What is the Mediterranean Diet?

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Less restrictive and more variety—it almost sounds too good to be true! The Mediterranean Diet offers simplicity and variety, as well as heart health, weight management and antioxidant benefits. A lifestyle higher in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fatty fish provides a variety while keeping you healthy.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean Diet originated in Greece and the regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Diet is really a lifestyle. Instead of restricting foods or focusing on calorie counting, the lifestyle emphasizes healthy changes by adding more healthy foods into your diet.

So, what does the Mediterranean Diet look like? Here are the primary components of the Mediterranean lifestyle:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Greek style yogurts
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Beans/legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Fatty fish, which are high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids.


The Mediterranean Diet is high in high fiber and complex carbohydrate, which is one reason it’s highly praised. Also, whole grains are fundamental to the diet and provide a variety of health benefits. The combination of nutrients complements each other, providing a symphony of nutritional benefits for many. The Mediterranean Diet is a more successful and relatable lifestyle because it does not focus on restriction. Since there are so many options in the diet, variety is a key component to the success of the Mediterranean Diet.

However, a few foods should be limited while following the Mediterranean Diet. While this does not mean they need to be eliminated, it does mean they should only be consumed about 1-2 times a month. These items include:

  • Red meat
  • Butter
  • Processed meats like bacon, salami, pepperoni, and sausage.


There are a few foods not included in the diet that can be consumed in moderation to promote a balanced, healthful lifestyle, which include:

  • Refined grains like white bread and baked goods
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar sweetened beverages and added sugar


This lifestyle provides greater variety, is easy to follow and realistic, which can help you meet your nutritional goals.


References: Eatright.org. Make it Mediterranean. https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/make-it-mediterranean.


The Mediterranean Diet. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801.

Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Amanda Arnold, MS, RDN, LD 

Amanda is a licensed and registered dietitian/nutritionist with the Pain Management Group. She received her Master’s degree in the Science of Nutrition at Auburn University and completed her dietetic internship through the Medical University of South Carolina.

Amanda is passionate about helping others, especially those in pain, understand that eating right doesn’t have to be difficult and that by making simple lifestyle and behavioral changes, they can profoundly improve their wellbeing and quality of life.