The Frequencies of the Mediterranean Diet

The Frequencies of the Mediterranean Diet

Or: how to translate the food pyramid into numbers.

What was normal for our grandparents is now almost a chimera. Reclaiming good habits is certainly an advantage for one's psychophysical well-being and health.

How many of us actually follow the Mediterranean diet? What was normal for our grandparents is now almost a chimera. Reclaiming good habits is certainly an advantage for one's psychophysical well-being and health.

Let's see if and how it is possible to implement a "typical week" of the MEDITERRANEAN DIET. Let's focus on the frequencies - daily, weekly, occasional - of each food group.

Let's start with the good habits that should be part of our daily routine:


 Drink enough WATER

-> at least 1 liter and a half; in summer and if you exercise, exceed 2 liters

-> herbal teas, unsweetened infusions can be helpful

 VEGETABLES > 2 or more servings per day at main meals, but also as a snack between meals (fennel, cucumbers, radishes)

-> cooked or raw, the important thing is that they are seasonal

-> you can associate them with first courses or as a side dish

-> if you can't eat them for lunch, double the portion at dinner

 FRUIT > 2-3 servings per day consumed at meals or snacks, as desired

-> better if fresh and especially in season

-> alternatively, drink freshly squeezed juices and smoothies


-> get into the mindset that even minimal physical activity is better than nothing

-> walk whenever you can, avoid the elevator, stay active*

 CEREALS | pasta, rice, bread, barley, spelt, and derivatives | > 2-4 servings per day (*) better if consumed whole (unless contraindicated)

-> example of servings in a day:

  3-4 slices of whole grain toast for breakfast

  1 plate of whole grain pasta or rice with vegetables for lunch

  1 packet of whole grain crackers for a snack

  1 slice of rye bread for dinner

 EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL > 2-5 tablespoons per day (*) 1 tablespoon = 10 ml

-> can be consumed cooked or raw, preferably organic

-> quantify with a tablespoon

 NUTS, SEEDS > 1-2 servings per day (*)

-> as snacks or with meals, in salads or soups


-> to be used to reduce daily salt intake

Let's continue with the foods and food groups that may be less frequently present on our table:


 MILK AND YOGURT > 0-2 servings per day

-> better if low in fat (partially skimmed)

-> in case of lactose intolerance, use substitutes (see plant-based beverages article)

 DAIRY PRODUCTS AND CHEESES > 1-2 servings per week

-> better if fresh, natural, not industrial

 EGGS > 2-4 servings per week

-> eaten boiled or fried in a little oil or as omelets with vegetables

-> avoid consuming them fried

-> better if organic, from controlled supply chains

 LEGUMES | beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, fava beans | > 2-4 servings per week

-> combined with vegetables or cereals

-> consume shelled or pureed in case of abdominal bloating

-> for those following a vegetarian diet, consumption can be increased to 3-6 servings per week

 FISH, SHELLFISH, MOLLUSKS > 2-4 servings per week

-> better if blue, fresh

-> if you cannot consume it fresh, frozen is also fine; avoid breaded packaged products


WHITE > 1-2 servings per week

RED > 0-1 servings per week

CURED MEATS AND PRESERVED MEATS > maximum 0-1 servings per week

And let's conclude with the group of foods/habits that should only be allowed on special occasions.



-> better if homemade with organic, whole grain flours

-> avoid industrial sweets, snacks, foods high in sugars



-> 1 glass of red wine per meal is allowed (in healthy subjects), if desired

-> however, alcohol should be avoided and occasional consumption should not be encouraged at any age

(*) the quantities and servings to be consumed depend on gender, age, physiological or pathological conditions, level of physical activity.

D.ssa Concetta Mauriello

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