1,200-Calorie Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is a suggested way of eating to promote better health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases 1. "U.S. News & World Report" listed it as one of the top plant-based diets because it’s safe and nutritionally sound. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and herbs and spices; fish and seafood several times a week; poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation; and sweets and red meat only on special occasions.

Going Mediterranean

On a 1,200-calorie diet, a healthy breakfast helps control calorie intake throughout the day.

Lunchtime Choices

To get the most food for the fewest calories, fill up on low-calorie vegetables at lunch and dinner. Lunchtime choices can include a tossed salad for about 50 calories with one-half cup of beans for 95 calories and 1/2 ounce of nuts for about 90 calories. Use a 120-calorie tablespoon of olive oil mixed with some vinegar or lemon juice and fresh herbs, and you’ll be right around 350 calories. Another low-calorie option might be a cup of vegetable soup for about 100 calories, with six whole-grain crackers and 3 tablespoons of hummus for another 200 calories.

Fish Dinner

Grilled or baked fish makes for a healthy Mediterranean dinner. To keep it under 400 calories, limit the portion size of your protein to about 3 ounces and use a teaspoon of olive oil to grill. Include a large, half-plate serving of vegetables, and about 1/2 cup of whole grain like brown rice. Alternatively, you can skip the fish and go vegetarian for fewer calories. Make a grilled vegetable salad tossed with the cooked rice for about 150 calories, and drizzle it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil plus lemon juice and herbs, and you'll be closer to 300 calories. If you want to enjoy a glass of red wine, be aware that a 5-ounce glass contains about 125 calories.

Smart Snacks

It’s a good idea to include a healthy snack, especially if you’re counting calories. Snacks help to hold you until the next meal and prevent overeating. Sweet snacks should be eaten infrequently on a Mediterranean diet. Healthier snack options for about 200 calories include an 8-ounce cup of plain Greek yogurt plus 1/2 cup of blueberries and a drizzle of honey, a 1-ounce handful of nuts plus a plate of raw vegetables or 2 tablespoons of hummus with five whole-grain crackers and a cup of cut-up vegetables.