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Mediterranean diet

Beginner's guide and meal plan for the Mediterranean diet

This is a detailed meal plan for the Mediterranean diet. Foods to eat, foods to avoid, and a sample Mediterranean menu for one week.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Mediterranean diet: Beginner's guide and meal plan
Last updated on February 25, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on October 1, 2021.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in 1960.

Mediterranean diet: Beginner's guide and meal plan

Researchers noted that these people were exceptionally healthy compared to Americans and had a low risk of many lifestyle diseases.

Numerous studies have now shown that the Mediterranean diet can cause weight loss and help prevent heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and premature death.

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There is no one right way to follow the Mediterranean diet, as there are many countries around the Mediterranean sea and people in different areas may have eaten different foods.

This article describes the dietary pattern typically prescribed in studies that suggest it’s a healthy way of eating.

Consider all of this as a general guideline, not something written in stone. The plan can be adjusted to your individual needs and preferences.

The basics of the Mediterranean diet

Avoid these unhealthy foods

You should avoid these unhealthy foods and ingredients:

You must read food labels carefully if you want to avoid these unhealthy ingredients.

Foods to eat

Exactly which foods belong to the Mediterranean diet is controversial, partly because there is such variation between different countries.

The diet examined by most studies is high in healthy plant foods and relatively low in animal foods.

However, eating fish and seafood is recommended at least twice a week.

The Mediterranean lifestyle also involves regular physical activity, sharing meals with other people, and enjoying life.

You should base your diet on these healthy, unprocessed Mediterranean foods:

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Whole, single-ingredient foods are the key to good health.

What to drink

Water should be your go-to beverage on a Mediterranean diet.

This diet also includes moderate amounts of red wine — around 1 glass per day.

However, this is completely optional, and wine should be avoided by anyone with alcoholism or problems controlling their consumption.

Coffee and tea are also completely acceptable, but you should avoid sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices, which are very high in sugar.

A Mediterranean sample menu for 1 week

Below is a sample menu for one week on the Mediterranean diet.

Feel free to adjust the portions and food choices based on your own needs and preferences.

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There is usually no need to count calories or track macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) on the Mediterranean diet.

Healthy Mediterranean snacks

You don’t need to eat more than 3 meals per day.

But if you become hungry between meals, there are plenty of healthy snack options:

How to follow the diet at restaurants

It’s very simple to make most restaurant meals suitable for the Mediterranean diet.

  1. Choose fish or seafood as your main dish.
  2. Ask them to fry your food in extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Only eat whole-grain bread, with olive oil instead of butter.

A simple shopping list for the diet

It is always a good idea to shop at the perimeter of the store. That’s usually where the whole foods are.

Always try to choose the least processed option. Organic is best, but only if you can easily afford it.

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It’s best to clear all unhealthy temptations from your home, including sodas, ice cream, candy, pastries, white bread, crackers, and processed foods.

If you only have healthy food in your home, you will eat healthy food.


Though there is not one defined Mediterranean diet, this way of eating is generally rich in healthy plant foods and relatively lower in animal foods, with a focus on fish and seafood.

You can find a whole world of information about the Mediterranean diet on the internet, and many great books have been written about it.

Try googling “Mediterranean recipes” and you will find a ton of great tips for delicious meals.

At the end of the day, the Mediterranean diet is incredibly healthy and satisfying. You won’t be disappointed.

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