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The Spain Diet

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03/04/2010

The Spain Diet photo 1

What if I told you, you could eat bread, pizza, potatoes, wine and pastries and still be thin? Oh, and you can eat dinner at 10 p.m. Carbs, alcohol, sugar and some more carbs do not add up to a diet most people think of as healthy. Dr. Atkin’s would be shocked.

I just got home from a once in a lifetime vacation to Spain with my wife. We had an amazing trip filled with walking, sightseeing and food. Hey, a trainer on vacation can eat chocolate. Okay, so I didn’t just eat chocolate; I ate a waffle covered in chocolate. At least I didn’t add the gelato. What surprised me the most, aside from the amazing Gaudi architecture, was the way people ate. A typical Spanish diet:

Breakfast 10 a.m.:
Coffee and a roll with butter and ham

Lunch 2 p.m.:
Fish, rice, veggies, wine
Followed by Siesta (nap)

Snack 5 pm:
Pastry and a Coke (10 ounces)

Dinner 9-10pm:
Tapas: fried salted potatoes, bacon wrapped around pretty much anything, a small salad with lettuce, chicken, tomato
2-3 glasses of wine

In all of Spain, I saw five overweight people, and two of them were wearing Pittsburgh Steelers paraphernalia. Most Europeans were thin, eating a diet high in carbohydrates and light on the protein. Now this is not a horrible diet, but not remotely close to what you would think a fit person would eat. Side note, I don’t condone drinking at lunch or eating fried foods (I am a sucker for a good pastry though). At this point, you are probably asking yourself, why are the folks of Barcelona so skinny?

The Spain Diet photo 2

The biggest, number one, most important detail you should walk away with after reading this is you need to have an active lifestyle. At 9 p.m. on a Monday night, the streets were flooded with people of all ages. The only time the streets were quiet was during siesta. People were not sitting in front of the tube waiting for Gossip Girl; they were out, walking around. A few other important things I noticed:

• NO CORN SYRUP IN SPAIN (not in the Coke, not in the chocolate…)
• 2-5 is Siesta time, people eat, sleep and then go back to work
• Public transportation is great but the stations are huge requiring lots of walking
• Every few blocks there is a little market selling fruit and vegetables

Aside from the massive amount of bacon and ham, there’s not a lot of processed food. There’s a big debate about whether high fructose corn syrup is good or bad for you, but in general, if you avoid products with corn syrup you’re eating less processed food, which is definitely better for you.

The Spain Diet photo 3

Spanish food was calling my name

Let me wrap this up—get moving! It doesn’t matter if it’s at the gym, on the street or around town. Get together with some friends and cook a great meal. I might be interpreting this wrong, but siesta time reduces stress, so look for ways of reducing your stress— meditate, drink some relaxing tea or just take a nap. Adios!

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