Can you really lose weight on the Mediterranean Diet? Especially when you’re allowed to drink wine and eat pasta.
Well the answer is yes and no, and I’ll explain why.
With any diet, what you put into it is what you get out of it. The Mediterranean Diet is not a diet like we normally think about them in the U.S. We usually “event diet” where we go on a specific regimen for a limited amount of time. We lose a few pounds so we can feel better on vacation or at a wedding or at a reunion, then we go back to our regular eating habits. And we gain the weight back.
We’ve all been there. I’ve tried so many diets. The cabbage soup diet, remember that one? That soup made me gag. Or the Atkins diet, which made me feel weak. Or one time I invented my own diet where I tried not to eat any foods that took up space in my stomach. Crazy, right?
The Mediterranean Diet is different. We’re following the eating patterns of people who live in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Each country has its own take on the flavors, but they all follow the same basics: lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, healthy fats and proteins, limited meat consumption, lots of beautiful olive oil, some red wine, and most importantly for weight loss, they practice moderation.
There is more to the Mediterranean lifestyle than just food. There is also physical activity, slowing down to enjoy life, connecting and sharing with your fellow humans, and putting your best foot forward.
It’s caring about yourself and others. It’s about respect.
So, while you can eat all these fabulous foods, too much of a good thing can still be too much.
When I first started my journey on the Mediterranean Diet, I was eating all of these wonderful foods but I wasn’t losing weight. I realized I was still eating too much food, and drinking too much wine.
So I tried a one-month experiment where I wholly devoted myself to a Mediterranean lifestyle and I saw dramatic results. I recorded every day of that month. You can see everything I ate and did physically that month by clicking on this video playlist. In the last video of that series I share how much weight I lost and how many inches. And it was amazingly easy. I felt so good.
We’re used to much larger portions of food in the U.S. But when you start to eat whole grains, beans, and healthy fats, you stay full longer. You really do. You can eat less food and still feel satisfied.
But you also have to get used to taking a little less on your plate. Our portions are habits. And we can build new habits. It takes practice.
When I talk about how you don’t have to deny yourself anything on the Mediterranean Diet, I mean you can have a glass of wine with dinner, but you shouldn’t drink three glasses of wine with dinner.
You can eat pasta, but make it a small plate or a side dish.
Then take a walk afterwards. Or share your meals with your friends. Use your best china and the fancy glasses that you only pull out at holidays. Not every night, but more often.
Set aside time for meals. Make a rule where there are no phones or devices at the table. Enjoy each other’s company instead. Talk about your day. Tell stories. Laugh. And eat slowly.
Some of my fondest memories of my childhood were formed around the kitchen table, laughing and eating with my family.
So, yes, you can lose weight on the Mediterranean Diet, but you have to practice it. It will take time to get used to spending time on yourself. But you’re worth it. And to be honest, your life depends on it.
You may be interested in my new cookbook, The Big Book of Mediterranean Diet Cooking, which features 200 recipes, three 2-week meal plans, and tips on getting started with a new Mediterranean lifestyle.