Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Food For Thought: The Mediterranean Diet (May 2011)

I just finished reading an excellent article by Georgianna Donadio entitled “The Mediterranean Diet: It’s Not Just About Food”.  It’s an easy read that provides a little food for thought.  I highly recommend it.

Spoiler alert!  The gist of the blog is that it’s not just the individual components in the diet – fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fish – but the lifestyle that accompanies it.  Everything from daily physical activity to relaxation is mentioned.  I think that this is the part that gets lost while searching for the ultimate diet.

It’s not enough to refrain from eating bad foods.  It’s not simply disciplining yourself to choose healthier alternatives while you deny yourself the tastier fare you once loved.  It’s not just trying to figure out how to squeeze thirty minutes or an hour of exercise into your busy day.  It’s not about mimicking the successful habits of others.  It’s about changing your lifestyle.

When people ask me how I’ve managed to lose and keep off 35 pounds since my heart attack nearly two years ago, I get the feeling they’re looking for a couple of quick tricks that will suddenly make it simpler for them to achieve their health objectives.  Since most of them stop listening as soon as I say “the first thing I did was give up soda”, I realize that they’re probably not ready to make any significant lifestyle changes.  I can relate to that.

We may not be living the lives of our dreams, but we all seem to be pretty comfortable within our own routines.  Indulging in tasty food is a reward.  Swinging through the drive-thru or microwaving a prepared meal is both inexpensive and an efficient use of time.  An extra hour of work can translate into more money next week or down the road.  We live the American lifestyle and we eat the Western Diet.  Hard to see how a little olive oil and hummus can make much of a difference.

It took nearly dying for me to completely reevaluate my lifestyle.  I focused on what I had done wrong, diet-wise, and vowed to never eat that way again.  In the process of learning about food, I learned to prepare food.  I also learned to share the food that I had prepared.  Most nights when I’m not on the road, we sit down and eat together as a family.  Almost unknowingly, I’ve adopted the core principles of the Mediterranean Diet.

Now, if I could just get the rest of my family to enjoy olives and hummus the way I do…

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