I’m sure most of you have heard about the Mediterranean diet and why it’s also known as one of the world’s healthiest diet. The fundamental of the diet is really simple and it’s something we’ve spoken about over and over again, which is to eat ‘real’ food, focusing on lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein and healthy fats.
What I really like about this diet is that there’s no restriction or needing to go crazy about counting calories. It’s very important for us to know that where you get your calories can have a huge impact to health and also happiness. Not all calories are equal. Choose the good ones, and you’ll feel satisfied, have more energy, feel happy and you’re able to maintain a healthy weight effortlessly. Choose the bad ones, you’ll crave for more bad foods, constantly feel hungry, feel really shitty and consume more calories than you need.
So I want to share with you my observations and experience throughout my 3 weeks on the Mediterranean Diet and why it can help you to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight long term.
1) Pile on lots of Vegetables and fruits
Every body knows a Greek Salad. And you can pretty much see it being served on every single table as a starter. A big bowl of salad is a great way to start your meal as they are filling, low in calories and you’ll end up eating less for your main course.
Briam (mixed roasted vegetables)
Dolmados (stuffed vine leaves)
Besides that, the Greeks do eat a lot of vegetable dishes too. My favourite include Briam (mixed roasted vegetables), Stuffed Vegetables with Rice, I absolutely love this and also Dolmados, stuffed vine leaves, which I had the opportunity to cook them. So whether it’s raw or cooked vegetables, they are always the centre of a meal.
2) Fats are not forbidden
When we mention olive, we always think about the Mediterranean. They love their olive oil. They would literally have it in everything; from cooking, to salad, to dipping in bread, and even to include into their beauty products.
Olive oil with bread
I’m really envious on how cheap it is there because in Malaysia, it’s rather expensive. You want to make sure that they are extra virgin. The lower the acidity, the higher the quality. Go for 0.4% and below and buy them in dark bottles. Heat and light can damage the oil by creating oxidation, hence losing the benefits.
It is said that 2 tbsps. of extra virgin olive oil a day can aid with weight loss. Even though it's made of "healthy fats," olive oil is still high in calories and should be used in moderation.
3) Flavour with Herbs & Spices
The Greeks use a lot of herbs and spices to flavor their food. As I have mentioned before, herbs and spices is the best way to flavor your food without adding extra calories!
4) Consume Dairy in Moderation
Greek Yoghurt, oh my god, it tastes SO good! They are so thick, creamy and guilt free! I love how the Greeks use Greek Yoghurt in everything, to make dips “Tzatziki”, to use as cream topping on desserts and the best is of course to serve as ice cream.
You won’t find ketchup, chilli or barbeque sauces on the table. Who needs them, when you have greek yoghurt to go with everything!
Here’s a very simple comparison:
So if you are watching your waistline, but you still want to enjoy the taste of full fat cream, opt for Greek Yoghurt instead. You wont be able to tell the difference.
5) Snack on Nuts and Seeds
So when I was hiking in Meteora with a tour guide, half way through our hike, he took out his snack box and offered me some nuts and seeds. I was like, wow, you guys actually snack on these stuff for energy? I thought it’s just for the ‘health freaks’, haha! So apparently that’s their regular snack and you can see lots of vendors selling them by the street.
6) Enjoy Fish, Seafood & Poultry
The Greeks would enjoy fish, seafood and poultry and limit their red meat intake. When I was in Greece, I enjoyed eating an entire fish to myself, and also lots of grilled seafood.
Limit red meat to once a week or less and consume more fish, seafood and poultry. But remember that the center of a Mediterranean Diet should still be vegetables.
7) They eat bread and rice!
Here’s a good news for all the rice and bread lovers out there. Rice and bread is a huge part of the Mediterranean diet. Yup, we’re not going for a no carb or low carb diet.
A basket of freshly baked bread is always served once you’re sat down. I did enjoy it, but I have to be honest, after a while it was a little too much for me. The bread would fill me up before my main course came. What I really like was the stuffed vegetables with rice and also dolmados. I repeated them many times and without even realising, I was pretty much a vegetarian for most meals. So carb lovers or vegetarians, you won’t feel deprive at all.
8) Watch your cooking methods!
The way you prep your food can either make it into a really healthy meal or turn it into a high fat, greasy meal. The Greeks rarely deep-fry their food. Most of their meals are typically baked, grilled, boiled or roasted. Just by changing the way you cook your meals, you’ll be amazed on how many calories you’ll be cutting down on.
9) Make eating a daily event
When was the last time you sat around the table with your family and friends to enjoy your dinner. Well probably every day for the Mediterranean people.
Instead of gobbling your meal in front of the TV, for the next week, try to sit down at a table with your family and friends, and give eating the priority it deserves. Not only will you enjoy your company and food, you’ll also be able to tune in to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. You’ll know when you’re satisfied and avoid overeating.
10) They treat themselves
Of course, they know how to treat themselves and do enjoy their sweet desserts as well. Who loves baklava? There’s nothing wrong in enjoy our favourite sweet treats once in a while, remember it’s all about moderation and that’s what I love about the Mediterranean Diet.
This “diet” is a way of eating rather than a formal diet plan, which is usually restricted and can leave you feeling hungry and crave for more. It’s a healthy day-to-day eating over long term.
So instead of looking for “Mediterranean Recipes”, I would encourage you to follow these 10 simple tips, create your own recipes and apply them into your lifestyle. I can assure you that you’ll be consuming less calories without going crazy about counting them, you’ll feel satisfied, you won’t snack as often and you will have a happy waistline.
Remember that the “Mediterranean Diet” is not a miracle solution to losing weight. You won’t lose weight just by eating this way, you’ll still need to stay active on a daily basis. Do check out my “Beach Body” Workout Series, which I filmed during my time in Greece.