Six years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After undergoing a grueling winter of chemotherapy, a number of surgeries and an entire summer of radiation treatments, I asked my oncologist what I could be doing in the future to safeguard against relapse.
“You have done everything medically possible,” he said, “go out there and have a good time.”
Well, as much as I love my doctor, that is not what I hoped or wanted to hear.
I needed practical and empowering advice on nutritional and lifestyle changes that would help me feel that I had some sway in the outcome of my health.
I suspect that my doctor didn’t know much more than I what cancer prevention blueprint one could outline to ensure optimal health and a positive outcome.
Well, after reading Zest for Life – The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet by Conner Middelmann-Whitney, I feel that I have found the guidance I was seeking.
Zest for Life provides clear, realistic and useful encouragement for living a certain kind of nutritional lifestyle, a lifestyle modeled on the ancient dietary traditions of the Mediterranean region.
Every nutritional assertion is supported with footnotes of reputable scientific studies and references for a clear explanation on the link between food and disease as currently known.
By taking a fresh look at the time-tested eating habits of the Mediterranean countries (Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Morocco and others,) Middelmann-Whitney illuminates the deficiencies of our western diet. She cites study after study on the relationship of processed foods and first world diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
And, she gives us clear recommendations for changes we can make to improve the odds of staying healthy.
What is at the essence of the Mediterranean diet?
- Vegetables and fruits
- Olive oil
- Legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds
- Aromatic herbs and spices
- Fish and eggs (in moderation)
- Dairy products (in moderation)
- Meat ((in moderation)
- Wine (in moderation)
- Extremely low intake of processed foods
- Conviviality – sharing food and drink with other people
So, eating a variety of fresh, non-processed, organic foods with people we love is good for our health. Who can possibly dispute that?
While the first part of Zest for Life supports an excellent argument for the Mediterranean diet, the second part provides a list of easy to follow recipes, a number of which I have tried and greatly enjoyed.
Snacks and hors d’oeuvres? How about some roasted peppers with garlic and olives (one of my favorite dishes!) Try a timeless Greek salad or (again one of my favorites, and soooo easy to make – eggplant caviar.)
With the cooler fall weather coming our way, why not try Moroccan chicken and garbanzo soup? Or (my mouth waters just writing it down) curried pumpkin and apple soup and toasted pumpkin seeds?
There is a recipe for every meal and every season – from porcini omelet to Bouillabaisse to lentil moussaka; Spaghetti puttanesca; Sicilian eggplant stew; healthy marinades and salad dressings; hazelnut-chocolate oatmeal – to name just a few. The recipes are easy to make and ingredients readily available in most supermarkets.
And yes, this is a healthy dish when eaten in moderation – Queen of Sheba chocolate cake!
Zest for Life is a lovely book, well written and informative. It is also fun, full of joy and affirmation of the human desire to eat and our love and delight in food.
I am buying a copy of this book for each of my children.
I hope that it will help them eat well and eat with pleasure.
For more information, visit ZestForLifeDiet.com.