The Mediterranean Lifestyle
Mediterranean’s living in the Mediterranean and following the traditional Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle are the healthiest, longest lived and happiest people in the world. Not only do they live a long time but they are in optimum health their entire lives with significantly lower incidents of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and countless other ailments associated with the typical American Diet.
Standard American Diet (SAD)
The Standard American Diet and it’s sedentary lifestyle has created a population that is 3/4 overweight with astronomically high levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer and now for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire has the Western World experienced a situation where our children’s generation will have a shorter average life span than our own.
These 2 worlds are the exact opposite of each other and the massive question is why is there such a difference and what can we do about it? We know it’s not a genetic issue because many Americans came from Europe and Mediterranean’s living here following SAD have all the same ailments as everybody else and in the Mediterranean when people start adopting the fast-food junk food eating habits their health and quality of life collapses.
So that means the only explanation is the drastic lifestyle differences between the 2 cultures.
How do we achieve the Mediterranean Lifestyle?
The 4 Core Pillars Of The Mediterranean Lifestyle
• A Whole Food, All Natural, Nutrient Dense Diet
• An Active Lifestyle
• A Close-Knit Supportive and Uplifting Relationship with Family and Friends
• A Spiritual Relationship With The Greater World
Let’s take a quick look at each of the 4 pillars.
A Whole Food, All Natural, Nutrient Dense Diet
Whole foods are in their natural state and as minimally processed as possible. Examples would be whole grains, brown or wild rice, etc… All Natural foods are what I call “100 Year Foods” and by that I mean would they have been recognized as food 100 years ago? When you look at the label on a food package how many of the ingredients are actual foods and how many are chemicals? You want to eliminate as many of these non-food items as possible and at the same time the foods you eat should be raised or grown in as clean, pure and natural a state as possible. Fruits and Vegetables grown without artificial ingredients and chemicals, meats raised on natural diets in clean and humane environments (grass-fed beef and free-range pastured chickens, etc…). All of these things would have been the default natural 100 years ago but today they are the hard to find exceptions. And nutrient dense means you want to focus on foods that provide maximum nutritional benefit but the minimum of calories. Foods like broccoli and spinach are packed full of vitamins and nutrients but practically calorie free. For example a small soup cup of a cream based soup like clam chowder has more calories and fat than a huge 16 oz. bowl of a broth based vegetable soup. The vegetable soup will not only give you more nutrients for much less calories but it will also fill you up. The key is a plant based diet accented with naturally raised meats, seafood and dairy with olive oil as the main fat.
Mediterraneans are always on the go and moving for the most part they operate under the “slow burn” method of exercise – always walking and moving all day long. I incorporate this into my daily life by taking small walks (10-15 mins.) numerous times all day long, I avoid short cuts and take the long to any location, I park further away and walk in – this also tends to minimize your likelihood of accidents since most congestion and traffic in parking lots is close to the front entrance. In the office I’ll get up and walk to a person’s desk and talk to them instead of sending an email or IM. I do little things like this all day long and everyday, they are small measures and barely noticeable but they add up over time. In addition I try to go to the gym or do more formal longer exercises like long walks or hikes, etc… a few times a month.
A Close-Knit Supportive and Uplifting Relationship with Family and Friends
My Dad used to always say to me; “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” As I get older I realize the deep truth in that statement. Your social circle has a profound impact on your life and even more importantly your attitude towards life. Mediterraneans are joyful happy people because they are surrounded by strong family connections and deep close friendships and these relationships are supportive and uplifting. You want to make the people you surround yourself with are positive and have your best interests at heart and at the same time you want to be the same way with your friends and family.
A Spiritual Relationship With The Greater World
We all need to be in harmony and belonging with something greater than ourselves. Spirituality plays a big role in the lives of Mediterraneans. The vast majority of Mediterraneans are Christian and Catholic, I myself am Catholic and my faith plays a pivotal role in my life but the key is realizing there is something greater than ourselves and we need to treat everyone and everything around us with the love and respect they deserve, we need to live lives of service and help to others.
These 4 pillars are not easy and you don’t achieve them over night. I myself to this day still work on and struggle with all of them; everyday you have to get up and make a decision on how you want to live your life. It’s a never ending journey but it is well worth the effort. Once you begin to make these 4 core pillars the centerpiece of your life you will begin to see drastic and amazing changes.