Greatest Mediterranean eating plan guidelines, according to 20-year follower

  • I’ve followed the Mediterranean diet for 20 decades while dwelling in Crete, Greece. 
  • You do not require to slash out meals teams and treats. 
  • Olive oil and lemons are Mediterranean-diet program staples you ought to embrace.
  • Check out Insider’s homepage for far more stories.

The Mediterranean diet plan is suspected to have started out in Crete, Greece, the traditionally rich island where by I’ve experienced my residence foundation for the previous 20 yrs. 

This plant-major diet program, which requires eating vegetables, fruits, full grains, fish, and balanced fats like olive oil, is considered to reduce the possibility of cardiovascular disease, increase brain perform, and raise everyday living expectancy.

With a emphasis is on seasonal food items, classic solutions, and regional goods, this electric power-packed way of taking in has become more and more common, so listed here are my 9 secrets for adhering to and sticking to it:

Your mentality is as significant as what you take in

Listed here in Crete, “siga siga,” which interprets to “bit by bit, slowly,” is not just one thing commonly explained, it can be a way of life.

Foods can final for three several hours, and I siesta from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. most times and then generally spend my evenings drinking espresso and chatting with buddies. 

A laid-back again tempo of life is just as important as ingesting perfectly, so make sure to surround your self with persons and get the time to take pleasure in your foods.

Snack when you are hungry

Mediterranean diet

I delight in snacks just about daily.

Heidi Fuller-enjoy for Insider

A widespread misunderstanding is that you are not able to snack when embracing a new diet program, but in Crete, I have observed that munching is welcome at all hours of the day. 

Although potato chips and sugary beverages are not a kitchen staple of mine, I regularly enjoy cucumbers chopped into bite-sized chunks, tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt, and crunchy dakos, entire-wheat, open-encounter sliders drizzled with olive oil. 

Use olive oil for anything

olive oil with bread

Olive oil is a functional kitchen area staple.

Marina Kryuchina/Shuttershock

Saturated and trans fat might have adverse wellness results, but I banished butter and margarine from my pantry many years back as a matter of taste.  

These times, I make anything from carrot cake to mashed potatoes with olive oil. It’s not just for the reason that EVOO is a main element of the Mediterranean food plan, but also it provides meals a a lot richer flavor. 

On major of its wholesome flavor, this oil is prosperous in anti-oxidants that are claimed to assist guard the body from mobile hurt.

I also put together herb-flavored possibilities by bottling oil with clean basil or rosemary sprigs. So when I’m hungry for a handle, I drizzle this delicious different more than a couple of cubes of whole-grain bread served with refreshing cucumber.

Do not deny you the food items you appreciate

For me, the Mediterranean diet plan is not about denying on your own the foodstuff you enjoy — it truly is about taking pleasure in them in moderation.

Having the occasional dose of poultry, eggs, and dairy is good. Immediately after all, how could any individual resist a bowl of deliciously creamy Greek yogurt drizzled with local honey and topped with a handful of nuts? 

I have seen that meat is also on the menu in most Cretan homes, but given that you can find not considerably area for larger animals like cows to graze on this arid atoll, a whole lot of people take in other selections this sort of as lamb or goat.

Moreover consuming wine in moderation is a welcome accompaniment to the Mediterranean food plan. 

If lifetime throws you lemons, use them

avocado lemon

Lemons function as a good addition to a salad dressing.


It is wonderful to consume greens, fruits, total grains, and wholesome fat, but you really should also make sure to fill your cupboard with lemons. 

Like many of my neighbors, I have a lemon tree developing at the base of my garden, and I use this vitamin-C-packed fruit with just about every thing. 

You can insert a wedge to your very first glass of h2o in the morning, mix lemon juice with EVOO to pour about your salad, or squeeze a number of drops into your chunky lentil-soup supper — I warranty you are going to quickly be hooked.

Swap out chocolate and cake for fruit and honey 


Numerous places to eat will offer you fruit after your food.


I love entire grains and veggies, but I in some cases obtain myself lacking candies and cookies. But I’ve learned to curve my sugar cravings by introducing a lot of fruit into my diet regime.

Immediately after a food at a Cretan restaurant, you can virtually constantly be presented a bowl of sweet Bing cherries, a platter of juicy chilled watermelon, or a gleaming bunch of grapes picked refreshing from the vine, depending on the time of 12 months. 

When I want a midmorning snack, I head straight toward the fruit basket, so I also make confident to inventory my fridge with dried prunes and apricots.

Plan in advance

Like most people I know, I have a occupied daily life and never always have time to prepare nutritious dishes. So my solution is to have a whiteboard that I use each individual Sunday to prepare out my meals for the 7 days. 

The moment I know what I am feeding on every working day, I prep some of the simple substances, like complete-wheat pastries, lentils, beans, tomato sauce, or chickpeas, and set them in the freezer.

Then when I want to cook one particular of the dishes on my list — these as my beloved Mediterranean lentil soup with solar-dried tomatoes, herbs, onions, and garlic — I just defrost my major substances and incorporate the rest.

Do not be fearful to forage your possess foods

There are as several as 300 distinct wild, edible greens in Crete, so foraging is a well-liked pastime. 

When I initially moved to Greece’s premier island, I would see my neighbors coming dwelling from the fields with luggage total of greens. And before long more than enough, I learned to identify dozens of these edible crops and how to prepare them, like lightly steaming and dressing them with a squeeze of lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil. 

Foraging for foodstuff is a great way to try to eat mineral-rich greens and stay on your ft.

You may not obtain anise-scented fennel or wild oregano developing in your yard, but dandelion, purslane, and sorrel are typical finds — just make positive to harvest them in a non-polluted location. 

Really don’t contact it a eating plan

Mediterranean diet

It really is helpful to embrace the Mediterranean diet program as a way of life option.

Nadir Keklik/Shuttershock

For me, the Mediterranean diet is not a fad, it truly is a lifestyle selection that includes making the most of the meals that are available in a sustainable way.

When respecting the surroundings, you also understand to savor the flavors of sunlight-loaded tomatoes, fiery garlic cloves, and tree-plucked lemons. 

Once I started off the Mediterranean diet plan, I in no way desired to eat in any other way again.