Lower your risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes
The Mediterranean diet also allows for some animal protein — mostly chicken and fish, and some dairy foods. And pasta, red meat, and sweets are limited, but not forbidden. “It includes foods that people like to eat, so it’s pretty easy to follow and sustainable. It’s less about what’s off limits,” says Samantha Cassetty, RD, a nutrition and weight-loss expert with a virtual nutrition counseling practice based in New York City.
Still, changing your diet isn’t easy. “Every day you make about 200 food decisions — it’s overwhelming,” Cassetty says. On top of that, you’re making decisions about your family, your work, and every other aspect of your life.
And then there’s the time commitment. “Most people don’t find spending 30 or 40 minutes cooking and cleaning at night all that delightful — it feels like a chore,” Cassetty says. So it’s easy to default to takeout or something that’s quick and convenient, but less healthy.
Having a plan can help. “It can help you develop a strategy and game plan. Having healthy items in place can help you work on your process and reach your goals,” Cassetty says.
It can save you some time, too. “With the Instant Pot, you don’t have to stand over it and watch your pot boil — it frees up your hands to do other things. If you want to fold a load of laundry or check off some emails, it gives you some time to do that. And because it’s all happening in one place, it reduces cleanup. You haven’t made too much of a mess,” Cassetty says.
Cassetty is also a fan of the Instant Pot for Mediterranean diet meal prep. She says almost every week she makes a big batch of quinoa with equal parts quinoa to vegetable or chicken broth, cooked for one minute. “It comes out perfectly. You’re just steaming it in there,” she says.
She also like to prep chicken breasts with some broth, garlic, or Italian seasoning. She cooks them for 12 minutes and lets the pressure release naturally, then shreds it to add to salads, grain bowls, or tacos. “You can add other seasonings and transform it into any number of weeknight dinners,” she says.
Beans, brown rice, and hard-boiled eggs would also be good choices for meal prepping foods for the Mediterranean diet.
And Cassetty points out that foods don’t have to come from Italy, Greece, or other Mediterranean countries to satisfy the diet’s requirements. You can follow its principles with foods that come from other locations and cultures. For example, bean and veggie tacos in a whole-grain corn tortilla shell would fit within the framework of the diet.