Adopting a Mediterranean style diet is one of the healthiest things you can do for your family. We explain why, and how to do it.
Do you shop in a large, impersonal hypermarket? Worry that your family meals are too high in chemicals and additives? Get carried away by "buy one, get one free" offers and end up throwing food away? Eat lots of processed foods or take-away meals?
And most importantly - do you want to change your family's diet to one rich in healthy, satisfying foods?
Before our move to rural Italy, when we were living in the UK and working full time, we were, like many families with busy lives, big store grocery shoppers.
We had a full freezer, a refrigerator with rather too many T.V. dinners and - if we're honest - we were over-fond of the very tasty, but not very healthy, take-out food from our local fish and chip shop!
This is our current take-out - our own 'kaki' (Persimmon or Sharon fruit) tree.
Now, with our home in the Italian countryside, we have had a huge shift in the way we think about life and lifestyle, particularly the way we eat. Before we knew of the Mediterranean Diet (with a Capital 'M' and a capital 'D') we had found ourselves eating that way in any case!
The good example of friends and neighbours, their huge generosity in sharing produce and cultivation advice, the absence of take-outs and above all, the range of fresh, fabulous foods available have drawn us into eating the Mediterranean diet way which is, when all's said and done, just a balanced, healthy diet.
Local market stalls sell locally produced vegetables and fruit.
Of course there are large supermarkets in Italy, particularly around the big towns and cities, and they're great for many products. But in our local villages there are good value local shops - and they are specialists.
The greengrocer sells just that - fruit and vegetables; the butcher sells fresh local meat; the 'alimentari' (a kind of deli) has a range of specialist foods including cold meats and cheeses. And let's not forget the local bakery! Bread and pastries made fresh every day. Mmmmm - delicious!
One of the great things about Italian cheese stalls - taste before you buy!
The difference between then and now?
All our food now is locally sourced either from local shops or from nearby markets, and is fresh and free from additives and preservatives. We eat according to the seasons, and when one piece of fruit or veg is not in season - we use one that is.
It does take some getting used to. We buy less food (and we waste much less), we shop more often, we have to plan more carefully and we learn new recipes all the time.
We've even taken to growing our own fruit and veg, and raising our own chickens (for eggs, not meat - we couldn't bear to eat them!).
Let me introduce you to Claudia Chicken. Our chickens give us delicious, healthy eggs - and a lot of fun!
We can't all move to live in the Italian countryside. It would get pretty crowded. But there are simple changes open to everybody which make healthy eating based on this plan accessible for all.
Our own bruschetta using home made bread and home grown tomatoes is an easy to make recipe in a Mediterranean style diet - yum!
Let's start with an overview of how a Mediterranean style diet works. Click on the picture below to look at a simple way of knowing what this healthy eating plan means in the real world.
Clicking on each pic will take you to another overview page.
Alternatively, click on this picture to go straight into the first few levels of the Mediterranean diet, Italian style.