To really change the way you eat, you should understand what healt hy eating entails. So let‘s make a few clarifications here. The Mediterranean diet is more than just a simple restrictive course meal you follow for a period of time. It‘s not a quick measure, but a lasting one.
How do we know?
Because while we refer to it as revolutionary, it‘s not something new to the world. It‘s been around for decades within the area it‘s named after, The Mediterranean. So you‘re not adopting a low result diet to which you‘re a guinea pig. But a lifestyle which many before you and many currently living in the world with you are taking advantage of as of this moment.
The Mediterranean Diet is, however, revolutionary for the western world. We‘ve grown accustomed to the kinds of foods sold to us through corporations which eye our pockets more than our waists. With the Mediterranean diet, you‘ll be able to break out of the bad cycle you‘ve created and take on life with all the zeal and energy you‘re meant to have.
That said, changing your lifestyle is a commitment. It‘s understandable if you have questions regarding whether this diet is for you. In reality, only you can answer that by exploring what this diet has to offer you. This book will provide you with all of that information. The very first concern individuals adopting an older lifestyle have: Will this diet suit me? For that, we need to take a trip down memory lane and find our way back to present times.
History of the Mediterranean Diet
As we‘ve previously mentioned, this diet is named after its area of origin. While this entire region includes Spain, Morocco, Monaco, Turkey, Libya and the like; the Mediterranean diet finds its roots in Spain, Greece and Southern Italy in particular. These nations, their culture, history, and food had the biggest influence in developing this healthy, enriching diet.
During the Prehistoric Age, these countries survived through hunting and farming animals. This form of sustenance isn‘t the most efficient, and the entire region shifted to agricultural farming during the Bronze Age. While animals were still consumed, the poor economies of this region meant locals had to survive on fruits they labored themselves. Within agriculture‘s ease, farming became a primary source of food for this region throughout history and even today.
In fact, cities were built keeping in mind this agricultural need, and you‘ll see this reflected in their architecture as well. A thousand years ago, locals had piled strong lava stones to construct walls which curved their islands. With the intent to protect their soil from erosion and help it maintain all the nourishment it had, terraced hills were created along slopes. Given how these systems still exist today, you can see the dedication put into their lifestyle.
But none of this arose in isolation. Countries and cities within the Mediterranean zone have diverse food palettes in the reflection of their diverse history. This cuisine, in particular, takes inspiration from every ethnic culture from Arabian to Italian; and builds into its own entity. These regions were a crossroads for many civilizations and cultures, all of which have an influence on their culture today and all the dishes these areas produced.
You‘d have settlers from North Africa springing these areas to life as early as 3000 BC. A range of civilizations and religious cultures fluttering through and leaving all their uniqueness as they stayed or left. For example, Southern Italy did not grow grapes and citrus trees. With their land and agricultural innovations, it wasn‘t possible to naturally grow these plants. That changed when Muslim farmers came to the land around 860 AD and developed techniques which allowed their growth and nourishment.
These areas have changed hands so many times, getting anything less than a variety of tastes would leave anyone in awe. So you have a lifestyle diet constructed through careful and natural agricultural techniques which acted as sustenance to many different cultures. But that‘s not why it‘s sustainable for us in the modern day as well. Let‘s explore a bit more.
Geography and the Mediterranean Diet
We‘re often told we‘ve developed certain food habits through evolution and changing it could be pretty harmful. That is, adopting certain diets from other countries can be damaging. But if the Mediterranean‘s history doesn‘t prove otherwise, just gloss over the region‘s geography. Most Mediterranean areas where this diet originates from weren‘t high on arable land and were prone to extreme climates—often with erratic rainfall. Couple that with winds and you have an environment which does not support agriculture naturally.
This diet was, in fact, a result of a man-made change. As we‘ve previously stated, Muslim farmers brought with them a fair share of innovation which helped this region diverse their land. But perhaps the biggest indicator itself is found in their current topography.
In other to adapt their land for certain agricultural uses, the people of these regions carved their land to support the growth of such crops. Their hills were transformed into terraces which provide a unique ecosystem to this region. Tourists marvel at their hills, yet few know how these were once man-made constructions. Many cities used lava stones to form walls around their islands to
facilitate soil protection from erosion.
Not to mention, keep the area as moisture and nutrition filled as possible. That is how they were able to grow grapevines and caper plants. So there were a lot of things unnatural to the land which helped the people there flourish naturally. The region‘s climate, however, is reflective of more Western nations today. We‘re good on this front as well.
Lifestyle of Mediterranean People
To cover all our tracks, we‘ll glean over general lifestyle aspects mostly found in this region. As mentioned, the region is filled with diversity and various cultures, but they do typically have a few lifestyle characteristics in common. For one, the people have a tradition of working hard and are thus able to continue their efforts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
A very common feature of the Mediterranean lifestyle is their family togetherness. Meals are often eaten with others which have hidden health benefits. For one, you can eat as much or as little as you like. Most American meals have separate portions for all. Meaning: You finish what you‘ve taken out or else it‘s going to look bad. With a more family -sized serving, you‘re not restricting or over-compensating for what‘s on your plate and focusing on just as much as you‘d like to eat.
Disease and obesity are also considered to be low in this region. According to OECD, only 1 in 10 people is considered obese within Italy. That number is strikingly low when compared to more western nations. Somewhat a reflection of their light, but nutrition filled meals, and less stressful lives are some of the explanations.
The facts are simple. It does not matter which angle you look at it from; a Mediterranean diet is perfectly adaptable for most individuals. It has been around for quite some time. And thus, tried and tested for centuries. You‘re not risking your health, just improving it.
In fact, you don‘t even need to hunt out special groceries which are essential to your core diet. Given its diverse nature, the Mediterranean diet requires nothing special which ranks up its cost and is pretty affordable—especially given its long-term health benefits. If all your concerns are tackled, the next chapter contains all the information you need to understand what this diet entails.
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