The Spanish “Diet”

This is a premature post, as I don’t yet hold the answer to eating healthy in Spain. I lived in Galicia, Spain for six months along the Atlantic ocean with access to all the fresh fish and fruits I could find, but still managed to gain about 10 lbs during my time there. I looked at myself in the mirror after I was done with my semester abroad and was in awe of differences and lack of education in regards to dieting and food ideology between our two countries.


Well, I’ll admit. This is part of the reason I wasn’t so ecstatic with my physique after I returned home. When in Spain… guzzle wine? They say that, right?

I was young and brand new to the Spanish way. I came as a vegetarian, and left as a carnivore… It was entirely too difficult and unhealthy since I didn’t research it or attempt to maintain that diet while in SPain. So I ate what was put in front of me, didn’t put exercise as a priority and drank sangria. A lot of sangria. Oh, and I studied, I swear I did. The idea of tapas in Spain is a exciting and social temptation you face at least once per day. It’s schmorgesborg of snacks, if I can describe it the American-way. You will be served these if you order a small beer (caña), an orange juice, or even a water (since they’ll serve you a glass bottle of water, not tap). It all adds up, as they keep serving you these side snacks basically as long as you’re sitting in their establishment and at least one of you have ordered another beverage. Long story short; carbs, salty meat, multiple beverages and peanuts are unconsciously consumed to an immense amount as you’re socializing amongst the Spanish buzz in the city centre. And you’ll find many Spaniards engage in this “tapas” scenario 1-2 times per day.

Lucky for me, Andalucía is the fried food capital of Spain! I will walk everywhere (very probable), I will jog frequently (maybe) and finally learn to prepare meals for myself if that’s what it takes to keep myself in check this time around. To get a visual of my stature, I am 5’10 and just shy of 140 lbs and am determined to maintain this until the end of my contract in 2014. Although I am no longer a vegetarian, I really do try and stay away from more than a few servings of meat per week. It is a widely-known fact that Spain is also known for it’s ham (jamón). Speaking from personal experience, this idea of jamón y queso is involved in an immense amount of Spanish foods. Pizza (every time, without a doubt), sandwiches, tapas, entrees, etc. Jamón is not considered meat when it’s included on the side of an entree, so when one asks for a meal to made “sin carne,” (without meat) you must be cautious. I dislike very much ham, and don’t eat much cheese whatsoever. So this adventure will be yet again another food-friendly challenge.

So what to cook, you ask? What did I “cook” in my kitchen (cocina) last time? I’m asking the same questions. I honestly, and shamefully, can say I only ate turkey sandwiches and fried eggs in my Spanish apartment. It was awful, and yet another reason I gained weight and was sluggish.

I did however, walk, everywhere, during my time there in college. So I would hate to imagine my physique if I had transported myself around like an American would have while eating like that. Ha! On average, I would consume at least three pieces of bread a day; one for breakfast with a fried egg and a whole sandwich or two for my remaining two meals. This is intensely different than how I eat in the states. I am a very health-conscious and heart-healthy woman. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, my investigation is ongoing and the diet I choose there will be reported and watched carefully. So, to be continued…


I’m justifiably concerned because I’m also confused by American magazine demands!

A small tidbit of Spanish foodie randomness:

– Desserts are usually fruits; sweets are eaten between meals than rather than along side them

Good eating. But beware of the pig. He’s almost always bound to be part of your entree.


Pulpo- Octopus
Extremely common, and found almost everywhere in small diners to restaurants

A Taste of Andalucía:

How to be Vegetarian in Spain:


4 thoughts on “The Spanish “Diet”

  1. I find this link to be particularly annoying and kind of offensive to be honest. First of all, it is very clear to me that she has no idea about SPAIN’S DIET, since the only thing she ate were the TAPAS which came with the BEER and SANGRIA and the FRIED EGGS she ate in her apartment. I quote from wikipedia: Spanish cuisine consists of a variety of dishes, which stem from differences in geography, culture and climate. It is heavily influenced by seafood available from the waters that surround the country, and reflects the country’s deep maritime roots. It is a Mediterranean diet. If we look up Mediterranean diet on wikipedia, this comes up: “A number of diets have received attention, but the strongest evidence for a beneficial health effect and decreased mortality after switching to a largely plant based diet comes from studies of Mediterranean diet” Spain is a country with a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE variety of food that you can taste and enjoy, some of it being healthy and some of it, as in a lot of places, unhealthy. If you spend all day in bars drinking beer and eating fried potatoes with croquetas and tortilla de patata, of course you are going to win weight. Just as if I go to the USA and spend all day at Wendy’s, McDonalds or Jen&Berry’s. Also, she says she lives in Galicia. Galicia is one of the places in Spain where they eat the most fish. Of course, you don’t get fish in sangria.

    • Toni- what do you find offensive about this post? It didn’t seem to me that Amanda was claiming to be be the authority on what the Spanish diet consists of, it seemed to me that she was sharing her experience with food in Spain when she studied abroad. She didn’t insult Spaniards or their diet, she just commented that during her experience with the tapas scene she didn’t feel very healthy. I don’t see where there is much offense to be taken.

      Amanda- I agree- many tapas are pretty unhealthy, but keep in mind that they’re not the only option! pretty much all restaurants will have salad on their menu, and its up to you to choose healthier options. You’ll have to suck it up and pay for the better options (and forego the free tapas) if its important to you to be eating healthier. Lots of bars will serve tapas when you order a drink, but how often are you really going to be eating out like that? if you’re living off a 700 euro/month stipend my guess is it won’t be that often, maybe once a week or so. the rest of the time you’ll be making your own meals. I’m sure it will be worth it in the end to invest in a cookbook and to learn how to cook since its a skill you’ll need for the rest of your life, and you’ll thank yourself when you’re eating yummy roasted veggies (find a piso with an oven) rather than fried potatoes.

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