Don’t get me wrong, I fully embrace difference, and recognise that Mediterranean food isn’t everyone’s preference. I by no means eat in a solely Mediterranean way myself. To start with the climate in the UK is totally different so if I want to feed my family locally sourced fruit and veg, I can’t always eat the same fruit and veg that grows in warmer countries. I enjoy elements of British food and different cuisines around the world and believe they all have their own wonderful tastes and nutritional strengths.
What I do believe, however, is that Mediterranean people hold some very strong values when it comes to healthy living, and it is these principles that sit at the heart of my nutritional messages. I won’t go into all these values now, but the principle of balance is an important one. Approaching nutrition, health and life with a sense of balance is so very important and I really hope this is something you take away with you from my consultations.
The philosophy of moderation is nothing new or revolutionary – even the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote of something called the ‘Golden Mean’; the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. The natural inclination towards a middle position is partly why I am so drawn to Southern European culture and food. These countries consume vast quantities of sun-drenched fresh vegetables, olive oil, wholegrains and fresh fish and their diets are based on the principles of ‘local’ and ‘seasonal’. Yet, they also believe in the pleasure that food can bring and value the cultural traditions and ceremonies that surround food, such as meeting friends for coffee, serving an enormous dish of lasagne for family and letting children share an ice-cream on a hot evening. They identify that stimulating tastes, accompanied by nutrition, bring people happiness and psychological vitality. Even today, you will note that Italians always drink coffee, yet they only drink it in moderation and water is always served with it. In Greece, if you are brought a beautiful piece of barbecued bream caught earlier that day, it will often be joined by a delicious pile of fried potatoes and half a locally grown lemon. This balance is a fantastic medicine for preventing all degrees of degenerative illness.
When it comes to my clients, I will sometimes need to advise a period of detoxing whilst the body rebalances itself. However, wherever possible, and certainly in the longer term, I will always recommend a balanced and fun approach to food. Even being very unbalanced, occasionally, is the most balanced thing to be!
And what is an Aegean diet?
The Aegean Sea is home to some beautiful Greek islands including Skiathos, Skopelos and Tsougria. It meets the Mediterranean in the southern waters east of Greece. I spent the summer of my 19th year on Skiathos island; a summer of eating nothing but sea bream, little fishes, fried zucchini, calamari, octopus, lobster, fried potatoes, Greek salads, fresh orange juice and caraffes of white wine. For sentimental reasons I call this the food of the Aegean, but it is typical of the food found all over Greece. It is amazing food.