Up for a 30 plant in 7 day challenge?
Whether your health goal is weight loss, heart health, ageing strong, lowering risk of disease, longevity, gut health or thriving through the menopause, then the Mediterranean Diet is likely to be the answer.
Less a diet and more of a way of enjoying food, the Mediterranean Diet is about enjoying food in abundance rather than restriction, it’s easy to follow and backed by science.
In a nutshell (excuse the pun), the Mediterranean Diet is dominated by plant based whole-foods, meaning you can enjoy anything that comes straight from the ground. Plant-based foods are filled with antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory, antiaging, cardioprotective, anticancer and even help with our mood, cognition, anxiety and depression too. They’re filling and nutritious helping to keep our blood sugar balanced and help us avoid processed and refined foods that are high in hidden sugar, salt and fats.
The key principles of the Mediterranean diet are:
- Majority of the diet is made-up of whole, not processed foods
- The focus is on plants, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains (wholewheat, brown rice, oats, quinoa), legumes (beans/peas/chickpeas/lentils), seeds, nuts, herbs and spices
- Healthy fats are gained from extra virgin olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from fish
- Includes moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, cheese and yoghurt
- And moderate amounts of alcohol and caffeine
- Rarely includes red meat and avoids refined/processed foods often containing added sugars, salts and oils
- It’s also a style of eating – this approach to food is enjoyed slowly, mindfully and socially.
So how do we go about injecting more Mediterranean Diet principles into our meals?
Tim Spector the Gut Health Guru recommends aiming for 30 different plants a week. This has been shown to help your gut microbiome diversity and really moves the needle on gut health and therefore overall health.
HOW TO CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO EAT 30 PLANTS IN 7 DAYS:
- At the weekend plan your meals for the week trying to include a diverse mix of veg, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – I’ve provided some recipe inspiration below. I Batch cook one of the recipes on a Sunday like the Tom Kerridge Shepherd’s Pie and a home made soup so you’re ahead of the game!
2. Monday morning start writing down how many different types of veg, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds (list below) you manage to during the week.
VEG – Tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, pepper, sweetcorn, spinach, squash, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, pak choi, potato, red and white onion, peas, carrot etc. Grab a mixed bag of stir fry veg or salad to up the range instantly.
FRUIT – Grapes, strawberries, melon, blueberries, raspberries, apple, banana, orange, kiwi etc. Frozen options count – add to your oats in the morning.
GRAINS – Oats, brown rice or pasta, quinoa, wholewheat flour, wholegrain or rye bread.
LEGUMES, NUTS & SEEDS – Chickpeas, lentils (tinned and ready to cook with is fine), beans (tins are good like kidney/black/cannellini), pack of seeds, pack of nuts (mixed for extra points and avoid added sugar/salted versions!) Seeds and nuts are great for snack cravings too.
HERBS & SPICES – such as parsley, basil, rosemary, coriander, thyme, bay, garlic, ginger – dried or fresh. These count as 1/4 as we only have a small amount.
Tip: Grab mixed bags of fresh, frozen or tinned salad/veg to up the variety instantly!
If you need some meal inspiration, here’s some links to my favourite Mediterranean Diet meals and recipes:
- Fruit salad – mix fruit on its own or with some lemon juice and mint.
- Rolled oats – these are not in a branded cereal packet but literally just a bag of rolled oats to avoid any added nasties. You can then make porridge or have them with plain yoghurt (not the type with added fruit and sugars) add some seeds, nuts or fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Hot breakfast options include Shakshuka, veggie omelette , mushrooms and spinach on wholemeal toast.
- Leftover dinner is my favourite with salad, beans or veg. During the winter nothing beats homemade soups or try a wholemeal wrap with tinned tuna/salmon/mackerel and lots of crunchy salad or veg.
I’d love to know how you get on and feel free to tag me @zenergyactive on Instagram if you make any of the recipes or share your own!
#MediterraneanDiet #menopause #perimenopause #nutrition #guthealth #30plantchallenge #timspector #thriveinmenopause #menopausetips #eatwell #mindbody