7 Simple Steps to Follow the Mediterranean Diet

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Eating like those who live in the Mediterranean region has been shown to promote health and decrease risk of many chronic diseases. Following a traditional Mediterranean-style eating pattern has been shown to decrease some forms of cancer, protect against cognitive decline, improve eye health, decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, help manage blood pressure, reduce cardiovascular disease, and is more effective than a low-fat diet for weight loss. Eating the Mediterranean way is not only healthy, it is delicious and satisfying. Foods that you once thought of as too high in fat or unhealthy, including nuts, olive oil, olives, and whole grains, become an everyday part of your diet. The following simple steps will help you eat the Med Way every day.

7 Simple Steps to Eating the Med Way

Mediterranean diet

1. Change Your Protein

Replace some of the meat in your dish with plant proteins such as beans, nuts, and seeds often.

Eat fish and seafood at least two to three times per week. Include fatty fish, such as mackerel or salmon at least once a week. Eat fried fish only occasionally.

Choose white-meat poultry such as turkey or chicken breast.

Limit red meat and/or choose lean red meat.

Greatly limit or eliminate processed meats.

Mediterranean diet

2. Swap Your Fats

Choose olive oil.

Replace solid fats such as butter and margarine with olive oil or canola oil.

Use olive oil for cooking, in dressings, and marinades.

Aim to consume at least four tablespoons of olive oil a day, while keeping within your calorie budget.

mediterranean diet

3. Eat More Vegetables

Get at least three servings (three cups) of vegetables per day.

Choose a variety of colors.

Eat more dark green leafy vegetables such as collards, kale, spinach, chard, and turnip greens.

mediterranean diet

4. Eat More Fruit

Get at least two servings (two cups) of fruits per day.

Choose a variety of colors.

Include berries often.

med diet

5. Snack on Nuts and Seeds

Choose at least three ounces (three small handfuls) of nuts and seeds per week, while keeping within your calorie budget.

Avoid candied, honey-roasted, and heavily salted nuts and seeds.

mediterranean diet

6. Make Your Grains Whole

Eat grains as grains

Choose whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and popcorn.

Look for “whole” in the first ingredient on the ingredient list (e.g., “whole wheat”) when choosing bread, pasta, and other grain-based foods.

mediterranean diet recipes

7. Rethink Your Sweets

Limit your sugar intake

Choose no more than three servings per week of high-sugar foods and drinks such as sugar-sweetened snacks, candies, desserts, or beverages.

For more information about eating the Med Way, visit MedInsteadofMeds.com.

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23 thoughts on “7 Simple Steps to Follow the Mediterranean Diet

  1. Thanks for this, it’s such a practical list of steps to take towards the Mediterranean diet. Very easy to follow.

  2. Thank-you for the clear suggestions on how to eat a Med diet.
    The recommended amount of olive oil is 4 tablespoons, which is almost 500 calories. This amount would be very difficult to consume while ‘keeping within my calorie budget” as is also recommended. For me, this would be about 1/4 of my total intake for the day. Could this be a misprint?

    1. The amount of olive oil consumed should be adjusted based on calorie needs. However, the Med way is a lot more fat (healthy fat) than you are probably used to consuming. It does take some getting used to.
      I have lower calorie needs as well and aim for about 2 T of oil as oil then more healthy fats in nuts and seeds (1-2 ounces per day). That is just my formula, you can find what works for you to balance calories with the other tenants of the diet. The oil I consume is usually on whole-grain bread (olive oil toast, salad dressing, or used in cooking). It is really important to balance this with lower calorie foods including fruits and vegetables. The Med Diet has between 35-50% calories from fat so, like I said, it is a pretty high fat diet – just healthy fats.

    2. Thank-you for your thorough response. It is very helpful to understand how to include more fat in my diet (and it helps that I really like nuts and avocados!).

  3. The Mediterranean Nutritionist advises that you completely replace processed sugar with natural alternatives such as honey. You can also use extracts from fresh berries to sweeten your shakes and juices.

    1. Hi Sophia -thanks for your post. Actually, you should limit added-sugar of all types. Honey is not really any better than table sugar – your body does not see much difference in the two. This holds true for agave, brown sugar, coconut sugar, etc. Using whole fruit to sweeten your shakes is the way to go. Good luck!

  4. I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about six months ago. I am also a picky eater when it comes to vegies. Any suggestions or ideas for me as in recipes and id this would be a good idea for me to try. I also have high cholesterol.

    Thank you,


    1. Hi Mellissa, Following a Mediterranean eating pattern has been shown to help those reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among others. To find out more about the health benefits associated with eating a Mediterranean diet, please click here – https://medinsteadofmeds.com/science-of-eating-med/. To see the 100+ recipes that are Med-inspired, please click here – https://medinsteadofmeds.com/category/recipes/.

  5. I’m looking for Low carb, low calories, low sugar, low saturated fat recipes as I have cholesterol and I’m on 1200 calories per day
    Thank you

    1. Hi Tania, we have many healthy recipes under the “Tools” and then “Recipes” tab at the top of this page. You can also check out our sister site, MedInsteadofMeds.com for lots of great recipes! 🙂

    1. Hi Ines, we are happy to add you! You should begin to receive emails soon. Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Penny, we would be happy to keep you updated with our recent blogs and recipes! I have added you to our list and you should now begin to receive the emails when new recipes and blogs are posted. 🙂

  6. Although I’m sure I’m on your website since I’ve participated in several webinar series, I don’t receive recipes, and would like to be registered to do so. Thank you.

    1. Hi Dorothy, thank you for your interest in our recipes! I have added you to the blog email list as well, which will contain our new recipes as well. For all of our current recipes, please click Tools> Recipes or visit MedInsteadofMeds.com. 🙂

    1. Thank you Jean! For more articles on the Mediterranean Diet, you can type “Med” into the search bar on the right of the screen as well as visit MedInsteadofMeds.com. 🙂

    1. Hi Patricia, thank you for your interest in our recipes! I have added you to our list. For additional Mediterranean recipes, please visit MedInsteadofMeds.com. 🙂

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