You must have heard by now that one of the healthiest diets today is the Mediterranean diet. I’ve been writing about this diet for years. It’s the one my mom has been feeding us since the moment my siblings and I were born.

To see studies that confirm my mother was right all this time is doing wonders for Ma’s ego.

According to the latest findings, including olive oil, garlic, oregano and slowly simmered tomatoes liberally in one’s diet is great for one’s heart, can reduce cancer risks and keeps cholesterol in check. Based on the reports, I have no doubt my mother, who lives with us, will outlive us all.

What the studies and media coverage don’t mention are the side effects of eating Italian and Greek foodstuffs consistently for decades. Since no one else has been brave enough to note these risks, I’m going to fill you in on the gruesome facts.

While you might live a longer and healthier life, you most likely will be louder as well. I’m not sure if it’s the goat’s milk or the basil, but there is something in this diet that affects one’s ability to control voice volume. Whenever there are two or more people of Mediterranean diet descent in the same place, it’s hard for outsiders to be heard.

Hubby is from Pennsylvania and is of Swiss and German descent. Apparently, the way the Pennsylvania Dutch prepare pork, vocal projection is not affected. However, since being married to me, Hubby’s voice has gained a few decibels. It must be all the homemade sauce with sautéed garlic I’ve been pouring down his throat all these years.

While this might seem like a negative side effect, at least Hubby is finally able to participate in conversations at family gatherings. It has taken a few years, but now he can actually be heard trying to share his views and opinions.

Not that anyone in my family is able to take Hubby all that seriously just yet. It must take even longer for the hand gesture side effect to kick in. Those of us raised on the diet have lost the ability to talk without using our hands.

A written exclamation ends with an exclamation point. In my family, an extremely important opinion about where to build an urban chicken coop is punctuated by flinging one’s arm well above the head and opening the hand pointedly to expose all five fingers at once.

It’s just one of those facts the experts won’t mention. If you’ve consumed enough olives and mushrooms during your lifetime, you will lose the ability to effectively communicate without waving arms and knocking over a knickknack or two.

Longer, healthier life also means tons of relatives and friends at social gatherings. But this is actually good, because the longer you imbibe in Mediterranean cuisine, the more you’ll crave entertaining large, noisy crowds of people with enough food to feed lower Manhattan or the combined populations of North and South Dakota.

You can easily pick out the Mediterranean fed populace in grocery stores. They will spend fifteen minutes selecting the perfect can of sliced ripe olives, put three cans in the grocery cart, begin to walk away, then double back for five more cans. Anxiety and stress over ensuring you have enough food is an extremely common side effect.

In addition, once exposed to this diet for a prolonged period of time, you will experience hearing loss. Phrases such as, "No thanks, I’ve eaten," or, "I’m full," will no longer be audible to you.

In addition to hearing loss, this diet also affects vision. Calamari, scallops and clams, especially when consumed with a white wine garlic reduction, causes malfunctioning of the optic nerve. Eventually, the way images are interpreted by the brain is distorted.

For example, you could gain 40 pounds in one month and be subjected to all sorts of criticism from family and friends. People who regularly eat American cuisine would see you and suggest more exercise and fewer sweets.

But then you would run into your neighbor, the one who makes homemade pizza weekly and grows garlic in her backyard. Her eyes would open wide and she would gasp in horror at the sight of you. She’d yell out, "You are much too skinny," as she punctuated her statement with flailing hands.

You wouldn’t have time to recover from the shock of trying to process this information before she began shoving a piece of crusty bread dipped in hot, simmering marinara sauce in your face.

Yes, if you buy into this latest diet fad, you might live longer and be less prone to disease. But considering what this diet could do to your voice, hearing, sight, communication skills and feeding compulsions, is it really worth the risk?

Why don’t you have some figs and cheese, pour a glass of Chianti and think it over before making any rash decisions? You do look a bit skinny today.


Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and author of "Thurston T. Turtle Moves to Hubbleville." She lives in Asheboro with her husband, three children and mother. Her e-mail address is