(after diet progression to regular foods at 8 weeks post-surgery)
The Mediterranean diet promotes health and wellness and can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers, and cognitive decline.
It is based on plants: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds in their most natural state (limited processing).
The plan includes daily physical activity (with strength 2-3 times a week) and strong social connections.
Water is the Drink of Choice!
Tips for adopting the Mediterranean diet:
- Plan meals around protein and non-starchy vegetables: include a variety of types.
- Include plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, hummus and soy.
- Flavor your food boldly with herbs, spices, vinegars, garlic, onion, ginger, lemon and lime.
- Include healthy fats – have nuts and avocado for a snack and cook with olive oil and other plant-based oils.
- Drink water and decaf herbal teas throughout the day.
Whole Grains/Starchy Vegetables/Fruits
Limit total carbs to 15-30 grams per meal. 15 grams = ½ cup potatoes/peas/corn, 1/3 cup brown rice and whole wheat pasta, ½ cup cooked whole grains (quinoa, farro), a small piece of fruit, ½ cup fresh/frozen fruit
Use low-fat or plant based (no sugar added) milk up to 2 servings a day. A serving is equivalent to 6-8 ounces of Greek yogurt (Oikos triple zero), 1 cup of skim/2%/unsweetened almond/unsweetened soy milk.
Aim for a minimum of 60- 80 grams daily; try for at least 15 grams per meal.
- As desired: Fish/seafood (especially fatty fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel), meat alternatives (tofu, veggie burger), poultry, cottage cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds and nut butters (no sugar added).
- Meal Replacement shakes and bars – try to limit to no more than 1 daily and choose supplements with at least 15 grams of protein and less than 20 grams of total carbs.
- Cheese – limit to low-fat.
- Beef and Pork – limit to one 3-5 ounce serving a week.
- Eggs – 7 grams of protein per egg
- Beef, chicken, turkey, pork – 7 grams of protein per ounce
- Edamame – 8 grams of protein per 1/3 cup
- Legumes/beans – 7 grams of protein per ½ cup
- Hummus – 7 grams of protein per 1/3 cup
- Cow’s Milk – 8 grams of protein per 8 ounces
- Greek yogurt – 12 grams of protein per 5 ounces
- Cottage cheese – 14 grams of protein per ½ cup
Foods/Drinks to Avoid: processed and cured meats, sweets and sweetened drinks, fast food, highly processed foods.
Mediterranean Quick Tips and Meal Ideas
- Use olive oil on salad dressings, marinades, roasted vegetables, sautéed meats.
- Make an easy salad. Chopped tomatoes and cucumbers dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; or try thinly shredded cabbage (or bagged coleslaw mix) tossed with oil, vinegar, salt.
- Make your own salad dressing. Use olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and seasoning and avoid all the processed ingredients in bottled dressings.
- Add nuts. Sprinkle toasted nuts on yogurt, salads, or cooked vegetables.
- Try hummus. With carrot sticks or peppers or on a wrap, hummus makes a great snack
- Make a bowl. Hummus, topped with roasted veggies, sautéed greens and a soft cooked egg makes a delicious meal high in protein.
- Prep whole grains ahead of time. Cook a batch of brown rice, quinoa, farro, barley and freeze in ½ cup servings. Defrost in fridge overnight for salads or sauté as part of a dish.
- Roast some veggies. Prep a big pan of roasted peppers, carrots, broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, etc. in a bit of olive oil and your favorite seasoning and individually portion for lunches.
- Stock your pantry and freezer. Lots of canned goods are nutritionally sound and convenient. Try low or no-sodium canned tomatoes, beans and tuna. Stock your freezer with frozen cauliflower rice, broccoli and berries.
- Remember a Mediterranean diet is also about HOW you eat. Whenever possible, sit down with family or friends (even over Zoom), slow down and savor every bite of your delicious healthy meal.