The western European diet is extremely one-sided and unhealthy: a sandwich meal twice a day, with all kinds of things are thrown upon that bread like butter, meat products, cheese, eggs and sweets. And then one hot meal consisting of potatoes, another vegetable and meat soaked in a chemical, greasy gravy out of a carton. Chemical custard for dessert and glasses full of milk with those sandwiches. In between, many cups of weak coffee, weak tea, (butter) biscuits and water. Fruit once a day at most and a few glasses of alcohol in the evening before going to bed. Children get chemical syrup with water or cheap ‘fruit juice’ with loads of again chemicals and sugar. This is the English translation of my Dutch article about the Mediterranean diet.
Do you find it strange that almost everyone in Europe suffers from cardiovascular diseases and otherwise from diabetes, digestive complaints or obesity with such a diet? Throw in a lot of work stress and watch the population get sicker and sicker. People who eat more modern stuff, drink water and green tea and eat everything low-fat: dairy, meat, gravies and sauces … They exercise till Doomsday just to resemble those psychologically unstable (drug addict) American anorexic models and completely exhaust their bodies with coconut oil, muesli with hemp seed and more unnutritious whims.
Of course fashion is cool and you want to be up to date. Logical! But not everything modern is good for you. Drinking bins full of water from plastic bottles and not worrying about the trash that leaves behind is not cool, just to name one example. People don’t trust the water from the tap, but they pay in gold for the water from a ‘well’ on the exact opposite of the street from where the government water comes from. Not logical either! They take the polluting packaging for granted. Then they think it’s bad that so many aquatic animals are choking on our plastic! So preferably don’t drink so much mineral water and don’t buy so much triple-packaged stuff online: problem solved. I have already written about the question why drinking too much water is not healthy. Keyword: sodium.
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Time for the Mediterranean diet
This officially means the traditional diet of the Greek island of Crete, but a lot of Mediterranean food is very healthy. Nowadays many people in the south of Europe eat a lot less healthy. They have been persuaded by western “nutrition scientists” that humans should drink gallons of water and eat superfoods, because their own traditional diet would so-called make them gain weight. They now have to work according to European standards, which is from 8 to 5 instead of 7 to 2 and a few times a week additionally from 5 to 8 in the evening. No more relaxing siesta, no more free time at the hottest hours of the day and a lot of extra stress, because in most south European countries there is no lunch break at work. People go around the corner for a grilled sandwich during working hours and starve themselves, just like the people in the west. Lunch will be moved to 6pm and dinner to 11pm. So we have to go to the Greek countryside countryside to find the old-fashioned healthy eating habits.
The Mediterranean not being known for its fantastic breakfast, I will give a few examples. Traditional breakfast is a cup of strong Byzantine coffee with a small glass of water. In France and Italy people often take espresso with biscuits for breakfast, so I won’t take that as an example. The breakfast of the Greek gods bougátsa is another option. Another Mediterranean breakfast is first strong coffee and then a bowl of firm yogurt (Greek, Bulgarian…) with honey. Kurds even eat very extensive bread with saladon top of that. You should bear in mind that after that breakfast, these people do physical work on the land all day long. In many Mediterranean countries you have those nice little places where you can get your morning coffee, possibly supplemented with a sweet or savory puff pastry ‘bun’. We have therefore adjusted the breakfast a bit.
What you choose for breakfast depends on what you can eat in the early morning. Bread with jam, Nutella or cheese is great if you can tolerate it. Muesli or cornflakes with full fat milk or full fat yogurt is also cool. So is bougatsa, because there is not much butter and sugar in it and as you saw just above in the link, you can make it at home and keep it for several days in the fridge. Fruit is not very good for the stomach early in the morning and the modern green smoothies with fruit and vegetables are even a disaster. You can take a strong coffee and eat later in the morning.
Okay, why do I keep hammering on that strong coffee and tea? Well… when I first came to my homeland Greece, I noticed that people there didn’t drink two cups of coffee like in the Netherlands where I had to grow up, but one. Of course I asked for the reason and surprise was my share: why take two cups of coffee? One is enough, right? My reaction that you can’t walk on one leg either, resulted in thunderous bursts of laughter, but certainly no understanding. I also think that the Dutch would not take two cups of espresso or Byzantine coffee, because that coffee is simply too strong. You already have all your caffeine in one cup and then you take a few sips of water. The same goes for tea, although Greeks don’t drink it. “Tea is for old people”, is your answer when you ask why. Strong coffee wipes your stomach and intestines clean, so that you are not left with leftovers in the dark corners of your bowels, which cause all kinds of nasty diseases. Weak coffee can’t do that, so you drink it for no reason. Strong black tea keeps you alert and critical, which is why people in the southern countries take to the streets much faster to protest against politics than people in the north. They are also much more lively which is largely due to their diet and because they like good food. Something else that keeps them young, alert and modern is the daily newspaper that they pick up at the newsstand around the corner in the morning and which they discuss while drinking their coffee.
At noon, Mediterranean people eat warm food.
Nowadays they often cook it the night before, so that they don’t lose time after a long working day. In the evening they eat warm food again, but most northerners do not know this is much simpler food. They also make salads, which they put in the fridge and eat several days. At dinner there is bread and salad. Western Europeans mostly think that makes you really fat, but that is not correct: precisely because you take bread with your meal, you eat much less of the food itself and you do not become fat. Salads ensure a good bowel movement and the coffee after dinner also contributes to this. The wheat in the bread protests against disease by stimulating the white blood cells. I can also add that garlic and onions are part of the diet every day.
Mediterranean people eat fruit after dinner. Sometimes sweets as well, but that’s definitely not every day and when they do, it’s heavy stuff with nuts and honey syrup. You can’t eat much of it, even if you want to! That’s why you don’t get fat easily: it’s intensive stuff just like coffee and tea. Many nuts have a healing effect and they are always healthy. The dough consists of wheat – also a medicinal plant – and olive oil. Olive oil helps with all diseases and is the primal power of man! Your stomach can process it just fine and so you never get intestinal leftovers or ulcers. It also doesn’t make you fat. In addition to sugar, olive oil and butter, many southern sweets also contain lemon juice or grated lemon zest. Lemon keeps your blood pressure low, because it prevents your arteries from clogging (thrombosis). That is why this kind of sweet are indeed healthy! Just look at a cake: it contains a whole pack of butter (200 grams) and no lemon or olive oil to compensate for the fat. Do you see the difference?
Tomatoes and legumes
There is more: a lot of tomatoes and many types of legumes are used in Mediterranean cuisine. Vegetarian one-pan dishes are stews which we do not consider ‘soup’ by the way: they are stews. There are lentils, which are full of iron, all kinds of beans and other legumes that are full of vitamin B complex and sulfur, so that they also empty your intestines. Gas yes! But if you eat healthy, you won’t be bothered by that, that’s the joke. White beans, white giant beans, white beans with a black eye on them, chickpeas, green and red lentils, green beans, garden peas and kidney beans are the main legumes. They contain tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and of course olive oil and water. Add salt and pepper and you have a delicious plate of food that does not make you fat, while it’s still full of health.
One last thing: fish! I don’t know much about fish because my stepmother didn’t like it and I didn’t grow up with it. Later I became a vegetarian and did not eat it for years. However, in all Mediterranean countries a lot of fish is eaten and that is good! Fish contains a lot of vitamin D, together with the Ω-food acids (omega) 3, 6 and 9. Yes, all the omegas are in it, because they belong together! They take care of the cartilage everywhere in your body and that is of course very healthy. It is mainly found in oily fish, such as herring, mackerel, salmon and eel. Cod is not that fat, but it does contain all the vitamin D. Fish is also a lot easier for your stomach and intestines to digest than meat, so I recommend eating it at least once a week. For vegetarians: vitamin D along with all omega fatty acids is also abundant in olive oil, but is of course much less healthy than fish itself.
So the secret of Mediterranean cuisine is that you take strong coffee, tea and food. You don’t take excessive amounts of it, which you achieve by eating salads and bread with meals. Another secret is that the basic ingredient olive oil is an easily digestible fat and that a lot of lemon (and lime) is used, which protects against cardiovascular diseases and makes you heal fast from any disease. Garlic properly disinfects your stomach and intestines after eating meat, onions protect against flu and a runny nose and a load of herbs such as chamomile tea and a few bay leaves (laurel) in your daily diet are good for a fast metabolism. Pepper also helps to empty your stomach and intestines and sea salt helps against depression and obesity. Finally, Mediterranean people eat a lot of fruit, which gives them strength and a long youth and nuts for sexual strength. Mediterranean cuisine has even more beauties, so I’ll end here with a ‘to be continued’.
Part II of this two-part series can be found here.
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