Dear Greeks, before you start judging me for writing this article in English, let me remind you of the Greek diaspora and a huge army of Hellenophiles all around the globe. Yes, I will write a version of this in Greek, and I really want you to hear me! I have so much to say!
This is just a “dear Americans” sequel
I decided to write this as a sequel to my Dear Americans article! I wrote this open letter to Americans more than a year ago and many of them got furious with me. But that’s good because many of them later sent me that they’ve been thinking about it! As the contemporary global cultural trendsetter, America gave us sodas, fast-food and chips! Well, they gave us good things too, but we are talking about nutrition in the modern world now!
As you can read in that particular article, I was writing it from a Mediterranean person point of view. However, I am sad to admit, things in my homeland are not much better! In fact, Greece is on the top of the list of countries in the EU with the average obesity and diabetes rates! Tragic, isn’t it? In fact, A tremendous number, 16.7% of boys between 13 and 19 are obese in Greece.
Modern Greeks and their passion to eat unhealthily
They say it’s mainly due to food marketing and the economic crisis, which makes healthy food too expensive for poor families. I must disagree here! Let me name just a few extremely cheap foods that any Greek can and should afford: Sardines and mackerel, olives, goat and sheep dairy including feta, vegetables and fruits from the Laiki market! Also, extremely healthy mutton mince cost only €4 per kilo! But no, they prefer frozen breaded chicken, rice, potatoes, margarine, Merenda, Oreos and sodas!
A story about generations of Greeks
The other day I had a member of my family (who is way over the obese line, and also quite unhealthy) preach to me about the Mediterranean diet and how it’s the healthiest diets in the world. Then this person went and ate bread with margarine and marmalade and added skimmed cow’s milk to her coffee followed by a spoonful of brown sugar. For decades, her doctor was scaring her not to eat eggs and never to eat butter. Did this help her? It actually made things worse!
Standard Mediterranean diet is not the healthiest!
If you think about modern Greek cuisine, you will not find much connection with the ancient Greeks. Everything is loaded in potatoes, corn, rice, barley, oats and wheat. Even the famous Moussaka and Pastitsio are loaded in these inflammatory ingredients. Potatoes and corn have been brought to Greece in the past 100 or 150 years. In fact, Ancient Greeks would give these types of food to their animals! They did use Zea cereal, but not wheat! I don’t see us getting healthier or smarter since we abandoned the glorious emmer wheat or Zea (Triticum Dicoccum).
Modern Greeks and fish-sticks
You would believe every Greek family has fresh fish at least three times per week! Well, think again. The majority of modern new generation Greeks don’t consume enough of fish. And if they do, that would be in a form of frozen, breaded, additive-filled fish sticks! And then they go to the pharmacy to purchase loads of Omega-3 supplements.
A friend of mine and his father are a great example of this. While the father was carefully pickling fresh mackerel, the son made a disgusted face and went to buy frozen nuggets with modified corn starch. Only the older generation can save us! The majority of young Greeks need to go to some “giagia” in the village or on the island for rehabilitation!
How the Greeks have been spoiled by cow’s dairy
No, cow’s milk production is not something traditional in Greece! This region, for centuries, had predominantly goat and sheep dairy. Feta is perfect proof of that! Real Greek yoghurt has originated from the villages where sheep and goat milk was abundant! But I have my clients from Greece constantly complain about not being able to adjust to the taste of beneficial goat and sheep dairy. When they finally do, bloodwork and symptoms magically improve. Why do you think this happens?
Not to mention Buffalo! A few weeks ago I bought 4-5 packages of buffalo butter because the supermarket totally reduced the price in order to get rid of it. Greeks did not want to take this MCT packed treasure. No, they rather go to supplement store and buy overpriced and overprocessed MCT oil extracted from palm or coconut oil. How very Greek!
We eat lamb only once per year, for Easter
Really. And why is that? The healthiest meat on this planet is so affordable in Greece. People around the globe pay crazy prices to eat this health-boosting delicacy! At the same time, the Greeks feast on pork and chicken souvlaki and gyros. Do I need to remind you, pork and chicken will cause inflammation if you eat them each and every day. Especially if you consume them combined with starch and sugar! In fact, a very good friend who works in a Souvlaki store told me: In one round of Gyros we put 1 kilo of sugar! Why? – I asked him. – Well, it just tastes bitter if we don’t!
When did the Greeks become so soft
I am not talking only about physical softness, even though I am noticing the nation is gaining much more soft tissue and much less muscle! Where is the fighting spirit, the will, the determination? Greeks were always eager to learn and fight against what’s bad for them. “I cannot have coffee without sugar”; “I will throw up”; -Will you, really? “I cannot have stevia, it tastes awful”! “I cannot eat healthily I don’t have the time to cook or the money to buy healthy food”. – All fake and bad excuses!
I can prove you, with just a few modifications, you will eat healthier for less money! Not to mention the fact that you’ll not go to buy supplements, because you don’t need them. Your food can give you all the supplements. Wake up Greeks, you used to be glorious.
Fitness industry hype in Greece and its bad influence on young Greeks
I will not lie, I am a gym rat and I care a lot about my physique. No wonder the fitness industry flourishes in Greece! But the hype in Greece goes totally in a bad and unhealthy direction. It’s all about supplements and steroids. Generations of boys and girls are strangulating their parents to buy them fat burners, gainers and other powders-of-nothing. Young people who obsess with this end up with psychological problems! Hear me well Greeks: you can’t build those abnormal bodies without steroids! What you can, is to build bodies like your ancient statues! Yes, muscular, strong, harmonic, beautiful. And if you ask Diogenes the Cynic he would tell you: Athletes are made of beef! You need to eat more meat, not chicken, not overprocessed industrial ready foods loaded in sugar and starch.
The modern Greek youth and alcoholism
I think ancient Greeks are spinning like gyros in their graves. Well, at least those who were not cremated and buried in urns. Nothing was more barbaric and humiliating in ancient Greek society than drunkness. For this reason, the wine was always diluted with water! After the symposiums, everybody was able to walk home.
In today’s Greece, after midnight, you will find so many youngsters totally wasted. It looks like young Greeks drink more beer and vodka than all the Germans and Russians together. Well, this is an exaggeration, which proves that I am also a Greek and I enjoy exaggerating to make my point. But it really looks that way. Here’s a study on rising alcoholism in Greece!
Xenophon (431-351 B.C.) and Plato (429-347 B.C.) both praised moderate wine drinking as goof for health and spirit. But both were critical of drunkenness, which was consiteder barbaric and unhealthy!
How can it all be fixed?
As I already said, going back to the giagia’s kitchen, cooking from scratch and learning from the ancestors. I am not saying everybody in Greece should go Keto, but many of them would benefit from it! However, avoiding industrial overprocessed foods, spending less money on supplements and buying more from fishermen, Laiki market and farmers – would make a great improvement!
Sociologically, Greece was always considered as a relaxed and easy-going country. Rivers of tourists visit it every year for this reason! But in today’s world, the speed of living made us all less healthy and less brave. Let’s go back to the roots in every segment of our existence. Let’s be great again! In everything we do! Nutrition and athletic performance are just one layer of greatness Greece can give to the world! And we have been blessed by healthiest affordable food in the universe! Just look around, answers are everywhere!