Giorgia Meloni's government stands up for Italy's Mediterranean diet
With all the fire and fury we expect of Italy's splendid new conservative prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, it was fun stuff for this dedicated Mediterranean dieter to read that the entire government of Italy intends to ferociously defend, yep, that same Mediterranean diet.
It has introduced legislation to ban so-called synthetic or cell-based cuisine due to the lack of scientific studies on the effects of synthetic food, as well as "to safeguard our nation's heritage and our agriculture based on the Mediterranean diet," Meloni's Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said in a press conference.
This makes sense, but it's like Gen. Patton standing on a hill and defending...Weight Watchers. While it's good for anyone to advocate for a diet that works, and the Mediterranean one works really well...it's just that you just don't quite expect a state to do that.
But the Italians have a point here.
According to the Harvard Health blog:
The Mediterranean diet has received much attention as a healthy way to eat, and with good reason. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers, depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The traditional Mediterranean diet is based on foods available in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The foundation for this healthy diet includes
- an abundance of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, which are minimally processed, seasonally fresh, and grown locally
- olive oil as the principal source of fat
- cheese and yogurt, consumed daily in low to moderate amounts
- fish and poultry, consumed in low to moderate amounts a few times a week
- red meat, consumed infrequently and in small amounts
- fresh fruit for dessert, with sweets containing added sugars or honey eaten only a few times each week
- wine consumed in low to moderate amounts, usually with meals
Surely, it would be in the interest of the state to keep its population healthy, if for nothing else, then to cut down on medical costs. It's been tried here, with Michelle Obama's childhood obesity eradication campaign, but it didn't work out so well, given that it wasn't the Mediterranean diet being promoted or served to kids in schools.
But the Mediterranean diet is about the healthiest diet there is — it was discovered by scientists when they observed that the peoples of the Mediterranean, including Italians, had far fewer incidences of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer than people with other diets in other areas. The diet itself is pretty much that of an Italian peasant, and if you eat like an Italian peasant, you'll have the lifespan of an Italian peasant, which is very long indeed.
Now, I've done lots of diets, and they all work if you stick to them. But the Med diet is the nicest — it's the easiest to follow; has the widest variety of ingredients; allows a little pizza, pasta, and wine; is utterly natural; makes you feel good; and permits mistakes and slip-ups with no significant weight gain. Most surprisingly, its low meat content doesn't leave you hungry. I didn't think I could do it based on the low meat content, but it was actually very easy when I tried, and in any case, you don't say goodbye to meat. You just have it in smaller portions or less frequently as a matter of habit. The best part, of course, is that you lose weight. Italians and Mediterranean people in general are among the least obese people in Europe or anywhere, and anyone else who imitates them gets the same result. Notice how slim Meloni and her Cabinet are. That's the beauty of the diet.
It's good exactly the way it is, and as the Italian legislation attempts to address, there is no need to add fake meat to it, because the diet doesn't have heavy meat, real or otherwise. There's no need for it. The diet is delicious and effective all by itself.
Obviously, there are heavy-duty implications of both the legislation — which may be a little draconian — and the spectacle of corporations seeking to foist a product onto the public that it literally doesn't need or benefit from. That's a matter for the Italians, of course, to decide.
But I'm impressed that they know the value of their own naturally created diet, which, at least some studies claim, is the world's healthiest. Maybe they can find something healthier, but this one's been developed and polished over the millennia as the most practical and livable. Why wreck a good thing? We know that many populations have been devastated by obesity and its accompanied maladies such as diabetes, heart conditions, cancer, and strokes based on junk food and fast food being introduced to the natural diet and replacing it. Think of how the Native Americans and many Pacific Islander peoples have been hit by that. Frankly, it's a better thing if they can find a way to return to their people's natural diets, which just coincidentally, resemble the Mediterranean diet with different but genetically comparable foods such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables.
The Italians are on to something in their willingness to defend their first rate national diet. Sure, they've got huge measures of national greatness, like art and science and engineering and architecture, to defend and promote. Those are the things we all think of when we think of Italy. But their diet is also a natural greatness and a great thing to defend and promote.
It's good to see that they recognize that, too.
Go for it, Italy.
Image: Screen shot from Giorgia Meloni video via YouTube.