Why My Entire Family is on the Mediterranean Diet

by on January 2nd, 2011
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What would you do if you had to cook for a group of 6 people that all had conflicting nutritional requirements; and because of this you could not cook with dairy, soy, sugar, eggs, beets, or carrots? If you did, someone could die. It seems easy at first, until you realize that most milk substitutes are made from soy, carrot and beet juice are now being used as a natural food dye in almost everything, and the average ingredient list contains more than three different types of sugar. Now imagine having to do it on less than $300 a month. This is my life. This is also why my family is on the Mediterranean Diet.

One of my children has type-1 Diabetes. Her sugar regulation is essential. An unscheduled piece of candy or unexpected sugar ration could make her extremely ill, even send her into coma. But table sugar isn’t the only thing I have to worry about when cooking for her. Not all carbs are created equal, some have a higher Glycemic Index (GI) than others. Things like corn and processed wheat are just as bad for her as a gumdrop. The Mediterranean Diet calls for low-glycemic foods in general, such whole wheat and less processes grains. It also allows for very little added sugar and emphasizes naturally sweet foods, like fresh fruit, as deserts and treats.

Two other members of my family are allergic to dairy, one fatally so. Even trace amounts of casein could send her to the hospital and in for emergency surgery. The Mediterranean Diet calls for very little dairy in the first place, and in most recipes, the milk, cheese, or yogurt can be omitted entirely or served on the side. This allows those in my family who can have milk to do so.

Yet another member of my family is allergic to soy and eggs. Soy was never really a part of the Mediterranean Diet as it developed over the centuries, so finding easy and inexpensive recipes that don’t call for it is never a problem for me. And, because it also doesn’t call for the use of things like butter, I don’t have to worry about making two different dishes, one with butter and one with a butter substitute. Some processed soy products have a moderate GI ranking, which can make them bad for my daughter with Diabetes as well. The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes the use of olive oil instead of butter, which allows me to meet everyone’s dietary needs without compromising flavor.

My own allergies to beets and carrots are serve. The problem is that 60% of the world’s sugar supply comes from beets, and now it’s being added to many different foods, including juices, as a food coloring. Carrot juice is as well. But, because the Mediterranean Diet calls for mostly scratch cooked meals and very little sugar I can control this element with great ease. It also allows me to substitute the carrots in any given dish with things like parsnips.

Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet is also cost effective. Because it replaces the foods you already eat you aren’t having to deal with two grocery bills. It can also be switched to slowly, so you don’t’ have to go out and buy a bunch of new foods all at once. For me, because I’m no longer making 2-3 separate meals at every mealtime I’m saving a bundle on the regular weekly shopping too.

For more information on the Mediterranean Diet and what it is go to the Mayo Clinic website, or this section of WebMD.

More from Candes:
Cooking Techniques That Will Save You Money
4 Reasons to Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs
How My Love of Food Saved My Children’s Lives


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