The Mediterranean diet is inspired by traditional cuisines from the region surrounding the Mediterranean sea, including Italy, Greece, and the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. It emphasizes the daily consumption of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and plenty of nuts and seeds. Red meat is consumed rarely, and fish and poultry only a few times a week. Refined grains and sugars and processed meat are avoided altogether. Some people who follow the Mediterranean diet choose to stay entirely plant-based.
The Mediterranean diet also encourages sharing meals with family and friends to boost your mood and discourage overeating. Because many of the meals are rich in healthy fats and plant-based protein that has lots of fiber, the portion sizes are generally smaller. More frequent, smaller meals and snacks will keep you satisfied and stave off unhealthy cravings.
Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The better eating habits associated with the Mediterranean diet have been shown to increase the quality of life for middle-aged people, who are less likely to develop physical and mental health issues like Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Studies also show that it can improve cholesterol levels, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Moderate red wine consumption, popular with this diet, has also been claimed to reduce risk of heart problems – but other research has shown that there’s no safe level of alcohol consumption. Most doctors generally don’t recommend that you start drinking if you don’t already, but that you switch to red wine if you already drink.
Of course, you don’t have to eat greek yogurt and tabbouleh every day to enjoy these benefits! Increasing your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, avoiding heavily processed foods, and limiting your meat consumption can be done with any style of cooking, and the benefits are well documented. But if sticking to Mediterranean foods simplifies this for you, and you enjoy it, then it’s worthwhile for your overall wellbeing.
It’s also worth mentioning that the mediterranean diet doesn’t give you a free pass to eat as much as you want and magically drop weight. You will need to be mindful of your portion sizes and incorporate plenty of physical activity throughout your day. Meal planning can be a great help with this, and it can also save you time and money throughout the week. Below, we’ll dive into some delicious meal concepts and recipes! But first, let’s learn a bit more about how Noom can help.
The Noom difference
“Dieting” is a troubling concept. It’s almost always based on the idea of restriction – which isn’t a loving or healthy way to relate to your body. And while the Mediterranean diet is much more flexible and forgiving than some other diets out there, it’s still a set of rules and guidelines you’ll have to impose on yourself. At the end of the day, it’s just not built for you.
Noom is different. We think you deserve a fully personalized weight loss plan – and we work with you to make that happen. By getting to know your needs and goals, Noom formulates a strategy for healthy, sustainable weight loss that you can stick with. Our health coaches and our psychologist-designed app will help you break bad eating habits and build a healthier relationship with your body. Learn more about how Noom can help.
Still interested in the Mediterranean diet? Let’s explore the very best dinner recipes out there!
Mediterranean Diet recipes
1. Falafel bowls
This falafel recipe uses creamy chickpeas that are blended with herbs and spices, then baked to crispy perfection. It’s a plant-based, protein powered dish that can be modified to any taste, and you can swap out vegetables with the season. For even more variety, you can switch between tahini sauce and tzatziki sauce, which is based on greek yogurt and cucumber.
2. Mediterranean quinoa salad
These tangy salads feature fresh lemon juice, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers for a playful twist on the classic tablecloth salad. You can add plenty of chopped parsley to increase the vegetables and get a more authentic treat.
3. Mediterranean pasta salad
This simple pasta salad combines tomatoes, feta cheese, and cucumbers for a light, delicious lunch. It’s seasoned with a lemon juice vinaigrette for a tangy finish. Use whole-grain pasta for a more nutrient-rich base.
4. Quinoa granola
This simple granola only has seven ingredients. Perfect for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack, this delicious granola combines quinoa, oats, and almonds for a filling and slightly sweet boost to your day. If you’ve got a big day ahead of you, you can mix it with Greek yogurt to keep you fueled for longer.
5. Slow cooker Tuscan white bean soup
This Italian-inspired recipe is a simple way to put your slow cooker to good use and keep your belly warm and full when it’s cold outside. If you’re used to eating a lot of meat, beans are a hearty substitute that can help fill the void.
6. Artichoke and red pepper roll-ups
Packed with healthy fats and protein from three kinds of cheese, these addictive wraps owe their perfect texture to sweet roasted bell peppers and artichokes. Substitute yogurt for sour cream for a healthier sauce.
7. Home-made hummus
Store-bought hummus can be expensive, and the ingredients are often loaded with extra salt, preservatives, and vegetable oil. By making your own, you can tweak the ingredients to your preference and use healthy fats for a more balanced diet. This recipe uses sumac for a unique, tangy flavor. You can eat it with veggies for a snack, have it as a spread on sandwiches with peppers and tomatoes, or eat it with your falafel bowls.
7. Mediterranean Chicken with Sun-dried Tomatoes
This one-skillet meal is a simple dinner to follow up a day of meal prep. Pan-seared chicken breast with plenty of olive oil, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. You can skip the flour coating and still get a delicious experience without the refined grain.