What is the Mediterranean Lifestyle? What are the Principles?

You may be wondering: What is the Mediterranean Lifestyle? What are the Principles of the Mediterranean Diet? Read on to learn more about this incredible way of eating that promotes optimal health including the exact principles to follow. 

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Why Do We Love the Mediterranean Diet?

Rather than focusing on food restrictions or consumption of only a few specific foods, the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes an eating pattern rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

The ability to eat a variety of foods in moderation, rather than counting calories or macros, restricting specific foods or the time of day you can eat, allows for greater flexibility and acceptability in incorporating this lifestyle into your day to day life – leading to lifelong good health for the entire family! 

More than A Diet

While many people say, “Mediterranean Diet”, it is more accurate to say, "Mediterranean Lifestyle". This is because the term “diet” generally refers to temporary nutritional changes or restrictions that lead to short-term results.

Lifestyle, on the other hand, is a moderate way of eating that will lead to steady, long-term health and weight benefits. Following the Mediterranean Lifestyle principles will allow you to optimize the health of your entire family!

We call it a lifestyle because this is a way of living and incorporating whole food groups, limiting sugar and processed foods, engaging in regular physical activity, decreasing stress, and enjoying meals with friends and family, all of which have been linked to improved mood and overall health.

Ready to start incorporating Mediterranean Principles? Read on to learn more about how you can start incorporating these principles into your life!Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid

Mediterranean Diet Principles

Inspired from the ways of living and eating of people from the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean Principles have been effective for hundreds of years.

Today, the official 2020 - 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends it as the diet of choice. The diet is an excellent option for healthy people who are looking to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. (Read this article for more on heart health, lowering blood pressure, and preventing prediabetes.) 


Principles of The Mediterranean Lifestyle

Below you will find principles that are emphasized by Mediterranean living. By incorporating as many of these principles as you can to your life, you can significantly improve your quality of life and increase your likelihood of living longer. 

  • Include fruits and vegetables at EVERY meal (try to fill half your plate).
    • Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, including the alphabet of vitamins, potassium, folate, and antioxidants, all of which can help protect against many diseases. They are also lower in calories, higher in water content, and higher in fiber than other food choices. These are critical for optimal health.
  • Incorporate whole grains into your meals.
    • Whole grains are full of fiber, which may help lower risk of heart disease, bowel cancer, and high cholesterol. The B vitamins found in whole grains are important in helping to maintain energy levels in the body and may prevent dementia and memory loss. (Learn more about whole grains here). 
  • Swap out butter for extra virgin olive oil - a healthy fat that includes a combination of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
    • The oleic acid in healthy fats can help reduce inflammation in the body and may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease.
  • Aim for at least 3 servings of beans, legumes, and nuts per week as a source of lean protein, limiting red meat intake.
    • Beans and legumes are excellent sources of fiber, protein, and many important vitamins. Eating beans can help improve your cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy gut. Red meat, on the other hand, often has high levels of saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart related diseases.
  • Fish (and other seafood) is recommended to include at least twice a week.
    • Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical for brain health. Seafood is also a good source of Vitamin D, which helps improve your mood, and protein - to help you stay strong.
  • Dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt are to be consumed in moderation on a daily or even weekly basis.
    • Dairy provides an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and protein which are all great for bone health. Too much dairy, however, has been linked to inflammation of the gut and skin.
  • Herbs and spices are emphasized, substituting out salt when possible.
    • Too much salt can raise your blood pressure, putting you at a greater risk for things like kidney and heart disease. Herbs and spices, on the other hand, often contain antioxidants and vitamins that can decrease inflammation and help keep you healthy. Using herbs also makes food taste great without needing the extra salt.
  • Consuming at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day is recommend to keep hydrated.
    • Many experts believe that hydration is critical to good health, improved mood, sleep, and cognition. Drinking water helps your body to regulate temperature, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keeps organs functioning properly.
  • Red wine is also recommended, in moderation, often with meals.
    • The restorative found in red wine has been linked to heart health. One glass of red wine also helps many people relax and de-stress, an important component of good health. However, if you do not currently drink, it is not recommended that you start.
  • Engaging in regular physical activity is a key principle to the Mediterranean Lifestyle.
    • Exercise, and living an active lifestyle, is good for everything from your weight to your mood to your bone health. Find lots more information on an active lifestyle here.
  • Enjoy having meals together with your friends and family!
    • Eating with others helps us slow down, enjoy our food, and de-stress. 
  • Focus on reducing stress by engaging in activities that you find relaxing and pleasurable.
    • Life is more fun when you have enjoyable activities to look forward to. This is also important for your overall health! 

Looking for the proven path to the Mediterranean Diet?


If you are ready for the easy way to get started, we invite you to try out our Mediterranean Meal Plans.

Created by our Dietitian Nutritionist Jamie with you and your family in mind, our plans incorporating Mediterranean Diet Principles throughout each week.

You get a well-balanced diet, with way less stress. Each meal plans comes complete with an organized grocery list to save you time. 


What’s Next?

Don’t forget to join our email list, where we discuss all things Mediterranean Diet and provide amazing recipes.

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