Weight loss is an issue that concerns many people worldwide. Whether purely for aesthetic reasons, or because the value of a healthy body weight in achieving good health is consciously recognized, or even due to professional reasons, many people seek a solution. The goal of health professionals is to be able to provide a solution that will achieve weight loss, while protecting health, in such a way that the effect lasts over time. This might sound too good to be true, however the answer was given from the most unexpected place, the island of Ikaria.
In 2009 Ikaria joined the "Blue Zones", a total of 5 locations on the planet with the longest life expectancy and the best health status, both physically and mentally. This was mainly attributed to their lifestyle, with emphasis on their eating habits. The Ikarian nutrition is a type of plant-based diet, meaning a diet that is mainly based on the consumption of plant products (fruits, vegetables, cereals, olive oil, etc.), reducing animal foods, but not excluding them. It has been observed since the last century that the people of Ikaria tended to have a normal body weight, with very small percentages of overweight and obesity. And truly, when similar models were given, at a research level under various programs, to people with increased body weight, they seemed to have an effect on immediate reduction. What is worth mentioning is that the subjects did not report any difficulty in adhering to this type of diet. On the other hand, it seemed that indicators such as blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels also decreased, which was in line with the fact that the Ikarians, as a whole, seem to have very good cardiovascular health. Finally, in all the studies that had a follow-up period, it seemed that the subjects easily adopted their given model and maintained the fat loss.
One would reasonably wonder what happens to the part of calorie-counting. Admittedly, when entering a dieting process, we usually aim to achieve caloric intake lower than caloric expenditure. Our approach, however, is more holistic, that is, we aim at the regulation of body weight, while taking care of one’s health. We focus more on showing the way, without necessarily counting calories and grams accurately. Even olive oil, the main fat of the Ikarian nutrition, is recommended to be consumed without restrictions. That is not because we are not interested in calories, but rather because we know that by adopting this pattern, the portions of each meal are framed in such a way that we become full without over-eating, essentially eating as much as we need. The point is for the body to set its own limits, when I take care of my body it takes care of me too. The difference is in the type of food consumed, where, by consuming mainly products of plant origin, satiety is more easily achieved, while at the same time we have provided our body with all the energy and nutrients it needs. We therefore end up with a diet, not particularly restrictive, which has been proven to work in weight loss, and can step by step become a way of life.
Judging by the aforementioned, it is understandable that the previous generations have already given a solution to modern problems. Our job is to transfer this knowledge into daily practice, in such a way that the change of habits in order to regulate body weight and ensure good health and, why not, longevity is finally made consciously.