The Mediterranean Diet: A Sample Day of Meals
Last updated: October 2023
The Mediterranean diet has long been explored and discussed. While there is no one-size-fits-all diet or eating plan for people with type 2 diabetes, it could be helpful to explore new eating plans. Everybody's needs are different and unique.
What about this way of eating provides people with such incredible health benefits? Can we replicate these same benefits by following this way of eating in America? And how about for those living with type 2 diabetes – are there any additional health benefits?
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean eating style is inspired by the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. While these countries may vary their diets from culture to culture and place to place, the overall ideas are the same.1
Some main aspects of the Mediterranean eating style include:1
- High intake of fruits and vegetables
- High intake of nuts, seeds, and beans
- High intake of whole grains
- Using olive oil instead of butter or other oils
- Low intake of processed foods
- Low intake of dairy, red meat, and sugar
What are the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet?
At first glance, this may seem to many as the complete opposite of a typical diet in the United States. But the health benefits of eating the Mediterranean way are more than worth the hype. Some benefits include:2,3
- May reduce all-cause mortality risk in people with cardiovascular disease
- Promotes longevity
- Improves quality of life
How can this relate to people with type 2 diabetes?
Making certain nutritional changes that follow the Mediterranean eating style can help manage diabetes because of many variables. When you change your fat intake from saturated fats like butter to the unsaturated fat of olive oil, you start to decrease your risk of heart disease.1
Lower fat intake can also lead to weight loss. Weight loss can be beneficial when managing diabetes since it can lead to easier physical activity. Being active helps control blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of heart disease.1
Another way this diet can help diabetes management is by changing to whole grains and more fruits and vegetables to provide fiber. Fiber helps offer satiety during a meal. It is also beneficial in moving things along through the gastrointestinal tract.
How can you implement Mediterranean-style eating into your daily life?
Here is a sample menu for a day of eating the Mediterranean way. Portion sizes, carbohydrate counts, and needs will vary from person to person – this is just an idea of meals to enjoy.
½ cup cooked oatmeal, topped with 1 tbsp peanuts or peanut butter, fresh or frozen blueberries, and 1 tbsp chia seeds.
Lunch: avocado toast
1 slice of whole grain bread toasted and topped with ½ mashed avocado, tomato slices, and red onion slices with a sprinkle of cracked black pepper.
Midday snack: nuts and veggies
¼ cup cashews with sliced bell peppers and carrots.
Dinner: spinach salad
Large salad of fresh spinach or mixed greens topped with chopped cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, and sliced onions. Add ¼ cup of feta cheese and ¼ cup of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Use an olive oil-based dressing that is easily made at home!
Evening snack: nuts and fruits
¼ cup almonds and ⅛ cup dried fruit like dried apricots.
Key aspects of this eating style
Again, this is a quick sample menu to make it easier to understand how different foods are substituted to make Mediterranean-style meals.
If you want to eat Mediterranean-style meals, your main goals should be to incorporate more fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, as well as less processed food, red meat, and added sugar. If you have specific questions about whether or not this style of eating works for you, please reach out to your doctor or registered dietitian.
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?