The Mediterranean diet is famed the world over for helping its followers to live a long and healthy life. When they think of the Mediterranean diet, many people think of traditional Italian food, but in reality, Spanish food fulfills all the health criteria of the diet in just the same way, and Spain is officially considered to be the healthiest country in the world.
From delicious locally sourced tapas to an abundance of freshly caught seafood, Spain embraces the Mediterranean lifestyle and offers an easy and delicious way to eat healthily without even knowing you’re doing it!
The Mediterranean diet is one that isn’t about counting calories or depriving yourself: it isn’t really a diet! Instead, it is a lifestyle choice that sees you eating locally sourced and fresh produce. Processed foods are eschewed in favour of vegetables, cereals and fish. The main benefits of following the Mediterranean diet are that it has been proven to help prevent illnesses like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Wondering whether the Mediterranean diet is right for you? Here are our top tips for following a Spanish-style Mediterranean diet and still eating all of your favourite Spanish foods:
How to Follow The Mediterranean Diet
- Because so much of Spain is coastal, the country boasts an abundance of world-class sea food. Take advantage of this by consuming more fish than you do meat: if you can’t give up meat then try not to eat it more than 2-3 times a week, and stick to white meat rather than red meat. Fatty meats such as sausages should be cut from your diet altogether.
- Say goodbye to processed foods. Fast food, junk food, and any convenience foods served pre-packaged are all big no-no's on the Mediterranean diet. Food that contains hydrogenated vegetable oil is also classed as junk food and should also be eliminated from your diet: that means no margarine, no pastry, and no pre-packaged cakes.
- Eggs are a super food, and should be treated as such! You can eat between 3-7 eggs per week: they have all the nutrients you need and therefore are a complete meal in and of themselves. Why not enjoy a Spanish omlette, which is the perfect quick meal when it's too hot to cook?
- Give up the sugary soft drinks; instead, try to drink at least two litres of water every day and if you need to drink something sweeter then try freshly squeezed fruit juices instead. The good news is that the occasional glass of wine is actively encouraged as part of the Mediterranean diet.
- Cut back on your salt consumption; where a recipe calls for salt, use it sparingly. That doesn’t mean your food should be bland though. Use traditional Mediterranean herbs, such as oregano and parsley, if you need to inject more flavour into your dish.
- Embrace vegetables! You should eat them with at least two of your daily meals (preferably with all three) and at least once a day they should be served raw (such as a salad) so that you can take advantage of all the nutrients they contain.
- Consume cereals every day (breakfast is the ideal time to incorporate these with ease) and ensure they are wholegrain where possible. You should also aim to eat legumes, such as lentils or chick peas, between 2-4 times every week.
- When cooking with oil, always use virgin olive oil. This should also form the base of any salad dressings, rather than any other fat. Even if you are using virgin olive oil though, you should avoid eating any fried foods.
- Continue to consume dairy. This can be in any form, and you should incorporate two portions a day into your diet. Infants, children, pregnant women and women in menopause should add a third portion to their daily diet, whilst people suffering from obesity, high cholesterol and cardio-vascular problems should have their diary skimmed.
- Eat at least three portions of fresh fruit per day, and as many vegetables as possible. These are rich with fibres, minerals and anti-oxidants. The best way to do this is to shop locally and eat seasonally; you can also enjoy dried fruits between 3-7 times a week.
Ready to embrace the Mediterranean diet from a new home in Spain, rather than daydreaming about the Med in the rain? Why not get in touch with our property experts today: they’d love to help you turn your Spanish dream into a reality.