1Does the Mediterranean Diet let me eat carbs?
The Mediterranean Diet doesn’t cut out any one food group or macro nutrient. We need carbs for energy! Carbs have gotten a bad rap in America recently, but there’s a big difference between the carbs that come from Doritos and the carbs that come from fruit or brown rice. It’s not the carbs that are the problem. It’s the processed junk and chemicals in processed foods, as well as the super stimulating artificial flavors that have been added that make it hard to stop eating them.
Cut out the processed foods. Enjoy potatoes, bananas, and brown rice without fear! Lots of carb-friendly meals here!
2Will I ever have a burger again?
The Mediterranean Diet recommends limiting red meat. For many people, having red meat once a week or less is an ideal amount. Red meat can provide iron and other important nutrients and vitamins, but also contains cholesterol and XXX that can be problematic for many individuals. Also, most commercially raised cows are feed antibiotics and other chemicals to fatten them up, which are then transmitted to you. We recommend organic meat if possible, as it avoids some of these health concerns. You also want to eat a burger made with real meat, rather than the filler and junk used in most fast food places.
So, if you want a burger, have a juicy organic burger that you grill yourself… and then enjoy plenty of vegetables, beans, and fish the rest of the week.
3What about dessert? I really like dessert.
Great news: no food group is off limit! Moderation is key. You want to keep an eye on your overall sugar intake with the goal of reducing it as much as possible. Research continues to point to added sugar and artificial sweeteners as a main reason that many of us have trouble managing our weight. Added sugar may play a role in promoting diabetes in susceptible individuals.
Try having a mango or fresh berries for dessert instead of baked treats. (Your taste buds will adjust!) Or limit your dessert eating to certain nights of the week, like only on the weekends. Read more about desserts on the Mediterranean Diet here.
4Can I eat at a restaurant on a Mediterranean Diet?
Yes you can, and enjoy it too. People who follow this way of eating love how flexible it is and how easily you can adapt your diet to fit your lifestyle.
You will want to modify your order to fit in with the guiding principles of a Mediterranean Diet. You will likely have to ask questions about what hidden ingredients may be in restaurant meals. In some cases, you may need to simply do the best you can—even fast food places have salads with grilled chicken these days! But you will find that most dining establishments will happily accommodate your request to leave off the mayonnaise or swap broccoli for French fries so that you can enjoy time with family and friends while staying true to your commitment to good health.
5What about my favorite coffee shop? Is coffee part of this diet?
Coffee is completely fine! That said, many drinks at coffee shops are full of liquid sugar. With your health goals in mind, you will want to be mindful about what you order. An unsweetened latte or cappuccino is a great way to start the morning without derailing your diet.
Another note: too much caffeine, or caffeine too late in the day, can mess with your sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, try limiting your caffeine to smaller amounts, or only in the morning, to see if your sleep improves.
6Can I eat artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Sweet & Low, or Equal?
The Mediterranean Diet does not recommend artificial sweeteners. The focus of this way of eating is on real, whole foods and avoiding chemicals and processed foods. Artificial sweeteners fall entirely in the second camp and come with a whole host of questions around what they can do to your health and your waistline. It would be far better to put a little bit of honey in your tea instead of a packet of fake sugar.
If you have been using fake sugar, which is extremely sweet and developed to be palatable, you may find it tough to stop. Many people have had success using a step down approach, reducing how much you are using every couple of days, as your taste buds recalibrate.
7Is eating this way really expensive?
With an overall focus on produce, beans and healthy grains, this way of eating can be substantially cheaper than other methods of eating that are more meat-heavy.
Whether your food bill increases depends a lot on what you’ve been eating.
- If you normally order take-out 5 nights a week and switch to cooking at home, you will save money.
- If you normally grill burgers most evenings and you are now primarily eating beans and rice, your wallet will benefit.
- If you are used to buying cheaper convenience foods like chips, switching to fresh fish and produce will likely increase your grocery bill.
To keep an eye on your budget, we recommend buying frozen produce (same nutrients as fresh but cheaper), building your meals around beans and rice instead of meat, and shopping for things in season. It’s a great idea to keep the long-game in mind. Meaning, a happy, healthy, longer life with excellent health will be worth a few extra dollars! For budget friendly meals, check out this page.
8Can I follow this way of eating if I can’t afford organic products?
Yes, absolutely! Organic products are a top choice if you can make room for them in your budget but not everyone can. You will still be able to realize significant health improvements by choosing real, unprocessed conventional food over the highly refined, packaged, or fried options! Additionally, eating organic is not an all or nothing proposition. If you need to prioritize, we recommend prioritizing organic meats and the “Dirty Dozen” produce list.
9Will I lose weight on a Mediterranean Diet?
If you are carrying extra weight, research
on the Mediterranean Diet shows that you are likely to lose weight, no calorie counting required! Eating nutrient-dense, whole foods will help you fill satisfied with fewer calories. Leading many people to naturally, easily lose weight. (We can’t speak to your specific situation, but research
indicates the Mediterranean Diet as promoting weight loss in individuals carrying extra weight)
10This is overwhelming!
This isn’t really a question, but we are happy to address it anyway! Making changes to the way that your family eats can be challenging. We designed our resources to help you do just that, easily, deliciously, and happily!
For beginners, we recommend checking out our Quick Start Guide, with tons of information so you can get up and running quickly. Everything you need, all in one place.
If you are ready to test drive the Mediterranean Diet, go on over to our Meal Plan page and find a Meal Plan that is perfect for your family. These are 21-day plans, complete with grocery lists, designed with a registered dietitian specifically for families, that will optimize your nutrition. More here.
11Will my family like this way of eating?
Great news—the Mediterranean Diet is a flexible, sustainable way of eating. Everyone in your house should be able to find something that they love. We recommend checking out our Family Recipes
for meals that the whole family can try and ideas for making dinners fun
Ashley is a Mom of three and her kids are always the test subject when she is designing a new recipe! More about her here.