The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

4th Annual National Mediterranean Diet Month

4th Annual National Mediterranean Diet Month

Health and Wellness

April 29, 2012

Now in its fourth year, National Mediterranean Diet Month is an initiative created by the food and nutrition non-profit Oldways and its Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA). Celebrated annually in May, this initiative has proved to be the ideal time to shine a light on the remarkable benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle, which have been validated by The New Dietary Guidelines for Americans as one of the most thoroughly researched models for healthy living. Scientifically backed studies continue to emerge that establish affordable, easy, accessible, and delicious Mediterranean meals as the go-to nutrition solution for all ages. 

“May is the official time to celebrate the Med Diet, although we prepare for Med Month throughout the year, reaching out to dietitians in private practices and in supermarkets, to employee health and wellness advisors, to physicians and other health professionals, to directors of programs for the elderly, to community organizers, and to nutritionists who work with children,” said Sara-Baer Sinnott, president of Oldways. “The Mediterranean diet is a great fit for everyone, anywhere.” 

Supermarkets across the country are discovering the benefits of promoting National Mediterranean Diet Month. In 2011, Giant Eagle, a privately owned regional supermarket with stores across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia focused on “Shopping for the Mediterranean Diet” and offered store tours, wellness workshops, and product sampling in select markets. 

Giant Eagle Corporate Dietitian Caroline Whitby, MS, RD, LDN, coordinated the program, which included an olive oil tasting bar with whole grain bread and Greek yogurt. “In order for a customer to make a behavior change, the barriers must be addressed,” she said. “A collaboration between manufacturers and retailers is key to reducing those barriers and improving health outcomes for our shoppers.” 

Last year, several dozen of the Midwest’s Hy-Vee stores also offered promotions in celebration of Mediterranean Diet Month, using resources and sampling opportunities provided by Oldways and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance.    

“Making lives easier, healthier and happier is a top priority for Hy-Vee,” said Allison Yoder, MA, RD, LD, Health & Wellness Supervisor. “Celebrating National Mediterranean Diet Month provides retail dietitians with an opportunity to highlight the benefits of healthy eating and create excitement around bringing families together at the dinner table.” 

And for Bashas’ stores in Arizona, corporate dietitian Barbara Ruhs, MS, RD, LDN, has used National Mediterranean Diet Month as a theme for the past few years. “People are looking for quick and easy ideas, which is a perfect fit for the Mediterranean Diet,” said Ruhs. “This year I’m building my May promotions around products such as hummus, feta cheese, Greek yogurt, and canned beans. In addition, I’m including innovation in coffee as part of the Mediterranean Diet, along with soy milk, which will appeal to people who are looking for lactose-free and dairy-free products.”  

New for 2012 is a recently redesigned Oldways’ “Health Through Heritage” website that makes it easier for visitors to access resources that reinforce the health benefits and key messages surrounding the Mediterranean Diet. A new Mediterranean Diet Month Toolkit showcasing ideas and messages for blogs, circulars, websites, and handouts. It also features a Mediterranean Diet shopping list, a downloadable four-color brochure, tips, quizzes, and graphics including the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid and a new Med Month banner. 

To showcase the delicious foods and amazing health benefits associated with this vibrant lifestyle Oldways created a “Dietitian-A-Day-for-the-Month-of-May”, where each day of May Oldways will welcome a different registered dietitian as a guest contributor to the Oldways Table blog.  

Thirty-one well-known health professionals will provide personal stories and tips about the Mediterranean Diet and share a favorite Mediterranean recipe such as Salmon Berry Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette, Espinacas con Garbanzos (Spinach with Chickpeas), Mediterranean Pizza and Olive Oil Cake.

Oldways in partnership with Food and Culinary Professionals (FCP) Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will also host an educational webinar for dietitians on May 18. “Spices: The Essence of Healthy, Traditional Diets” will address the health benefits of spices and look at the role they play in traditional diets. Speakers include Oldways President, Sara Baer-Sinnott, Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD and acclaimed chef and author, Ana Sortun. Registration details can be found by visiting the Food and Culinary Professionals website.

In addition to its other national initiatives such as Whole Grains Month (September) and African Heritage and Health Week (February), Oldways works on ideas for National Mediterranean Diet Month and promotes the Mediterranean Diet all year long.

For more information on National Mediterranean Diet Month or other Oldways’ initiatives, please visit