21 Day Mediterranean Meal Plan Guidelines

Intake of 5000 to 5400 kilojoules daily. (1100 to 1300 calories)

Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full, and focus on whole-food like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish and olive oil. Processed foods are not part of the Mediterranean diet.
Here's a rough breakdown of the ideal macros on the Mediterranean diet plan:

  • 40 - 50% carbs from vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. Not white bread, pastries and sweets!
  • 35 - 40% fats from healthy oils, nuts, seeds, and fish.
  • 15-20% protein from legumes, fish, nuts, dairy, poultry, and eggs.

Adjust the diet where necessary to suit your preferences. For example, if the menu says salmon, and you have limited access to it, substitute it for fish of your choice.

Don't shy away from flavour. Use garlic, thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano to flavour your dishes.

Fruit and vegetables

Eat fruit and vegetables daily. A large proportion of most meals in the Mediterranean diet usually include fruit and vegetables. Local and seasonal fruit and vegetables are best. Preferably eat low carbohydrate vegetables for salad and vegetable options (raw or steamed) such as: tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, peppers, zucchini, eggplant. squash, pumpkin and sweet potato.

Green vegetables are a unique component of the Mediterranean diet eg. spinach is lightly cooked and served with olive oil and lemon.

Fruit is usually eaten as a snack or with a meal, especially breakfast.

What size is a portion of fruit? One portion of fruit should fit into the palm of your hand while your fingers are almost touching. One portion is two or more small fruits, for example two small prunes, two small apricots, 3 or 4 strawberries or 8 - 10 small grapes. Medium-size fruits: one portion is one fruit, such as an apple, small to medium banana, pear, orange, or nectarine. Large fruits: one portion is half a grapefruit, one slice papaya, one slice sweet melon, one large slice pineapple or 2 smaller slices(it should fit into the palm of your hand if cut into small pieces), or 2 slices mango (5cm slices).

Foods to avoid

  • Refined grains, including white bread, white pasta, and pizza dough made from white flour
  • Refined oils, which include canola oil and soybean oil
  • Foods with added sugars, such as pastries, sodas, and sweets
  • Deli meats, hot dogs, and other processed meats
  • Processed or packaged foods
If your family eats with you

The idea is to incorporate the diet plan into your lifestyle. Remember, these eating plans are for WOMEN who want to lose weight. If your hubby is following the plan with you, his portions should be 1½ times larger. If your children are following the plan, ensure that they eat enough for their needs.

If you have any allergies or problems with certain foods or if you want to tailor it to your health requirements, you should discuss this with your doctor or a dietician. For personal adjustments on the diet, you can also contact the dietitian on our team. Anel Kirsten: Note: the dietitian might charge a fee for adjustments.

Swopping of meals

You are welcome to swop meals on the menus, but note that the lunches contain the most kilojoules. Therefor, make sure not to eat two lunch menus on one day.
- Lunch and dinner of the same day can be exchanged.
- Breakfast can be exchanged for any other breakfast on this eating plan.
- Lunch can be exchanged for any other lunch on this eating plan.
- Dinner can be exchanged for any other dinner on this eating plan.


If you need to snack, you may choose two of the following daily (included in your daily allowance):
• Fruit
• 1 cup of vegetables - cucumber, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, peppers
• 5-7 Almonds, cashews or macadamia nuts (30g) daily
• 175ml Greek yoghurt (ideally plain) daily

What to drink

  • Water or sparkling water is the number one choice in the Mediterranean diet.
  • Tea and Coffee is allowed. An extra 250ml full cream milk per day is in your daily allowance. If you prefer fat free or low fat milk you will save on a few kilojoules.
  • Green tea is an excellent drink. You can drink 4 - 5 cups a day (without milk and sugar). It contains catechins that helps burn fat and boost metabolism.
  • Red wine moderately. If you have a glass of red wine in the evening, do one of the following to prevent weight gain:
    - cut out your carbs (starch) in the evening meal OR
    - cut out your 2 daily snacks (see under snacks) OR
    - exercise an extra 20 minutes.
  • If you battle to lose weight, cut out alcohol completely.
Fats and oil

While the Mediterranean diet is not low in good fat, it is low in saturated fat. Saturated fat is found in fatty cuts of red meat, high fat dairy foods like cheese, butter, cream, full cream milk, ice cream, many processed foods, and  baked food and  like cakes and biscuits.
Replace butter and margarine with olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. Nuts are often part of a salad or eaten as a snack 3 times a week. Any other plant oils such as Canola oil is not part of a Mediterranean diet.

Use herbs and spices to flavor food

Mediterranean cuisine is known as one of the most flavorful throughout the world. This is in part because of the use of flavorful spices instead of salt and pepper. Fresh herbs are preferred in the Mediterranean diet. Here are a few examples: parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, coriander, fennel, cinnamon and cumin. Herbs and spices play an integral role in the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
Restrict red meat

For most South Africans, this is the most difficult part of a Mediterranean diet, since we are used to eating a lot of red meat. In fact, individuals on the Mediterranean had limited access to livestock (especially cattle) due to the rocky environment and limited pasture. They had access to sheep and goats instead. Red meat is usually eaten once a week in the Mediterranean diet and also in small portions. Red meat is rarely the main meal unless it is a special occasion.
Eat more fish and seafood

Fish is often eaten 2-3 times a week. The focus is mainly on oily omega-3 fish for example salmon, sardines ect. Oily fish is also high in protein, vitamin D as well as selenium and low in saturated fat.
Eggs as a protein source

Eggs play an important role in the Mediterranean diet as the diet contains very little red meat and therefore eggs serve as a protein source. They are usually served with vegetables or salad or as an omelette.

The main dairy sources are plain cheese and full cream or Greek yogurt. Goat and sheep cheese is also eaten.
Eat beans

Beans are an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Beans are eaten 2-3 times a week in the form of salads or in a stew, cooked with tomatoes and olive oil.
You may eat carbohydrates

The Mediterranean diet is not a high carb diet. On the contrary, studies show that 40% of energy is derived from carbohydrates. The carbs tend to come from unrefined fibre-rich food sources like whole wheat and beans. You can have bread, but remember all breads are not created equal. Look for 100% whole grains or whole wheat or fresh sourdough bread from the bakery. Whole grain bread can include wheat, oats, flax, buckwheat, or rye, and they should be the very first ingredient listed on the label. Once a week, pasta is eaten and 1 to 2 times a week a grain such as rice or Bulgar wheat - combined with vegetables.


In your daily allowance you may have up to 3 teaspoons of honey (or Xylitol).

Avoid added sugars as much as possible. Processed cookies, crackers, refined flours and sugars are not a part of the Mediterranean diet and shouldn't be eaten often. Save cookies and ice cream for special occasions.  Eat fresh fruit, including dates and figs, to satisfy sugar cravings.

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