Live the Mediterranean Lifestyle From Anywhere

The benefits of a Mediterranean diet are well-known. Rich in whole foods, healthy fats, lean proteins, and a plethora of antioxidants, this diet has been linked to improved heart health, weight management, reduced risk of chronic diseases, enhanced brain function, and even increased longevity. This diet is inspired by the traditional eating habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, Greece, Spain, and southern France. It emphasizes whole foods, healthy fats, lean proteins, and a balanced lifestyle with plenty of rest and socialization. The good news is that we don’t need to live near a beautiful teal-blue sea to reap the benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle. 

A recent study by La Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health showed that this lifestyle can have a positive health impact on anyone who chooses to practice it, even if they live far from the Mediterranean.  

“This study suggests that it’s possible for non-Mediterranean populations to adopt the Mediterranean diet using locally available products and to adopt the overall Mediterranean lifestyle within their own cultural contexts,” said Mercedes Sotos Prieto, the author of the study. “We’re seeing the transferability of the lifestyle and its positive effects on health.” 

If you are ready to get started with the Mediterranean diet, here are the basics: 

Whole foods: Prioritize fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. 

Healthy fats: Opt for olive oil as the primary fat source. Nuts, seeds, and avocados are also good sources. 

Lean proteins: Include fish, poultry, beans, and legumes. Red meat should be consumed in moderation. 

Dairy: Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy options like yogurt and cheese. 

Herbs and spices: Use herbs and spices to flavor food instead of salt. 

Limit added sugars: Minimize consumption of sweets, sugary beverages, and processed foods. 

Wine: If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation. This means one glass per day for women and two for men. 

A sample meal plan might include Greek yogurt with fruit and honey for breakfast, tuna salad with olive oil dressing and a salad for lunch, and grilled fish with steamed vegetables and quinoa for dinner. 

Beyond its nutritional advantages, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes the joy of savoring meals, often in the company of loved ones, fostering strong social connections and mental well-being. Sharing meals can enhance the dining experience and promote mindful eating. The Harvard study measured three aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle, and interestingly, the category labeled “physical activity, rest, social habits, and conviviality” was most strongly associated with health benefits. So don’t forget that naps and time spent with friends are important for our health, too.  

The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Talk to your doctor first with questions about any changes to your diet.