I fell in love with Greece 25 years ago. Since that first visit, the people, geography, climate, and the Greek way of life keep beckoning me to come back (I’m currently on my ninth visit)! And of course there is the delicious Greek food! Never mind that today you can buy Greek yogurt in the States that once was only available in Greece-it’s not the same.
The Greek way of eating turns out to be one of the healthiest in the world. Greece is one of several Mediterranean Countries that contribute to what we know as the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet consists of large amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fresh fish. Small amounts of meat and moderate amounts of dairy in the form of Greek yogurt or fresh cheese are also included. Despite the fact that Greece has pretty high rates of smoking, this eating pattern, combined with wine at meals, has been shown to be protective of heart disease.
You don’t have to go to Greece to eat like a Greek (but I highly encourage it-both the main land and any of the several beautiful islands). Small changes to your eating patterns can lead to great health, and with an abundance of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables available during the summer months, now is the time to try new things. Make fresh vegetables the center of your plate, with meat as a side. Add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to salads and roasted vegetables. Snack on nuts or add them to Greek yogurt with fruit and a drizzle of honey (that’s how they do it in Greece)!
Aside from primarily plant-based eating patterns with small amounts of meat and dairy, leisure is part of the formula of a good life in Greece. The Greeks do not rush you out of your seat at a restaurant or café, and good food is always enjoyed with good company. Understandably, most of us are too busy to spend hours over coffee or lunch, but when possible, take time to enjoy at least one meal every day with friends or family.
You may not only discover the conversation is as delicious as the entrée, but social connectivity boosts the effects of healthy lifestyle behavior!
After all, we all need to eat.