Wondering how to make a Mediterranean diet work for busy Moms?
I have you covered.
Whenever I bring up the Mediterranean diet to Moms, the most common response is, “Oh, I hear that is a good one. But what exactly is it?”
The Mediterranean diet is not a fad – it has been around for ages. Literally. And there is A TON of scientific proof to back the health benefits associated with it. So, why isn’t everyone on board like they are with low carb and plant-based diets these days?
I believe it comes down to 2 simple reasons. Keep reading to find out. But, first, let’s talk about the Mediterranean diet itself.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet is quite literally the diet eaten in the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. All 21 of them. That includes countries from Northern Africa – think Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt – to Greece, Southern Italy, and Lebanon.
In general, the diet focuses on healthy fats, legumes, and fresh produce. Think lots of olive oil, fish twice a week, and eggs/chicken a few times weekly. Red meat and pork are eaten less frequently (monthly). Dairy (other than Greek yogurt) is not consumed much either.
The diet itself is varied, though. And that means lots of ways to make it work for you and your family. Good news. Which brings me to…
Doctor Mom E’S Diet Scale
What I LOVE about the Mediterranean Diet for Busy Moms:
- It is at the top of the list of diets for heart health – With heart disease being the #1 cause of death in the US, enough said.
- No Calorie Counting – There is less “counting” on this diet than any other I have tried actually. I didn’t count a thing and lost weight doing it.
- There are MANY variations – The “Mediterranean” diet is just that – simple in name but diverse in diet. And you can pick and choose what you like and works for your family.
- The only adjustments for your family are preference based – Your whole family can easily eat Mediterranean style. You may have to adjust for tastes but there are no changes necessary for kids, pregnant women, or nursing. This can be a true lifestyle change.
- It feels like a healthy way to eat – You will be eating fresh vegetables, beans, whole wheats, and yogurts. There is nothing in this diet that doesn’t feel like a “healthy” way to eat. And you get to eat oils as well.
- Did I mention pasta, olive oil, chickpeas, Greek yogurt, and honey? I’m in.
- You will have great weight loss results – My trial of the Mediterranean Diet started a bit slower in terms of weight loss than a low carb diet BUT the results caught up. By the 3rd week, my weight loss was almost exactly the same on both diets. And that is generally considered superior to calorie counting alone.
What I Don’t LOVE about the Mediterranean Diet for Busy Moms:
Which brings me to the 2 simplest reasons I believe the Mediterranean Diet is not a “fad”: it is not easily defined when people want a simple diet to follow and people don’t want the prep work involved. Here’s a few other potential road blocks:
- Expect Meal Prep Time – So, this is one healthy diet. And there will be time needed to cut veggies, make salads, and cook pastas. Cook in bulk and it will last all week – especially the salads.
- You DO have to watch what you eat – It is easy to go overboard or get misdirected with the Mediterranean Diet. Pasta with heavy sauces – no go. Chicken schwarma – probably not for weight loss. Hummus – yes but let’s not go crazy here.
- Wrap your mind around LESS meat – I’m from Kansas. And we eat beef. Beef is a rarity in the Mediterranean Diet. In fact, meat is not a daily addition for most.
- And did I mention less dairy? If you are a meat and cheese eater, go low carb. If you love fish, pasta, and veggies, this diet is a fit.
What the Experts Say About the Mediterranean Diet
- Harvard Nutrition Source: Harvard and the European WHO developed the Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid to help understand the diet itself.
- Harvard’s Bottom Line: “A health eating pattern for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, increasing lifespan, and healthy aging. When used in conjunction with caloric restriction, the diet may also support health weight loss.” (https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/mediterranean-diet/)
- Mayo Clinic: “If you’re looking for a heart-healthy diet, the Mediterranean diet may be right for you.” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801)
- American Heart Association: “Year after year, the Mediterranean diet comes out on top in the U.S. News and World Report annual ranking of best diets.” (https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/mediterranean-diet)
Moms Who Shouldn’t Choose a Mediterranean Diet
There really aren’t any. Not much added risk with pregnancy or breastfeeding other than not aggressively pursuing weight loss while in these states.
This diet is especially appealing for Mom’s that are vegetarian or vegan.
And less appealing to those that love meats and cheeses. If that fits you, check out my Low Carb Diet for Busy Moms Plan: https://doctormome.com/post/low-carb-diet-for-busy-moms/
Tips for Making the Mediterranean Diet Work for Your Family
Start Simple with Breakfast
My favorite easy Mediterranean breakfast – is REALLY easy. It’s whole wheat bread with natural peanut butter. And your kids will barely notice the transition to whole wheat bread.
Greek yogurt with fresh berries is another great option for getting your little’s adjusted.
Prepare Extra Vegetables
The Mediterranean diet is full of fresh healthy vegetables. And you will find you are using the same veggies frequently. Cut up onions, spinach, tomatoes, and enough parsley to throw into an egg scramble and a salad for lunch.
I found most of my favorite Pinterest salad recipes truly lasted about 2-3 days for lunch. You won’t have to do this more than twice a week if you plan appropriately. And you will be feeding your family a health diet.
Buy LOTS of Olive Oil
Whole wheat pasta with a light olive oil dressing is the Mediterranean way. And kids love pasta. Olive oil is thought to be one of, if not the, biggest reasons for the positive heart health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. No need to skimp on the EVOO here.
Remember Beans are Cheap
You may feel like you are spending more on fresh produce but you will be saving on meat and dairy. And that can add up. Beans are not expensive and will become a main protein source. You can also go with frozen vegetables to last longer if your prefer.
Kids Usually Like Hummus
Hummus and pita chips are an excellent snack option that is Mediterranean friendly and easy to keep on hand. I also fell in love with Spanakopita – a Greek phyllo dough and spinach pastry that is delicious.
Start with Pasta for the Dinner Transitions
Switching to whole wheat pasta with olive oil, spinach, tomatoes, and artichoke will be enough of a change for your littles to begin with. Start there and then slowly add the more authentic flavored dishes. Give them a chance to like it.
Feta Cheese, Please
Everything is better with feta cheese on it. Add it to egg scrambles, chickpea salads, and pasta for dinner. It will not disappoint.
A Glass of Red Wine A Day for Mom
Go Simple Fruits for Dessert
Dessert is not off the table with the Mediterranean diet. Just make it simple with berries and a drizzle of honey over Greek yogurt. Win, win.
Experiment with New Tastes
The Mediterranean diet allows for SO many new tastes. Southern Italian, Greek, Lebanese, and even Northern African. Try new things and find what you like. Stay healthy with it and the weight loss will come.
A Busy Moms Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan Favorites
5 Breakfast Favorites
Mediterranean Egg Scramble with egg, spinach, onion, tomato, and feta cheese
Whole Wheat Toast with Natural Peanut Butter
Egg Over Easy on Wheat Toast
5 Lunch Favorites – Check out My Pinterest for Recipes!
Chickpea Salad (double and it will last all week!) https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406776689/
3 Bean Salad (also good to double!) https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406414952/
Spinach Feta Orzo Salad https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406776725/
Campbells Tomato Soup with Spinach, Chickpeas, Feta, and pita to dip
Avocado Egg Salad https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406647405/
5 Dinner Favorites
Simple Mediterranean Olive Oil Pasta – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406430365/
Slow Cooker Greek Chicken – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406414941/
Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Ricotta – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406437588/
Chicken Kebab with Garlic Yogurt – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406776718/
Mediterranean Bowl – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406556767/
5 Snack and Dessert Favorites
Spanakopita – I bought it from Trader Joe’s but there are recipes on Pinterest as well https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406430526/
Greek Yogurt with Berries and a Drizzle of Honey
Mediterranean Nachos – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/789537378406479249/
Hummus and Pita
Tzatziki Dip – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/160863017928349170/
Check out my Pinterest Board for more Mediterranean Recipes: https://www.pinterest.com/DoctorMomE/mediterranean-diet/
Eating Out Mediterranean
Panera’s Mediterranean Grain Bowl is awesome
Zoe’s Kitchen is all things Mediterranean
Grilled Kebabs at any local restaurant with hummus
Try a fattoush salad
Olive Garden – Tastes of Mediterranean Menu
If you are eating Italian, just go with a pasta with olive oil or light dressing
Simple Solution: Mediterranean Diet is tried and true for heart health. Just make sure that you watch your choices and weight loss can be great as well. If you love fish, beans, and pasta, give it a try!