25 July 2024
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Anti-Aging Nutrition Tips for Expats in Greece: Healthy Eating at Any Age by Dr. Anna Papageorgiou

Moving to a new country often means significant changes to your daily habits, including your diet. As an expat in Greece, you have a wonderful opportunity to embrace the rich Mediterranean cuisine, celebrated for its health benefits.

This guide by Dr. Anna Papageorgiou, a renowned nutritionist, offers you the best tips to stay youthful and energetic while enjoying your life in Greece. By following these anti-aging rules, you can make the most of your new surroundings and maintain a healthy, vibrant lifestyle.

1. Food is a Social Event

In Greece, meals are often social occasions. Enjoying food with friends or family not only enhances your dining experience but also contributes to a healthier lifestyle. Imagine a leisurely Sunday lunch with fresh Greek salad, grilled fish, and good company – it’s a delightful way to stay healthy! Participating in local customs such as the traditional “Sunday taverna” experience can also help you integrate into your community.

2. Stay Hydrated

Greece’s warm climate makes staying hydrated crucial. Drink fluids throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Coffee and tea are popular in Greece, but water should be your primary choice. Try these tips to increase your water intake:

  • Carry a reusable water bottle: Keep it with you as you explore the local sites.
  • Keep a cold pitcher of water in your fridge: Add lemon slices for a refreshing taste.
  • Enjoy unsweetened sparkling water: Perfect for those who crave bubbles.
  • Add fruit or herbs: Mint and cucumber make a refreshing combination.

3. Spice Up Your Life

Greek cuisine is rich in herbs and spices, which are excellent for flavor without the need for extra salt. Use local herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley to enhance your meals while keeping your kidneys and heart healthy. Visit the local markets to find fresh herbs and spices that are integral to Greek cooking.

4. Nutrient-Dense Choices

As you age, your body needs more nutrients but fewer calories. Focus on nutrient-rich foods to meet your dietary needs. Incorporate a variety of vitamins and minerals into your meals to stay healthy and energized. Take advantage of Greece’s abundant fresh produce, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and leafy greens.

5. Meet Your Nutrient Needs

Ensure you’re getting enough calcium, vitamin D, potassium, fiber, vitamin B12, and protein. Read nutrition labels and consult your doctor or dietitian about supplements if necessary. Greek yogurt, a local staple, is an excellent source of calcium and protein.

6. Safe Food Practices

Food safety is vital. Discard any food with a strange smell, taste, or texture, and always check use-by dates. Stock up on canned or frozen foods for convenience if shopping is difficult. Familiarize yourself with local food safety standards and practices.

7. Dairy and Alternatives

Dairy is an excellent source of calcium and other nutrients. Choose low-fat or fat-free options to reduce saturated fat intake. If you’re lactose intolerant, opt for lactose-free milk or plant-based calcium sources like almonds, broccoli, cauliflower, sesame seeds, and soybeans. Greek feta cheese, in moderation, can be a tasty addition to your diet.

8. Smart Drink Choices

Building a healthy eating routine isn’t just about the foods you eat; it’s important to pay attention to what you drink, too. Limit alcohol consumption to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Moderation is key:

What Counts as One Drink?

Different drinks have different amounts of alcohol. In general, one drink equals:

  • A bottle of regular beer (350 ml) – 150 calories.
  • A glass of wine (150 ml) – 120 calories.
  • A shot of spirits such as rum or vodka (40 ml) – 100 calories.
  • A mixed drink, such as rum and cola (200 ml) – 190 calories.

9. Avoid Sugary Drinks

Skip drinks with added sugars, such as sodas and sports drinks. These beverages add unnecessary calories without essential nutrients. Opt for whole fruits over fruit juices for added fiber and fewer calories.

What About Fruit Juices?

Most of the time, choose whole fruit instead of juice. Whole fruits have fiber that you need to stay healthy. If you drink juice:

  • Choose 100% fruit juice with no added sugar.
  • Consume a small serving, less than 125 ml, and preferably before exercise so it can be metabolized by the muscles.

Sweetened Drinks with Little or No Calories

Low-calorie and non-calorie sweeteners (such as in diet sodas and sugar-free syrups) can help reduce added sugars and calories. However, experts aren’t sure if they help with weight management in the long term. Consult your dietitian and physician for personalized advice.

10. Caffeine Awareness

Moderate caffeine intake is safe for most adults, but be mindful of your limits. Too much caffeine can cause adverse effects like shaking and headaches. Balance your intake from coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages.

Making Careful Coffee and Tea Choices

  • Try black coffee or tea without sweeteners or cream.
  • If you prefer sweet drinks, add only ½ teaspoon or less of sugar or honey, or use a low- or no-calorie sweetener.
  • For creamier drinks, use low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk instead of cream.

11. Healthy Eating Routine

Create a balanced diet with a mix of:

  • Whole fruits (apples, berries, mangoes)
  • Whole grains (brown rice, whole grain bread)
  • Low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach)
  • Protein (lean meat, chicken, seafood, beans)
  • Healthy oils (olive oil, avocado oil)

12. Protein Prioritization

Prevent muscle loss by including protein-rich foods in your diet. Besides lean meats, incorporate seafood, low-fat dairy, beans, peas, and lentils into your meals. Take advantage of Greece’s seafood, such as fresh fish and shellfish.

13. Vitamin B12

Older adults often struggle to get enough vitamin B12. Include animal-based foods like meat, seafood, and dairy, or fortified plant-based foods to meet your needs. Consider supplements if necessary, but consult your doctor first.

14. Limit Added Sugars, Saturated Fat, and Sodium

Reduce added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium in your diet. Choose foods with unsaturated fats and cook at home more often to control these elements. Greek olive oil is an excellent source of healthy fats.

15. Read Food Labels

Check food labels for serving sizes, calories, and daily values. Aim for low percentages of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat, and high percentages of fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamin D.

Connect, Engage, and Thrive in Greece

Living in Greece offers a unique opportunity to embrace a Mediterranean diet rich in fresh, healthy foods. By following these anti-aging rules, you’ll not only enjoy the local cuisine but also enhance your well-being. Stay informed, make mindful choices, and thrive as an expat in this beautiful country. Explore local markets, attend food festivals, and engage with the community to fully integrate into your new home.

For more information on how to navigate local cuisine and maintain a balanced diet, get in contact with Dr. Anna Papageorgiou. She can help you adapt to the Greek lifestyle while ensuring your nutritional needs are met. With a deep understanding of both Greek and international dietary practices, Dr. Papageorgiou can provide personalized nutrition plans that cater to your unique cultural background and health requirements. Whether you’re looking to integrate traditional Greek foods into your diet, manage a health condition, or simply stay fit and healthy while enjoying your life in Greece, Dr. Papageorgiou’s expertise will guide you every step of the way.

For personalized nutrition advice and to start your journey to a healthier life, contact Dr. Anna Papageorgiou at Evrostia, Center for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism.

Evrostia, Center for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism

Location: Kapodistriou 8, 15123, N. Filothei, Greece
Phone/Fax: (+30) 210 6827284
Email: info@evrostia-health.gr

Website: https://www.evrostia-health.gr/

Dr. Anna Papageorgiou
Clinical Dietitian – Nutritionist
Graduate of Harokopio University of Athens
Doctor of Medicine, Pediatric Obesity Medicine Specialist
, Athens Medical School
Professor of Physical Education & Sports, University of Athens

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