Europe, Spain

Eat like a Spaniard to Lose Weight

It seems like every time I flip a magazine page, meet up with girlfriends or listen to the chatter around the gym, a new crazy fad diet is taking over. I can’t be the only one who hates these ridiculous diets, and I’m sick and tired of putting myself through the agony of saying no to bread, passing on the dessert menu and being the designated driver because I’m not drinking a glass of wine with dinner, all to be thinner.

After reading and hearing so much about a so-called heart healthy miracle diet, better known as the Mediterranean diet, I decided to try eating like a Spaniard for six days to test it for myself. I was going to stuff myself with a ton of seafood, cheese, olive oil, salt, and local veggies. I wasn’t going to turn down a cup of cappuccino or pass on another glass of vino. Come one bread basket, come all! Heck -bring on the chocolate stuffed pastries, while we’re at it!

The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. – Mayo Clinic

And, let me tell you- for six days in Catalonia I gorged on fish and shrimp, stuffed mushrooms and Brie on top of sun-dried tomatoes. I didn’t say no to one glass of wine, sangria or local liquor. I dipped my bread in the best olive oil I’ve ever tasted and even asked for more multiple times. I ate wood-fire grilled onions, lamb and pork. I had second helpings of crawfish paella and sucked the juices out of shrimps heads. I ate like a queen and it was foodie heaven.

Besides just stuffing my face, I also walked a lot- a huge part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Before and after each meal, we walked. We walked around the villages, we walked home from delis and cafes, and we went for hikes to the top of mountains. If we weren’t eating, we were walking! While the diet encourages eating a lot of good fats and protein, it also survives and is successful on the fundamentals of the society.

Another tradition that I really enjoyed, that doesn’t really have an effect on your waistline, is making meal times big social events. The lifestyle puts a lot of importance on celebrating food and the moments you have with family and friends. The event becomes about savoring the good food you have and celebrating the people you share it with.

After my diet experiment week, I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t gained any weight. Unlike other trips where I came home with the “vacation tummy” (how sexy is that?!), I felt healthier and happier than before I left. I’m not sure if it was all the change in diet or the amounts of exercise we did, but something was different, something had changed, even in that short amount of time. So even if it doesn’t cause you to lose weight, you are guaranteed to have so much fun doing it and your taste buds will be constantly stimulated.

Do you gain weight when you are on vacation? Do you change the way you eat in order to eat more like the locals?

*I am not a health care professional. This is my personal experience. Please seek proper medical help if you want diet advice.