The Mount Athos Diet
The monks’ diet first attracted attention when it was discovered that they live a decade longer than the average Greek citizen. This is put down to the abundance of fresh, unprocessed food in their diet which is naturally low in saturated fats, and they include fast days where they cut their calorie intake dramatically.
What is the Mount Athos Diet?
The Mount Athos Diet is based around typical Mediterranean meals which include lots of beans, pulses, fruit and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil.
The week is split into three regimes. Each week there are three fast days, three moderation days, and one feast day.
The plan is designed to help you ditch the diet mentality and teach you to value and respect the food you eat. And by following their example, you can expect to lose around 2lb per week and cut your risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
You’ll be fasting for three days a week. The monks adhere to strict rules – eating no meat, eggs, dairy products, fish or oil, and no alcohol.
As well as having a limited range of foods, you’ll also be eating as little as possible. Portions will need to be smaller than you normally eat. Essentially, you’re following a low-fat, teetotal, vegan diet.
Include: Unlimited vegetables and fruit, as well as beans, lentils, pulses, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Limit: Wholemeal bread, potatoes, and rice.
Avoid: Animal products, alcohol, oils, and fat.
On these days you’ll have a wider variety of foods to eat, but you still need to eat everything in moderation and keep your portions small.
You can now add dairy, eggs, fish, and chicken to your daily diet – but no red meat. Olive oil is allowed and you can have two units of alcohol, preferably red wine.
Avoid: Red meat, sugar and anything processed.
On one day each week, you can have a break from the diet to feast, indulging in whatever you fancy. Save these days for when you eat out, celebrate with friends, or want to do some baking.
Feast days will help to limit the sense of deprivation and guilt that can occur with other diets.
Example seven day meal plan
MONDAY (fast day)
Breakfast: Stewed apple with oats
Lunch: White bean salad with fresh tomatoes
Dinner: Lentil soup with a small piece of wholemeal bread
Snacks: Unlimited vegetable sticks
TUESDAY (moderation day)
Breakfast: Bircher muesli breakfast pot
Lunch: Chicken soup with toasted wholemeal pitta
Dinner: Baked sweet potato with olives and feta and green salad
Snacks: An apple, a handful of nuts or seeds
WEDNESDAY (fast day)
Breakfast: Grilled grapefruit
Lunch: Vegetable soup with a small piece of wholemeal bread
Dinner: Baked butter beans with fresh tomatoes and lettuce
Snacks: Unlimited vegetable sticks
THURSDAY (moderation day)
Breakfast: Grilled peaches with Greek yogurt
Lunch: Carrot and coriander soup
Dinner: Chicken salad with Greek yogurt dressing and a glass of red wine
Snacks: Square of dark chocolate, fruit and vegetable sticks
FRIDAY (fast day)
Lunch: Lentil soup
Dinner: Jacket potato with kale and carrots
Snacks: Small bowl of berries, nuts and seeds
SATURDAY (feast day)
Whatever you want – within reason!
SUNDAY (moderation day)
Breakfast: Low-fat natural yogurt, berries and granola
Lunch: Greek salad with a small piece of wholegrain bread
Dinner: Vegetable bake with green salad
Snacks: One square of dark chocolate, unlimited vegetable sticks
From The Mount Athos Diet by Richard Storey, Sue Todd and Lottie Storey (Vermilion, £10.99).
Credit: The Daily Express.