“Tori, what’s the best diet to follow?” I receive this question on a regular basis.

If you’ve ever done a Google search, I’m sure you’re aware of the thousands of diets out there. Although there’s not a single eating style that reigns superior, I typically recommend the Mediterranean diet. This plant-centric approach focuses on whole, fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean meats, and seafood. It’s unrestricted yet adjustable so if you’re somebody who feels better on a lower carb diet, it’s easy to make small tweaks while still following the Mediterranean principles. Most importantly, it’s a diet that most people can adopt and sustain long term. Here are my top five tips for the Mediterranean diet beginner:

1. Focus on variety. This isn’t meant to be a restrictive diet; however, when we embark on a new lifestyle, we tend to hyper-focus on all of the things we’re trying to reduce or eliminate instead of focusing on what we can have. Pay ample attention to all of the wonderful food options available, and trust me, there are plenty.

2. Make fruits and vegetables the star of the show. The Mediterranean diet encourages seven to ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but that can be overwhelming for some people. Start by making at least half your plate an unprocessed vegetable dish like a succotash, vegetable medley, or a simple leafy green salad. Sorry, french fries don’t count.

3. Choose lean protein like grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, and eggs and the meat from pasture-raised chicken. Check out Moink’s customizable protein boxes for high quality meat and seafood. (See page 62.)

4. Ultra-processed foods like cookies, crackers, pastries, and the like consist of refined flours and sugars, which is okay on occasion but certainly not something to indulge in on a regular basis. Opt for fruit as a dessert and save the sugary sweets for a special occasion.

5. Support local. Missouri is home to many hardworking farmers and gardeners who offer great quality food at a good price. Frequent the farmers market for fresh fruits and vegetables. Purchase meat from a local farmer or butcher. This helps support the economy and helps reduce waste as you can typically customize the amount you buy.

Although the Mediterranean region is miles away, the diet and lifestyle are easily achievable in Missouri. Keep food simple with simple, whole-food ingredients.

Tori Eaton is a registered dietitian nutritionist who grew up in mid-Missouri. Tori promotes her passion for women’s health and building a support community in a world full of nutrition confusion through her blog and social media. Visit EatonWellness.com.