Food

#StartTODAY with Hoda: 7-day Mediterranean diet to look and feel better than ever

As Hoda embraces the 50+ age category, she’s determined to look and feel better than ever. With that in mind, she's following a Mediterranean diet—an eating plan filled with healthful foods to rev metabolism, strengthen bones, alleviate aches and pains, minimize belly fat, and boost energy and brain power. Research also suggests a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the risk for heart disease, certain cancers and other serious health conditions.

Casey Barber
Hoda's Mediterranean-style diet

It’s important to note that the Mediterranean Sea borders 16 different countries, each with their own traditions and variations on food selection and prep. However, the same basic principles apply: eating is focused primarily on plant-based foods (think veggies, fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds), butter is replaced with olive oil, fish, eggs and poultry are the animal proteins of choice, red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month, meals are flavored with various herbs and spices, wine is enjoyed in moderation, and food is shared with friends and family. The goal for Hoda is to broadly follow these themes while accounting for the hustle and bustle of her busy schedule.

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Hoda Kotb shares her Mediterranean diet journey: Is it right for you?

Play Video - 3:27

Hoda Kotb shares her Mediterranean diet journey: Is it right for you?

Play Video - 3:27

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I’m also helping Hoda kick two bad habits: mindless munching and sugar overload. So here’s to saying “farewell” to excessive nibbling and sweet treats… and “yassou!” (that’s Greek for “hey!”) to a Mediterranean makeover.

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If you relate to Hoda's story, I encourage you to follow along. This plan provides approximately 1,600 calories per day (this includes a glass of wine, a "daily cheat" and unlimited non-starchy vegetables; see below). Feel free to adjust higher or lower depending on your personal weight and health goals.

Hoda's 7-day Plan

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TODAY
One week on Hoda's Mediterranean Diet

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Go Mediterranean with Hoda:

  • Eat on a schedule: Have a meal or snack at least every four to five hours.
  • Mix and match any of the meal and snack options. Repeat favorite meals/snacks as often as you’d like.
  • Plan your menu the night before, so you’re armed with a game plan.
  • Drink water throughout the day and keep a water bottle on hand for continuous sipping.
  • Enjoy up to one glass of wine each day along with a meal.
  • Stick with “legal eats” when watching TV or a movie: light popcorn or veggies only.
  • Enjoy unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, peppers, celery, cucumbers, etc.) at any point in the day.
  • Indulge in one optional “daily cheat.” It could be a small handful of French fries or two bites of anything that looks delicious.

To nix mindless munching, follow these assignments during week one:

  • Put it in a bag versus your belly: Each time you’re about to impulsively pop something into your mouth, put it in a clear plastic baggy instead. At the end of the day, you may be shocked to see what you would have otherwise consumed. It’s an empowering exercise that can help put an end to excessive nibbling.
  • Use a hunger scale before eating. Rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 5, where “1” is famished and “5” is stuffed before eating. If you are at a “1” or “2,” make a thoughtful food decision and enjoy every bite. If you are at a 3 or above, it’s probably best to find a non-food distraction.

Hoda's full plan is above, but you can also mix and match the options below.

Breakfast options

Casey Barber
  • Greek Omelet

Combine 1 egg and 3 egg whites with spinach, dill and optional feta. Add 1 slice of whole grain toast on the side.

In a rush like Hoda? Make these microwave scrambled eggs!

  • Oatmeal with fruit & nuts

Combine 1/2 cup dry oats with 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or skim milk. Top with 1/2 cup chopped fruit, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts and 1 optional teaspoon of honey or maple syrup. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

  • PB-Banana-Cinnamon English Muffin

Toast 1 whole grain English Muffin. Top with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1/2 sliced banana and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

  • Avocado Toast with Eggs

Top 1 slice of whole grain bread with 2 tablespoons mashed avocado, sliced radish and a squirt of lemon juice. On the side, enjoy 1 whole egg plus 3 egg whites — scrambled or hard-boiled with any preferred vegetables or seasonings.

  • Mediterranean Smoothie

Blend 1 handful of baby spinach, 1/2 ripe banana, 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup low-fat milk, 1 tablespoon almond butter (or nut butter of your choice) and 3 to 5 ice cubes.

  • Savory Protein Pancake with Lemon-Dill Yogurt

Mix 1/2 cup dry quick oats, 4 egg whites, 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped scallions, 1 ounce reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Preheat pan coated with olive oil cooking spray over medium heat. Pour in batter and spread evenly throughout the pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side. Top with a dollop of Lemon-Dill Yogurt sauce.

  • Mediterranean Muffin with Eggs or Yogurt

Make Mediterranean-style muffin. Add 1 hard-boiled egg and 3 egg whites or 5 to 8 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt.

Lunch options

Casey Barber
  • Grilled Fish and Veggies

Grill 6 ounces of fish. Add 1 cup vegetables, grilled, roasted or sauteed in olive oil.

  • Mezze Plate with Hummus, Nuts and Fruit

Create a Mezze Plate with 1/4 cup hummus and unlimited crudite or raw veggies, 1 small whole grain roll or 1/2 large pita, 1 cup grapes, and 10 almonds or walnuts (or 1 ounce of cheese).

  • Mediterranean Salad Jar

In a mason jar, layer lemon dressing (2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, some salt and chopped parsley to taste), chopped cucumber, diced tomato, chopped celery, black olives, chopped artichoke hearts, white beans, feta cheese, chopped romaine and cubed or chopped chicken.

  • Lentil Soup and Veggies

2 cups lentil soup with 1 cup of vegetables on the side. Add 1 cup of grapes, or swap for 1 apple, pear, orange, grapefruit, banana or 1 cup of berries.

  • Chicken and Spinach Wrap

Stuff a 100-calorie whole grain tortilla wrap with baby spinach leaves, sliced red onion, chopped tomato, 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast and 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette.

  • Open-Faced Veggie Tuna Salad Sandwich

Make an open faced tuna salad sandwich at home using the recipe found here or buy a comparable version from a deli. On the side, enjoy 1 orange, apple, pear, grapefruit, banana or 1 cup grapes or berries.

  • Quinoa Chickpea Tabbouleh

Make this delicious Mediterranean-style salad using the recipe found here.

Snack options

Casey Barber
  • Dried Apricots and Almonds

8 dried apricots (or 6 dates) with 10 almonds

  • Rosemary-Parmesan Popcorn

Make 4 cups of Rosemary-Parmesan popcorn using the recipe found here.

  • Veggies and 1/4 cup Hummus
  • 1/2 cup Pistachios in the shell
  • Mediterranean Muffin

Make this Mediterranean-style muffin using the recipe found here.

  • Hummus Deviled Eggs

Make 12 deviled eggs (6 eggs whole) using the recipe found here.

  • Apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter

Dinner options

Casey Barber / Casey Barber
  • Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

Make stuffed peppers using the recipe found here. Add a side salad of mixed greens and non-starchy vegetables topped with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil, unlimited balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts.

  • Chicken-Vegetable Kebabs and Cous Cous

Make kabobs using 6 ounces of chicken, peppers, mushrooms and red onions. Add 1/2 cup cooked whole grain cous cous. Serve with a side of chopped salad with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil, unlimited balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.

  • Pesto Salmon with Artichokes and Potato

Make Pesto Salmon using the recipe found here. Add 1/2 baked potato.

  • Shrimp Broccoli Scampi

Make this light pasta dish using the recipe found here.

  • Grilled Fish with Veggies and Soup Appetizer

Have 1 cup of minestrone soup as an appetizer (or substitute for shrimp cocktail, grilled calamari, mussels marinara, steamed clams or house salad with 1 tablespoon of dressing). Grill 6 ounces of fish (roasted, broiled or poached fish are options as well). Add 1 cup vegetables grilled, roasted or sauteed in olive oil.

  • Greek Turkey Burger with Salad

Make this Mediterranean-inspired turkey burger using the recipe found here. Add a side salad dressed with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil and unlimited vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice.

  • Spanish Paella

Make this traditional Spanish dish using cauliflower rice with the recipe found here. Enjoy 2 hearty servings with 1/2 pink grapefruit on the side.

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