Did you know that the word diet derives from the Greek "diaita"? Meaning "way of life." Dietetics has existed since the days of Hippocrates in Greece. It was a form of preventative method that helped the ill obtain good health in life.
In Ancient Greece a diet was focused on obtaining good overall health, e.g., a healthy mind and body and not a radical weight loss program as it is often associated with nowadays. It was not a pursuit that people followed often at a great cost to themselves in order to maintain a healthy body weight. In ancient Greece it applied to standard foods from nature and not to specific foods that are often toxic to the body with fancy and colorful labels to lure us in such as "low-fat," "lite," "fat-free" and so on. Unfortunately nowadays diets have become nothing more than a money-making business preying on unsuspecting people often to communicate false hopes and promises. These products and claims do nothing more than to temporarily place people on a radical or highly-restrictive program of eating in order to lose weight and do nothing to address the emotional aspects of weight gain and associated health issues.
In ancient Greece there was a focus of enjoying due measure in all foods and observing a "Mediterranean diet" type approach with exercise. An individual focused approach that was in harmony and in tune with people's harmonies. Hippocrates also categorized food between hot and cold. Hot foods for cold weather were high in calories and diet of cold foods for hot weather low in calories. Food was prescribed for the cure of illnesses, to cheer the melancholy, or refreshing the passionate. The focus was on the balance and harmony of the body, mind and spirit.
Food is meant to nurture us and not torture us. Comfort us and nourish us. Often when we have emotional challenges we turn to food as our comforting blanket. We can end up eating in excess and for the wrong reason. A radical diet alone will not address the overeating or the unwise food choices.
I struggled with my weight and ill health for many years. Food became my way of dealing with my childhood abuse, abandonment issues and other related emotional issues. Food became a protection mechanism and a way to feel comfort. I tried many of these so called "modern" diets and temporarily forgot my ancient ancestors teaching on what a diet was really all about. During these times it was difficult to recognize how to enjoy due measure with my food. Once I acknowledged the source of how I was disconnected from food and myself and began to detox the associated emotions the way of eating changed. I awakened and recognized my unhealthy relationship with food. I began to listen to my body's callings and to what it wanted me to eat. Self-love played a big part. My weight began to dissolve with the love, self-care and by adopting many of the ancient Greek practices I discovered.
So what were these ancient Greek practices?
1. Exercise due measure and mindfulness in what you eat -- Everything in moderation -- Oracle of Delphi Nothing in excess -- Solon Adopt a lifelong program of everyday wholesome, healthy, loving and pleasurable eating. Ensure high-vibrational foods (e.g. organic fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, olive oil etc.) exceeds the consumption of low vibrational foods (e.g. sugar, processed foods, meats and poultry, cheese, vegetable/canola/soy oil etc.).
2. Love yourself and strive for a happy and healthy mind -- Detox and diet your mind of all unfavorable emotions, e.g., fear, unworthiness etc. No advertised diet will fix your emotions. When unhealthy thoughts are dealt with the fat will dissolve. Love is the cause of unity of all things. -- Aristotle. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom -- Aristotle Think good thoughts -- The Oracle of Delphi. The energy of the mind is the essence of life -- Aristotle.
3. Moderate exercise -- Do something you enjoy such as walking, yoga or hiking. If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health -- Hippocrates.
4. Affirmation, Prayer and Gratitude -- Each day I prayed and asked my body for guidance on what it wanted to eat to feel nourished and healthy. As I received the answers on what I should eat and began to lose the weight I thanked it. Finally we could all do with some encouragement along the way. Affirmations were widely practiced in Ancient Greece and Aristotle wrote extensively on affirmations and their practice. Affirmations were used by the ancient Greeks to look at the world and life from a positive frame of mind and to promote healing. One of my affirmations was: "I am a loving divine being. I am willing to release all my fears and the need for my excess weight. I am loved and feel loved. All is well in my life."
5. Eat with Peace, Calm and Joy -- Mealtimes are a time to form a relationship with your food and to savor the flavors. It is vital that you take the time to chew and eat your food slowly. Eat mindfully, enjoyably and be aware of how the food you are eating affects your body. Eat for the purpose of nourishing your body, after all, it is a spiritual temple. At feasts, remember that you are entertaining two guests, body and soul. What you give to the body, you presently lose; what you give to the soul, you keep forever. -- Epictetus.
Throughout my journey of weight loss and ill health I discovered that there is no one diet that will accommodate all people. Your inner wisdom knows what diet will work for you. Remembering the ancient Greek definition for diet is a way of life trust yourself and look within to discover which way of life is right for you.