World’s Best Diet meal plan


Dietitian Susie Burrell reveals why the Mediterranean diet is voted the healthiest diet – again, and includes an easy week-long meal plan. 

The start of a new year means that it is also diet season, the time of year when new diets and weight loss regimes are heavily promoted, wooing us with their claims and case studies as we seek out our ever elusive perfect weight.

For the more cynical among us, the good news is that despite heavy marketing and cult diet movements, none other than the Mediterranean Diet has come out on top for the third year running as the World’s Best Diet.

So what is it about this seemingly simple diet that makes it so good for us and how can you put it into action in 2020 to reap the numerous health benefits it offers?

Why this diet gets the trophy

To be rated as the world’s best eating regime, the US News and World Report takes into account how easy a particular diet is to follow, its ability to produce short and long term weight loss as well as the nutritional quality of the diet. Also considered is the evidence available to show that the diet is associated with reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

In all of these areas, the Mediterranean Diet scores top marks – not only is the diet focused on fresh, natural, unprocessed food, but it has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and stroke by as much as 30 per cent – there are few, if any diets with this strong an evidence base. Perhaps most importantly is how easy it is to follow – based on seafood, olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, the diet is easy to incorporate into daily life and sustain long term.

As the Mediterranean Diet is not always prescriptive, it can be a little confusing to determine exactly what the ‘diet’ is. Generally speaking, a traditional Mediterranean regime contains at least seven to 10 serves of fresh fruits and veggies daily (that’s a lot), three to four serves of good fats from avocado and olive oil, just one to two serves of lean protein, usually white meat or seafood as well as regular inclusions of nuts, seeds and legumes. Dairy is not a core staple, rather an inclusion once or twice a day via plain yoghurt or cheese, and portions are small. Put most simply, when you eat this much fresh, plant based food on a daily basis, there is little room for other high calorie foods.

All about the fibre and antioxidants

A diet with this much fresh food and one which contains little to no processed food or snacks is lower in calories overall, especially rich in antioxidants and also exceptionally high in fibre. Likely it is these specific aspects of a Mediterranean style of eating that explain the superior health benefits than that of other diets, helping to reduce inflammatory pathways in the body and reducing the risk of developing some types of cancer. While the high fibre load helps to reduce overall calorie intake and support weight control.

In practice, eating true Mediterranean does not mean simple lacing your meals in olive oil. Rather it is about seriously upping your intake of veggies, fruit and legumes every single day; adding controlled portions of good fats to each meal and eliminating most processed foods – I am talking all biscuits, snack foods, flavoured drinks and sweet treats. Treats on Mediterranean translate into a small glass or two of red wine, along with a square or two of dark chocolate – forget the family block after a day of healthy eating.

So if you know your diet could do with an overhaul in 2020, and you are looking for a sustainable evidence based approach that will support your overall health with the added potential benefit of dropping a little weight over time, here is a sample Mediterranean Meal Plan. All you need is some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a truckload of fresh fruits and vegetables to get you started.

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Day 1

Breakfast: Slice Rye or Sourdough with ½ avocado, 1 tomato, sliced.

Snack: Piece of fruit.

Lunch: Tuna, Borlotti Bean Salad with feta, olive oil dressing.

Snack: Handful of mixed nuts.

Dinner: Grilled salmon, roasted tomato, capsicum, eggplant. Side of salad with olive oil, balsamic dressing.

Day 2

Breakfast: 1 cup fresh, chopped fruit, ½ cup natural yoghurt, 1 tbsp. seeds.

Snack: Piece of fruit.

Lunch: Smoked salmon, 1/2 avocado on wholegrain crispbread, piece of fruit.

Snack: Packet of roasted chickpeas.

Dinner: Eggplant Parmigiana.

Day 3

Breakfast: Poached egg, ¼ avocado, roasted mushrooms.

Snack: White cheese (feta, goats’s) (20g), wholegrain crispbread.

Lunch: Bowl of Minestrone Soup, slice of Sourdough.

Snack: Punnet of berries, 20 almonds.

Dinner: 1 cup cooked pasta, tomato chili sauce, sprinkle of Parmesan, green leafy salad.

Day 4

Breakfast: Slice of wholemeal toast, sliced tomato.

Snack: Tub of Greek yoghurt.

Lunch: Roasted vegetables salad, olive oil dressing, 30g feta.

Snack: 2 tbsp. hummus, chopped vegetables.

Dinner: 120g grilled chicken breast, 2 cups vegetables roasted in olive oil.

Day 5

Breakfast: ½ cup plain yoghurt, ½ cup muesli.

Snack: Piece of fruit.

Lunch: Small avocado stuffed with mashed tuna, 1 tomato, sliced, 1 red capsicum.

Snack: Handful of mixed nuts and seeds.

Dinner: 100g lean fillet steak. Sautéed spinach, mushrooms, capsicum cooked in olive oil.

Day 6

Breakfast: 2 egg vegetable omelette.

Snack: Pack of roasted broad beans.

Lunch: Red salmon and cottage cheese sandwich, chopped salad.

Snack: Piece of fruit.

Dinner: Chickpea patties, side salad with olive oil dressing.

Day 7

Breakfast: Smoked salmon, ½ avocado on Sourdough toast.

Snack: Greek yoghurt.

Lunch: Lentil salad.

Snack: White cheese (goats, feta) (20g) on wholegrain crispbread.

Dinner: Grilled fish, roasted mixed vegetables cooked in olive oil.



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