By Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute | What makes this “diet” so great is that it’s a lifestyle, not a traditional weight-loss plan that has you counting calories or measuring portions. It’s all about enjoying meals with friends and loved ones, savoring each flavor, indulging in delicious, quality items like flavorful cheeses and desserts, and making time for plenty of physical activity (ah, to be walking on the beaches of Greece right now!) (Image, Pixabay).
It’s the most popular time of the year to go on a diet. But in my book, better health and weight loss begin not with fad diets but with choices that, over time, become habits — supporting lifelong change through tangible, actionable strategies that you can adapt for any scenario. (Hint: You can start by setting boundaries.)
First, here are my basics for a healthy approach to better eating habits:
- Pack on the produce: veggies and fruit
- Prioritize good-for-you fats: plant-based oils and other unsaturated fats
- Eat more seafood: fatty fish plus crustaceans and mollusks
- Choose 100% whole grains: farro, buckwheat, bulgur, wheat, and oats
- Enjoy conscious indulgences: chocolate, sweets, and baked goods in moderation
- Think inclusive vs. exclusive: full-fat and low-fat dairy, prioritizing quality over quantity
- Provide enrichment of multiple varieties: cooking with herbs and spices, enjoying favorite restaurants, and trying new flavors
What makes this “diet” so great is that it’s a lifestyle, not a traditional weight-loss plan that has you counting calories or measuring portions. It’s all about enjoying meals with friends and loved ones, savoring each flavor, indulging in delicious, quality items like flavorful cheeses and desserts, and making time for plenty of physical activity (ah, to be walking on the beaches of Greece right now!).
You’ll fill up on tons of veggies, fruit, 100% whole grains, pulses (like beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils); choose lean protein like seafood, eggs, and some meat; and savor sweets and higher-in-saturated-fat choices (Prosciutto di Parma, anyone?!) in smaller amounts.
While there’s no “restriction” on this plan, the predominant foods in it promote both health and weight loss or management. The idea is to fill up on nutritious items in order to indulge, consciously. This approach naturally limits the amount of ultra-processed foods you’ll eat, which tend to have more sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar. Since the Mediterranean eating style prioritizes enjoyment of your whole dining experience, flavorful ingredients are at the forefront so you’ll never feel deprived.
The Bottom Line
The best diets promote inclusivity over exclusivity and rely heavily on produce. Highly restrictive diets depend on immediate weight loss to motivate you — but some may backfire entirely and others may leave you fully missing out on nutrients and experiences. Think about what works best for you before trying any new approach to eating, and use that as your framework for building healthier eating habits that stick.
For more ideas, tips, tricks, and healthier eating guides that’ll help you stick to your health-focused resolutions, check out our nutrition director’s new book: Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked): 11 Science-Based Ways to Eat More, Stress Less, and Feel Great About Your Body
Jaclyn London is a registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.