The Mediterranean diet pyramid, as you can see in the picture above, puts emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, herbs, spices, and healthy fats, especially extra virgin olive oil. These foods should be consumed every day.

A traditional Mediterranean diet also includes fish and seafood a couple of times a week, along with moderate amounts of dairy, eggs, and poultry such as chicken or turkey.

Red meat and sweets are consumed less often.

The Mediterranean diet is all about whole, unprocessed foods. Fruits and vegetables are eaten in season when they are at their freshest. Shop local if you can. Meals are enjoyed slowly and often shared with family and friends.

Moderate amounts of daily exercise are also beneficial to the Mediterranean diet. This could be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood. The Italians take what they call la passeggiata, the daily stroll. It aids in digestion, burns a few calories, keeps the body limber, and gives you a chance to catch up with your neighbors.

All of this adds up to the healthiest lifestyle on the planet.

If you’re just beginning this journey into the Mediterranean lifestyle, start by adding an extra vegetable at dinner. Try a little fruit for dessert instead of cake or ice-cream. Replace butter with olive oil. These three things will give you a great start to a healthier diet.

Your next steps could be to replace red meat with fish for dinner once a week. Once you get used to that, push it to twice a week. And maybe once a week you could try eating vegetarian.

Start slowly and add these little changes over time. Little changes become healthy habits.

Before you know it, you’ll be telling all of your friends about your healthy new lifestyle and the Mediterranean diet pyramid . Invite them to dinner. That’s what the Mediterranean lifestyle is all about.