Do you want to lose weight? I’ve needed to lose some pounds for a long time. I’ve tried every diet I could find and even invented a few of my own. I’ve done the cabbage soup diet, which made me gag. I’ve done the low-carb diet, which made me weak. I’ve tried eating vegetarian, which made me gain weight because I substituted meat with pasta and cheeses. I’ve tried juice cleanses, which worked for about three days until I ate something solid. I made up a diet where I only ate foods that didn’t take up room in my stomach. I don’t know where I came up with that one. Then I discovered Mediterranean eating.
I have finally found the answer. Despite reading about and being told about this simple solution over and over, I only heard it when I was ready to listen. Isn’t that always the way?
The fact is that diets don’t work. They never will. They are temporary fixes that make us feel deprived, depressed, and a little desperate.
How I Came About This Realization
One day I cut my hand on a broken glass. It was late on a Sunday night and my only choice was to go to the emergency room. As I sat there looking around at all the desperately ill people while I waited to get stitches, I thought about how lucky I was to be there for something so minor. When I finally got my turn hours later, the doctor told me my blood pressure was high but that it could be from the trauma of the day. When I went to the urgent care a week later to get my stitches removed, my blood pressure was still high. That doctor gave me the card of a general practitioner and internist so I could get further advice.
My new doctor tested my heart, gave me an overall physical, and told me all I really needed to do was eat better and exercise more. If I lost weight I could get off the blood pressure medication. He advised me to eat more vegetables. I’m of Italian and Irish descent and I told him that my two favorite foods are pasta and potatoes. He told me I could still eat pasta and potatoes but I should eat a small amount mixed in with a larger portion of vegetables. We discussed nutrition at length but what really stuck with me was the proportions of foods that I liked to eat. He also gave me a stress test before I started ramping up my exercise program. This is something you must do if you are starting an exercise program.
Around the same time as this, I became friends with an Italian chef who opened a restaurant nearby. He is from Venice, Italy and his restaurant is designed around the cuisine of his hometown. His menu was designed to be eaten in courses. A small appetizer, usually of vegetables or fish, followed by a small portion of pasta or risotto, and then an entrée of meat, fish or poultry. The entrée was usually only a few ounces. But it all adds up to a full meal. And there is always beautiful olive oil involved.
His meals were designed to be eaten slowly. The evenings were meant to be relaxing, filled with good conversation, a bottle of wine, a bottle of water, very little bread. After the meal, he would suggest a little cheese to help finish the wine. Sometimes, we’d have a dessert wine or a few raisins soaked in grappa. Occasionally, we would have dessert, but it was usually small, not like something you’d get at the Cheesecake Factory.
About Mediterranean Eating
It’s a Mediterranean way of eating and living. It’s slow, social and relaxing. The meals are prepared with few ingredients so the true flavors of the food shine through. Nothing is covered in heavy sauces or baked smothered in cheese. Everything is prepared fresh, no processed foods. Everything is in moderation. Nothing is prohibited, but everything is small and of high quality. At the end of the evening you are satisfied in more ways than one.
I like to describe it as a life of moderate indulgences.
When I eat this way, when I live this way, the pounds naturally melt away. There is no dieting involved. For me it’s a new lifestyle that’s all about healthy choices, prepared naturally, enjoyed slowly, and savored gratefully. It’s the most enjoyable way I’ve found to lose weight.
On Fridays I try to share recipes that fit in with my new-found Mediterranean lifestyle. That’s why I talk so much about la dolce vita, the sweet life. I find this is a sweeter way to live.
If you looked at me you’d probably think I need to lose weight. And I do. I have lost weight and I have a long way to go, but I am taking my time. I don’t want to starve myself into a smaller size. All I really want is to feel healthy and not have to take high blood pressure medicine. I’ve already been able to reduce my medicine to the bare minimum. My doctor says I should be able to get off it completely if I keep up this lifestyle.
This is a very personal post that was hard for me to write. I’m not used to sharing my weaknesses or my struggles. I’m always the strong one. But I find the Mediterranean lifestyle is not a struggle. It’s easy and enjoyable. It’s not a quick fix. It’s meant to last a lifetime, a longer lifetime.
I call it my La Dolce Vita Lifestyle.
I hope it inspires you to be healthier and happier, to live the sweet life, la dolce vita.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section.