I ate half and brought the rest home.

 

 

Mediterranean

This seemed like a bit of a no-brainer…one of my favorite restaurants is The Bocatta in Centralia, WA which boasts delicious Mediterranean cuisine. Hubby and I were in the area at lunchtime and it was an obvious choice! Interestingly enough, most of the sandwich meats offered were processed, so I opted for the vegetarian eggplant marinara sandwich with a side of balsamic marinated mushrooms. It was DEE-LICIOUS. No leftovers this time.

 

 



 

Breakfast

 

I chose one of my favorite breakfasts at the local McMenamin’s Spar Cafe – huevos rancheros! The dish includes corn tortillas, eggs, black beans, pico de gallo, cheese, avocado, and hash browns. I ate half and took the other home!

 

 

Burger

On a date lunch my husband and I decided to go to Red Robin. I figured I would choose the veggie version of the burger I normally get – the Bleu Ribbon. Delicious blue cheese and fried onion straws (not exactly sure how those factor in to the Mediterranean Diet…probably not particularly included. Didn’t stop me.) However, Red Robin is now carrying the Impossible Burger. I had not tried this item yet but it is a plant-based burger patty that supposedly famous chefs are raving about as the most meat-like non-meat burger they’ve ever cooked or eaten. I definitely wanted to try it, more to review it than anything. Paired the burger with sweet potato fries – again, I ate half and took the rest home for later. Stay tuned for the Impossible Burger review coming up! The non-Mediterrean downside of this meal was the low vegetable content – a handful of shredded iceberg on the burger does not a vegetable serving make.

 

 



 

Indian

When we went to Indian food, I had already eaten a bit of chicken for the week (which is what I usually get when we go there), so I chose the vegetarian lunch option which contained chana masala (spiced chickpeas and vegetables), palaak paneer (spinach and goat cheese), salad, lentil dahl soup, naan bread, and a sweet rice pudding called kheer. This meal is HUGE and I always take leftovers home and usually get one or two more meals out of them.

 

 

Overall, it wasn’t too hard to eat out and meet the Mediterranean Diet recommendations. I will say, as is always the case with strict portion “limits” as found on the Mediterranean Diet pyramid, it did at times leave me feeling a bit disappointed when ordering, because I didn’t always order the food I really wanted. That being said, everything I ate was delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed it so I didn’t end up feeling restricted overall. If you are someone who really gets your kicks out of meat-based entrees or you aren’t a big fan of plant-based proteins, this could be tougher for you. A better approach might be to limit eating out overall or to really make a point to keep your animal protein portion reasonable and take the rest home for later.

 



 

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Mediterranean Diet

 

Monday was my last day following the Mediterranean Diet recommendations. My goals throughout this week were to work on increasing the variety of my plant-based proteins to deal with the boredom I was experiencing after the first two weeks. I also wanted to really try to make sure that I met my vegetable recommendations.

 

What Went Well

I met my goals! Instead of just beans and nuts this week, I incorporated tofu stir fry for lunch as well as hummus, tuna, and salmon throughout the week. It definitely helped with the boredom factor. I also managed to meet my veggie goals and actually met the recommendations each day individually, though I did end up eating one more serving of white meat in the whole week than I should have (gasp!).

Overall, following the eating pattern got easier as time went on. I was pleased to see that over the course of the 3 week experiment my grocery budget averaged the same as normal ($100 per week). The Mediterranean Diet, using a meal plan, was easily doable on a budget of $100 per week for four people. Eating a lot of plant-based proteins was actually a great way to save on groceries (and helped to balance out the cost of seafood).

Without specifically trying, I lost 2 lbs over the course of the 3 weeks on my normal level of activity (possibly a tiny bit less even in the third week). That is a normal, healthy rate of weight loss, so the evidence that the Mediterranean Diet can promote healthy weight loss was backed up in my case.

 



 

What Could Have Gone Better

While the variety of plant-based proteins helped, I still just came to the conclusion that I don’t enjoy most plant-based proteins as much as I enjoy chicken. I really didn’t miss beef and pork that much – I don’t think I really eat more than 1-2 servings of those per week normally, they aren’t really my thing. Chicken though, is a staple in my diet. While I do enjoy plant-based eating and I aim for it often, my biggest struggle over the three weeks was limiting my white meat intake to two servings per week.

That leads into one of my least favorite things about the Mediterranean Diet pyramid: the restrictions. For example, no more than 2 servings of sweets or 1 serving of processed meat per week.I’m a little torn because I am a type-A person who appreciates tracking and having concrete details and recommendations, but the psychology of restrictions still causes me to feel deprived and want more. That’s no way to live your food life! Skim the recommendations and use them as a guideline, but don’t stress if you eat a little outside them here and there. Eating more plant-based meals and fewer sweets than you do now is a great step, even if you don’t hit the exact limits on the Mediterranean Diet pyramid.

 



 

How I Did

  Mediterranean Diet Goal* Week #1 Week #2 Week #3
# of days nutrition recommendations met 7 5 4 7
Grains (daily average) 3-6 servings 4 servings 4.5 servings 4.5 servings
Potatoes (weekly) ≤3 servings 3 servings 2 servings 2 servings
Legumes (weekly) >2 servings 3 servings 9 servings 10 servings
Dairy (daily average) 2 servings 2 servings 2 servings 2 servings
Fruits (daily average) 2-6 servings 2.5 servings 5 servings 3.5 servings
Vegetables (daily average) 4-6 servings 3 servings 3 servings 4 servings
Olives/nuts/seeds (daily average) 1 serving 1 serving 1 serving 1 serving
Eggs (weekly) 2-4 servings 3 servings 3 servings 4 servings
Seafood (weekly) >2 servings 7 servings 4 servings 3 servings
Red meat (weekly) <2 servings 1 serving 1 serving 2 servings
White meat (weekly) 2 servings 2 servings 1 serving 3 servings
Processed meat (weekly) ≤1 serving 1 serving 1 serving 1 serving
Sweets (weekly) ≤2 servings 2 servings 2 servings 2 servings
Weight change   -1 lb 0 lb -1 lb
Grocery Budget Change   $0 -$33 +$35

 

Stay tuned for more posts about the Mediterranean Diet – we’ll talk about eating out, tips for making the Mediterranean Diet easier, and more!

 



 

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How to Meal plan on a Mediterranean Diet

 

Meal planning takes many forms depending on your lifestyle, budget, and personality. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fully written-out meal plan. Some people prefer to plan only a couple of days in advance. Others prefer to buy groceries for a few different meals then have a bit more flexibility.

For the last two weeks I’ve been following a Mediterranean Diet (you can read more about it here). I’ve learned some tricks to make following this eating pattern a bit easier with meal planning. If you’re new to meal planning, first check out this post for my step-by-step instructions on making a meal plan. In today’s post, I’ll give you some ideas I’ve picked up in the last few weeks for meal planning on a Mediterranean Diet.

 

Keep Track

The Mediterranean diet pyramid has specific guidelines for how many servings of different items to eat per day or per week. When making a meal plan, it can be helpful to keep track of these groups (particularly the protein sources) to make sure you’re aiming in the right directions. I’ve created a free printable Mediterranean Diet checklist that you can download here to help. Even if you don’t follow these guidelines exactly (in fact, I’d recommend that you give yourself a little wiggle room), this checklist can keep you from straying too far from recommendations.

 

Leave yourself some flexibility

Some of the recommended serving amounts are quite limited (like 1 serving processed meat and 2 servings sweets per week). Because of that,  I find it helpful to plan for fewer servings than the recommendations allow. This gives you the opportunity to have flexibility throughout the week in different social situations (or if you’re just tuckered out). For example, I didn’t include processed meat in my weekly plan and I only included one serving each of red meat and chicken (2 each are allowed). This meant that if I ended up in a place where processed meat was on the menu (high school football game hot dog, anyone?), I had the opportunity to choose it. One day when my son scored his first job, we wanted to celebrate with some DQ blizzards, and since I didn’t build sweets into my meal plan, I indulged without having to go over, go without, or change my meal plan.

 



 

Plan around your life

Along those lines, check out your calendar when you’re making your meal plan. If you know that you’re going to be eating a soul dinner (hello, football game!), try to load the rest of your day with the nutritious foods you’re not likely to get there. On the Friday I knew I was headed to the game, I knew I would get nachos and a hot dog for dinner (not much in the way of veggies or fruit) so I had a veggie scramble for breakfast, plenty of salad with veggie soup for lunch, and a couple of fruits for snacks.

 

 

 

 

I tried to check all those boxes before I went to the game to make it easier to follow Mediterranean Diet recommendations while still enjoying my social life!

 

Work with Family Dinners

Even if you decide to aim for a Mediterranean Diet eating pattern, the people you eat with may or may not be on board to eat the same way. These differing preferences can be a struggle – family members or partners don’t always make healthy changes in the same ways or at the same paces. Try to work with this when making your meal plan. If there are meals where you won’t be eating with your family members (lunches are commonly eaten separately, for example), plan for those to include the protein sources that aren’t limited like seafood or legumes. Shared meals (often dinners) can use some of the more limited protein sources like chicken, pork, or beef that your family members would want to enjoy.

Another trick for meal planning with a family is to include a balance of what I call “combo dinners” and “compartment dinners.” Combo dinners are meals like casseroles or soups where everything is mixed together. These are the types of meals where it makes the most sense to use the limited proteins like chicken or beef. Compartment meals are meals where each item is separate (usually in a meat + starch + vegetable configuration). These are good opportunities to make yourself a different protein from the rest of your family. It’s helpful to choose one that can be prepared and cooked in the same way as the rest of your family’s meal. For example, if the meal is baked chicken with vegetables and mashed potatoes, simply bake enough chicken breasts for the rest of your family and on the same pan, bake yourself a fish fillet. You’re not making an entirely separate dinner, just giving yourself some flexibility to eat with your family and still meet Mediterranean Diet recommendations.

 



 

Hopefully these tips are helpful to you as you aim to improve your health! The key is to make changes gradually, never expect perfection, and work with your lifestyle and personality, not against them. You can do it!

 

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Mediterranean Diet

what it's like to follow the Mediterranean diet

 

Week two of following the Mediterranean Diet is done and I’m learning a lot! The experiences I’m having help me provide tips to my clients for following a Mediterranean Diet.

 

What went well

This particularly week, grocery shopping was significantly cheaper than my normal grocery budget. I only spent $67 on groceries this week! Now, it’s pretty normal for my shopping trips to alternate from a more expensive “stock up” week to a cheaper “fill in” week (averaging $100 per week), so it’s likely that this next week’s shop will be quite a bit more expensive, but we’ll see. Regardless, I’m excited that the Mediterranean Diet is turning out to be so affordable so far!

 

My goal from last week was to try to increase plant-based proteins in my diet, and decrease fish intake a little. This is only because some Mediterranean Diet recommendations limit fish (others don’t) and I wanted to try not to go crazy with it since it seems to vary depending on the recommend-ers. Anyway, I succeeded! I swapped 7 servings of seafood last week for 4 this week, and 3 servings of legumes last week for 9 this week.

 



 

Challenges

One of my go-to proteins pre-Mediterranean diet was chicken, which is limited in the “white meat” category to twice weekly. That is significantly less than I’m used to…which is probably more like 5 times weekly (or more). I’ve found logistical ways to swap out chicken (mostly tuna, salmon, and beans), but I’m finding myself bored with these limited options since I’m having them so frequently. I need to work on incorporating more variety – there are other options, I just haven’t explored them as much as I could be yet.

 

The limited protein options I’ve been choosing has caused me, primarily out of boredom, to eat less protein overall. Since protein is very satisfying, this causes me to be hungrier overall and to be more likely to avoid eating when I’m hungry because I’m tired of my options. That isn’t very fun. As I mentioned, this limiting of my proteins is only partly due to the nature of the diet and partly due to my lack of effort in finding and using other protein options. I hope to remedy that in the upcoming week by picking up some hummus, pistachios, a different veggie breakfast sausage, and some tofu.

 



 

How I did

This week I did better on individual recommendations and succeeded in swapping seafood for more legumes. I also ate quite a bit more fruit (still within recommended ranges). I did, however, have two soul meals this week (celebrating my son getting his first job and enjoying some delicious nachos at a football game). These are not “cheat days,” by the way. They are living life, and living life is not cheating. These two meals threw off my count for days that I met recommendations.

Next week I’m going to focus on upping my veggie intake – it’s been low both weeks. I’m planning to get some snacking veggies and some hummus to up my protein and veggie munching next week.

 

  Mediterranean Diet Goal* Week #1 Week #2
# of days nutrition recommendations met 7 5 4
Grains (daily average) 3-6 servings 4 servings 4.5 servings
Potatoes (weekly) ≤3 servings 3 servings 2 servings
Legumes (weekly) >2 servings 3 servings 9 servings
Dairy (daily average) 2 servings 2 servings 2 servings
Fruits (daily average) 2-6 servings 2.5 servings 5 servings
Vegetables (daily average) 4-6 servings 3 servings 3 servings
Olives/nuts/seeds (daily average) 1 serving 1 serving 1 serving
Eggs (weekly) 2-4 servings 3 servings 3 servings
Seafood (weekly) >2 servings 7 servings 4 servings
Red meat (weekly) <2 servings 1 serving 1 serving
White meat (weekly) 2 servings 2 servings 1 serving
Processed meat (weekly) ≤1 serving 1 serving 1 serving
Sweets (weekly) ≤2 servings 2 servings 2 servings
Weight change   -1 lb 0 lb
Grocery Budget Change   $0 -$33

 

In case you were wondering…

My digestive disturbances have resolved…thank you for asking.

 

That’s two weeks, folks! One to go and much more to learn…

 

*Based on the FDM recommendations I chose to follow. AHA and ACJN limit fish to “low to moderate” amounts.

 



 

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Research about the Mediterranean Diet

 

For the two weeks I have been following recommendations for the Mediterranean Diet.  For many years scientists have been trying to pin down and research the eating patterns of countries with the best overall health. Over time, the Mediterranean people have been one of a few groups with some of the most noteworthy health outcomes and lowest rates of disease. Closely following the Mediterranean eating pattern (with slight variations based on differing guidelines) has been shown to provide people with the following benefits:

 

Improved Overall Longevity

  • 9% less likely to die of any cause1-2, increased to 50% in people 70-90 years old (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/199485)
  • 9% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease1-3
  • 6% less likely to die from cancer1-3

 

Better Heart Health

  • improvement in the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol2
  • lower incidence of major cardiovascular events in high risk populations2
  • 9% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease1, 3

 



 

Improved nutritional intake

  • meeting recommendations for daily fiber consumption2
  • consuming more healthful monounsaturated fats and fewer inflammatory saturated fats2

 

Weight Management

  • decreased calorie intake compared to participants’ baseline intakes2
  • gradual weight loss averaging 5 lbs per year2

Tighter Blood Glucose Management

  • lower fasting blood glucose and lower insulin levels in diabetic participants2

 



 

Preserved Cognitive Function

  • lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease4
  • 13% combined lower incidence of Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s disease1

 

Improved Cancer Outcomes

  • 6% reduced incidence of or death from cancer1

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the documented benefits of the Mediterranean Diet – there are many more! This gives a good overall impression of what the research says about this eating pattern. Stay tuned as I continue to share about my experience following the Mediterranean Diet, and tips for making it easier.

 

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References

  1. Sofi F, et al. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Health Status: A meta-analysis. BMJ. 2008.  337. Accessed from: https://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a1344.long.
  2. Trichopoulou A, et al. Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Survival in a Greek Population. N Eng J Med. 2003. 348:2599-2608. Accessed from: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa025039.
  3. Knoops K, de Groot L, Kromhout D. Mediterranean Diet, Lifestyle Factors, and 10-Year Mortality in Elderly European Men and Women. JAMA. 2004. 292(12):1433-1439. Accessed from: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/199485.
  4. Scarmeas N, et al. Mediterranean diet and risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Ann of Neurology. 2006. 59(60):912-921. Accessed from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ana.20854.

 



Mediterranean Diet

Following the Mediterranean Diet

 

Today marks the end of my first week on the Mediterranean Diet. My first impressions are that the Mediterranean Diet is heavy in fish and beans, nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil. Those things are all basically free-for-alls.* The diet includes a decent allotment of dairy products, and then some limited amounts of other animal-based proteins like chicken, beef, and pork.

Following the Mediterranean Diet was not a major struggle, but not entirely a walk in the park either. Read on to find out about my first week!

 

What went well

The biggest win of the week was the fact that I stayed within my grocery budget – I was very concerned about how expensive all that fish was going to be! It was so pleasantly surprising that groceries were comparable cost to my normal budget of $100 per week. Likely that was because the expensive seafood and the cheap beans in this diet balanced each other out.

I really enjoy fish and plant-based proteins so it wasn’t hard to eat those. I swapped my typical canned chicken for canned salmon to use on sandwiches and salad. I also learned a thing – canned salmon (at least the brand I bought) contains bones and skin! Who knew? Probably you – but not me (until last week). For breakfast proteins, I used Morningstar brand veggie sausage patties to avoid processed meat in the mornings. All that worked really well!

 



 

Challenges

The major challenge I faced this week was trying to navigate conflicting and/or vague recommendations from different sources. For example, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) recommend low to moderate intake of fish, while the Mediterranean diet pyramid by the Fundación Dieta Mediterránea (FDM) recommends ≥2 servings of fish and seafood per week. The detailed guidelines from the FDM provided more specific guidance (which my type A brain appreciates), so I chose to follow those.

The AHA and AJCN also provide more generalized, less specific guidelines (e.g. low to moderate intake of fish and poultry). The Fundación Dieta Mediterránea gives very detailed recommendations in their Mediterranean Diet pyramid (e.g. <2 servings red meat per week). These types of differing messages are frequent sources for confusion for my clients. When you’re dealing with more generalized recommendations, you wonder “what does “low to moderate” mean, exactly?” When you have specific detailed guidelines, it can be difficult to count and keep track of them all. I struggled with this a bit, particularly since some of the recommendations are daily and others are weekly.

 



 

The detailed guidelines are a bit more restrictive than my typical diet in some areas. The biggest struggles were sweets and processed meat, believe it or not. Since there was no definition for these categories, I found myself wondering “what qualifies as a “sweet”? Obviously cookies, candy, etc. but what about beverages with added sugar, fruit juice, a few chocolate chips, a waffle with syrup?” I ended up deciding that I would only count dessert-like items in this category.

I had the same struggle with the “processed meat” category. Technically, all meat from the store is processed to a point…it’s been butchered and cut, sometimes seasoned, pressed or shaped, frozen, canned, etc. I assumed that any meat that has been ground and pressed with additives would count as processed meat – hot dogs, lunch meat, sausage, ham, etc. I did not include canned plain meats (chicken, salmon, tuna) as processed.

 



 

These two categories (sweets and processed meat) also proved most difficult for me to limit within the recommendations. Both of these things surprised me! I don’t generally consider myself a sweets person (I prefer salty all the way!), but limiting these to twice weekly was a challenge. The very first night I went to my grandma’s house for dinner and we ate ham (my processed meat for the week!) and dessert (one of my two sweets allotments for the week).

 

 

It was all totally worth it – it was made by my grandma, after all – but it was an early lesson in how quickly those allotments can go!

 



 

How I did

Following the Mediterranean Diet recommendations was a little tougher than I anticipated, partly because of the challenges mentioned above, but not extremely difficult.

The 2-4 egg per week, 2 servings dairy per day, and 2-3 servings fruit per day allotments pretty much reflect my typical intakes, so that wasn’t tough at all. I do pretty well with veggies in general, but I couldn’t quite average two servings per main meal.

 

  Mediterranean Diet Goal* Week #1
# of days nutrition recommendations met 7 5
Grains (daily average) 3-6 servings 4
Potatoes (weekly) ≤3 servings 3 servings
Legumes (weekly) >2 servings 3 servings
Dairy (daily average) 2 servings 2 servings
Fruits (daily average) 2-6 servings 2.5 servings
Vegetables (daily average) 4-6 servings 3 servings
Olives/nuts/seeds (daily average) 1 serving 1 serving
Eggs (weekly) 2-4 servings 3 servings
Seafood (weekly) >2 servings 7 servings
Red meat (weekly) <2 servings 1 serving
White meat (weekly) 2 servings 2 servings
Processed meat (weekly) ≤1 serving 1 serving
Sweets (weekly) ≤2 servings 2 servings
Weight change   -1 lb
Grocery Budget Change   $0

 

Possibly TMI reality

Digestive disturbances. Normal with any diet change, but ever obnoxious. Let’s leave it at that.

All in all, my last week has gone pretty well. I’m looking to get a bit more organized and try to balance the seafood with more plant-based proteins this week since the AHA and ACJN recommendations are to moderate those also. Stay tuned!

 

*Based on the FDM recommendations I chose to follow. AHA and ACJN limit fish to “low to moderate” amounts.

 



 

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On Monday, I did my grocery shopping for my first week following the Mediterranean Diet recommendations – you can see the food and ingredients I bought in the picture below. In addition to these, we already had olive oil, canned and dried beans, dry pasta/rice, bread, fresh vegetables, and canned/frozen fruit that I expect I’ll be using.

 

Mediterranean diet staples

 

Mediterranean Diet staples

Below is a summary of the nutrition staples I made to guide my grocery shopping throughout my time on the Mediterranean diet.

  • Proteins: fish (fresh, canned, or frozen), shellfish, canned or dried beans, nuts, seeds
    • Limited chicken, pork, and beef (1-2 servings of each per week)
  • Low- or non-fat dairy products: milk, yogurt, part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Vegetables: select a variety – fresh, frozen, or canned (no salt added)
  • Fruit: select a variety – fresh, frozen, dried, or canned (in juice)
  • Grains (preferably whole grains): pasta, rice, bread, crackers
  • Beverages: tea, water, wine (if desired)
  • Other: olive oil, vinegar, herbs, spices, olives



 

The Cost of Following a Mediterranean Diet

Originally I was concerned that the Mediterranean Diet would be particularly expensive because of its emphasis on seafood. I was pleasantly surprised that I was still able to meet our normal grocery budget of $100 per week for our family of four (check out my series on Eating Well on a Budget if you want to know about how I do that) while shopping for the Mediterranean diet.

There are probably a few reasons I was able to easily stay within budget:

  • I had several Mediterranean Diet staples already in my pantry.
  • My family eats the same dinners, but lunches and breakfasts are often individual, so I wasn’t necessarily buying Mediterranean diet foods for all four of us for three meals per day all week. In addition to the foods pictured above, I purchased several items for the rest of my family that I won’t be eating.
  • While the Mediterranean Diet has some more expensive aspects (seafood, olive oil), it also has some lower-cost aspects (beans, pasta, rice, bread) and limits other higher-cost options like red meats. Altogether, they may balance each other out.

Since this is only the first week of shopping for a Mediterranean Diet, I’ll see in the upcoming weeks if it continues to match our normal grocery budget and keep you posted!



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