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  • Writer's pictureKathy Ozakovic

How To Follow The Mediterranean Diet

Did you know the Mediterranean Diet is considered to be (one of) the healthiest eating patterns in the world, with evidence showing benefits for cardiovascular health, Type 2 Diabetes, general health, and mental health? However, in Australia, research shows that many healthcare professionals do not routinely recommend this eating pattern to their patients. So, what does the Mediterranean Diet look like and how can you start eating for health and longevity. Keep reading to find out.

A true Mediterranean Diet is actually plant dominant. Modern day misuse and dilution of the term has westernised the Mediterranean Diet to portray it is all about lamb koftas, beef souvlaki, garlic pita bread and a Greek salad. Contrary to popular belief, the traditional Mediterranean way of eating is actually plant dominant and more of a lifestyle than a ‘diet’.


Substantial evidence shows that the Mediterranean Diet is an effective dietary pattern in the prevention and management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). Research has shown a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Southern European countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain where the traditional lifestyle was more commonly practiced. Emerging evidence suggests that the Mediterranean diet may improve gut bacteria diversity and hence gut health, potentially explaining why this diet may positively impact mood and mental health. Macronutrients such as fiber and protein are major contributors to satiety, making us feel fuller for longer. As the Mediterranean diet contains lots of fiber, protein, and low glycemic index (GI) foods, maintaining an energy balance or deficit can be easier.


The Mediterranean dietary pattern is actually based on a variety of whole grains including polenta, couscous, rice; colourful vegetables; fruits; beans, legumes and lentils all eaten daily. Olive oil, cheeses and yoghurts are used as a garnish for flavour, therefore eaten in very small amounts daily.


Fish, poultry, and eggs are eaten weekly, not daily! So, you might have each 2-3 days a week, not 7 days! Red meat in the Mediterranean diet is consumed monthly. Yes, there is red wine for special occasions. Including regular physical activity is also an important part of the Mediterranean 'Diet'. Sometimes a short siesta in the afternoon to rest and digest, and support your nervous system is included, especially in the summer months. Doesn’t that sound lovely and much more balanced than societal norms nowadays?


How food is eaten is another important part of the Mediterranean 'Diet' - eating with others can improve mental well-being and help to build a positive relationship with food.


My top tips to implement a Mediterranean way of eating:


  • Eat a 4:1 Ratio of Plants to Animal Foods – Aim to fill 80% of your plate with plants like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes and grains and 20% with animal foods like fish, eggs, poultry and low fat dairy. Also known as the healthy plate model where only 1/4 of your plate is animal based.


  • Eat colourful Plants – Start with the traffic lights. Include a plant based food that has naturally occurring as red, one yellow/orange/amber and one green. Once you nail the traffic lights, expand your palate to include other colours. Jelly babies don't count.


  • Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking – Aim to replace butter, margarine, animal cooking fats and other cooking oils with EVOO! Unlike other cooking oils, EVOO contains many antioxidants and polyphenols which can combat inflammation, oxidative stress and high cholesterol. EVOO is the least processed oil on the market with the most nutritional density.


  • Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil in dressings and marinades – Ditch the processed dressings for a fresh mix of EVOO + salt + pepper + (herbs of choice, spices, crushed garlic, mustard) + (Acid of choice: lemon/ orange/ vinegar) leave meats and vegetables to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes in the fridge! Aim for a 3:1 ratio of EVOO to acid.


TIP: When using a pan or roasting simply replace butter and seed oils with the same amount of EVOO. When baking, replace 1 cup of butter with ¾ cup EVOO.


Worried about cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil? Check out this blog post debunking this common misconception about EVOO!

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Did you find this blog helpful and informative? Tag & Share with your friends who would love it too! Sign up for my Free NuFit Wellness Newsletter to stay in the loop. Attend my Wellness Workshops. Promoting consciousness in food choices helping people heal. Dietitian & Wellness Coach, Health Presenter, Gut Health Specialist - Kathy Ozakovic.

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KEYWORDS: Mediterranean, Diet, Lifestyle, Traditional, Plants, Plant Dominant, Rainbow, Colour, Color, EVOO, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Eat, Eating, Health, Longevity, Healthy, Healthiest, Best, Dietary, Pattern.

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