7 Tips to Start Eating Mediterranean Today

Eating the Mediterranean way is easier than think!

Here are 7 EASY ways to start bettering your health with the Mediterranean eating pattern today.

Cook with Olive Oil

Olive oil is an unsaturated fat filled with antioxidants and polyphenols. When we sub in olive oil in cooking and sub out butter and other saturated fasts, not only are you following the Mediterranean way but the health benefits are numerous.

Olive Oil Benefits

Give Veggies the Attention they deserve

The Standard American Diet is SAD, literally the acronym for it is SAD! Highly processed, fried foods, simple carbohydrates and sugar-laden sweets certainly do not give us the nutrients our bodies need.  Only 1 in 10 Americans are eating enough veggies each day.

One of the biggest tenants of the Mediterranean eating pattern is the abundance of vegetables.

As a dietitian I’ve heard the same saying numerous times, “I don’t like vegetables.” Yet this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may not love how they were cooked for you as a kid (who actually likes mushy veggies?) or you may have tried green beans from a can and disliked the flavor. But, if you change your mindset to, “I am open to trying new things” or “I will try 1 new vegetables a week” the script is flipped. Be open, try new varieties and new methods. There are so many ways to cook vegetables that make them taste delicious. Plus fresh, frozen and even canned (low to no-sodium) all provide nutrients to fuel our best selves.

For your next meal, think of veggies first, fill half your plate with them and complement the vegetable with your protein and carbohydrate. Season with olive oil and spices, bon appetit!

Beans, Beans, Beans

Beans are a staple part of the Mediterranean eating pattern. They give us loads of fiber, protein and minerals. Plus they’re cheap!

Beans work so well to give protein to a meatless meal. They are also a great way to plus up meals with meat. For example, add black beans to ground turkey tacos, white beans are great thickeners for soups. And don’t forget beans in dips, falafel, burgers and or a salty snack with crispy chickpeas.

George Clooney and I share the same sentiment for chickpeas.

Swap in Whole Grains

First, let me say this, yes you can have bread! Swap out white breads and rice for whole wheat, whole grain varieties. Whole grains have more fiber, vitamins and minerals, plus more flavor and health benefits.

Plus you can have fun trying new grains. Never had farro? It is delicious, nutritious and truly simple to cook. It’s very similar to cooking rice! And don’t forget about oats, quinoa, farro, and brown rice. This simple swap will help you follow along the Mediterranean pattern.

Quinoa Greek Salad

Snack on Whole Foods

What do I mean by snack on whole foods? Choose an apple with peanut butter. A handful of nuts. Sliced veggies and hummus. Peaches and yogurt. There’s nothing more fast food than an apple or banana.

Fruit, nuts and seeds are a big part of the Mediterranean eating pattern. They can certainly be incorporated into breakfast, lunch and dinner (and they should!) they also make great, portable snacks.

Stop the Soda

One of the most impactful and beneficial changes in your eating will be to lose the sodas, energy drinks, and sweet teas and swap with unsweetened beverages. This might look like swapping 1 soda a day for a sparking water, then 2, then 3 per week and so on.

Plus, there are so many fun, unsweetened drinks out there now. Try a new sparkling water or jazz up still water with some fresh cut fruit or cucumber. You will feel fancy, trust me.

Go Meatless or swap in fish 1x week

When you fill your plate with vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, it is easy to go meatless. Lentils are a great plant-based source of high protein. Give my lentil bolognese a try and let me know what you think!

This does not mean you have to go to the grocery or fish market twice a week for fresh fish. Canned fish totally counts here! Try salmon patties with canned salmon, they are GOOD. Tuna also works great as a shelf stable option. If you’re choosing canned, aim for only 1x week. And don’t forget fresh or frozen fish are excellent. Seared, roasted, air-fried, there are so many ways to cook fish that are delicious and not boring. And by the way if you are a vegetarian who does not eat fish or vegan, go for more veggies, beans and nuts instead. Walnuts and flaxseeds are nice plant-based options for getting your omega-3’s.

Discover 5 Reasons to Eat the Mediterranean Way

Have you heard of the Mediterranean eating pattern and wondered if it actually lives up to the hype? Well, researchers, doctors and dietitians talk it up as one of the healthiest, and most sustainable eating patterns in the world. Plus, US News & Health has ranked it #1 for the past 6 years in a row.

Let’s dive into the top 5 reasons you should give the Mediterranean eating pattern a try!

#1. Protects Your Heart – A ton of research has been done on the Med pattern and heart health. And study after study continues to back up the facts, the foods of the Med pattern help to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. With heart disease the #1 killer in the United States, I’d say this is a good reason to give the Mediterranean eating pattern a go!

#2. Fights Inflammation – Inflammation seems to be a buzz word these days so I’ll break it down a bit. Inflammation is our body’s immune system response to injury or infection. Our immune system sends out white blood cells to surround the area to help with healing. Chronic inflammation is the big problem. Chronic inflammation is when the body continues to send out inflammatory cells even when there is no danger. For example, in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory cells attack joints leading to an inflammation. Thus, chronic inflammation is associated with certain diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Arthritis, certain Cancers, Asthma, Alzheimer’s Disease and Heart Disease.

The foods in the Mediterranean eating pattern are Anti-inflammatory, meaning they fight this inflammation. The antioxidants in these foods fight free radicals by donating an electron and making them stable.

So, what does all this science mean for you? Reducing inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods is beneficial to all cells in the body.

#3. Boosts Your Brain – This might be THE most exciting aspect of the Mediterranean eating pattern. “Higher adherence to a MedDiet is associated with slower rates of cognitive decline, reduce conversion to Alzheimer’s disease, and improvements in cognitive function.” 1

What does that mean? Well, eating the Med way is protective to our brain as we age, and can reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, and that is awesome.

#4. Good for Your Gut – Our digestive system has trillions of bacteria living inside, both good bacteria and bad bacteria. These bacteria are called our gut-microbiome and lots of research has shown the link between our gut health and our overall health. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy fats increases the good bacteria in our digestive system.

On the other hand, foods that increase the bad bacteria in our gut include highly processed foods, fast foods, refined sugar foods, lots of red meat.

The variety and fiber in the Mediterranean pattern increase the good bacteria in our gut, which helps to boost our overall health.

#5. It’s Easy & Delicious – The best part of this eating pattern is that it is NOT a diet. Let me repeat that, it is NOT a diet. It is a style of eating with lots of flexibility. You will eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, healthy fats, fish, herbs and spices. You CAN eat bread and have dessert, it is all about choosing a variety of whole foods. Plus, its so delicious. Black bean salad with avocado citrus dressing, zucchini pasta, chocolate dipped fruit, all these foods fit!


  1. Hardman RJ, Kennedy G, Macpherson H, Scholey AB, Pipingas A. Adherence to a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Effects
    on Cognition in Adults: A Qualitative Evaluation and Systematic Review of Longitudinal and Prospective Trials. Front Nutr. 2016;3. doi:10.3389/fnut.2016.00022
  2. Nani A, Murtaza B, Sayed Khan A, Khan NA, Hichami A. Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Potential of Polyphenols Contained in Mediterranean Diet in Obesity: Molecular Mechanisms. Molecules. 2021;26(4):985. doi:10.3390/molecules26040985
  3. Woodside J, Young IS, McKinley MC. Culturally adapting the Mediterranean Diet pattern – a way of promoting more ‘sustainable’ dietary change? Br J Nutr. 2022;128(4):693-703. doi:10.1017/S0007114522001945
  4. Merra G, Noce A, Marrone G, et al. Influence of Mediterranean Diet on Human Gut Microbiota. Nutrients. 2020;13(1):7. doi:10.3390/nu13010007
  5. Rosato V, Temple NJ, La Vecchia C, Castellan G, Tavani A, Guercio V. Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Eur J Nutr. 2019;58(1):173-191. doi:10.1007/s00394-017-1582-0
  6. Pollicino F, Veronese N, Dominguez LJ, Barbagallo M. Mediterranean diet and mitochondria: New findings. Experimental Gerontology. 2023;176:112165. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2023.112165
  7. Caso F, Navarini L, Carubbi F, et al. Mediterranean diet and Psoriatic Arthritis activity: a multicenter cross-sectional study. Rheumatol Int. 2020;40(6):951-958. doi:10.1007/s00296-019-04458-7
  8. Ballarini T, Melo Van Lent D, Brunner J, et al. Mediterranean Diet, Alzheimer Disease Biomarkers, and Brain Atrophy in Old Age. Neurology. 2021;96(24):e2920-e2932. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000012067
  9. Martínez-González MA, Gea A, Ruiz-Canela M. The Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health: A Critical Review. Circ Res. 2019;124(5):779-798. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.313348
  10. UEG Week: Plant-based foods and Mediterranean diet associated with healthy gut microbiome, research reveals. Accessed August 23, 2023. https://ueg.eu/a/30

10 Ways to Help Kids Eat More Fruit & Veggies

Photo by Yan Krukau: https://www.pexels.com/photo/boy-in-blue-long-sleeve-shirt-holding-blue-and-white-lunch-box-8617546/

I hear from many parents tales of dinner time battles with their kids about eating their vegetables. This frustrating scene plays over and over each night with parents trying every tactic possible (bargaining, pleading, demanding, “no dessert if you don’t eat your veggies!”).

As parents the concern for children to eat a healthy meal comes from a good place. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that not only help children’s development but have also been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. So, why do some kids refuse? Well, some veggies are bitter, dark leafy greens I’m looking at you, some may not look appealing, others are new to kids who would rather have something they are familiar with.

The good news is if you are concerned about your kids vegetable and fruit intake, you are already on the right track by reading these tips. And, think back to your childhood, what vegetable or fruit did you dislike then that you like now? I’m sure there’s a few!

Here are 10 tips to help kids eat more fruit and vegetables:

  1. Autonomy is everything (to kiddos) – How many times as your child urged you to let them pick out the shirt they are going to wear or demanded they can do it themselves (whatever the “it” might be for the day)? In the spirit of autonomy, the next time you go to the grocery let your child choose one fruit or vegetable they want to try.
  2. Go Raw and Colorful –  Slice a few vegetables and serve them raw for kids to try. Even adults don’t want to eat mushy green beans.
  3. All about the DIP! Who doesn’t love some ranch or hummus to dip fresh veg into? For fruit try chocolate hummus for a new, protein and fiber-packed dip.
  4.  Let their inner Chef Shine – Engaging children in the cooking process has been shown to create a greater acceptance of eating a variety of foods.
  5. Keep them in plain site – As a mom and dietitian, I’m not a big fan of hiding foods. My kids always want to know what is in a dish I make. Plus, being open about what you’ve cooked and why, creates conversation and an opportunity to discuss the benefits of fruits and veggies with your children.
  6. Talk Up the Benefits – When I go into schools to talk about how great whole foods are I explain it so that kids can understand. For example, blueberries help our brains and our memory, Vitamin C in strawberries helps keep our skin healthy and helps to heal our cuts and scrapes, Vitamin D in spinach helps keep our bones strong.
  7. Set the Example – Yes this means you as the adult need to eat your fruits and veggies too! Kids want to be just like their parents.
  8. Smoothie for the Win – Smoothies are a simple and fun way to add fruit and vegetables to a child’s eating pattern. And hey, if you let them pick the ingredients (with a few helpful suggestions) they are likely more willing to try it.
  9. Put Them on Repeat – Exposure is key when trying to get kids and adults to like a particular food. In fact, it often takes 10-15 tries to really determine if you like a food or not.
  10. Take the Pressure Off – Encourage kiddos to try fruits and veggies without pressure and fear of repercussions. Taking the pressure off, (no more bargaining or pleading!) takes stress off the entire family meal.


What Is Food Freedom?

You may have heard the term, food freedom or seen inspirational posts on Instagram with pictures of yummy food. But, what does food freedom mean exactly?

A Mindset

Food freedom means that all rules, diets and restrictions around food are eliminated. Our culture loves to promote fad diets and the misconception that certain foods are good and certain foods are bad. Food freedom removes boundaries around food and allows you to enjoy food without restriction, guilt or diets. This mindset brings freedom to the way we eat as well as our mental space around food. It is “freeing” to forget diets, lose the guilt and embrace whole foods!

Diet Quality not Calories

Diet quality is focusing on whole foods that nourish our bodies. This means a focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lean proteins and healthy fats. By incorporating a wide variety of foods into our diet including complex carbohydrates and a healthy dose of fiber, we increase our fruit and vegetable intake and make our gut microbiome happy.

No Guilt

Food freedom removes the guilt that can be associated with food. Allowing ourselves to enjoy the foods we like while focusing on diet quality over calories. Food freedom takes the stress and guilt away from food and gives you freedom to enjoy foods you like while fueling your body with high quality, whole foods. Making peace with food, is a freeing feeling!

Building Positive Perspectives

By ditching diets and restrictions around food, food freedom also builds positive perspectives around what you eat. This means nourishing ourselves with a quality diet and learning that food and eating can be enjoyable and good for you.

Are Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating the same as Food Freedom?

Intuitive eating and mindful eating are practices that can bring you to food freedom. Intuitive Eating is based on 10 principles that include rejecting diet mentality, making peace with food and challenging the food police. Mindful eating focuses on the eating experience, encouraging experiencing your food with all five senses, no distractions while eating (i.e. television and phones), listening to your bodies ques for hunger and satiety. The principals and goals of intuitive eating and mindful eating can help you get to a place of food freedom. If you are interested in intuitive eating or mindful eating, I encourage you to find a registered dietitian who can guide you on these practices.

Curious what food freedom can do for you?

If food freedom has been on your mind and you are interested in learning more, I would love to help you on your journey. Send me a quick email or book a call with me to learn more.

Dietitian vs. Nutritionist? What’s the difference?

These days, social media seems to be full of numerous so-called nutrition “experts.” Here’s a news flash for you, anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist!” Crazy, right? It is a completely unregulated term. However, registered dietitians ARE nutrition experts who have earned credentialing to obtain the title.

All dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.

If this is confusing to you, you are not alone. Registered dietitians can use RD (registered dietitian) or RDN, (registered dietitian nutritionist) in their title, both options are approved for use by the Commission on Dietetics Registration. Dietitians can provide Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) to help patients manage chronic diseases, while “nutritionists” cannot.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the difference in education and training between dietitians and nutritionists.

Requirements to become a Registered Dietitian:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree or higher in nutrition/dietetics field from an accredited institution
  • Completed an accredited supervised practice program with 1,200 hours combined at a health-care facility, public health and foodservice organization
  • Passed a national examination given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • Obtained licensure based on state requirements
  • Continuing education of 75 credits per 5 year cycle
  • Abide by code of ethics

Requirements to become a Nutritionist:

  • NONE!

If you find yourself seeking nutrition advice, I urge you to do some background research on the person providing the advice. Do they have a degree and are credentialed in dietetics? If not, how do they claim to be an expert?

There is a LOT of misinformation out in the world related to nutrition. This misinformation is on social media, the internet, as well as books! Yes, people with no background in nutrition have published books on nutrition! Do not believe every “nutritionist” who gives advice or tells you to eat what they eat. Dietitians work in a variety of settings and will always have their credentials listed.

Areas of Practice for RDNs:

  • Hospitals and health-care facilities
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Private Practice
  • Community and Public Health
  • Research
  • Universities
  • Food and nutrition related industries

All nutrition recommendations should be INDIVIDUALIZED. We are all unique people with unique needs, and nutrition advice should always be tailored that way. If you want sound advice, seek out a registered dietitian nutritionist who has the education, credentials and knowledge to assist you in your health goals. If you are looking to get started on your health journey through nutrition, I’m here for you! Email me or send me a message here.