Diet blog: It's all Greek

Judith Wills / 19 April 2016

Our diet expert tries a bit of Greek dining and dancing in her quest to stay fit and slim.



So I got something right, after all, when I chose to lose just 2lbs a month on average on my Saga diet four years ago, taking 11 months to lose 22 pounds.  I felt it was the right way for me as it didn’t really feel like dieting; I could still have a bit of wine, and I never felt miserable or restricted.

Related: Judith's strange diet tricks that just might work

When I reached my target weight I didn’t then go “Yippee!  Diet’s over; I can pig out again now!” because there was no need.  Yes, I did find a few extra bits of carbs and chocolate and cheese creeping into my days but it wasn’t enough to find me putting all the weight back on within a few months – as so many dieters do.   I put on about 4 pounds over the next year and another 4lbs since, but I’m still a stone less than I was and within a suitable weight range for my height and age.

Now new Danish research finds that those who can keep lost weight off for at least a year are much less likely to find that it ever returns.  And that’s because by the end of a year, our bodies have learnt to control the hormones that have a large role in weight control.

Levels of ghrelin, the hormone that boosts hunger, fall and remain low, while GLP-1 and PYY, the hormonses that control satiety and appetite, rise and remain risen.

So, if follows, that if you lose weight very quickly (some people shed what I did in a matter of weeks) then your body hasn’t had time to do it’s hormone re-setting trick, and you are almost bound to fail in the long term.

Interesting. 

And as I’m also partial to a bit of meze, ouzo and Yiannis Parios (look him up, you’ll love him), I’m greatly excited by the news that one of the best ways to keep fit and healthy when you’re 60-plus may be to indulge in some traditional Greek dancing.

Apparently, it improved the ability of a set of heart patients in their ‘70s to jump higher and faster and increased their general strength.

I was searching You Tube for some ideal and life-affirming Greek dance music to get me  (and Husband, and friends) started when I came across a clip of Greek people dancing after a meal.  Looking at the amount of food on the nearly-collapsing tables, I can see why they found the need to get up and move.  I also conclude, after watching the whole thing, that not all Greek dancing may offer much of a fitness boost.  My search continues …

And talking of meze, here’s an old favourite of mine that’s easy to make, full of good healthy things and tastes wonderful.  Serves 4 as part of a meze or 2 as a light lunch.

Related: 10 healthy Mediterranean foods

Grilled marinated aubergines with feta

  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 75g Greek feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaved parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Top and tail the aubergines and slice them lengthways about ½ cm thick.  Halve and de-seed the pepper and cut it into 8 pieces.  Brush the aubergines with the olive oil and place them with the peppers on a large griddle or under a hot grill or on a barbecue.  Cook until lightly browned then turn and cook a little while longer or until a sharp knife goes easily through.  While still warm, arrange on a platter with the pepper strips, drizzle over any remaining olive oil and the lemon juice with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle on the feta and herbs.  If you have time, leave at room temperature to marinate for a couple of hours.  And do a little Greek dance while you wait.

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