My Biggest Mistakes When I Started the Mediterranean Diet Last Year


I have been following the

Mediterranean diet
for over a yr and a half, and it is my favourite option to eat — however there are undoubtedly issues I might do in a different way if I had been beginning it now. 

Historically, the weight-reduction plan is impressed by the international locations boarding the Mediterranean sea, and it consists of excessive quantities of greens, fruits, legumes, entire grains, and seafood, alongside smaller parts of eggs and dairy.

Some individuals additionally embrace poultry and pink meat, however I minimize out all meat besides seafood on the similar time I began the weight-reduction plan.

Earlier than embarking on the Mediterranean diet, I used to be a junk-food queen. I used to be low on vitality, bloated, and my pores and skin managed to look each sallow and infected without delay. Now I’ve fully transformed to the Mediterranean-diet way of life, however there are nonetheless issues I want I might completed in a different way after I began it.

Learn on for some helpful tricks to know earlier than beginning the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan.

Earlier than diving in, it is vital to have a number of go-to recipes on the prepared

After I first determined to comply with the weight-reduction plan, I threw myself in with out actually eager about it. I did not plan what meals I might want, prep something upfront, or have any recipes to comply with.

I would not advocate this haphazard method. Within the early days of the weight-reduction plan, I wasn’t consuming balanced meals, and I used to be clueless as to how fascinating and diversified my weight-reduction plan could possibly be.

I’ve since realized that the best way to adhere to the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan is to permit your self to take pleasure in a wide range of dishes and check out all types of latest substances and taste mixtures.

Curating a collection of go-to recipes is admittedly useful for this, and I might advocate testing “The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook” from “America’s Check Kitchen” or Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Simple” for inspiration.

Prepping meals can stop lots of stress at mealtimes

Although the Mediterranean diet does not must be labor-intensive — store-bought hummus and pita bread with some falafel, cucumber, and tomato is a scrumptious lunch — I actually began falling in love with this weight-reduction plan by cooking.

After I’ve made the meal myself and ready the meals upfront, I am far much less tempted to achieve for one thing simple and junky.

This was a problem within the early days of the weight-reduction plan. At lunchtime, if I might failed to organize something upfront, I might find yourself grabbing one thing much less wholesome that I regretted later.

I neglected including protein to my meals at first


Lentils are excessive in fiber, protein, and nutritional vitamins.

Kate Brittle/ Getty Pictures

For those who’re shifting over to a more plant-based diet, like I did after I began the weight-reduction plan, you could watch out about getting sufficient vitamins, particularly protein.

I did not take into consideration that sufficient in these early months and spent the primary few weeks feeling actually light-headed.

However as soon as I began consciously adding beans, lentils, eggs, and fish to my meals, I finished feeling so hungry and dizzy on a regular basis. 

Batch-cooking meals may be time-consuming, however it offers me leftovers to take pleasure in later within the week

After I’m cooking my Med-diet-friendly meals, it sometimes takes me about half an hour to an hour to organize a dish.

I all the time make a bit of bit further now — one thing I remorse not doing earlier on — as a result of it is really easy to batch-cook and refrigerate or freeze any leftovers, which saves me lots of time the subsequent day.

Slowly slicing out totally different meals most likely would’ve been higher than overhauling my weight-reduction plan all of sudden

I underwent a moderately excessive dietary change after I began the weight-reduction plan. From at some point to the subsequent, I cut red meat, chicken, and processed junk meals.

For the primary few days, I felt nice, however then I had a yearning for some store-bought cake — and I gave in.

On the entire, I used to be consuming far more healthy than I had per week prior, however I felt like I had failed.

Wanting again, I want I might taken issues slower at first, slicing out junk for a number of weeks or months, then giving up pink meat, then white. I additionally really feel ridiculous for beating myself up over a slice of cake as a result of it was completely natural to be craving it.

Probably the greatest issues in regards to the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan is that after I adopted it for some time, I finished craving sugar a lot. However that took time, and it doesn’t suggest I by no means deal with myself to one thing extra sugary or processed. 

Cheese is without doubt one of the finest elements of the weight-reduction plan, so I all the time have some on the prepared


Cheese can actually elevate a veggie-based meal.

Getty Pictures/Neilson Barnard

Probably the greatest issues in regards to the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan is that I can eat cheese — moderately, after all.

I like cheese, however I do not assume I ever appreciated the worth it provides to my meals earlier than beginning the weight-reduction plan.

I’ve realized that including a sprinkling of scrumptious cheeses like mozzarella, feta, or parmesan to my veggie salads makes me really feel like I am not lacking out on something, so I all the time have some readily available. 

To avoid wasting a bit of trouble, I purchase precooked quinoa and different entire grains

This entire journey has given me a extra balanced weight-reduction plan, with protein, greens, and entire grains at each meal.

However it’s not dishonest if you happen to do not prepare dinner all these issues your self. It is rather more vital to get them on the plate than it’s to make them from scratch.

Anybody who’s cooked quinoa can inform you that it is actually laborious to get the consistency excellent. So whereas it is likely to be costlier to get precooked frozen or microwaveable pouches of entire grains, it is lots simpler for me to whip them up on busy days. 

The weight-reduction plan may be comparatively cheap 

Beginning a totally new way of life weight-reduction plan may be intimidating, particularly while you begin eager about fully restocking your fridge and pantry.

However I’ve saved a fortune since beginning on the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan — largely as a result of I minimize out meat and began shopping for extra canned meals.

Chickpeas (additionally known as garbanzo beans), butter beans, inexperienced lentils, and tuna are indispensable to my weight-reduction plan now, they usually’re often beneath $1 a tin.

I all the time be certain that to have plain yogurt readily available


I like consuming yogurt as a breakfast, snack, or deal with.


Dairy is not an enormous a part of the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan, however small parts of yogurt fall effectively inside the parameters. And like cheese, it has turn out to be an indulgence that makes it easier for me to stick to the diet

There’s nothing just like the combo of yogurt, honey, and pomegranate seeds for a candy deal with, and yogurt is right for mixing into olive-oil dressings after I need one thing a bit creamier.

Yogurt can be a fast and straightforward choice for breakfast with some contemporary fruit slices and nuts.

Herbs are important to any good Mediterranean-diet meal

med diet mistakes

Utilizing extra herbs has helped me diminish my candy tooth.

Jennifer Barton for Insider

I by no means knew that I might make meals that was as flavorful and scrumptious because the meals I might tasted on journeys to Greece, Italy, and Israel. However that is as a result of I wasn’t utilizing sufficient herbs in my cooking.

And as a bonus, the extra kick I add to dishes with herbs like basil, oregano, bay leaf, and cilantro, the extra my candy tooth diminishes.

Herbs may be dear, however I’ve discovered that getting a couple of plants actually helps. Snipping a number of leaves saves me from having to purchase contemporary herbs weekly.

If you do not have a inexperienced thumb, you can even simply swap contemporary for extra wallet-friendly frozen or dried varieties.

Tahini has turn out to be certainly one of my holy-grail objects, so now I do know to top off on it

Tahini is without doubt one of the most versatile cabinet substances, and I undoubtedly neglected it firstly of my journey. 

Comprised of floor sesame seeds, it may be used to make a variety of dips like hummus and baba ghanoush, dressings for salads and veggies, marinades for poultry, and even only a topping for whole-grain bread.

You too can lower your expenses by making your individual tahini-based dips as a substitute of shopping for grocery store varieties.

Meals do not must be difficult; a few of my finest creations have been ridiculously easy

med diet mistakes 2

This primary lunch was tremendous simple and satisfying.

Jennifer Barton for Insider

Now that I’ve spent months and months following a Mediterranean weight-reduction plan, I understand I put an excessive amount of strain on myself to be creative and thrilling with each meal within the early days — which was exhausting and completely pointless.

Final week, I might discover solely spinach, tomatoes, and mozzarella in my fridge, and it took me about two minutes to throw all of them in a bowl and toss them with a drizzle of olive oil and a few basil.

It was an ideal lunch, completely primary and scrumptious.

I used to be means too harsh on myself when it got here to ‘unhealthy’ meals

I feel the pliability of the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan is certainly one of my favourite elements of it, and I want I might been much less strict on myself within the early days and acknowledged {that a} bit extra.

For instance, I used to eat huge quantities of pasta, however after I first began the weight-reduction plan, I minimize it out fully, worrying it was too unhealthy.

However now I’ve realized my lesson as a result of the weight-reduction plan is a lot extra about versatility and moderation than it’s about creating completely wholesome meals.

I even made a Med-diet-friendly model of the popular TikTok feta pasta just by swapping out the common noodles for a whole-grain selection.

I not hassle shopping for small bottles of olive oil — the larger the higher

I feel the only most vital ingredient within the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan is olive oil, which I now buy by the bucketload.

Shopping for it in bulk is both cheaper and important as a result of I take advantage of it a number of occasions a day. It is the oil I prepare dinner with, the garnish I drizzle over greens, and the important ingredient in each dressing and dip.

I chuckle on the outdated me who would lay our a fortune on the tiniest bottle of olive oil as a result of that was the one one that may match on my shelf. Now, I’ve dropped all pretenses — my bulk-size olive oil sits on the countertop just like the prized kitchen possession it is turn out to be.

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