A recent exchange on the social media with a few nutrition experts has prompted this post, as I realized that the Mediterranean Diet it is still misunderstood in its principles, also due to recent diets that claim to be inspired by it.
First of all, yes the Mediterranean diet is not a low carbs diet, but carbs are included in moderation and balance with many other nutrients. If we have more of a starchy based meal, than the other meal of the day might be more protein based, including fish, legumes, eggs or meat usually accompanied by a generous portion of vegetables, either fresh in a salad, or cooked.
Vegetables are not only a “side” dish, like a dull and dutiful accompaniement to every meal, but they come to life, and become the principal ingredient in a variety of dishes. In the Mediterranean cuisine, you won’t even realize that you are having your “one or two per day” but you will simply savour the taste of an enticing dish.
Salads are often enjoyed as a main dish especially during the hot season, and they are made up of fresh, raw vegetables, that are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Extra-virgin olive oil, with its vitamin E, perfect Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio, and the anti-inflammatory polyphenols is the thread that unites all the different Mediterranean cuisines.
The Mediterranean way of eating is based on variety of seasonable food, and on the colors of the rainbow. We exercise moderation and balance, but one of the most precious element of the Mediterranean diet is that is a part of a lifestyle where the quality food is only a component, albeit an importa one.
For us food is what brings people togheter, is a magnet for social interaction and connection. Meals, rather than a disorderly process, are what regulate family life.
But there is more to that. It is the lifestyle around it. It is the eating hygiene and the mindfulness. We sit down for a meal, that is a godsend for the para-sympathetic system also repose-and-digest. We take a break, and we are present in the moment, immersing ourselves in the flavours of the food. Mealtimes especially dinner, are a moment when we connect as families, and when discussions are made.
Mealtimes are abit of a ritual, where you take a real break form your busy day, relax and enjoy.
And it does not end there. Walking and everyday movement are encouraged as seen as a normal way of life,despite the age. Often a leisure walk is taken after a particulary rich family meal, as a way to ‘digest the food”.
I believe is this wholistic and humanist side of the Mediterranean diet, that is the most difficult to define and converse into a “diet book”, but it might as well be the most effective and health inducing of all.