Noah, A., A.S. Truswell, 2001. There are many Mediterranean diets. Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr. 10(1):2-9.
Interest in Mediterranean diet began 30 years ago, when Ancel Keys published the results of the famous Seven Countries Study. Since 1945, almost 1.3 million people have come to Australia from Mediterranean countries as new settlers. There are 18 countries with coasts on the Mediterranean sea: Spain, southern France, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Bosnia, Albania, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Malta, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. This study from which this report derives aims to investigate the influence of the food habits of immigrants from Mediterranean countries on Australian food intake. Here we look at the ‘traditional’ food habits of the above Mediterranean countries as told by 102 people we interviewed in Sydney, who came from 18 Mediterranean countries to Sydney. Most of the informants were women, their age ranged from 35 to 55 years. The interview was open-ended and held in the informant’s home. It usually lasted around 11/2 hours. The interview had three parts. Personal information was obtained, questions relating to the food habits of these people back in their original Mediterranean countries and how their food intake and habits have changed in Australia were also asked. From the interviews, we have obtained a broad picture of ‘traditional’ food habits in different Mediterranean countries. The interview data was checked with books of recipes for the different countries. While there were similarities between the countries, there are also important differences in the food habits of the Mediterranean countries. Neighboring countries’ food habits are closer than those on opposite sides of the Mediterranean Sea. We suggest that these food habits can be put into four groups. The data here refer to food habits in Mediterranean countries 20 or 30 years ago, as they were recovering from the Second World War. There is no single ideal Mediterranean diet. Nutritionists who use the concept should qualify the individual country and the time in history of their model Mediterranean diet.