If you want to eat better but don’t know where to start, this easy Mediterranean diet meal plan for beginners is just what you need. We try to keep the plan simple by having the same options for breakfast and lunch, using leftovers for dinner sometimes, and choosing Mediterranean diet recipes that don’t have long lists of ingredients or a lot of steps. This plan can work for you if you have prediabetes, diabetes, or heart disease, just want to improve your health, or are following the Mediterranean diet to lose weight. We capped the calories at 1,200 per day to help you lose weight in a healthy way at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. We also gave you options to increase the calories to 1,500 or 2,000 per day, depending on your needs.
What is the diet of the Mediterranean?
The Mediterranean diet is more of a way of life than a set of rules about what you can and can’t eat. Its goal is to include the healthy foods that people in the areas around the Mediterranean Sea have always eaten. It has a lot of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, seafood, olive oil, and nuts, which are healthy fats. It also has a moderate amount of chicken, turkey, eggs, and fermented dairy, like yogurt or kefir, but not as much red meat, sweets, or processed foods. Also, the diet stresses how important it is to cook meals at home, eat with other people, and get regular exercise, like walking.
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits:
U.S. News & World Report chose the Mediterranean diet as the best diet for a reason: it is good for your health in so many ways. The Mediterranean diet can improve heart health because it is high in healthy fats and low in unhealthy saturated fats. It also has a lot of fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. A 2018 review in Current Nutrition Reports shows that the Mediterranean diet can even help keep your brain healthy.
How to Shop for a Mediterranean Diet:
A shopping list is important for any trip to the grocery store to go well. It helps us stick to our plan, saves us money, and makes us less likely to buy less healthy food when it’s on sale. You’ve probably been told to shop around the edges of the grocery store because that’s where fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, eggs, dairy, and meat are usually kept. Still, there are a lot of good choices on the inner aisles as well. In the middle aisles, you’ll find canned and dried beans, frozen fruits and vegetables, whole grains like oatmeal and quinoa, nuts and nut butter, olive oil, olives, and canned seafood. To stay on track, don’t go to the store when you’re hungry, shop with a plan, and only go down the aisles you need to get the food on your list. Avoid extra (and often less healthy) items.
Mediterranean Diet Foods List:
- Olive oil
- Fish, including canned and frozen fish
- Beans and lentils
- Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains, like oatmeal, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice
- Red wine, in moderation
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butter
- Fermented dairies, like kefir and yogurt
How to plan your meals for the week
- Most weekdays are busy, so do these simple steps to prepare meals at the beginning of the week to make meal planning less stressful.
- Make Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats for breakfast on Days 2 through 6.
- Prepare the Vegan Superfood Grain Bowls so you can eat them for lunch from Day 2 to Day 5.
- Make Garlic-Dijon Vinaigrette so you can have it all week.