Medditeranean Diet Hooray!

Over the years I have become more and more aware that food is here to bring us happiness and enjoyment.

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To fill us with lightness, calm and vitality, and let our body and our whole being quietly rejoice. When our relationship with food is wholesome and harmonious – without guilt and stress, without constant deprivation and restrictions, with care and responsibility towards ourselves, then a real magic happens with the mind. It calms down and becomes sensible, and then our body takes in only what it needs at a specific moment – in moderation and without overeating. Food is intuitive and eating is calm, following our own rhythm. The body creates a regime and discipline that gently guides us throughout the day. It is only then when we begin to see the beauty, to truly feel the flavors and aromas, to enjoy and gift ourselves with the best.

The feeling of guilt if we have overdone it one evening or day is away, because we know that we are giving ourselves rest with a light nutritional regime the next day.

It is truly worthwhile to get to know and be honest with ourselves.

This gives us the opportunity to choose the most suitable eating model for us. And not for someone else. As with other life topics, the gestures and attitude which we demonstrate to ourselves, and follow consistently are very important. In this case, it is commitment and attention to our body and the food we eat daily. I appreciate the words of the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, “Choose the best, habit soon makes it pleasant and easy”. They quite naturally fit into the life and rhythm of our modern times.

The Mediterranean diet is an invaluable friend to me.

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It is kindness, joy and a rich palette of seasonal flavors and aromas that I cannot replace with anything else. Especially in the last 10 years and with the metabolic change that started after the 40s. It is alive, it energizes me and gives me the feeling that food is a real bearer of life. I can follow it wherever I am in the world without limitations. Often my students react “But how come, we don’t have good fish and seafood in Bulgaria and therefore we can’t follow the Mediterranean diet?”. It feels like the right time to unveil this myth-excuse forever.

It’s everything that I need. It gives me:

  1. Daily variety without food getting boring or a routine. With this eating regimen, there is no daily repetition with food and products. The combination of vegetables, legumes and grains/wholegrain products, herbs and spices, seeds and nuts, green leafy vegetables and herbs, cheeses, fish, poultry, eggs are endless. At the same time, these combinations are simple (1-2 leading products and several satellites around them), without burdening absorption and digestion. Complimentary to lightness, in this way we create a rich intestinal microflora and a more resistant gut microbiota. The latter strengthens the immune system and acts as prevention against inflammatory activity and chronic conditions.

I have noticed that with this „diet“, getting sick is much less frequent and goes away easily. I don’t have any conventional medicines at home myself. I don’t remember since when I haven’t taken an antibiotic or something more serious.

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Indeed, for me, uniform and unvaried food, refined foods, larger quantities than our bodies need and excessive eating out, fast and on the go eating are among the most detrimental health factors nowadays.

  1. Wholesome menu every day. The Mediterranean diet consists of all the biochemical and nutritional substances beneficial and necessary for the body – antioxidants, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, a lot of Omega 9 (monounsaturated fatty acid) and a balanced intake of Omega 3 and 6 (polyunsaturated fatty acids). Extra virgin olive oil is at the heart of this diet and the ideal anti-inflammatory lipid. It is unparalleled to any other fat, thanks to the rich content of about 40 phenolic compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, hydrocarbons, vitamins and balanced fatty acids.

The latter are responsible for the resistance of olive oil to oxidation and inflammatory processes. (more on the health benefits in Healers from Nature (high phenolic EVOOs) – My Pure Olive 

It builds upon seven fundamental food groups that guarantee a wholesome intake of all nutrients.

Many of the constituent foods are rich in prebiotics and probiotics for a healthy and viable intestinal microflora. Pickles, naturally fermented vegetables, grains and dairy products are vital. In addition, the menu includes fresh, local products and less refined ingredients, such as refined seed oils, grains and sugars.

Here are the 7 groups to remember for our varied daily menu:

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1.fruits, vegetables, green leafy vegetables (abundant),

2.legumes and cereals/wholegrains (often),

3.yogurt and cheese (predominantly from sheep and goat milk, often),

4.white meat, fish and eggs (moderate), red meat (rare),

5. seeds, nuts, honey, herbs and spices (often),

6. water (plenty) and herbal tea (often), wine (moderate),

7. extra virgin olive oil (daily).

I have noticed that with this way of eating, the amount of food intake is smaller.

Indeed, with more varied, wholesome, tasty and alive food, we get full more easily. We are filled with flavour and delight, and we do not need anything else to enhance our sensation of taste. The necessity for intermediate meals or small snacks to satisfy the feeling of flavour and fullness is calm.

Now is the moment to share that due to the above components, the body weight and hormonal system are more harmonious and stable, without much ups-and downs. The waist is happy and the belly is light because it does not retain excess food, but releases it daily with ease. I open a parenthesis that olive oil as part of the diet also has laxative properties.

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  1. The most charming „diet“ without deprivation and limitations. The Mediterranean diet is an inclusive diet without eliminating entire food groups like many other diets. It is scarce on red meats for example, and does not recommend fish, eggs and poultry on a daily basis. The latter does not burden the digestive system and keeps our body lively and awake.

It relies a lot on vegetable protein, which is why legumes such as beans, fava beans, chickpeas, and peas are so much favoured in the Mediterranean and Middle East countries. They are often combined with yogurt and sauces, fresh cheeses that complement protein needs. By the way, these eating principles are also part of the traditional Bulgarian cuisine. Unfortunately we have forgotten them in the last twenty years.

It includes wholegrain and durum wheat flours that are more balanced in gluten and starch. Complemented with greens, herbs and vegetables, it gives us complete and nutritious meals. It relies on simple and short-cooked dishes to maximize the preservation of the qualities and flavors of the source products.

Moderation and balance are part of the philosophical principles.

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When we are observant and know how our body reacts to one or another food, we can more easily navigate quantities and combinations. For example, for me, chickpeas are more difficult to digest. In hummus I often replace them with the lighter yellow fava, green peas, and black eyed beans. The Mediterranean diet also teaches us self-discipline and care for ourselves and our loved ones. It gives us a chance to rearrange the product supply organization at home and then becomes a necessary way of shopping, eating and living.

Last but not least, it gives us a feeling of a lot of taste and aroma, of liveliness, color and beauty, generously presented to us by each of the seasons. Yes, seasonal products rule the menu and if it’s winter, it’s winter! Without fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis and eggplants, which are grown in greenhouses and cannot be as tasty and full-bodied as the summer ones. In addition, they require much more energy and financial resources to be grown.

I am offering you a gift and share a little more about the synchronicity and rhythm of our bodies with the seasons. “About the seasons with love and gratitude” – a chapter from my book “ Sun & Olive Oil – Stories and recipes about fascinating flavours of the Mediterranean”.

The Mediterranean diet gives me time for myself and food, for my loved ones.

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Calm communication with ourselves, with our loved ones, when we eat is very valuable in today’s hectic days. It also helps the

mind to consider how much to eat. This shared time is a real ritual for me – at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eating on the go, while reading e-mails on the screen, quickly swallowing between two meetings increases the feeling of stress and anxiety, of dissatisfaction. And all those negative feelings when accumulated, possibly lead to weight gain and even more frustration and dissatisfaction.

Nature is a great friend of the Mediterranean philosophy. Therefore I take time weekly for walks outdoors and exchange with Nature and its dynamics throughout the seasons. It feels like another wholesome food for our body and mind.

Let me share some readings around this topic 

Extra-virgin olive oil and the gut-brain axis: influence on gut microbiota, mucosal immunity, and cardiometabolic and cognitive health | Nutrition Reviews | Oxford Academic (

Influence of Mediterranean Diet on Human Gut Microbiota – Science & Wine (

Anthocyanins from Mediterranean Diet – Science & Wine (