A Mediterranean Diet Meal Makeover showing how you can make small changes in your diet

The Mediterranean Diet: what is it, why it matters in midlife and 12 tasty food tips to get started
May 6, 2021

How can you make small changes in your diet to be more Mediterranean? This Mediterranean Diet Meal Makeover will show you how! In part 1 of this series, The Mediterranean Diet: what is it, why it matters in midlife and how to get started, we outline what this dietary approach is, what the research says about this approach, and what foods to include to get start. This is part 2 in our Mediterranean Diet series where we will show you how to make these small changes in your diet.

How small changes in your diet can make a big difference

In midlife, most of us have knowledge of what foods we could be including more of in our diets to optimize our health. But when it comes to actually making and sustaining changes, this is where we get stuck. We get it, change is hard!

With our attention pulled in many different directions- families, careers, trying to maintain a sane household- we need diet and lifestyle changes to be absorbed into our day. Making small, yet consistent changes that are sustained are more likely to bring feelings of success than aiming for a major lifestyle switch.

To make your diet more Mediterranean, start with one meal and work from there. Set small goals that you know you will be able to follow through. Then check in to see how they feel for you. Success breeds success.

When you feel successful in change, this creates positive energy and encourages you to consider another change. While one little change may seem small, if it is (mostly) sustained, over time they can make the difference for your health. Simple changes that are sustained over time can have impact.

Mediterranean Diet Meal Makeover

Doing a 180-degree change in your diet can feel over-whelming. Look at each meal or snack, and see what, if any, changes you can swap in. As you do this, consider the degree of difficulty that would be in your life. Start with low-hanging fruit.

Over the course of the day, here is how we can move toward a Mediterranean Diet Pattern:

 

Breakfast

Lunch

  • Bacon, lettuce and tomato bagel —> avocado, lettuce, tomato on whole grain bread.
  • Salad with premade salad dressing and croutons—> homemade vinaigrette made with oil and vinegar and pumpkin seeds for crunch
  • Canned cream soup—> batch-cooked soup with lentils, beans and vegetables
  • Tuna or egg salad—> mashed chickpea and avocado on whole grain bread
  • Regular pasta salad—> whole grain pasta salad with extra-virgin olive oil-based vinaigrette
  • No lunch—> bento-box snack box with nuts, vegetables, hummus and whole grain pita wedges.

Dinner

  • Vegetables with butter—> vegetables with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with herbs or spices.
  • Bread and butter—> whole grain bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Regular hamburger —> burger made with extra-lean ground beef and finely chopped mushrooms
  • Beef burger—> grilled turkey or chicken burger
  • Beef taco –> lentil taco
  • Spaghetti and meatballs—> whole wheat pasta with shrimp, garlic and tomatoes
  • Steak—> sheet pan baked salmon
  • Gravy —> sauce made with tomatoes, onion and garlic or tomato olive caper sauce
  • Potato salad —> bean salad
  • Meat-based Lasagna—> vegetable and lentil lasagna with whole wheat noodles
  • Beef chilli—> turkey and bean chilli
  • Pizza—> whole wheat pita pizza

Snack

The Mediterranean diet is flexible! Do you see *anything* in the above that feels “accessible” to you? Have a look at the foods to focus on in the Mediterranean Diet. You can customize your version of the Mediterranean diet to your preferences. How will you get started?

 

Written by: Kenzie Urban, Dietetic Intern, University of Alberta

 

Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Calgary, AB.

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