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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 July 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 JULY 2018 13 FOOD FOR THOUGHT Dr Mariani signing books at the launch at the Italian Museum. PHOTOS: LORENZO CAMBIERI Group photograph of Dr Mariani with the contributors of the book. Attendees at the book launch enjoying snacks from Caterina’s Cucina e Bar Restaurant. Restaurateur and TV personality Caterina Borsato is one of the contributors to the book. different types of cancers." Meanwhile, he points out that there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the principles of the Mediterranean diet, which deter people from making a truly healthy switch. Compiling the recently launched recipe book was a way for Dr Mariani to help people gradually incorporate the elements of the diet into their daily eating habits by introducing them to basic cooking. And this is why he chose for it to a be a collaborative effort of representatives from migrant communities, writing recipes handed down to them through generations, among them, a dietitian and a restaurateur. "It doesn't mean they have to change everything about their diet; the recipes are often simple and people shouldn't be afraid of that," Dr Mariani says. "I'm getting some interesting reports from people who had never tried those recipes. For example an Aussie colleague who had pasta with broccoli for the first time! Such a simple thing and they loved it, and they've never had it in their lives even though they're in their 50s." He further reminds us that the concept of diet, as derived from the Greek word diaita, essentially means lifestyle, referring to both the importance of physical activity, but also the sociocultural aspect of food. "We know that people nowadays are constantly in a rush and usually don't have meals at home with family and friends. "One of the principles of the Mediterranean diet was the family connection, the community element, which has an effect that I don't think has been measured in a clinical sense, but is certainly a positive one." Dr Mariani was also raised in an environment where food was above all, a way of life, having spent his early childhood in Tocco da Casauria, a small town in central Italy, before migrating to Australia at the age of seven. "I remember during my first years in Australia, when my parents would go to work from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm, my sister and I would prepare some of the meals even from the age of 10," he recalls. "Things changed, however, at a later stage, and especially when going to university and all of a sudden [I] started eating all these processed foods …" In his first book, he attributes this shift away from traditional dietary patterns, as experienced by Italians, Greeks and other migrants after settling in their new home, to the Westernisation of their diet and what he calls the "migration paradox". "I often get asked why do people from overseas put on so much weight, whilst they are supposed to be following the Mediterranean diet [...]. What happens is they come to Australia, the land of plenty, surrounded by calories and end up following the so-called Western diet." He explains that within this process of introducing to the diet lots of meat and animal fat, refined foods and products with added sugars, they experience a paradox. While benefiting from a Western country's offerings, such as good education and increased opportunities, they see their health deteriorating. This is why, according to Dr Mariani, young people, second- and third-generation migrants should learn from their parents and grandparents how they can reap the benefits of the authentic Mediterranean diet, not only through food choices, but even with things connected to that way of life, such as looking after their veggie garden to grow their own organic food. "It started as the poor man's diet. They didn't know it back then, but they paved the way to this incredible diet with its anti-inflammatory effects, which reduces disease risk, is good for your health, and prolongs a happy life."
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