Traditional Mediterranean Diet

traditional Mediterranean diet

     Give your body good nutrition with a traditional Mediterranean diet plan and foods that lower blood sugar.    What IS the Mediterranean diet?

     It's a way of eating that is characteristic of a region in the world bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This region is blessed with a temperate climate that supports a wide diversity of vegetables, grains and fruits and an abundance of fish.   It's an excellent diabetic diet  appropriate for all weight loss programs.

     Fish is a key component to this cooking but also some red meat including goat, lamb, chicken, pork and beef, lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, olive oil, pasta, raw nuts, seeds, cultured dairy products and local cheeses, especially goat cheese.  

      Since the Mediterranean Sea stretches  from Spain in the west to North Africa in the south, Italy, Greece and Turkey in the north and Lebanon in the east, this encompasses many different cultures, terrains and styles of cooking.

     There ARE common components that at least traditionally (before the spread of westernized fast foods) are part of all Mediterranean cuisine. The traditional Mediterranean diet is a high fiber diet and one that incorporates far more whole grains, legumes and plant oils (olive oil) than the typical American diet.

     The traditional Mediterranean diet is the low glycemic way of eating.   These are real foods that do NOT raise your blood sugar.    Eat food that is grown wherever you happen to live as much as possible.   If you are lucky enough to live in an area with agriculture then you may be able to eat  locally raised meat,  fruits and vegetables.     You also need olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, beans, whole grains, pasta and cultured dairy products like yogurt and kefir.

     Obviously, we can't get all our food home grown but we can get some. Certainly in most parts of the country it's possible to get a lot of fresh food.   Food, including fresh produce,  is flown in from all over the world in most places in the U.S.    If you can't buy fresh produce or grow it yourself,  then by all means buy canned and frozen vegetables and fruits.    With canned fruits make sure they are water packed and not packed in heavy syrup.    With canned vegetables and beans look for low sodium (no added salt.)

     I live with my family in Northern California in a temperate climate similar to Italy so we are able to grow lots of our own food and wine grapes.    Early in the last century Italian immigrants moved here and started planting grapes which was the beginning of California's wine growing.    We even raised our own meat, beef and lamb for a few years and still have chickens and bees.   Buying locally grown meat is very expensive but we have cut down on how much meat we eat so it doesn't really add much to our budget to at least buy grass fed meat.

     We've been eating a traditional Mediterranean diet for many years but didn't think about it in that way.    We were just drawn to the idea of being able to grow our own food and work outdoors.

tomato based clam stew

     But no matter where you live or what you do it's possible to incorporate eating more fresh food grown locally, more of the Mediterranean style, types of foods and the communal way of eating.   And, I might add, a more physically active lifestyle.   The traditional Mediterranean diet is centered on eating as a celebration of life, the seasons and as a reward for hard work.  We can do that no matter where we live or what we do! 

      People living around the Mediterranean naturally look to the sea for their protein needs and fish is the number one omega 3 food!   This means it is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids and it promotes good health in many ways including the efficient burning of fat.   Most of us don't live near the ocean but it's possible to buy frozen and canned fish. 

     In fact, the traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in lots of omega 3 foods (olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, fish) which are the foods that lower blood sugar.  

     Omega 3 foods support balanced blood sugar as well as help you to burn fat.    These fatty acids are essential for good weight control and good health.

     The traditional Mediterranean diet/lifestyle is steeped in the old ways of centering social life around sharing meals with loved ones.   This is a wine growing region and wine drinking is part of every day life.   A glass of wine with a meal is a healthful, as well as delightful, experience.

     Red wine, as you probably know by now because everybody you know who drinks wine has told you, has antioxidants in it and when you drink it in moderation (one 5 oz. glass for a woman and two glasses for a man,) it's good for you!   And it does seem to make food taste better and your company even more interesting to have an occasional glass of wine with a meal.

     A meal becomes a time to celebrate the day and being with your friends and family!   What could be better?   This is a healthy diet plan that is more about intuitive eating (listening to your body) than obsessing about calories.   If your new way of eating is to be a permanent lifestyle, everything about your eating experience needs to be a pleasure not a time of worry and too much calculation.

     Even though there are many countries with different cultures along the Mediterranean Sea they share these common traditions of eating.   When you share wine with your family in a convivial atmosphere you tend to savor the food and eat more slowly.      The biggest meal of the day is lunch which means using those calories the rest of the day and eating lightly at dinner.   The pounds can melt off.   This is great for your metabolism especially when you are physically active the rest of the day.

     Just making this shift can result in losing fat much more quickly.  Try having a light meal of soup and salad in the evening.   Do your regular exercise in the afternoon after lunch!   Exercise enhances the thermogenic  (burning calories)  effects of food.

     Is it possible to eat your biggest meal at lunchtime?     It's a great time to meet friends at a cafĂ© or take your lunches to a park.    Another very important factor is the mood we bring to the table.   No eating while standing up in the kitchen!   In fact, just eating outdoors makes eating more fun.   At least make one of the day's meals special in some way whether it's candles, wine or just sharing foods with others.

family celebrating dining together

     Make this a time to loosen up and enjoy life.    The traditional Mediterranean diet really means that food is not just about sustenance. It's about nourishing your body AND soul.

     Our health depends not just on the nutrients in the food but on our positive feelings eating in relaxing company.   Since our emotions play a role in our nutrition, affecting our digestion and absorption, it makes sense to eat when you're feeling happy.    If you're feeling sad or angry take a walk instead!

     Being disconnected from the experience of cooking and even where our food comes from has contributed to less healthy lives and many people who are overweight.    The stress and fast pace of modern life is not conducive to good health.   The traditional Mediterranean diet is a healthier lifestyle - taking pleasure in food grown by your neighbors or growing it yourself is more satisfying than eating at fast food places or microwaving something in a hurry.   When you slow down you eat less.

     Food and exercise are your best medicine.   The traditional Mediterranean diet consists of foods that prevent cancer and heart disease.   Your diet and daily exercise can be your best prevention against diseases ranging from cancer and heart disease, attention deficit disorder and Alzheimer's.    The omega 3 foods help to prevent heart disease by lowering blood pressure and supporting circulation.   Cancer researchers have found that the omega 3 foods are immune enhancing.  

     Traditional Mediterranean diets are rich in omega 3 foods.

     What about desserts and the traditional Mediterranean diet?   The natural sweets, honey, maple syrup, dates and raisins and sometimes  can be indulged in if you are NOT insulin resistant, as long as you have made  low glycemic eating a habit and you have a small portion.  

     Fresh figs with plain yogurt drizzled with a little honey is a nice way to end the noon day meal.     Traditionally these cultures used the natural sweeters rather than white sugar.    White sugar has no place in our kitchens. 

     Occasional desserts can be a part of your traditional Mediterranean diet plan as long as you eat them early in the day and plan physical activity for later.    Always stick to the low glycemic sweeteners.

      People living in Mediterranean cultures traditionally worked hard outdoors and ate what they wanted.   Is there a lesson for us here?   Add daily walking or other exercise as an afternoon or after work habit and you are on your way to a lifetime of fat loss.

     So how to get from where you are to this way of eating?

  • Some easy ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your eating is to get rid of all the junk food and processed foods in your house.
  • Then start transforming your life one step at a time by adopting one new habit a week. Start walking to work or on your lunch hour.

  • Stop buying sodas and start drinking water with fresh lemon. Visit your farmer's market once a week.
  • When you shop, load up on vegetables and fruit. Buy the prewashed greens if you're short on time, wash your other produce and bag it to make it convenient so you have snacks to take when you're on the go.
  • Have a variety of fresh fruits, raw nuts and seeds on hand for snacks.
  • Eat only when you're hungry and stop when you're full.


     Consider buying a strong blender or juicer to start out your day with an alkaline boost of greens.   Keep your meals simple and include lots of omega 3 foods, cruciferous vegetables, and other fruits and vegetables and whole grains.   Over time you will lose fat, feel more energetic and you will have adopted new habits that will keep you healthy for a lifetime.

     Give your body the nutrients it needs with a traditional Mediterranean diet and you will be happy, healthy, beautiful and ageless!

     Life is meant to be a celebration!


     Keep reading the articles below for more help with eating the Mediterranean way to be healthy and skinny for life!

Food Lovers Diet

How to eat yummy foods and still lose weight!

Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid

Find out how to eat each day, how much of each food group, when to eat it and how to stay thin life long! This is a visual guide with specific directions.



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