Contradictions of The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Contradictions of The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

by | Aug 17, 2014 | Emotional Health, Family Health, Lifestyle, Sleep, Stress | 0 comments

Smoking, drinking, late nights, no breakfast and tons of bread! We were shocked by some of the Greek diet and lifestyle habits which strongly contradict their traditional healthy Mediterranean diet. Are we wrong in what we think are healthy choices? Or are we forgetting the most important key to good health?

Smoking, coffee & other favourite Greek pastimes

As I explain in What We Can Learn From The Mediterranean Diet, the Greeks have a beautiful real food traditional diet. However, when it comes to toxins and poor health habits, the Greeks have their fair share.

Smoking up a storm

We have never, ever, been in a country where people smoke so much (and we’ve traveled a lot!). The Greeks love their cigarettes and smoke anywhere and everywhere, with little consideration for other people or any health risks. A couple Greeks we met said they quit smoking years ago and now they suck candies instead, but no one ever talked about smoking as a problem, or talked about trying to or wanting to quit. Yet they are known for their longevity. Hmmm…

Raki, Ouzo and Wine…for good health

Drinking is also never frowned upon. On the contrary, alcohol is thought of as healthful. When you toast, or cheers, you say “yamas”, which translates as “to your health”. Greeks are very proud of their strong local spirits raki and ouzo, which are served at the end of every meal and called a ‘digestive’. And with all those grapevines growing madly, they have beautiful wines, which taste great with all their food. A book we found even shows the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as including alcohol.

However, maybe this mindset about alcohol is what keeps it healthy, because it’s only ever consumed in great moderation. There is no social rebellion in drinking alcohol, so binge drinking and alcoholism is highly uncommon. Men sit in cafes sipping the same tiny shot of raki for hours, wine is served by the ½ liter for a few people to share over a meal, and beer is rarely drunk at all. And the rebellious youth? They drink coffee…

Raki alcohol is a post-meal 'digestive' in Greece

Raki alcohol and dessert is served free as a post-meal ‘digestive’ in Greece

Caffeine all night long

Coffee is clearly the favourite national drink, and the social drink of choice for everyone from young Greeks in trendy city bars to old men in the village square. Frappes are the favourite – a combination of Nescafe and plenty of sugar whipped or blended until frothy. Though the old men may sit and sip the same coffee all afternoon, the younger generations seem to drink a huge amount, and well into the late hours of the night, since they go to bed so late.



Late dinner, no breakfast

In The Mediterranean, our primal pattern of sleeping and waking in rhythm with the sun is completely disregarded. Instead the Mediterranean sleeping and eating schedule goes like this:

7-10 am – Wake up and eat nothing except maybe a sesame bread ring
2-6 pm – Light lunch and a 2-3 hour nap
9-10 pm – Large dinner
1-2 am – Go to sleep

Instead of a nutritious breakfast, healthy lunch and light dinner, the Greeks are eating nothing until mid-afternoon, then eating their main meal after 9 o’clock at night! And aren’t they missing hours of restorative sleep by going to bed so late? Even the little children are out late with their families, eating at 9-10 pm and playing in the village square while their parents chat all evening. They still have to get up for school in the morning too…

The beloved bread

If the Greeks do grab a tiny breakfast, it’s usually koulouri on the run, a bread ring covered in sesame seeds sold at vendors on the streets. At lunch and dinner, giant loaves of sliced bread are served before or with every meal, to be dipped into a plate of fresh olive oil and maybe some dried oregano. Even if you order something that comes with bread already, like the popular gyro pitas, there will be a basket of bread on your table.

Bread is on the bottom of that Mediterranean food pyramid, along with rice and pasta, as the primary food group, just like on the USDA food pyramid. Though flour is not in everything, like in some cuisines, bread is always on the table and in the home, and many traditional foods incorporate filo dough and pita bread.

Traditional Greeks take pride in having fresh bread, and it’s still often home-baked or bought fresh-baked from the bakery. And bakeries are absolutely everywhere, chock-full of breads, pastries, cookies, mini ice creams, chocolates and candies.

It is true that the Mediterranean societies have always been agricultural, and that grains, especially wheat, are an integral part of not only their cuisine, but their culture. So maybe their metabolic type is suited to eating so much bread? We do know many Europeans who eat bread and cheese all their life, but it’s only when they move to Australia or America that they easily gain weight from eating these things. So maybe it’s a matter of traditionally made breads versus commercially processed versions.

Sugary coffee and cigarettes are favourite Greek pastimes

Greek shopkeepers pass the time with sugary coffee and cigarettes all day

So how do the Greeks stay healthy?

Despite all these factors, the Greeks remain on all the long life-span lists and are known to be in general good health.

Maybe these contradictions are a sign of modern commerce crowding out traditional ways, or maybe the Greeks and other Mediterranean peoples have just found a balance in diet and lifestyle that works for them. Some of these habits may well be moderated by their stable traditional food culture. Or maybe we are simply wrong in our own assumptions about what is a healthy lifestyle, and the Greeks have it all figured out. 

The Greek mindset is a healthy one

It’s probably most likely that the Greeks have simply found a balance in their Primal 6 – Thoughts, Air, Water, Food, Movement, Sleep. And since Thoughts are the most important, how about we look to the Greeks as a model for healthy Thoughts, as much as we do with their Mediterranean diet.

The Greeks prize family and community. They work, rest, play and eat with their large families, friends and community. They leave work for several hours in the afternoon to eat and nap with their loved ones, then meet up with the whole community again in the village square for dinner, playing and talking all evening. Meals are usually long, social or intimate affairs. They take care of the elderly in their family, including them in home and social life. Their Greek Orthodox Church brings a sense of community to the people, without obligation or guilt. And there’s no guilt, stress, or remorse felt about eating, smoking, drinking and indulging…only enjoyment.

Thoughts are more important than diet and lifestyle

It’s these thought principles that create contentment and a healthy, happy mind, which in turn keeps the body strong and vital. In many young societies like America and Australia, we are so focused on diet that we fail to see how unhealthy our modern thought principles are making us.

Almost every story I have read about a person who has lived beyond 100 years old without serious illness or disease reports that they are surrounded by friends and family and have regular social plans and gatherings. Many of them have paid little attention to their diet and exercise, and even regularly smoked and drank alcohol. There is definitely a pattern showing the power of Thoughts, and our month in Greece has reminded us of this most important aspect of our health.

Contradictions of The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

 

Related Posts

Keto Reboot by Pruvit – No chewing food for 60 hours?!

60 hours without food all in aiding the process of ‘autophagy’. Brad’ account of the experience using the Pruvit Keto Reboot Kit to enhance the effects.

Pruvit Keto OS Pro – 1 Month Experiment

Brad’s 1 Month Experiment with Pruvit’s Keto OS Pro hybrid protein powder containing Exogenous Ketones, Amino Acids and MCT.

Ketosis in 59min Using Keto OS by Pruvit

This is a summary of the last 16 months since Keto OS came into Brad’s life. His experiment and personal results, customer results examples and feedback, and how you can try it out yourself.

My Ugly Rosacea Face Rash – Learnings PART 2

This is a continuation and update from my first article about The...

Shed Bodyfat and Increase Your Energy! – Keto Os and Ketosis

If you want to shed or shred bodyfat and increase energy like never before, check out this experiment that I’m doing and join me!

The Effects of Magnesium and Calcium on Blood Quality After Beer and Coffee

This is the most amazing supplement I’ve ever come across. Natural ingredients, safe to use every day and so damn effective in what it does so quickly! Check it out!

How Meditation Improves Your Blood Quality

See how a simple 5 minute meditation improves the blood quality of Brad and his friend Maz Compton, measured using Dark Field Microscopy.

How Milk Became So Dangerous

The conflicting information is driving us all mad!! On the one hand we hear: Milk Does a Body Good!. It’s essential for calcium requirements, Vitamin D, strong bones and healthy children. On the other hand we hear: Milk causes mucus. It leads to lactose intolerance and ear infections. It’s too fatty. It contains Bovine Growth Hormone. Our societal response to this confusion is low-fat milk, skim milk, no-fat milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, oat milk, organic milk, BGH-free milk, no milk. Just more confusion. So what’s gone wrong and where do we go from here?

How My Body Swelled Up From Sleep Stress

Do you get back pain? Headaches and migraines? Skin problems? Weight gain? Weight loss? Funky inflammation to all parts of your body? Don’t ignore your body – listen to it! It’s telling you something.

Is Biodynamic Organic Wine Healthier? – Part 2

Ross McDonald from Macquaridale Biodynamic Wines in Australia’s Hunter Valley wine region, explains the difference between commercial, organic and biodynamic wines.

Parasites 101

Don’t freak out, but you should know it’s very possible that you have a parasite. You may only think of parasites as something that gives you diarrhea on holiday in a tropical third-world country, but actually, parasites are just as rampant in the Western world, and are related to illness and disease of ALL kinds. Yes, even we, your gurus for all things Primal, have both had parasites that have significantly affected our health.

POOP: What To Do if You Don’t Have At Least One a Day

In a perfectly primal world where our bodies thrive in pristine health, this is something that comes as naturally as breathing, and we wouldn’t ever have to think about it. But today, millions of people develop disease which often starts from not doing this incredibly important daily ritual: pooping.

Primal Cleanse

Primal Cleanse

Blog Categories

Pruvit Keto Reboot – 60 Hours

Pruvit Keto Reboot

Ketosis, Ketosis and Keto OS!

Ketosis in 30min!

Community

Related Results

Offers from the CHEK Community