DISCLAIMER: I got “The Pioppi Diet” book for FREE from Penguin.

This book arrived at my doorstep approximately a month ago. I was very enthusiastic to be asked to read a book based on the Mediterranean way of life, the food, the diet, and its health benefits and write about it. As a relatively young blogger in the food and nutrition area, I am still finding my feet and therefore you can imagine my excitement when I realised that I am in the radar of publishers.

Nevertheless, being a registered dietitian with a heavy background in nutrition and scientific research, I have summed up below some comments, that came to me while reading “The Pioppi Diet”. I am not a confrontational type of person (unless you go after my husband).

I guess I carry a mixture of feelings finishing the book, a mixture of lots of confusion plus some disappointment. I am confused because the book uses as a backdrop the Mediterranean lifestyle together with the Mediterranean diet, food and activity habits. However, this gets mixed up with:

Is the Pioppi diet high in “healthy” saturated fat?

Just to say, but even today’s recent Pubmed search I did, convinced me really of how cautious we should be with how much saturated fat we include in our diets. Ooops!

Is the Pioppi Diet a low-carb diet that avoids all flour-based products amongst others?

Well, I am from Corfu (one of the islands studied by Ancel Keys) and I have Italian friends too, we have never experienced a low-carb diet by our parents or our village grannies. The traditional Mediterranean Diet is based on whole grains, flours, and slices of bread and the pyramid shows this clearly as they are at the bottom of daily consumption.

Do people in Pioppi add coconut cream to their coffee?

As my granny would say…”Coconut what? Why my dear child?” or even “And where have you seen coconut trees hanging about on this island?” – and knowing my granny, she would rather eat worms!

Do traditional recipes of Pioppi include Korean, Indian, Thai and other cuisines?

I love so much exotic ingredients and other cuisines but where people eating these in Pioppi to gain all the mentioned health benefits?

Should we be going to the gym or not?

We are being told that people in Pioppi never went to the gym (there is no gym in Pioppi the book says) but embraced a physically active life on a daily basis, working in fields and/or to make ends meet. Indeed, in the rural Mediterranean of the 60s, there were no cars or good means of transportation. People had to walk 5-10 kilometres on a daily basis.

Then in the book, we get a set of Chi exercises to do ourselves, at home, at work, etc. I have no issue with exercise, movement or a lovely set of exercises to keep me healthy. I love yoga myself.

But honestly, my granny never put a yoga mat down the floor, you have to believe me. She had though, her own vegetable and fruit produce in her, not very small field, at the village to which she kept going until last year when her ankle gave up. When she was a child, she had to walk from the village to the city carrying bags of produce to sell to the rich, waking up at 3am and walking for 2-3 hours and back. Her legs are the worst I have seen on possibly anyone. But she is 80 years old and going strong until now (maybe I should be publishing a book about her).

Is the Pioppi diet an intermittent fasting, low-carb, high-saturated fat, diet or a Mediterranean-style diet?

I am not sure there is enough evidence around the long-term effects of intermittent fasting and obesity yet. It is true though that any consistent change you make to your diet and lifestyle, this most possibly will lead to weight loss and due to that to some health benefits. The question is whether these changes can be lasting or healthy for each one of us, as different people may have different reasons (genetics, physiology, pathology, psychology, environmental, educational, etc. all play different parts in each person) why they carry extra weight. The traditional Greek Mediterranean diet would have embraced religious fasting which included a strict vegetarian style diet a couple of days per week plus some specific days and periods throughout the year. They never counted calories or starved themselves on purpose. Religious fasting had more to do with willpower, conscious decision making and thought and it possibly served well the religious people to feel that they were choosing to fast, rather that there was actually not enough food and, more specifically, meat for everyone.

My daddy grew up as one of the rich families of a small village on the mountain of Corfu. They could afford a small piece of meat each in a family of five – once a week!

The Pioppi Diet cannot be both an exclusion and a Mediterranean-diet at the same time.

It is quite easy to demonise one thing or “superfood” another in our diet and serve this up as the panacea for all illness. Carbs, refined carbs, sugar, gluten, saturated fat, corn oil, olive oil, coconut oil, total fat,  and the list will go on have all been on the focus of science and media as culprit of obesity and/or related illness together with the solution: COMPLETE EXCLUSION from our diets (or all hell will break loose).

So to sum up, I had high hopes that this book would bring a bit of the Mediterranean Diet magic to the world. However, it got confusing by mixing up a trip to Pioppi village with personal routines and meal preferences that have nothing to do with the Mediterranean Diet and way of life. And this is where for me, it got disappointing…as it was like being served a lovely Greek tradtional coffee only to discover that it came with a splash of coconut cream and turmeric powder in it.

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DISCLAIMER: I got “The Pioppi Diet” book for FREE from Penguin.

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