New fasting diet based on what long-living Greek monks eat

Lose weight, look younger and live longer – that’s the motto for the new Mediterranean fasting plan inspired by the monks of Mount Athos. Intrigued, Healthista just HAD to find out more.

We’ve known for years about the proven health benefits of Mediterranean inspired diets, so were expecting to see a similar thing when we opened our copy of The Mount Athos Diet by Richard Storey, Sue Todd and Lottie Storey. What we found however, was a new (and attainable) take on an old favourite that left us desperate to try the plan out for ourselves.

With studies that show they are among the healthiest people on earth, the plan is inspired by the Greek monks of Mount Athos and their Mediterranean diet. Amazingly, research has shown that within their tight-knit communities Cancer is almost unheard of, strokes and cardiac arrests are pretty much non existent and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are extremely rare. The monks have also been proven to live, on average, several years longer than men living in mainland Greece.

Mount Athos in Greece is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries.

Mount Athos in Greece is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries.

The central principle of the Mount Athos diet is an eating plan favoured and followed by the monks who live there for over 1,000 years. There is no calorie counting, and meals are based around a typical Greek peasant diet (don’t panic, it’s better than it sounds), with a high proportion of vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, whole grains and olive oil.

The plan focuses on a pattern of three varying diet days – three days for ‘fasting’, three days for moderate eating and one ‘feast’ day, where you can eat and drink whatever you like.

Throughout the process, you are encouraged to have a high intake of seasonal vegetables, fish and chicken while also allowing yourself – as the monks do – a moderate intake of red wine. The Mount Athos Diet is about changing the way you eat and your relationship with food, and aims to utilise the health benefits of the monks’ diet in a practical way which works for the rest of us.

Want to know more? Here’s the plan in brief along with how to make it work for you.

Fresh OlivesFAST DAYS

Fast days are for eating exactly as the Mount Athos monks do. You should stick to what is essentially a low-fat, teetotal vegan diet. Three days a week should be dedicated to fasting, for example Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

NO:

  • Dairy – milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream
  • Meat – beef, pork, meat products
  • Fish or shellfish – prawns, squid, fish products
  • Eggs
  • Chips, fried foods, pastry, pies
  • Crisps and other snack foods
  • Sweets, chocolate and confectionary
  • Sugar and sugary drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Oils and fats
  • Mayonnaise and fatty salad dressings

CAN EAT:

Unlimited: 

  • Vegetables (except avocados and potatoes)
  • Fruit
  • Herbal teas
  • Water
  • Spices, herbs and pepper

In moderation:

  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Grains – rice, bulgur wheat, couscous, quinoa, barley, oats
  • Bread – preferably wholemeal
  • Plain crackers, oat cakes and breadsticks
  • Fruit juice (no more than two small glasses a day)
  • Avocados (no more than half a day)
  • Pulses – peas, lentils, beans, butter beans, kidney beans
  • Olives and olive spray
  • Honey
  • Condiments and sauces
  • Dried fruits, nuts and seeds (no more than one handful a day)
  • Tea and coffee (without milk or sugar)
  • Salt

Mediterranean Omega-3 Diet.MODERATION DAYS

Moderation days are more varied than fast days, but portion size is key. Three days a week should be dedicated to moderate eating, for example Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

NO:

  • Red meat or meat products – sausages, burgers, ham, bacon
  • Chips, fried food, pastry, pies
  • Sugar or sugary drinks
  • Crisps and other snack foods
  • Sweets and confectionary
  • Cakes, biscuits, croissants and pastries

CAN EAT:

Unlimited:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables (except avocados and potatoes)
  • Herbal/fruit teas
  • Water
  • Spices, herbs and pepper

In moderation:

  • Grains – rice, couscous, barely, oats
  • Pulses – beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Bread – preferably wholemeal
  • Crackers, oatcakes and breadsticks
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Fruit juices
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Honey
  • Greek yogurt
  • Semi-skimmed or skimmed milk
  • Cheese (a small piece)
  • Small amount of butter
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Chicken
  • Alcohol (preferably red wine, and no more than 2 units per day)
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Salt

Fresh Homemade PizzaFEAST DAYS

One day a week you can have a break from your strict eating plan and ‘feast’ – which basically means indulging in whatever you fancy. Anything from red meat to alcohol is allowed, as long as you don’t go completely over the top. The Feast Day is designed to eradicate the constant ‘saying no’ that comes with other diets, allowing you to escape that long-term feeling of deprivation. The Feast Day also helps to alleviate feelings of guilt, as you can actually enjoy meals out with friends, baking or parties without feeling bad about it, as you know you will be back to a Fast Day very soon. You should plan for one Feast day a week, for example Saturday.

menu 1ON THE MENU: A TYPICAL WEEK

Monday (Fast Day)

Breakfast: Stewed Apple with Oats

Lunch: Roast Pepper, Spinach and Orange Salad

Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup

Tuesday (Moderation Day)

Breakfast: Scrambled Egg with Rye Toast

Lunch: Coriander and Coconut Soup

Dinner: Mount Athos Baked Fish with Parsley and Onions

Dessert: Pineapple, Berry and Mint Fruit Salad

White Bean Salad with Spring Onions and Parsley

White Bean Salad with Spring Onions and Parsley

Wednesday (Fast Day)

Breakfast: Grilled Peaches

Lunch: Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Soup

Dinner: Black Bean Chilli

Thursday (Moderation Day)

Breakfast: Greek Yogurt with Granola and Fruit

Lunch: Mackerel Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Cannellini Beans

Dinner: Asian Poached Chicken with Sesame Green Beans

Dessert: Melon with Rosewater

A vegetable tagine with carrots, tomatoes and chick peas

Vegetable Tagine with Carrots, Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Friday (Fast Day)

Breakfast: Muesli with Fruit Juice

Lunch: Mount Athos White Bean Salad with Spring Onions and Parsley

Dinner: Vegetable Tagine with Carrot, chopped Tomato and Chickpeas

Saturday (Feast Day)

On this day you should relax your diet plan and eat the sorts of foods you ate before you started. This is the perfect time for meals out, baking or indulging in the sweet treats you love, just remember your goals and try to enjoy yourself without going overboard.

Sunday (Moderation Day)

Breakfast: Banana Pancakes

Lunch: Chicken Soup with Carrot, Sweet Potato and Celery

Dinner: Spaghetti with Leeks and Butternut Squash

Dessert: Banana Ice Cream

mount athos book

 

New book The Mount Athos Diet: The Mediterranean Plan to Lose Weight, Feel Younger and Live Longer (£10.99) launched on May 1st and is available to buy on Amazon.

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