Ladies…as busy women and mothers, life is a bit of a rollercoaster. You know what? Sometimes, our health can take a backseat while we are frantically ‘doing’ so much. As a Dietitian, Desi always knew that nutrition played a big part in how we looked and felt. But it was through her own personal journey (and health issues) that she saw first hand the true healing power of food. Saw first hand how the traditional diet and lifestyle of her heritage, The Mediterranean Diet could be so instrumental in a vibrant life.
Read Desi’s beautiful tale about reclaiming her health and her Greek heritage.
Post Updated 16 December 2020
There and Back Again…A Greek Girl’s Tale
by Desi Carlos, Dieitian and Nutritionist with Tree of Life Nutrition
I’m now hitting my late forties and starting to organise my 50th birthday celebrations, while asking myself where have the years gone? I have never been one to be concerned about my age, but I do want to be in good health and feeling great every day of my life.
People’s disbelief at my age is a great boost to my ego. I can certainly credit the Mediterranean diet/lifestyle for this and of course my Greek heritage. I have been a private practising Dietitian for over 27 years, and I am a champion for the Mediterranean Diet. I believe the Mediterranean Diet and the acceptance of my Greek heritage from rejection to superstar status, saved my life. Let me share some of my journey as to why.
When I turned 40, the gift of my third and last child Aria, was born. A great addition to the family and a good reason to stay healthy. At the time of Aria’s birth, I was running a full-time business, going home to two adolescent children and a newborn.
You just do these things as a woman, it’s expected of us, after all we are living in an age where women can do everything right?!
As a result of my ‘superhuman’ efforts and trying to be all things, my health started deteriorating at 40. Anxiety, depression, fogginess, heart palpitations, joint pains, loss of strength in my joints and leg pains started to set in. At times stopping me from even being able to walk. I experienced lethargy, weight gain, insomnia, gut irritation and bloating. I was falling apart. I also started seeing many patients around the same age going through similar problems.
Sound familiar? I understand how you feel.
I saw doctors and specialists repeatedly. My bloods showed no abnormalities. Why was this happening to me? My sister passed away from an autoimmune disease lupus and my father had rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps a similar fate would fall upon me?
I started researching and felt all my symptoms were possibly an autoimmune issue. After much research and having the right blood tests I was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease. My thyroid antibodies were in the thousands. Medicine could not help me as my TSH levels were normal. The literature pointed to food being a key component to feeling better. I am a Dietitian after all, my job is to use food as medicine to treat, improve and manage disease.
After 8 years of continual research it appears the health of the gut microbiome, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and our diet/food choices affect our health. They also impact the prevention and treatment of disease, improve mental health, boost immunity and increase longevity of life.
I am still uncovering the science to help us all feel good and look great. I am kicking some serious goals in the nutritional treatment of chronic disease and autoimmune disease. And yes as a result of sorting other issues, even achieving weight loss without restriction or deprivation.
This is what ‘I’ believe to be healthy at any size. To be truly healthy and improve your quality of life. Be metabolically healthy at the right body size and frame for you. Focus on achieving health parameters by getting your gut microbiome healthy, increasing fibre, decreasing sugar, supplying the body with prebiotics and probiotics all of which can be achieved by the best anti-inflammatory diet in the world, The Mediterranean diet, which happened to be under my nose all this time!
Our traditional way of living was the answer
Back in the day my mum regularly served legume dishes, eggplant dishes, fish and seafood meals, salads, slow cooked meals, olives, feta and homemade bread that my mother served every day and night. My mother limited soft drinks, sweets and treats to once a week. We drank Greek coffee and ate paximathia (rusks) when visiting friends.
My brother and I would sneak behind the bar when our parents weren’t looking to sneak shots of ouzo and red wine. After school we would ride our bikes, play soccer, run and come in at dinner time. On weekends we would take family trips to the beach, catch fish, play, run and swim. We regularly had family and friend get-togethers for chats and even more food. All this food and activity encapsulated the Mediterranean lifestyle and was a natural part of my Greek culture.
In my youth I felt like a secret agent, Greek by night, Aussie by day. I sooo longed to just be a typical Aussie and eat vegemite and jam on white processed bread and cornflakes. The problem was I loved the flavours and culture that my heritage offered me. As an Australian-Greek, I loved the outdoor activities and the Mediterranean food with some Aussie twists.
Getting me back to my heritage
When my sister and father passed away I was driven to make better lifestyle and food choices. It was not until I visited Greece and Italy in 2016 that I realized how much the Mediterranean Diet and their lifestyle of eating was making the people of those countries live longer. The food, the caring of their elderly, late and long family lunches and siestas. Wine in moderation, fresh produce and cooking meals for the family. I had rediscovered the elixir of life! My parents and many other migrants brought their traditions and culture unchanged when they arrived in Australia. It is this lifestyle that can make us healthy again and find mental stability.
I live and breathe this anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. It has taken away my ailments and helped thousands of my patients and their families. Hippocrates was correct when he said let food be thy medicine. It is the start of everything.
If you are interested in more vibrant health for yourself and your family, then we can help here at Tree of Life Nutrition! We are Mediterranean Diet specialists, and would love to introduce you to healthy and enjoyable eating, the Mediterranean way.
From recipes and meal plans, to shopping, cooking, education and one-on-one consultations – explore the wide range of ways we can help you.MEDITERANEAN DIET SPECIALISTS