Eating the Mediterranean Way

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I know that we are just at the end of the third week of the New Year and some of you have already given up on eating healthier or you have had a few setbacks. Well do not fear; I am here to assist you with getting back on track and hopefully introduce a new way of eating. It’s called the Med Way.

Eating the Mediterranean way refers to adopting a diet inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This diet is often considered healthy and has been associated with various health benefits. The key features of the Mediterranean diet include:

  1. Eat more Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are central to the diet. Get in at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Choose a variety of colors and eat more of the dark green, leafy vegetables such as collards, kale, spinach, and turnip greens.
  2. Healthy Fats: Olive oil is a primary source of fat, providing monounsaturated fats. Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Choose olive oil. Replace solid fats (e.g., butter and margarine) and other oils with olive oil. Use olive oil for cooking and in dressings and marinades. Aim to consume at least 4 tablespoons per day, while keeping within your calorie budget.
  3. Whole Grain Foods: Consumed are whole grain foods such as oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and popcorn. When choosing bread and pasta, look for “whole” in the first ingredient on the ingredient list (e.g., “whole grain wheat”).
  4. Snack on Nuts and Seeds: Poultry, eggs, and lean cuts of meat are included in moderation. Plant-based proteins, such as beans and lentils, are also common.
  5. Herbs and Spices: The use of herbs and spices instead of salt for flavoring is a characteristic feature.
  6. Change your Protein: Red meat is consumed sparingly, and processed foods are minimized. Eat seafood at least three times per week. Include fatty fish, such as mackerel and salmon. Avoid fried fish. Eat white-meat poultry, such as turkey and chicken, at least twice a week.
  7. Regular Physical Activity: The Mediterranean lifestyle also emphasizes regular physical activity. Be physically active with family and friends. Aim to be moderately physically active (e.g., brisk walking) at least 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day.

Benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet include heart health, weight management, and a reduced risk of chronic diseases. Eating the Mediterranean way is not only healthy, but also delicious and satisfying. Foods that you once thought of as too high in fat or unhealthy, including nuts, olive oil, olives, and whole grains, become an everyday part of your diet.

If you are interested in learning more about the Med Way of eating, join me for a seven-week class. Join me Wednesdays, February 21 – April 3, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rowan County Center. Each week we will focus on a different food group, sample recipes, and share ways to incorporate the Mediterranean style into your life. I hope you will join me! To sign up, visit Eventbrite. The cost for the series is $40.00, and the deadline for signing up is February 16, 2024. Space is limited.

If Med Instead of Meds isn’t your thing, I will also be hosting two Lunch and Learns: Microwave Magic and Super Foods. These will be held on Tuesday, February 27 and Tuesday, March 26 at noon. Sessions are $10.00 each. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Toi N. Degree, Associate Family & Consumer Education Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Toi may be reached by phone at 704-216-8970 or by email at

Med instead of Meds Program outline

Med instead of Meds Program outline