Ketonians are truly inspiring and as we have the opportunity to virtually meet more of them we get this urge to share their stories with you. So far, Greek Goes Keto has shared inspiring stories of three American Ketonians but it seems like Keto Mediterranean diet is finally getting more attention and popularity in the area of its origin.
More and more Greeks, Cypriots, Maltese, Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, Croatians and other Mediterraneans are starting to understand the importance of the ancestral way of living
Greek Goes Keto approach in helping Ketonians to regain health
As the Greek and Cypriot Ketonians appreciate the Greek YouTube channel and Facebook group, more of them are reaching out and asking for Apollonas’ help. Sometimes their stories, determination and passion touch us so deeply that we just feel obligates to share it with the rest of our universe.
One of those inspiring Ketonians, such a positive and passionate person is Barbara Makropoulou from Cyprus. Besides being very skilful in the kitchen, Barbara has a very positive attitude and lives the three postulates of KMD to the fullest potential!
When she started working with Apollonas, he immediately knew she’ll be one of the strict and KMD-loyal ones. We have to understand that when it comes to healing and weight loss, only a Spartan spirit and strict nutritional method give the real results. Maybe this is why Barbara had such outstanding success in a very short time!
Let this interview be an inspiration or a push in the right direction to all Ketonians. Hearing Barbara’s beautiful story could change your mind and give you the right courage to continue or just start the Mediterranean Keto life!
Growing up in Cyprus
Can you tell us about your early life, your childhood? Growing up in Cyprus, what was the lifestyle and what was a typical meal that you ate as a child?
I grew up in a small village of Famagusta area. My father was a car driving instructor and my mom run the grocery store of the neighbourhood/area. No matter how busy she was with the store and the house, she would always prepare two meals every day, lunch and dinner.
It is not until we make our own family that we begin to understand how hard that can be for a working woman. She would make everything Greek/Cyprus kitchen has to offer, like Ladera, stuffed vegetables, almost everything would include meat because we were all meat lovers, but there were of course pasta too, and lentils (which I hated as a kid).
I was very picky as a child when it was time for lunch/dinner I would usually find a reason not to eat. Was I eating too many sweets? Everything was available at the store so nobody was tracking what we ate and when.
Passion for cooking and life
When did you develop your passion for cooking and baking? You are an excellent cook and everything you sent us looks so professional and breathtaking. Can you give a tip or two to our Ketonians?
I started cooking when I made a family. When I used to live alone, it would be something very easy or junk. Yes, I admit it, my food habits weren’t always the best choice! Now I am enjoying every step of the process and I believe this is the advantage of being a Keto foodie.
When did you notice your diet is not the healthiest one and considered to go to Ketogenic or Low-Carb diet, did you start it right away, or did you try other diets and lifestyle changes in the beginning?
I was always a skinny person. The maximum weight I ever got was 49 kilos, eating anything and everything. Then we tried 2 IVFs one after the other. Shortly after that I started not feeling very well and experienced extreme dizziness, fatigue, headaches and fainting incidents.
At the E.R. they would just say that it is stress or a panic attack and that I should go home and rest. Until one night that it happened again and at the E.R. I met this wonderful doctor who decided to check my sugar levels and it was 65!!
He started investigating everything. The first word I heard with my insulin skyrocket was insulinoma?? I freaked out. They finally decided it was reactive hypoglycaemia perhaps because of the hormones I was taking for the IVFs. Could be an early sign of diabetes? My head was spinning and I was in a panic.
I wanted my body back…
All this stress I went through, the fear, the fainting incidents, the dizziness (sometimes I couldn’t even drive) which continued for a long period, had a great impact on my daily life. I lost every interest in anything, I didn’t care what I ate when at this point I should and watched myself go from 48kg to 83kg very fast! I was trapped in a body which was not mine. It affected my mood, I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to do anything.
I wanted my body back. I also wanted myself back. This led me to a depressed state. Back then, I would visit every ‘great’ nutritionist they told me about. I was losing 300gr per week and they would say ‘with this metabolism, you should be happy to lose 300 grammes.
I was desperate. Would I spend the rest of my life eating this yucky blunt chicken breast with a cup of rice and salad and suppose to be happy?? Oats with milk and apple for breakfast? Lentils with salad? I never liked lentils!
That’s when a dear friend of mine, suggested a low carb diet because she had seen results. She didn’t know what low carb diet was. She was in a group where they were telling them how much and what to eat. And she became my nutritionist! I was amazed when I started losing weight. Not 300gr per week! A whole kg! I was beyond excited, I thought this is it, Gods of Olympus showed mercy on me. I started searching.
What is this diet?
It is low carb. Whats low carb, what does it do to the body, how does it work, why is it so effective, is it safe? I was reading non-stop day and night. That’s how I discovered the Keto diet. I bought Dr Atkins book, read it all from the first page to the last.
I became a member of every Keto group on Facebook, I was reading, asking questions, doing my homework and started slowly with very simple meals. It was amazing, the scale was just going down. That’s when I began to see my old self again, started feeling happy and re-started my workout program because my mood was so improved.
Tell us about your encounter with the Greek Goes Keto universe, how did you find us?
That’s when I started searching for Greek ketonians. I thought it is not possible to not find a greek keto group, there must be Greek ketonians, so we can come in touch, exchange information, answer questions, talk about real Keto food and not keto tacos/keto burgers/Keto pizzas etc. That’s when I found you! I was happy, a Greek nutritionist who knows everything about Keto and makes it Mediterranean!
Can you tell us a bit about your experience of working with Apollonas?
When I hit my first plateau, I knew where to go. To Apollonas! I trusted him 100% even before talking/working with him. At that time, I was watching the GGK group closely, I would read every post and watch every video he made. Interestingly, I knew that this was the best nutritionist and nothing could go wrong. That’s when I emailed him asking for help as I stopped losing weight.
The meal plan was fantastic!
Tasty food, big portions, never feeling hungry and losing weight! Apollonas is kind and patient and so helpful, always there to answer all my questions even the stupid ones, with so much patience and so fast. Always there when I needed advice.
You often point out that KMD helped you more than any other diet and lifestyle. is it easy to apply the KMD postulates in Cyprus?
Keto Mediterranean nutrition is definitely what my body needed and proved it. When I used to eat carbs and starches, I would spend endless nights sitting in the kitchen trying to soothe my upset stomach with mint tea wondering what did I eat to cause so much pain. Heartburns and stomach pain was something I was “getting used to”.
My body was rejecting all these but I wasn’t listening. Ever since I started low carb and then KMD, I didn’t experience all there not even once, ever again. At first, it was hard for me to ditch the bread and pies. I would very often ‘break’ and eat carbs. It took me quite some time to fully adjust and stop making these mistakes. I realised that I was poisoning myself.
All the bloating and the abdominal pain, the upset stomach, it was just not right. I no longer miss carbs, sometimes when there is something really tasty my husband may say, take a bite it won’t kick you out of ketosis, but I just don’t want it anymore.
KMD brought some lifestyle changes, what is the most challenging thing about it, and how did you find the balance?
The most challenging thing is having to prepare everything from scratch. Anything you want to consume, you have got to make it yourself. This is difficult sometimes because we work long hours and spend so little time at home doing the things we love to do.
During weekdays, the meals are kept very simple due to lack of time, treats are usually on weekends, but now with the quarantine, we had a blast at home cooking and baking!
Importance of lifestyle changes
What are your favourite hobbies or activities that you can still practice on KMD?
My hobbies have not been affected by my nutrition. I do my workouts every day, on days that I don’t train the lower body, I also do some cardio, I love the treadmill! I will usually watch a movie as I walk or run, I enjoy that very much.
How do you cope with family gatherings and preparing food for “carb” eaters, do you ever make some Keto treats for the whole family?
When we have family or friends over for dinner, I cook what they love. That includes rice/potatoes/sweets of course but I always present a Keto dish and a Keto dessert. I want everyone to try our WOE and let them see how tasty and nutritious all these are.
Cypriots just adore grilling
Cypriots love BBQ. They love cooking fatty meats, not sausages and patties. In almost every friend/family gathering there will be a BBQ. It’s a tradition. So I know that I will have some fatty meat along with some salad and I am happy with that.
Our friends and families respect my WOE and the effort I made to lose the excess weight, and they will always call and ask if there is anything special I would like them to prepare. As long as we have a BBQ, I’m good!
My husband and daughter are carb eaters too, but I try to limit their carb intake. For example, I will make lamb or beef (homemade) kebab, burgers, meatballs and salad only. No potatoes, no rice, no bread, no fancy salad dressing. My daughter is thinking of going low-carb and of course, I encourage that. She may become one of us Ketonians, who knows! 😉
You are an example of a person who takes KMD tot he full potential, is laughter and positive attitude helping you achieve even more on KMD?
We should always be positive and laugh, it is uplifting. A day without laughter is a day wasted. When we laugh we create a positive aura around us which is transferred to the people around us I think. And when we are happy we are more creative and more energetic.
What is your favourite GGK recipe that you always go to when you want to prepare something that everyone would like?
Oh, dear! Which is my favourite? All of them! When it comes to dessert, the Keto Sokolatopita and the Greek yogurt cake are on the top of the list. The yogurt cake is divine! As for main courses, Greek meatballs with kalamata olives I think. Everyone loves meatballs, so here are the best ones! And avocado with feta as a starter. I also love tweaking and playing with the recipes and each day I get a new idea. I think this way of living and eating is so liberating!