Want to know what to eat on the Pioppi diet? The man behind the Plan, Donal O'Neill, shares a week of healthy Mediterranean-inspired eating

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It’s the diet at the heart of one of the longest-lived communities in the world. In the tiny Italian village of Pioppi, villagers live on average ten years longer than anywhere else. Back in the summer, we reviewed the diet book written by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra and former athlete Donal O’Neill, and asked 'Is this the only diet book you'll ever need? '.

It may all be very well eating fresh fish, oodles of seasonal veg and tablespoons of olive oil, when you live in the home of the Mediterranean Diet  (as Pioppi has been designated by UNESCO). But how does eating the Pioppi way translate into modern urban life?

Donal has adapted the plan to his life as a film-maker and fitness coach in urban Cape Town. He desk-based in the mornings and works out with sprinting or HIIT sessions in the afternoon.

He starts every day with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar  ‘because the blood glucose control benefits are well documented,’ followed by a strong coffee with coconut cream – and he’ll have had three of these by lunchtime. Breakfast, or brunch, is mostly egg-based, with a choice between avocados, anchovies, bacon, tomato but always with extra virgin olive oil. The Plan advocates two to four tablespoons a day (for the top ten Pioppi Diet foods, click here ) for its heart health and anti-inflammatory benefits and its ability to buffer post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Earl Grey tea and 95 per cent cacao dark chocolate also feature as do Greek yoghurt and lots of oily fish such as mackerel. He is a fan of Intermittent Fasting  for its health benefits and typically eats all his meals within an eight or nine-hour window during the week, which means that brunch is generally his first meal of the day. Dinner is normally a huge salad with high-quality protein and a few sett potato chips - in olive oil of course. Red wine is on the menu, so long as it’s good quality.

Here he takes us through his week on a plate.


No breakfast: only coffee with coconut cream

Brunch: 2- or 3-egg mushroom omelette. Coffee with coconut cream

Afternoon snack: Tinned oysters; full-fat Greek yoghurt with berries, a handful of nuts and cinnamon

Dinner: Picanha steak 
(a superb Brazilian cut) served with creamed spinach and avocado side salad; 2 squares of dark chocolate (95 per cent cocoa solids), a cup of Earl Grey tea


No breakfast: only coffee with coconut cream

Brunch: Halloumi and fried tomato; vegetable soup made using chicken bone broth; a small portion of oily fish (anchovies, sardines, pilchards); coffee with coconut cream

Dinner: Grilled salmon fillet with vegetables and sauerkraut; 2 squares of dark chocolate (95 per cent cocoa solids), a cup of Earl Grey tea


No breakfast: only coffee with coconut cream

Brunch: Full-fat Greek yoghurt mixed with coconut cream and berries with a handful of nuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of turmeric; coffee with coconut cream

Afternoon snack: Bacon nut-butter sliders – crispy, grilled bacon strips, topped generously with almond butter and a sprinkle of raw cacao

Dinner: Grilled lamb chops with lots of mixed vegetables and side salad; 2 squares of dark chocolate (95 per cent cocoa solids), a cup of Earl Grey tea


Breakfast: 2 or 3 eggs any style, with smoked salmon and avocado; coffee with coconut cream

Brunch: Smoothie with kefir and/or coconut milk, berries, a handful of nuts, some avocado with a tablespoon of coconut oil, a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, turmeric and fresh mint

Dinner: Chicken bone broth to start, with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste, followed by fresh pan-fried hake and vegetables; cacaonut bombs (raw cacao, cinnamon, coconut oil, cream and nuts heated and then blended and frozen into bite-size pieces) a cup of Earl Grey tea


Breakfast: Bacon and 2 or 3 eggs, any style, with avocado (optional); coffee with coconut cream

Brunch: Fish soup (made using chicken broth)

Dinner: Low-carb pizza, cacaonut bombs, a cup of Earl Grey tea


Breakfast: Nut butter omelette; berries and full-fat Greek yoghurt; coffee with coconut cream

Brunch: Greek-style salad

Dinner: Roast chicken with sweet potato and mixed vegetables; cacaonut bombs, a cup of Earl Grey tea


Breakfast: Smoked salmon with 3 scrambled eggs on very high-quality sourdough (the only bread I eat, thanks to the fermentation process and the taste), avocado and crème fraiche; coffee with coconut cream

Brunch: Smoothie, as before

Dinner: Baked trout with mixed vegetables; berries, nuts and cream

The Pioppi Diet by Dr Aseem Malhotra and Donal O’Neill is published by Michael Joseph, £8.99.  Click here to buy.