American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition

 

Dance With Me

Girls Greek dancingI spent the last weekend at a Greek Dance competition. Yes, that is actually a thing. The same Greek dancing you see in the movies and at Greek Food Festivals.

We get together to celebrate our faith, culture and heritage.  Kids and adults perform dances passed down from generation to generation in Greek villages, wearing the traditional dress for that time and place. Our kids learn where they come from, honoring the people who made it possible for them to be here today.

Greek dancersWe are keeping these traditions alive, because its important to remember the wisdom of those who came before us, and strengthen the bonds of our community.

That means 3,000 Greek people in one hotel, for an entire (loud) weekend. While the dancing and costumes reflected our Mediterranean heritage, the food in the hotel did not. Three days of buffet food (think greasy tacos, burgers, pasta, white bread, and iceberg lettuce salads) and trips to the bar to help ease my claustrophobia and general unease in large, loud crowds left me feeling bloated and tired.

My skin was red and irritated, I wasn’t sleeping well, and I felt old. In the past I would have given up on healthy eating after this, thinking that I blew it. And it was a little tempting to keep eating junk and drinking wine every night, except that its basically my job to live healthfully so I can pass what I learn on to you.

So I stopped drinking wine, eating sweets and stuff made with white flour (like white bread, pretzels, pita chips). Breakfast was Grape Nuts with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and a piece of fruit; lunch was lentil vegetable soup and a couple of whole grain crackers and more fruit; snacks were nuts or trail mix; dinner was a big salad with beans or chicken. Plenty of water and tea. beautiful Greek girl in traditional costume

It only took a few days to feel like myself again. Energetic and strong, clear skin and fitting back into my jeans. Before becoming a nutritionist, every day felt like I had been at a weekend conference. I felt fat and bloated and my skin was itchy and red.

I didn’t realize how different how I feel now is from how I felt back then. Sometimes we have to feel the pain again to see how far we have come. I don’t wan’t to go back to that, ever.

My  Greek grandparents knew how to eat to feel good, and that wisdom is worth celebrating and passing on to you.

  • Fresh fruit makes the best dessert and helps us digest our food and get a good night’s sleep.
  • Vegetables are the foundation of a good meal.
  • Beans and lentils and nuts give us protein and protect our heart.
  • Olive oil is good for us and gives us beautiful skin.
  • Sweets are for special occasions.
  • Bring joy, love and gratitude to every meal.

You’ll feel like dancing in just a few days of eating this way. If this seems overwhelming or hard, give me a call and I can help. Real food tastes better, and can be very easy once you learn a few tricks.

See you out on the dance floor!

 

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