Zest of Life: The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet

Conner Middelmann
Nutritionist at Modern Mediterranean

From donut-munching stress monkey to Mediterranean diet nutritionist — I’ve come a long way!

Twenty-two years ago I was a health disaster waiting to happen: Working as a reporter at the Financial Times in London, I spent long hours in a windowless office, never slept enough, rarely exercised, and sugar, coffee and adrenaline were my fuel. I was plagued by sinus infections, eczema and acne, excess weight, acid reflux and daily bouts of leaden fatigue and sugar cravings. Doctors prescribed antibiotics, cortisone creams, nasal decongestants and antacids, but the root causes of my ill health remained a mystery. I never made a connection between my lifestyle and my poor health, presuming I had been cursed with a “fragile disposition.”

My wake-up call came when a routine pap smear revealed early-stage cervical cancer. Aged 33 with a three-year-old child, I knew it was time to make changes. I consulted a nutritionally oriented doctor, Dr. John Briffa, and with his help I took my health into my own hands. Very soon I began to notice significant improvements: more energy and fewer cravings, clear skin and sinuses, weight loss, and fewer digestive troubles. So impressed was I by the powerful effect of my dietary changes that I decided to quit my job and train as a nutritionist.

After years of eating convenience foods, I also decided to start preparing my own meals. As I overcame my fear of cooking I discovered that preparing healthy, tasty meals from scratch was far easier, less time-consuming and more enjoyable than I had imagined. Moving to south-western France in 2001 fanned the flames of my growing culinary interest.

It was during the 11 years I spent living and eating among the French that I came to know and love the Mediterranean diet. This experience — coupled with my own brush with cancer — inspired me to write Zest for Life: The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet (pictured left), an evidence-based nutrition guide and cookbook for anyone seeking to reduce their risk of cancer or its recurrence. A little later, the book was published in German as Appetit auf Leben (Herbig Verlag, 2013). The book was inspired by the work of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, author of Anticancer: A New Way Of Life, with whom I worked closely while living in France.

In 2012, my family and I moved to Boulder, Colorado. Although I now live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, I am happy to say that it’s easy to live like a Mediterranean, even with Italy, Spain, Greece and southern France far, far away. You can see how I do this by following me on Instagram here and here.

Professional Experience and Training
Since graduating from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (London, UK) in 2000 I have advised hundreds of adults and children on nutrition and health. In addition to my private practice, I see patients at the Colorado Center of Medical Excellence and teach bi-weekly nutrition workshops at BCH/Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers in Boulder (see the program and register here). I also work with corporations and non-profits that want to support their employees’ health.

Prior to becoming a nutritionist I obtained a B.S. in Government and History from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Certificate in Counseling from Birkbeck College, London University. I am trilingual in English, French and German and work with clients all over the world via Internet-based video conference.


Dr. Brian Lawenda M.D.

Dr. Brian Lawenda, is a U.S. News & World Report “Top Doctor,” Harvard-trained radiation oncologist, Stanford/UCLA-trained medical acupuncturist, integrative oncologist, functional medicine practitioner and former Commander, in the U.S. Navy. He is a frequently invited lecturer and author of a wide-range of oncology articles and chapters in numerous academic journals and textbooks. This extremely unique and broad background has shaped Dr. Lawenda’s evidence-informed and balanced approach to patient education, cancer prevention and treatment employing state of the art conventional oncology interventions, natural and complementary therapies and anticancer lifestyle changes. His passion is evident in his care of each patient and his goal to improve the quality of life and outcomes for those around the world who visit this site. He is the Medical Director of GenesisCare (Kennewick, WA and Hermiston, OR).