Sunday, May 8, 2011

Exactly how healthy is the Mediterranean diet?

The other day one of the teachers at school remarked upon the lunch I brought to school (red beans and rice). She told me that she was suprised that I was a "healthy American".Upon first coming to Spain, one of the things I was most looking forward to was the cuisine. Everyone raves about the healthy food that they have here in Spain and that everyone is so healthy because of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, fish, red wine and all that jazz. Don't get all in a tizzy, I love Spanish food. However I am here to debunk a couple of myths about the Spanish cuisine, delicious as it is, is not exactly super healthy. On one hand I have to give the Spaniard's kudos on some parts of their diet.  I have noted children eat much healthier in schools here. Twice or three times a week they eat fish and almost always have vegetables or salad. For "dessert" they have a glass of milk or fruit. After being a kid who only really liked chicken nuggets and pizza, it amazes me that the 6 years olds love mussels and cod. As well there are fruterias about every block which have cheap, fresh, local fruit and vegetables. I have been more conscious this year about eating healthier so I go to there about twice a week. 

While madrilenos have the 2nd highest fist consumption in the world (after Tokyo), I think there are also some not so healthy parts to the Meditterranean diet. The fried food, the potatoes, the meat, the bread, the fried food... When I go into a restaurant I feel that I come out only eat meat and potatoes. As much as Spaniards make fun of me about McDonalds, Burger King and KFC being American they are always full when I pass by them in Madrid (and its not full of Americans). And just because you fry something in olive oil doesn't make it more healthy Spain! While there are some benefits to the Mediterranean diet (like really cheap wine and olive oil) ten cuidado on that fried fish! 


  1. I agree, although I think it was different in the past. Mario's (my boyfriend) mom made him fresh, homemade, healthy food: lentejas, grilled fish, menestra, etc. A treat would be a croqueta or ham, not an everyday thing. They eat/ate fruit after every meal. Nowadays, the kids tell me their favorite food is "pizza" or "macarrones" or "hamburguesas."

    But if you go out for tapas, the food, while delicious, is not what I'd call healthy! Hahaha. I love me some patatas alioli.

  2. Definitely! I think it is a lot easier to eat at healthily at home (in the US too). I mean when I go to a restaurant I usually don't order really healthy things hahaha. I just hate getting classified as unhealthy just because I'm American.

  3. Haha, yeah, I love how they always get on you for Americans eating only hamburgers and stuff. Then you walk by McDonald's or whatever and it's full of Spaniards, I mean Iberians. Just sayin'. I'm actually underwhelmed by the diet here at times - I know this is blasphemy to say, but I actually liked the overall eating options better in Andalucia.