The Mediterranean Diet Problems We Need to Talk About

The Mediterranean Diet Problems We Need to Talk About

Depending on who you are and where you’re from, nutrition advice can feel helpful — or make you think everything you’ve ever eaten is wrong. Eating well can mean something different to each of us, and the foods you grew up enjoying play a big role in deciding what you want to eat. When nutrition advice makes your favorite foods seem like an enemy or rules out your heritage altogether, you might start to think You are on the problem. But no: Experts say biases go into popular nutrition advice — and bypassing them can bring everyone a whole new understanding of food.

Putting diversity on the table

Nutrition advice has to come from somewhere, so we turn to the experts. However, 80% of registered dietitians in the United States are white and only 3% are black, according to the Diet Registration Committee. This can affect perspective and messages. “The top-down effect contributes to a very narrow definition of what ‘healthy’ means. The lack of nuance influences policy-making and, at the individual level, sends the message that to be healthy, you must look and eat like white women,” Laura Iu, RDowner of Laura Iu
Nutrition in New York City.

Food Scientist and Nutritionist Kira Nimb-Diop, Ph.D., he remembers being one of two black students in a human nutrition course in which a professor described African food as “disgusting”. In addition to the inappropriate comment, she says, I felt he wasn’t aware – there is a huge diversity of foods from the continent of Africa. She points out that what is said in the classroom can have a profound impact on perceptions of cultural foods.

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“The loopholes are in the people giving advice, which affects the practicality,” he explains Alison B Johnson, RDN, a black dietitian and director of nutrition services at Loma Linda University Medical Center. When people giving advice lack exposure and understanding of other cultures, they often rely on stereotypes to make suggestions. “In the United States, society stereotypes foods such as Chinese, Indian, and spirit foods as too fatty or too salty. These assumptions grossly misunderstand that our cultural dishes are broad and complex, rich in vitamins and nutrients, and include whole grains, proteins, and vegetables.”

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cognition problem

Many foods from black and brown cultures simply have not been comprehensively studied. “Nutritionists will say the research is supported by evidence-based practice, but the research is done on Western foods, by white people,” says Nimb Diop, who is of African and Caribbean descent.

For example, in a study published in Journal of the American Heart Association Which found a lower risk of heart attack for people sticking to a Mediterranean diet versus those who didn’t, Nimb Diop explains that researchers divided different cultural foods into categories and compared them to the more nutrient-dense foods in the Mediterranean diet. Southern food, often associated with black food culture, has been interpreted as a diet largely based on added fats, fried foods, egg and egg dishes, organ meats, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages. Nimb Diop says this study led many publications to print headlines that said things like “Too much Southern food can cause a sudden heart attack. She argues that researchers “mischaracterized Southern foods” when in fact Southern cuisine features an array of vegetables, including cabbage, mustard, peas, okra, cabbage, and sweet potatoes.

Additionally, Nimb Diop notes that historical foods of communities of color are often not considered acceptable until they have been “upgraded” and assimilated into the mainstream culture. “I see cultural foods considered unhealthy all the time until they are promoted by white influencers,” Iu agrees. For example, quinoa, a staple food in Central America for thousands of years, became a popular alternative to the grain elsewhere after it was adopted by white health and wellness experts. “Turmeric and milk were part of the Indian food culture and are now sold in some Starbucks stores,” adds Nimb Diop.

Transformations happen, but often without acknowledging the original cultures from which the new folk foods come from, and generally only after they are embraced by white health and wellness professionals, says Nimb Diop. When influencers fail to acknowledge the cultural roots of foods, it comes across as cultural appropriation, Iu notes: “I’ve noticed recently that there are white influencers on social media who use rice paper for spring rolls and dosa and claim it’s their ‘low-carb’ invention when in fact they are. These traditional foods are not for white influencers to offer a symbolic and appropriate symbol.”

Diversity of nutrition

Ben Goldstein

There is more than one way to eat healthy

Health food trends come and go, but this year the Mediterranean diet was named the best diet US News & World Report For the fifth year in a row. It’s hard to avoid the perception these days that this is the best way to eat.

surely he is Healthy: The Mediterranean diet consists mostly of plant foods such as legumes, nuts and grains with a moderate amount of dairy products and lean proteins such as seafood and chicken. It contains very little red meat and very little sweets, and the primary fat comes from olive oil. The diet was developed from the work of researcher Ansel Keys, who conducted studies in 1958 at seven countries It found that people who stick to this eating style have a lower incidence of heart disease and better overall health.

However, critics claim that despite the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, its focus as the best diet is to put Caucasian countries first on a pedestal and look at the foods of other countries. The Critical Nutrition Journal He points out that participants in Keys’ studies were predominantly white. Some countries that are largely made up of colorful societies, such as Egypt, Libya, and Turkey, are technically Mediterranean countries, but their foods such as rice, kebabs and pita bread are not included in this ideal diet.

In fact, most of the 21 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea – many of them in Africa or the Middle East – are not represented in the Mediterranean diet. The diet even excludes some areas that include blue areasThe five societies with the world’s longest living population.

Many experts do not question the benefits of a mostly vegetable diet
It reduces meat and sugar. It works with Johnson herself: “I have an autoimmune disease called systemic lupus erythematosus, and the Mediterranean diet is highly recommended for people like me because it’s high in anti-inflammatory foods,” she says.

The problem is the focus of the Mediterranean diet in our collective Western culture. Many Asian and African diets have vegetarian traditions as well, and many cultural foods can be modified to increase their nutritional benefits. For example, foods from Ethiopia, Morocco, Pakistan, China and India include many vegetarian dishes that are rich in fiber and plant proteins.

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Where do we go from here

When people are told they need to give up cultural foods to improve their health, Johnson says they will often avoid following their prescribed eating plan at all. So the first step is to restore these foods in a nutritious way.

To get started, Iu recommends making small changes to your current diet that don’t deprive you of enjoying cultural foods. For example, you can change the cooking method — for example, by replacing fried foods with ones cooked in an air fryer. “I suggest focusing on adding fruits and vegetables where it makes sense and still honors your culture and taste buds,” says Iu. “So, to make a quick stir fry, you don’t need to use cauliflower rice instead of white rice. You can use white rice and add other vegetables that you enjoy.”

Chef and founder of Todo Verde Jocelyn RamirezHe is also an advocate for food access and author of the cookbook La Vida VerdeShe says she did so when she created vegetarian versions of the foods she was brought up to eat that were “culturally relevant” to her community. For example, I created vegan versions of Bibian Rojo And the mole. “In Latinx communities, as I’m sure is true in many communities of color, food is all about the way we live together,” she says.

Individuals can begin to move beyond the Mediterranean diet with books and blogs that delve into how to embrace their culture with health in mind. books like Decolonize your diet By Luz Calvo, Catrióna Rueda Esquibel and Cookbook Southern Comfort Food Diabetes By Maya Feller as well as blogs like Plant-based RD And the Your nutrition expert for Latina It can help you connect with your cultural foods in a health-conscious way.

Additionally, to shift the trend toward more culturally emphasizing advice, the food science, health, and nutrition industry must become more committed to inclusivity. Johnson points out that this is not a black and white issue. She says that both a white dietitian working with a Mexican patient who eats chilaques and a black dietitian working with a Vietnamese patient who often eats faux may have difficulty making recommendations. Improving the advice offered requires consideration of the experiences, food culture, and social determinants of health that affect the BIPOC communities, says Iu.

Adding cultural foods to future research, nutritional recommendations, and classroom discussion will create a more holistic approach on a larger level as well. Nutritionists can then bridge the gap and see better outcomes for their patients that will have positive multiplier effects in families and communities.

Ultimately, Johnson believes change is possible, especially if there are more nutritionists
of color entering the field. “The knowledge is there,” she says.

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what aboutCopys?

The difficulty a person may have in obtaining healthy food can be another barrier to following common nutrition advice. Search showed that black households are three times more likely to be food insecure than white households, and that low-income communities face geographic and economic barriers to healthy choices. These families often live in food swamps (areas where processed and packaged foods have a wider range of healthy options) and food deserts (Areas where not many grocery stores or fresh food are available.)

The Nimbus Diop notes that the common advice to eat whole foods instead of processed foods presents a problem when processed foods are all a person has access to.

In addition, according to Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPoverty is directly related to obesity rates, low-income communities have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes and often lack the education, access, and funding to allow for proper nutrition.

Ramirez says people in her community are surrounded by fast food restaurants and grocery stores. Companies that use high-quality components and pay employees fairly often have higher operating costs and higher prices. To combat this, Ramirez plans to create a community bowl on a sliding scale and offer discounts at her next restaurant.

organizations like just roots Providing resources for those looking for solutions to food justice issues. You can also help connect families and communities with healthy food choices by supporting organizations like Food Empowerment Project and the Partnership for a Healthier America.


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