When most of us think of a ‘diet’, we envision eating measly portions of grilled chicken with steamed vegetables and going to bed with a rumbling belly. We do this for a couple of weeks or months, lose some weight (if we’re lucky) and more often than not, go back to however we were eating before.
But in actual fact, the word ‘diet’ originates from the Greek word ‘dietia’, meaning ‘lifestyle’ or ‘way of life’. And that’s exactly what the latest eating plan to hit the scene is all about. A far cry from most modern diet trends that involve restrictive eating and calorie counting (which science shows doesn’t work btw), The Pioppi Diet is a lifestyle plan designed to improve your health long-term.
Pioppi is a small village in Southern Italy where locals are known to live for more than 10 years longer than average, while still eating delicious food and drinking a glass of wine every night. Not only do many people in the area live to 100, they do so while maintaining a healthy weight and typically avoiding the chronic diseases of ageing, such as type-2 diabetes and dementia.
Sounds amazing, right?! What’s their secret? That’s exactly what cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra was determined to find out, having learned of Pioppi from American physiologist and founder of the Mediterranean diet, Professor Ancel Keys. Alongside filmmaker Donal O’Neill, Dr. Malhotra travelled to Pioppi to study the locals and film the documentary, The Big Fat Fix. He’s since distilled his learnings into a book, The Pioppi Diet, released earlier this year.
Dr. Malhotra found that the Pioppians were eating a Mediterranean-esque diet— high in good fats (like olive oil, eggs and oily fish) and veggies, moderate protein and limited amounts of refined carbs and sugar (think small amounts of pasta and dessert only on Sundays, usually dark chocolate) Essentially, they’re doing what common sense has always told us — enjoy everything in moderation. However, it’s not all about the diet. Here are some other points Dr. Malhotra discovered about Pioppians which may contribute to their longevity.
They don’t hit the gym or exercise for weight loss — they stay active mainly by walking
They get at least 7 hours of sleep each night
They live relatively stress-free lifestyles
They get plenty of vitamin D
They enjoy a strong sense of community
You can learn more about the secrets of the world’s blue zones (where people live to over 100)here.