According to Fitness Magazine, research indicates that the more doctors test it, the more they find out that eating Mediterranean is the absolute best way to lose weight. Based on the cooking and eating styles of Italy, France, Greece, Spain, and other Mediterranean countries, the plan features olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish and poultry, whole grains and yes, wine! It’s high in heart-healthy fats and, unlike other diets, doesn’t forbid any food group.

The healthy fats and protein in the Mediterranean diet keep you glucose level on an even keel, which means you’ll be less apt to hunt down chips, cookies, or fast food to get through the day.

While I am not a fan of “diets”, the Mediterranean diet is simply a way of eating and a great example of how you can make well-balanced food choices that taste great, boost your health and even promote weight loss. Whereas various restrictive diets can deter people, the Mediterranean diet won’t uproot everything you know and love about food. You can make simple changes over a period of time to make the diet feel less like a challenge and more like a lifestyle.

The Basics

Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.

Eat in Moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.

Eat Only Rarely: Red meat.

Don’t Eat: Sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.


Avoid These Unhealthy Foods

You should avoid these unhealthy foods and ingredients:

Added sugar: Soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar and many others.

Refined grains: White bread, pasta made with refined wheat, etc.

Trans fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods.

Refined Oils: Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and others.

Processed meat: Processed sausages, hot dogs, lunch meat, etc.

Highly processed foods: Everything labelled “low-fat” or “diet” or looks like it was made in a factory.

You MUST read ingredients list if you want to avoid these unhealthy ingredients.


Foods to Eat

You should base your diet on these healthy, unprocessed Mediterranean foods.

Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, etc.

Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, peaches, etc.

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more.

Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils, pulses, peanuts, chickpeas, etc.

Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams, etc.

Whole Grains: Whole oats, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole grain bread and pasta.

Fish and Seafood: Salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, etc.

Poultry: Chick, duck, turkey and more.

Eggs: Chicken, quail and duck eggs.

Dairy: Cheese, yogurt, Greek yogurt, etc.

Herbs and Spices: Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, etc.

Healthy Fats: Extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados and avocado oil.

Whole, single ingredient foods are the key to good health.


A Few Things Worth Noting

Exactly which foods belong in the Mediterranean diet is controversial, partly because there is such variety between different countries.

The diet prescribed in the studies is high in plant foods, and relatively low in animal foods; however, eating fish and seafood is recommended at least twice a week.

The Mediterranean lifestyle also involves regular physical activity, sharing meals with other people and enjoying life!


What to Drink

Water should be your go-to beverage on a Mediterranean diet.

This diet also includes moderate amounts of red wine, around 1 glass per day. However, this is completely optional and wine should be avoided by anyone who has alcoholism or problems controlling their consumption.

Coffee and tea are also completely acceptable, but avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, and fruit juices, which are high in sugar.