The Mediterranean Diet is one of the plant based eating patterns that I recommend to my clients as a healthy eating pattern for cancer survivors and those interested in risk reduction.
On our oncology dietitian listserve a few weeks ago, someone asked for recommendations for helping clients to make more Mediterranean syle recipes. A lot of great recommendations came up and I wanted to have them all in one place for future reference so here we are!
A note about ‘Diets’
First of all, I HATE THE WORD ‘DIET’! Everyone has a different reaction to the word diet and I find that it means something different to each person so I just try to avoid it all together.
To me, a “diet” is simply what you eat. We all have a diet and it’s not necessarily a rigid plan you are following to achieve a magical weight. It’s just the food that ends up in your mouth. That’s what diet means to me. However, to many people, diet means a restrictive plan that is designed to help them shrink their body.
Did you know that many dietitians and health experts do NOT recommend diets or strict eating plans? Why? Because eating according to a bunch of rules is neither fun, nor healthy. Most restrictive eating plans result in some weight loss followed by weight put back on plus some more, and that also results in a slowed metabolism.
Instead, we want you to find a healthy eating pattern that promotes health and stick to it. That means it includes mostly plants, beans, nuts, seeds, and moderate amounts of meat and dairy (if you so choose). There are a variety of ways to meet these recommendations and the Mediterranean Diet is just one of those!
In case you’re not familiar with my philosophy, here an article about what I think is the biggest problem with the typical American eating pattern.
Why The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet has been ranked by US News & World Report as best diet overall in 2019.
The great thing about the Mediterranean eating pattern is that it’s pretty flexible. There’s not ONE eating pattern in the Mediterranean. Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eat differently from the French and Spanish. But they share many of the same principles.
Those principals are:
- Every day: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, nuts. and healthy fats like olive oil
- 2x/week: Eat fish and seafood twice a week
- Moderate: dairy, eggs, poultry in moderate portions
- Occasionally: meat and sweets only occasionally
Want to know more about how to transitions your current eating pattern more towards a Mediterranean style? Check out these recommended resources from other oncology dietitians!
Mediterranean Diet Resources:
- Rhone Levin, Nancy Miller, Mara Vitolins all recommended Oldways for their Mediterranean diet menu plan, book and website! They have a weekly email you can sign up for and are a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people live healthy.
- Cathy Leman and Nancy Miller both recommended the dietitian authored blog, Olive Tomato, for recipes and resources.
- Jennifer Lafferty recommended The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by Americas Test Kitchen.
- Amy Glueck recommended Mediterranean Table, written by Jennifer McDaniel MS, RDN, CSSD, LD. It provides guidelines on how to follow a Mediterranean diet and what it is. Also has a chart with daily foods, weekly foods, and occasional foods.
I hope these inspire you to try out some new delicious and nutritious recipes!
I need help, newly diagnosed triple negative breast cancer and about to start treatment. I know nutrition is a large key to fighting cancer. Please advice
Anna, I’m sorry to learn of your diagnosis, but there’s hope! A naturopathic oncologist is a nice addition to conventional advice. I’m currently reading How to Starve Cancer and it gives a lot of insight. Since my diagnosis and at the recommendation of my naturopath, I’ve adopted a plant based diet with zero refined sugars. And I feel great! I wish you the best and will say a prayer for you too.