The Mediterranean Diet: Why It Rocks + 8 Meal Plan Templates To Get You Started
If you know me, you know I’m all about finding what diet type works best for YOU, and that there’s never any “one-size-fits-all” approach that works.
With that said, I’m forever inundated with questions around my “top foods” or “best meal plan” to recommend - for everything from weight-loss, inflammation, or simply optimizing energy levels and reducing stress throughout the day.
Well, while I am NOT about to give you the script for the “detox” program we all need to subscribe to - nor suggest that the following diet type will work PERFECTLY for everyone…
It IS the most scientifically proven diet for preventing major chronic illnesses, and I’ve found that it is the one with the most commonality and parallels to the food suggestions from today’s top progressive and functional medical doctors who research and share on the topic.
It’s none other than…THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET!
I’m also half Greek and sell olive oil on the side…so maybe I’m biased - take it or leave it, I’m about to break down the top 3 reasons why the Mediterranean Diet might be right for you, and then offer 2 full month’s worth of meal plans (i.e. 8 unique weekly plans) to give you some epically delicious inspiration to get started.
#1 SLEEP QUALITY
Recent studies prove that adherence to a Mediterranean diet result in improvement in sleep quality of participants.
This is likely due to the many foods associated with this diet - like olives, some kinds of fish, and seasonal fruits, are good sources of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates circadian rhythms and helps to modulate the sleep-wake cycle.
#2 INFLAMMATION BE GONE
It’s widely accepted that the common root cause of disease is inflammation, so eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is generally the best “high-level” recommendation that almost anyone and everyone can benefit from.
Swedish researchers report that eating anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and veggies, tea and coffee, monounsaturated fats (eg, olive and avocado oils) nuts and avoiding pro-inflammatory foods—gluten, processed meats, sugary drinks—reduces risk of death from ANY causes by almost 20%! Best ever related news? These findings are “dose-response”, which essentially means that the closer you stick to an anti-inflammatory diet, the greater the health benefits you’ll receive.
YAS! AVOCADOS DAILY PEOPLE!!!
#3 REGULATE YOUR GLUCOSE-LEVELS
Beyond the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to increase adiponectin - a hormone responsible for regulating glucose-levels as well as to help with fatty-acid breakdown. That all plays a key role in reducing your risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and potentially even arthritis and osteoporosis.
Ready to EAT GREEK?!
Of course you are - but let me just take a moment to explain what the kind of Mediterranean Diet that I’m actually referring to is (because that’s the one scientific studies show the most promising evidence for)…as it might be a little different than what you have in mind. Sorry, not sorry.
It’s NAWT gyros, an abundance of feta cheese, or even a lot of meat (seriously!).
I’m lucky enough to get the “insider” information from my Greek family, and they all speak the same truth: their diet growing up (in their little village in the “mountains”) was predominantly plant-based, with loads of fruits and veggies, legumes, the occasional small serving of meat as a treat for a celebration, and just a little bit of dairy (yes - “grass-fed”…although they wouldn’t think to label it that way).
So it’s definitely not the carnivorous feast you may have been dreaming about (or getting angst about - depending on your dietary orientation).
While I introduced this article with the idea that no “diet type” works “best” for everyone - I will say that monounsaturated fats generally do work great for all type of people, whereas saturated fats will depend on your genetic makeup (check out the Gini Health blog for a more detailed discussion on this topic).
That means that if you’re unclear on what types of fats work best for your particular genetic makeup - the easy choice is to stick with monounsaturated fats…the predominant fat source in - you guessed it: the Mediterranean Diet!
My Favourite Mediterranean Diet Foods:
Olives and extra-virgin olive oil (just make sure you get a quality cold-pressed source and do NOT cook with it - leave it for salads and other raw dishes, or as a culinary dressing for steamed veggies after cooking).
Avocados - and avocado oil! This is my favourite cooking oil…it’s one of the only monounsaturated-fat-rich oil that has a high smoke point (goodbye coconut oil, you’ve already had your 5 minutes of fame…and you’re hella high in saturated fat).
Macadamia nuts - one of the only food sources that contain palmitoleic acid (a kind of monounsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to speed up fat metabolism).
Pomegranates - improves detoxification in the liver and helps keep cholesterol and blood sugar balanced.
Leafy green vegetables - often referred to as “horta” on a menu at a Greek restaurant, which is the catch-all term for greens and simply means boiled greens. Greens contain glucosinolates, which help to give your gut flora the best nutrition possible, and the rich fibre content helps you go…literally saying GOODBYE TO CRAP and hello to happy digestion.
Ready to get started?
I put together DO-ABLE, easy, batch-cooking-approved Mediterranean Diet plans in an 8-week program available for $8!!! Literally, that’s $1/plan (or $1 a week). If you’re looking to make some changes to your diet, or simply want a WHOLE BUNCH of incredibly scrumptious Mediterranean recipes - all organized throughout your week - then this is a worthy purchase.