Are you looking for a healthy and easy–to–follow diet plan? If so, the Mediterranean Diet is an excellent option. This diet is not only nutritious but also delicious and can be easily adapted to fit any lifestyle. With this meal plan, you will get to enjoy Mediterranean cuisine for seven days, featuring a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats. Plus, you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare meals. This 7 days Mediterranean Diet Meal Plans for Beginners will provide you with everything you need to get started on your journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
This 7-day Mediterranean diet plan helps you practice those habits with help from good-for-you foods and delicious Mediterranean diet-inspired ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for a full week of healthy of eating.
The Mediterranean diet prioritizes healthy sources of fat trusted source like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. The Mediterranean diet puts a higher focus on plant foods than many other diets. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are main ingredients in meals and snacks.
People following the diet typically cook these foods using healthful fats, such as olive oil, and add plenty of flavorful spices. Meals may include small portions of fish, meat, or eggs.
Moderate amounts of red wine can be consumed on a Mediterranean style diet, but water and other unsweetened, zero calorie beverages like sparkling water should be used to stay hydrated throughout the day.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet has long been recognized as one of the healthiest and most delicious ways to eat. The core concept behind this healthy diet is to eat like the people who live in the Mediterranean region by filling your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, legumes, fish and other lean protein, and enjoying moderate amounts of red wine. Beyond simply you’re putting on your plate, the Mediterranean diet also emphasizes healthy lifestyle habits, which include practicing mindful eating, getting plenty of activity and reducing stress as much as possible.
Essentially, following a Mediterranean diet means eating in the way that the people in the Mediterranean region traditionally ate. A Mediterranean-style eating pattern trusted source prioritizes the following foods source:
- A variety of fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- healthy fats like olive oil and nuts
- moderate amounts of seafood
- low amounts of dairy and red meat
- red wine in moderation
Of course, not everyone in the Mediterranean region eats in the same way, so the Mediterranean dietary pattern is meant to be used as a loose guide for a healthful diet that prioritizes plant-based foods.
When following any healthy dietary pattern, including the Mediterranean diet, it’s best to reduce your consumption of the following foods:
- refined grains, such as white bread, white pasta, and pizza dough containing white flour
- trans fats which can be found in margarine and other processed foods
- foods with added sugars, such as pastries, sodas, and candies
- deli meats, hot dogs, and other processed meats
- ultra-processed foods like fast food
Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits
Long recognized for its potential health benefits, scientific evidence suggests that the Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory and can help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, as well as support good gut bacteria. The Mediterranean diet gained momentum in 2013 after a team of researchers at the University of Barcelona studied more than 7,000 participants and documented drastic improvements in their heart health. A more recent study also found that elderly individuals may vastly improve brain function and their own longevity by adopting the Mediterranean diet.
Health benefits related to the Mediterranean lifestyle may include:
Reduced risk of heart disease
Heart-healthy, omega-3 rich fish is emphasized over red meat, which is higher in saturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, consuming fish at least twice a week can decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. Additionally, low-sodium diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, can help to prevent and/or control high blood pressure.
Reduced risk of stroke
The Mediterranean diet may help to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of a stroke. The diet encourages healthy fats, such as olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fat and associated with lowering bad cholesterol (LDL). The diet discourages consuming saturated fats, such as butter and margarine, which can raise LDL.
Decreased risk of type II diabetes
Research shows that following the Mediterranean diet can be helpful in preventing and managing type II diabetes because it may improve insulin sensitivity and overall gut bacteria, due to being high in fiber and anti-inflammatory foods and lower in added sugars, refined grains and non-starchy vegetables.
Cognitive decline prevention
The diet emphasizes eating plant-based foods that are naturally rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, such as vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits. According to certain studies, following this type of diet may also slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and can help to reduce the risk of dementia.
A recent study found that following the Mediterranean diet may lead to a reduced risk of obesity and may help prevent weight gain and reduce the risk of increased weight circumference.
Reduced risk of overall mortality
Studies show that overall mortality risk is decreased when the Mediterranean diet is combined with physical activity.
Why Nutrition Is Important for the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a well-studied dietary pattern that includes a variety of nutritious whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, and nuts. The Mediterranean dietary pattern includes:
- Foods to enjoy daily, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, and olive oil.
- Foods to enjoy a few times a week, such as ﬁsh and seafood.
- Foods to have in moderate portions (not defined), including dairy, eggs, and poultry.
- Foods to have infrequently, such as red meats and sweets.
In addition to helping ward off heart disease, studies also show that the Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of stroke, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Read also: Top Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
Mediterranean Diet Top Food List
Any worthwhile diet program will emphasize whole grains, fresh produce, lean protein and heart-healthy unsaturated fats. This diet is no different, but you’ll also find that those following a typical Mediterranean eating plan enjoy plenty of fatty fish (especially salmon recipes) and generous servings of legumes, nuts and seeds. To help you get started, here is a list of foods to consider eating on the Mediterranean diet — you can use the categories here as a blueprint for grocery shopping, to help you stay on track.
- Vegetables: artichokes, arugula, avocado, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, leafy greens, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potato, turnips, zucchini
- Fruits: apples, apricots, cherries, clementines, dates, figs, grapefruit, melons, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, tangerines
- Legumes, nuts and grains: almonds, barley, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, cannellini beans, chickpeas, couscous, farro, fava beans, kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, oats, orzo, pine nuts, pistachios, quinoa, walnuts
- Healthy fats and vinegars: apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar
- Herbs and spices: allspice, basil, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, dill weed, garlic powder, mint, nutmeg, onion powder, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, smoked paprika, sumac, thyme, turmeric, za’atar
- Other essentials: olives, sesame seeds, tahini
Eat in moderation
- Dairy and cheese: feta, goat and sheep cheeses, Manchego, Parmigiano Reggiano, ricotta, yogurt, eggs
- Seafood and meat: chicken, fish, shellfish, red meat (lean cuts)
- Stay hydrated by sipping on calorie-free beverages like water, seltzer, unsweetened tea and black coffee.
- The occasional glass of dry red or white wine is also encouraged.
Tips for Creating Your Mediterranean Diet Plan
The good news is that because this is a style of eating versus a set of rigid rules, you can fully customize this approach to suit your likes and dislikes. There’s no following this to a T or falling off the wagon and feeling like a failure. “Even within the Mediterranean diet there are what we call ‘special occasion days’ where you may eat more or eat foods that perhaps are not very healthy, but that is actually part of the lifestyle,” Paravantes-Hargitt says. “Food is to be enjoyed, and the Mediterranean diet promotes a healthy relationship with food. ‘Cheating’ is part of the Mediterranean diet. You just continue the next day as if nothing happened.”
Five important tips to get you started:
Eat more legumes
Not only are they a staple that you’re probably not eating enough of anyway but they’re budget-friendly and offer a host of nutritional benefits, says Paravantes-Hargitt, such as being high in fiber and protein, low in fat, and a source of B vitamins, iron, and antioxidants. These include lentils, dried peas, beans, and chickpeas (like hummus).
Don’t overdo alcohol
One common misunderstanding is that those following the Mediterranean diet drink a lot of red wine. “The wine consumed within the Mediterranean diet is done in moderation and is always consumed with food,” Paravantes-Hargitt says. “Usually a small amount of wine, about 3 to 4 ounces, would be consumed with the meal.”
Make meat a side
Traditionally, people ate meat only for special occasions, such as a Sunday supper, and even then in small amounts, says Paravantes-Hargitt. Try to incorporate more vegetarian-based mains, such as those centered around beans, tofu, or seitan, into your day. “A good place to start is going vegetarian one day a week,” she says. When you do eat meat, focus on choices like skinless chicken and save red meat for once a week or twice a month.
Eat fewer sweets
Just like meat, make desserts a special occasion dish. That doesn’t mean sugar is out — have a bit in your coffee if you’d like, for instance, “but on a daily basis, there isn’t much sugar eaten,” says Paravantes-Hargitt.
Cook with olive oil
Make extra-virgin olive oil the oil you cook with. While overdoing it with this oil can lead to weight gain (it’s a fat after all, so the calories can add up quickly), it’s rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, so you can feel good about keeping a bottle handy in the kitchen. You can also use it in cold applications to make salad dressing or to drizzle on cooked veggies or side dishes.
What can I drink on the Mediterranean diet?
- Daily: Still or sparkling water, tea, coffee
- Occasionally: Milk, red wine
- Rarely: Fruit juice, fizzy drinks, cocktails
What foods are not allowed on the Mediterranean diet?
- Processed meat – Bacon, sausages, ham, salami, chicken nuggets, etc
- Pre-packaged microwave meals
- Refined grains – white bread, white pasta, white rice, etc
- Chips and crisps
- Sweets and chocolate
The Mediterranean diet recommends avoiding processed foods that are high in sugar and salt. Ultra-processed food can increase the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease.
Nutritional therapist Anna recommends: “Processed high energy density foods such as sausages, chips, crisps, and high sugar foods like chocolate and cakes should be avoided on the Mediterranean diet.”
If you find it difficult to cut red meat or processed food out of your diet, a good idea is to opt for vegetarian meals once or twice a week.
7-Day Mediterranean Diet Sample Menu Plan
- Vegetable and egg frittata served with sliced avocado on top of whole grain toast
For additional calories, add another egg to the toast.
- A large green salad topped with a baked salmon fillet, red onion, feta cheese, quinoa, and fresh tomatoes
- Whole-grain pita bread
- 2 ounces (oz) of hummus
- Spicy lentil soup with spinach
- Greek yogurt parfait made with walnuts, fresh berries, and chia seeds
For additional calories, add 1–2 oz of almonds.
- Greek chicken grain bowls with olives, cucumbers, and red onions
To increase the calorie content, add hummus or avocado.
- baked cod served with garlic roasted potatoes and asparagus
- Steel cut or rolled oats topped with fresh fruit, sliced almonds or almond butter, and a drizzle of honey.
- Mediterranean Chickpea and Farro Salad
- Mediterranean shrimp served over whole-wheat pasta
- Shakshuka: dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion and garlic, commonly spiced with cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper
- A large green salad topped with fresh vegetables, lentils, sunflower seeds, and grilled shrimp
- Roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables and Brussels sprouts
Add an artichoke for a hearty, filling meal.
- Sweet potato breakfast hash topped with a poached egg
- Lentil and tuna salad
- Mediterranean Pasta
- Chia pudding topped with fresh berries and almond butter
- Mediterranean White Bean Soup and a Greek Salad
- Baked fish with garlic and basil served with a caprese quinoa salad
- Overnight oats made with nut butter and berries
- Mediterranean Buddha bowl
- Balsamic roasted chicken and vegetables
Snack options available as part of the Mediterranean diet
When following a Mediterranean dietary pattern, try to choose snacks that are made with nutritious ingredients. Here are a few options:
- fresh fruit paired with a handful of nuts
- unsweetened Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit and sunflower seeds
- hummus and fresh vegetables
- trail mix made with nuts and unsweetened dried fruit
- herb roasted chickpeas
- cottage cheese and berries
- a hard-boiled egg with a bit of cheese and fresh fruit
The Mediterranean diet receives a lot of attention from the medical community because many studies verify its benefits.
Can you lose weight on the Mediterranean diet?
Following the Mediterranean diet has been shown as a good way to lose weight and is considered to be a healthy plan to follow.
Nutritional therapist Anna Mapson, who runs Goodness Me Nutrition, says: “The fats in the Mediterranean diet are healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are associated with a healthy cardiovascular state. The restriction of red meat can also help colon health, as high intakes of red processed meats are associated with cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.”
Followers also find it to be less restrictive than other diets such as intermittent fasting plans like the 16:8 diet or the 5:2 diet.
The Mediterranean diet is a great way to get started on a healthier lifestyle. With its emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, it is a diet that can help you reach your health and weight loss goals. With the 7–day Mediterranean Diet Meal Plans for Beginners, you can get started on the path to better health and wellbeing. These meal plans provide a simple and easy way to transition to a healthier way of eating. The recipes are delicious and full of nutrition. With seven days of meal plans, you are sure to find something that appeals to your taste buds and leaves you feeling satisfied. With the Mediterranean diet, you can enjoy delicious, nutritious meals that will help you reach your health and weight loss goals.