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.

Jade Broadus is a spunky girl hailing from Jacksonville, Florida. She’s addicted to traveling and has a strange obsession with maps and globes. A lover of dogs, fashion, fish tacos, marine biology, and college football, she has a broad range of interests. Jade has a strong passion for the film “Love, Actually” and has watched it 176 times. Her interests include singing really loud, impromptu dances, shopping, and dressing up in cute dresses and extravagant hats. She has written for Gadling, AOL Travel, Discover Los Angeles, LACOT, LandLopers and Spunky Girl Monologues.

24 Comments

  • Reply March 5, 2012

    Annie

    YUM!! I LOVE the Mediterranean diet… the best food in the world they say…

    I definitely was the skinniest I’ve ever been when I lived in Italy and it wasn’t until the very end of my time there that I started gaining weight and that was for a few reasons (but I still gained less than I do when I travel other places). It is truly healthy, like all things you still need exercise and moderation of course!

    I swear, every time I come to your site it looks better and better. Love the layout!

  • Reply March 5, 2012

    Kim

    So glad you enjoyed the food, it looks/sounds amazing. Life’s too short to pass up bread in Italy, for sure. As a nurse practitioner, I’m always giving diet advice. If we all were to add the walking before after meals, we wouldn’t have the worries.

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    walkingon travels

    Oh man. It’s a good thing I’m already scheduled to be in Europe for a month of eating this fall or this post would be really cruel and unusual punishment for a hungry pregnant woman. Everything looks amazing. And you are so right about the walking. When we went to Rome we ate anything and everything possible. We were also walking at least 12 hours a day. We had to eat just to keep up our strength, at least that’s what I like to think. Hope you had an extra glass of wine for me. I’ll be right of the wagon in no time sipping away!

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Barbara

    Oh, I SO want to try the Mediterranean diet!!! We will be near the Mediterranean in six weeks and I can’t wait to try all the local food. Your photos look amazing!

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    RenegadePilgrim

    Walking across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, I lost about 10 or 15 lbs and ate anything I wanted! I love pinxtos and vino tinto!

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Erin

    I’ve lived in Spain for four years now and can happily say that I lost weight here and have kept it off, and all because of – I believe – the type of food, the way the food is enjoyed, and tons of walking. It makes a huge difference because food, enjoying food, and life here are all balanced. There’s indeed something to be said for the Spanish diet (even all the fried stuff!).

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    EurotripTips

    I don’t usually put on weight when I travel simply because I walk everywhere. I don’t understand people who pretend to travel and sit on their ass all the time they’re abroad! I walk, and walk, and walk some more. Not only does it help digestion, it burns off the calories I enjoyed earlier, it makes me discover the city I’m in and it’s totally free!

  • Finally, a diet I can live with!! Wine & olive oil? It’s my dream come true.
    I typically don’t gain wait when I travel because I am always on the move. The only exception was when I went on a all-you-can-eat cruise. I definitely came back with a belly!

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Christopher

    Great article. I’ve just returned from nine days in Brazil. I didn’t gain any weight (already had the vacation tummy).

    Around ten years ago I traveled through Spain on the Atkins diet. I ate my weight in the best meats I’ve ever tasted. I lost three pounds.

  • Cool! I’ve had the same thing happen, where I actually lost weight on road trips. I think it really is the walking. Be adventurous as you walk around everyday, and you’ll keep the pounds off!

  • Reply March 8, 2012

    Laurel

    I loved this diet and was shocked that I didn’t gain any weight either considering all the eating and drinking that we did. I miss Spain already this week and am going to try my hand at a paella in the next couple of weeks.

  • Reply March 8, 2012

    Jeremy Branham

    OK maybe I will be the only one to disagree with this. However, I’ve traveled all over Europe and Spanish people were the most overweight and out of shape that I’ve encountered. I understand what you are saying about the Mediterranean diet. However, Spanish people eat a lot of friend food, meats, oils and fatty food as well.

    While I am not disagreeing with the diet, I don’t think most Spanish people eat this way. From my observations throughout Spain (and after having a friend that have lived in Spain for 8 years now), we agree that Spanish food can be pretty unhealthy overall and that many people are overweight and out of shape. I think some of this also has to deal with their lifestyle as to when they eat their meals (dinner at 10 pm and a general lack of sleep for the population isn’t good).

  • Reply March 8, 2012

    Jeremy Branham

    One more comment I wanted to add. I actually lose weight when I travel because I walk so much and get more exercise than I normally do at home. Sometimes I am so busy with my travels, I don’t care to eat that much so that’s also a good thing. So I have the opposite problem of many of you – I tend to lose weight when I travel!

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    Italian Notes

    How very encouraging. I try it with Italian food all the time, but it hasn’t stabilised my weight yet:)

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    robin

    I eat Mediterranean but unfortunately I add beer, so hello pot belly.

  • Reply March 19, 2012

    Duncan

    Hi !

    That paella looks amazing… While ive never tasted any that looks that good – i have had some in Barcelona a couple of years back and is one of my favourite meals for sure..

    Rice – yes ! Seafood – yes! Tasty – yes!!

    I look forward to your next installment :-)

    Duncan

  • Reply March 20, 2012

    Lauren

    I’ve been living in the South of Spain for 6 months now…
    I’ve been enjoying the “diet” though I find I eat a lot more meat than I did in California (partly because it’s always readily available and easy to get rather than a delicious salads). I think another really helpful factor is the biggest meal is lunch and as you mention, Spaniard take time to eat and share their time with friends and family.

    I eat my heart out here and love dining on tapas! ( though I’m lucky to leave in one of the few regions in Andalucia, where when you order a drink, you get to choose which tapa you’d like (gratis)!

  • Reply August 23, 2012

    Arlie Dinsdale

    I’ve got so much on my plate this week, it’s silly but I simply had to take some time off to watch this video. It’s totally baller! Watch this video BUZZBOOZ.COM The good part starts somewhere around the 2 minute mark.

  • [...] Described by some observers as a “miracle” plan, the Mediterranean diet’s concept and name are both based on the eating habits of many folks in communities on the Mediterranean Sea in countries like Italy and Spain. [...]

  • [...] Described by some observers as a “miracle” plan, the Mediterranean diet’s concept and name are both based on the eating habits of many folks in communities on the Mediterranean Sea in countries like Italy and Spain. [...]

  • [...] Described by some observers as a “miracle” plan, the Mediterranean diet’s concept and name are both based on the eating habits of many folks in communities on the Mediterranean Sea in countries like Italy and Spain. [...]

  • [...] Described by some observers as a “miracle” plan, the Mediterranean diet’s concept and name are both based on the eating habits of many folks in communities on the Mediterranean Sea in countries like Italy and Spain. [...]

  • [...] Described by some observers as a “miracle” plan, the Mediterranean diet’s concept and name are both based on the eating habits of many folks in communities on the Mediterranean Sea in countries like Italy and Spain. [...]

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