10 health benefits of a plant-based, Mediterranean diet

Are you confused about all the diet trends out there now? Keto, Paleo, Primal? It’s enough to make your head spin with overwhelm. How do you even know what diet type is best for you?

I’m here to tell you it’s not that complicated. A diet plan that excludes entire food groups isn’t typically sustainable in the long haul. I am a big advocate of “lifestyle eating” meaning I’m a believer in cultivating a framework that supports a lifetime of healthy eating. Not a short-term plan to reach a short-term goal like dropping 10 pounds by X date. Short-term quick fixes rarely result in long-term sustainable change.

A plant-based, Mediterranean inspired diet isn’t just about the food on your plate. It’s also about a lifestyle that incorporates community, purpose, and daily movement. You have a lifestyle centered around the factors that support a long, healthy life looking and feeling your best.

What does a plant-based, Mediterranean diet look like?

 Let’s get right to it. 

When shifting to a Mediterranean way of eating, look for plant-based foods to be the stars of your plate and have your protein of choice, or grain be the accompaniment. Consider looking at your plate through an 80/20 lens- 80% plant-based and 20% protein, or processed food. If the 80/20 ratio overwhelms you start with 50/50 then move to 60/40, 70/30 and so on. The first step is to develop awareness around your current dietary habits. I encourage clients to keep a health journal for 2 weeks. This gives great insight to dietary habits and inclinations. It’s a great starting point. 

The Mediterranean diet is considered by some to be one of the healthiest ways of eating in the world. Beyond a dietary approach, it’s a lifestyle that pertains to the ancient customs and dietary patterns that have existed in the Mediterranean region for thousands of years.

Possibly due to a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fats, the inhabitants of this region have maintained remarkable health: They have lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes when compared to the United States, Japan, and Canada.

The Mediterranean diet consists of natural, whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, dairy, and pure oils, and excludes processed and refined foods. Important lifestyle factors include the value placed on relationships, pleasure, leisure, and physical activity, which are all said to help reduce stress and contribute to physical and mental well-being.

The Mediterranean diet includes an abundance of extra virgin olive oil and seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as whole, unprocessed grains. Wild fish is highly encouraged as well as fresh dairy products, especially from goats. It’s recommended that followers consume 3-4 eggs per week, although this approach is more about intuition and less about rules. Nuts are included as snacks since they contain high amounts of satiating omega-3s. Meats and saturated fats are savored in moderation, usually on special occasions.

A large part of the Mediterranean diet is simple, such as complementary seasonings like oregano and lemon. It’s recommended that wine consumption remain at 1-2 small glasses a week, and coffee be consumed moderately for pleasure and mental stimulation.

Foods to include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grain
  • Fish
  • Meats
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil

Foods to avoid:

  • Processed foods
  • Refined foods

Here are 10 health benefits of eating a plant-based Mediterranean diet:

  1. Improves mental clarity and cognitive function.
  2. Slows the signs of aging and supports glowing skin.
  3. Improves gut health which aids in the absorption of critical nutrients from the foods you eat.
  4. Aids in healthy weight loss and weight management.
  5. Clears the skin and reduces breakouts.
  6. Boosts oral health.
  7. Enhances immune function.
  8. Lowers levels of inflammation in the body.
  9. Reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes.
  10.  Decreases the risk of cancer

Here are 10 ways you can start eating a plant-based diet today:

  1. Crowd out processed foods with plants by substituting carrots for chips, or roasted cashews for crackers.
  2. Add a serving of berries to your morning breakfast.
  3. Make a batch of trail mix for an afternoon snack.
  4. Roast a variety of vegetables drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to have on hand for a side at dinner.
  5. Prep carrots, celery, peppers and romaine for a quick salad at lunch.
  6. Toast pine nuts for a salad topper and get a boost of vitamins and minerals.
  7. Make your own salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper for a zesty dressing.
  8. Add fruit and greens (kale or spinach) to your smoothie for an extra boost of phytonutrients.
  9. Roast sweet potatoes for a hearty snack or dinner side.
  10.  Buy avocados in bulk to top toast, salads or to put in smoothies.

The importance of connection, movement and purpose:

In addition to shifting your food choices, consider making mealtimes a social experience. The simple act of talking to a friend or loved over the dinner table can play a big role in relieving stress and boosting mood. Switch off the TV, computer, put away your smartphone, and connect to someone over a meal. Click here to read more about The Importance of Mindful Eating.

It’s also important to take part in natural movement each day. Our bodies are built for movement. It helps the body to detoxify, it reduces stress and aids in healthy digestion. Click here to read more about the Importance of Movement for your Health and Wellness.

Finally, get grounded in your purpose by finding meaningful work, volunteer opportunities and/or a hobby. Feeling aligned with a higher purpose has immense health benefits and greatly improves your sense of well-being. Being mindful about what you’re grateful for and the positive impact you are creating in the world supports your goal for living a long health life. Click here to read more about the Importance of Mindfulness

Start small by shifting one meal at a time to a plant-based, Mediterranean inspired way of eating. As you see and feel the positive results of more energy, better sleep, glowing skin and deeper connections, it will become your new lifestyle. Positive lifestyle change is the key to being happy, healthy and well for the long haul.  Cheers!

As an integrative health coach, I help busy women like you move beyond limiting beliefs, self-sabotaging behaviors and bad habits to create a healthy, balanced, aligned life that allows you to show up each day feeling your best!


ashley logan

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