It is one of the main conclusions drawn from two studies by the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), of the Foodlab group, published in the scientific journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, who point out that recovering the Mediterranean diet, with its benefits for health and the environment, implies ceasing to present it as an idealized model stagnant in the sixties, recommending that for citizens to return to follow the principles of this diet it is necessary observe it in its entirety, considering both the food and its rituals and customs.
Reinventing the Mediterranean diet
“Instead of recommending only products that were eaten in the past, you have to start by looking at what and how people eat today. Our lifestyle has changed and we no longer eat like fifty years ago, not only because our working hours are different, but also because we have less time to cook or we eat more and more in front of a screen. Neither are the products the same, nor are the cooking times, nor the kitchen instruments with which we prepare them. That is why those campaigns that propose a model that it is impossible to comply with in our society are unsuccessful, says the main researcher of the articles, Francesc Xavier Medina, director of the UNESCO Chair in Food, Culture and Development at the UOC.
According to the research, we need to see the Mediterranean diet as a series of cultural aspects that shape our diet and not just as a table of foods. In this sense, the study highlights that habits such as eating in company, sharing food or using nearby products are just as important for health and the environment, and have such beneficial functions as regulating appetite or favoring the choice of healthier foods.
“The Mediterranean diet must be understood as a whole in order to preserve its benefits and adapt them to different countries. When we talk, for example, of sustainability, we are talking about much more than the environment. The social and cultural dimension must be incorporated to achieve appropriate habits throughout the food chain: from the way we produce crops to what we ultimately buy in the supermarket or in the market, explains the main researcher, adding that the recommendations to promote The advantages of this diet should include other actions such as favoring certain types of production with measures or preventing distribution from being concentrated in certain hands that favor processed products.