The Mediterranean Diet is not a “weight-loss diet”
Food for culture
The Mediterranean diet – which brings together pleasure and health by uniting the act of sharing with proper nutritional balance – does not conform to either of the two categories of diets
The most popular diets can be generally categorized into two types:
a) “weight-loss” diets (i.e., low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, high-protein, Zone, etc.);
b) “alternatives” to normal eating habits (vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, organic, etc.).
In many cases, both approaches originate as a response to resistance to the food model typical of industrialized countries which – given its orientation towards impulse buying, fast-paced lifestyle, products of questionable origin and composition and nutritional imbalance – is generally perceived as being harmful to health or, in some cases, not very ethical. The basic problem that characterizes each of these diets is that, in adopting them, there is the risk of losing a fundamental, age-old value of food culture: the pleasure of eating in the company of others, i.e., the symbolic, ritual, hedonistic, emotional and sentimental role of sharing a meal.
Therefore, the Mediterranean diet – which brings together pleasure and health by uniting the act of sharing with proper nutritional balance – does not conform to either of the two categories and, as a result, should not be defined a “diet”. This is why its competition does not come from weight-loss or alternative diets. If anything, its competitor is sushi – a traditional light and balanced dish, recognized throughout the world for its elevated cultural and social status. While admittedly it is more a type of dish than an actual dietary style, sushi could also be seen as a “healthy” way of eating in company. Just like pasta for Italians, it is eaten for the pleasure of it without any sense of guilt.
The international success of sushi has been enhanced not only because it is connected to a specific culinary culture, a single dish and just one type of restaurant, but also by the fact that its lightness is evident and universally recognized, without there being any need for an explanation or scientific seal of approval. On the other hand, understanding the Mediterranean diet is not as easy or immediate. However, the competitive edge the Mediterranean diet has is that it will become increasingly relevant for people in the years to come in terms of its unquestionable environmental sustainability, a feature which today, thanks to the activity of the BCFN, is recognized universally.