I was listening to the radio yesterday and heard a commercial for a popular fast food joint advertising their new diet menu. They didn’t say which diet or lifestyle it catered to, just a new diet menu.
Then another commercial came for some random shake thing, talking about getting the motivation to start dieting. Since diet is the equivalent of a lifestyle, that commercial was basically talking about getting the motivation to start living. I think that is a whole other discussion for a different day.
I always find it interesting to look at how words are used – like dieting as a verb or when adjectives are not included to say which diet the menu serves. I wanted to point that out to you before getting started on the next two diets: Vegan and Mediterranean.
What it is: The simple answer is that it is the eating habits based on the countries and culture surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It just doesn’t really cover all the different layers of those cultures – the slave diet of empires vs the elite diet. What about when the Germanic tribes were hired as mercenaries and brought their cultural meals down?
How it got started: This is a tough one to answer because there have been so many cultural shifts in that area as kingdoms conquered cities and empires conquered kingdoms. In the modern day, well, in the 1950s, a doctor started looking at the eating habits of his patients. Then he did a study that involved traveling to 7 different countries. He noticed that the poorest villages in the Mediterranean area had better health and quality/duration of life than the richest folk living in NYC. He came back and started promoting that style of eating.
Should you try it: do your research. With the whole cultural changes – remember, major port cities throughout the Mediterranean with lots of trade from near and far – the foods aren’t always as traditional as what you might think. The slaves and poor used to fill up on carbs because it was cheap (which sounds familiar). If you want the true Mediterranean diet, you should look at the older cultures, before the empires took over, built cities, and opened all the ports. Think fish, veggies, good saturated fats like olive oil.
Pros: health benefits – cardiac, GI, neuro. . . It’s also not overly expensive (except for the olive oil). You can play with spices and combinations of flavors with this one (one of the perks of the port cities!).
Cons: if you thought “pizza! noodles! pasta!” when you read “Mediterranean Diet,” you’re not alone. Here’s the deal with that though: in ancient times, they had ancient grains, pure grains. The gluten in those ancient grains is different than what we have now; it is easier to digest. If you follow the mid-modern Mediterranean Diet, complete with lots of grains, you want to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of eating modern, processed, low quality grains.
What it is: no animal products whatsoever.
How it started: back in England in World War 2 days, someone decided to start the vegan diet as a no-dairy diet/league. Then that someone (a Donald Watson) decided to expand that to a lifestyle that avoids all products originating with animals.
Should you try it: ok, this time, the country-girl is coming out. My personal opinion is no. We were made stewards over creation – including controlling the animal population, harvesting the earth, shepherding the animals. Can you do it safely? Yes. Should you? umm. . .
Pros: like vegetarianism, if done correctly – under the guidance of a registered dietician to start – you can see some weight loss, maybe feel some energy.
Cons: you can’t eat honey. Or cheese. Or wear wool. You run the risk of not getting all the nutrients you need or needing to take dozens of pills as supplements. No steak or burgers or holiday ham. . .
We’ve got part 4, which I think is the final in this 4 Letter Word series, is coming up this week! In the meantime, if you’re curious about those ancient grains, let me introduce you to Einkorn! Click here to see which kind I use, and I will definitely be talking more about those ancient grains down the road!