Eating your way toward weight loss on a Mediterranean diet can be interesting, delicious, and blissfully uncomplicated. Get started with these beginner tips.
1. Embrace All Mediterranean Food Groups
Cherry-picking a few anti-inflammatory foods from the Mediterranean diet isn’t a route to weight loss. If you continue to consume high-calorie, pro-inflammatory foods alongside beans, greens, and fish, you may unwittingly undo your efforts to slim down. “It’s really important to consider the whole diet because all of the nutrients work together,” says Danahy. Her recommendation: Try to incorporate as many components of the diet as possible (such as beans, seafood, whole grains, fruits, and veggies) into your weekly meals and snacks.
2. Incorporate Movement
A true Mediterranean lifestyle encompasses more than simply the food you eat. People in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea also tend to have healthy exercise habits, such as gardening, walking, and swimming. Adding some form of physical activity to your Mediterranean diet may boost your chances of weight loss success even further. According to a study in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, increased physical activity added to the weight loss benefits of following a Mediterranean diet.
3. Think About Adding Foods, Not Subtracting Them
When embarking on a new diet, it’s often helpful (and potentially a lot more fun) to think about adding healthy foods, rather than taking foods away. “If you’re starting the Mediterranean diet, the best thing to do is add more fruits, vegetables, and legumes and beans,” says Danahy. “If you can focus on adding an extra serving or two of these foods to each meal or snack, you’ll automatically start to squeeze out less healthy foods.” As you choose veggies over potato chips or fruit over cookies, you’ll also cut back on calories, thereby potentially aiding weight loss.
4. Enjoy Food With Loved Ones
Another element of a genuine Mediterranean lifestyle is gathering around the table to eat with friends and family. Not only does eating with others often boost your enjoyment of food but it might impact your weight loss efforts. A study published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that eating alone was associated with a higher likelihood of obesity and metabolic syndrome, especially in men.
5. Stay Mindful of High-Calorie Foods
Foods like olive oil and walnuts are well known for their possible anti-inflammatory benefits — but don’t forget that even healthy foods can be high in calories. “You won’t have any benefit if you simply add olive oil or snack on nuts while continuing to eat a standard American diet,” says Danahy. “You might even end up gaining weight because of the extra calories.” Try to stay mindful of portion sizes when consuming high-calorie foods.
6. Choose Fruit for Dessert
What’s sweet, low in calories, and scrumptious? Fruit, of course! Dessert is the perfect opportunity to work in more fruit while satisfying your sweet tooth. Weight loss-wise, nature’s candy offers lower calories compared with baked goods such as cookies, brownies, and cakes, or packaged goodies like candy. What’s more, fruit typically offers plenty of fiber — another boon for anyone seeking to drop pounds.
7. Meal Plan for Mediterranean Diet Success
In a society that largely consumes the standard American diet, eating the Mediterranean way takes some conscious intention. One means of ensuring that you stick to your Mediterranean guns is to set aside time to meal plan. This way, when a work lunch or weeknight dinner rolls around, you won’t be scrounging for something appropriate. Research even suggests that people who meal plan may be less likely to develop obesity or become overweight.