A Beginner’s Guide to the Mediterranean Diet

A Beginner’s Guide to the Mediterranean Diet

Your path to success with the Mediterranean diet, including healthy swaps and what to do at restaurants.

By Vicki Martinez

Once you decide to “go Med,” you'll quickly realize the Mediterranean diet  is sustainable: no calorie counting, no food scales, no battling late-night carb cravings, no passing on dessert.

Of course, preparing for a path to better health involves changing your mindset. For a smooth transition to a Mediterranean-style diet plan, try these tips for eating “better-terranean.”


The typical Western dinner plate presents a protein as the main dish, with veggies and rice as sides. To eat better-terranean, flip the menu script.

Treat meat as a side dish. Start by serving smaller portions of meat and larger portions or more variety of vegetables and grains. Slowly transition from red meat to poultry, then from poultry to more seafood. Eventually, eat fish two to three times a week.


Transitioning to a Mediterranean diet poses no restrictions on enjoying what you eat. But to enjoy food while eating healthier, learn to make substitutions.

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To learn more about the health benefits of eating plant-based foods read “Eat Yourself Healthy on a Plant-Based Diet.”

Mediterranean Meal Plan

A week of healthy, fresh and flavorful recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.




olive oil for butter

fish and poultry for red meat

plant-based proteins for poultry


processed, pre-made, packaged meals with fresh ingredients

herbs and spices for salt

nuts for between-meal snacks.



Try new foods. Add a new ingredient to your diet regularly.

The popularity of the Mediterranean diet means there's no lack of Mediterranean diet cookbooks.

For some Mediterranean-inspired pasta dishes, try one of these delicious recipes from Barilla.


Changes in diet are most successful when eating is enjoyable. That's why part of the Mediterranean diet includes embracing the Mediterranean lifestyle. Treating mealtimes as an opportunity to savor flavors and share connection is a staple of the Mediterranean way. 

In fact, unlike many fad diets, there's no need to “beware” of restaurant dining on the Mediterranean diet.

The final step to successfully launching your new Mediterranean diet lifestyle is to prepare your fridge and pantry. Our next post walks you through the necessary staples to keep on hand, helping you create a simple-to-follow Mediterranean diet shopping list.

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Bring a crowd. Social interaction is a healthy part of the Mediterranean lifestyle, plus it causes us to eat slower and digest better, which ultimately helps with weight control.

Order salad, not more bread. Although there's no guilt when eating bread on the Mediterranean diet: ask for olive oil and pepper for dipping rather than butter.

Choose a seafood entrée. Stick to dishes that are grilled, broiled, baked or braised, using olive oil. Avoid deep-fried meals.

Order half-plate portions or ask for a to-go box with your meal and store some away for another time.

For dessert, choose sorbet, fruit dishes or cheese plates. Can't skip the chocolate cake? Save it for special occasions and ask for two forks.

Try a simple pasta with fresh herbs, vegetables and healthy olive oil like this recipe.

Tips for Restaurant Eating



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