Mediterranean Diet 101

Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

Mediterranean Diet food pyramid represents types and amounts of foods consumed on Mediterranean Diet and in Mediterranean cuisine, in general. Things have changed during past few centuries and so have amounts of foods that are recommended in last few decades ...

For centuries, food pyramid for people living around Mediterranean was something like (no pictures of foods, just words, please read every single line, especially last line!) this:


Last line is correct - to eat this amount of carbohydrates, you have to work physically 10-12 hours per day with various intensities.

I remember (long time ago) one coach saying to his client (which had problem with dieting) to choose between working out with him 4-5 hours per day and eating whatever he wants or to diet properly and workout with him 4-5 hours per week. Poor guy decided to workout 4-5 hours per day (he had time) and to eat whatever he wanted. Naturally, after few day, he started to diet properly :o)

There are several 'scientific studies' (that sound so 'cool', right?) showing that nutrition based on whole grains (wheat especially) and similar low fat foods is 'healthy' one - they forgot to tell you that such studies were funded buy lobbies behind wheat industry - this is one of the main reasons why American (and not only American) nation has so many problems with weight and diabetes.

Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid

This is 'the original' Mediterranean Diet food pyramid:

- sweets and red meat were eaten rarely - only on special occasions, in relatively small amounts. Animals like cows, goats, sheep etc were important because of the milk (on daily basis) not because of the meat.

- poultry were eaten few times per month or sometimes per week - chickens were important because of the eggs, but were more available for consumption than cows, goats, sheep etc.

md-meal2- fish was eaten when available - for example, during season, sardines were consumed on a daily basis, several times per day. Off season - salted sardines were consumed, few pieces per meal

- eggs were consumed whole and these were eggs from organically bred hens/chickens. They were eaten in small amounts, 1-2 per meal, several times per week, or even on a daily basis

- dairy products were from animals that grazed grass and small bushes. Dairy products were eaten on daily basis for various meals.

- olive oil was consumed on daily basis, on average 3-5 tablespoons of olive oil per person per day

- vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes and nuts were eaten on a daily basis, amounts depended on the season and living region

- grain products and potatoes were eaten on daily basis and were most important source of energy (carbs).

Last, but not the least important (on contrary), people were actually working physically almost all day long - around crops, with cattle, fishing etc. And when I say 'fishing', I mean rowing, sailing, pulling nets and similar activities - watch 'Deadliest Catch' and you will know what I mean ...

Obviously, such diet is not acceptable for most of us. That is why one must change few things about 'original' Mediterranean Diet. 'Modern' Mediterranean Diet is very similar - just 'delete' part with whole grain bread, pasta, couscous, polenta, rice, grains and potatoes. These foods are more than acceptable in 'modern' Mediterranean Diet, just the amounts are lowered - eat slice or two of whole grain bread per day, one smaller potato and that is all. Unless you have really fast metabolism or you engage in some long lasting physical activity - walking for 1-2 hours per day is not long lasting, high intensity activity, except for elderly people, very small kids and pregnant women.

So, eat your veggies and fruits, add tablespoon of olive oil here and there, enjoy good fruit yogurt as dessert, consume fish whenever you like, have various nuts for snacks, omega-3 eggs and poultry as good additional sources of animal protein. Red meat and sweets - not so often - I will rather have good steak with veggies and plenty of salad as cheat meal before/after heavy workout than consume foods loaded with simple sugars ...

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