While I was sitting at a restaurant in Barcelona, Spain overlooking the sprawling La Rambla, I could see people of all ages walking by. Those who were Spanish appeared to be slim and active even those who were elderly. By contrast, if you walk into a Walmart in the U.S. you may see even young people maneuvering the store on scooters or walking with a cane. I didn’t see anyone on a scooter, other than a motorcycle, and the only canes I saw were being used by tourists.
How the Spanish stay young has a lot to do with the food they eat
If you meander through the La Boqueria market in Barcelona, you’ll see over 900 vendors displaying the freshest and most appetizing food you’ve ever seen.
La Boqueria Food Market in Barcelona
Are you hungry yet?
Click on the images below to view them full-size in a gallery
Normal eating hours” do not seem to matter
The Spanish eat and drink wine all day long in cafes, parks, and in their homes. We were walking around the lake near the Prado Museum in Madrid on a weekday afternoon and the cafes were packed. They spend hours eating lunch and some go home and take a siesta.
Dinner time is insanely late. Restaurants in Spain are empty until 9 or 10 pm when the crowds show up to eat. They will look at you funny if you show up early. After dinner, many will go on to party all night long. We saw people walking back from the bars at 7 in the morning as we were heading to the train station. In the U.S. we’re told to stop eating after 6 pm or risk getting fat. But, that doesn’t make a difference in Spain.
Good food and lifestyle choices make all the difference
A major factor of good health in the Spanish people is that they eat a Mediterranean Diet, touted as one of the healthiest diets in the world. It’s also one of the most pleasurable. I love it because it isn’t about deprivation. You don’t hear people in Mediterranean regions warning, “Don’t eat wheat.” “Stay away from alcohol,” “No dairy” “No meat.”
Bread in Spain is served with olive oil rather than butter. You don’t see bottled salad dressings, soft drinks, or fast-food restaurants, except for a few catering to American and English tourists.
Spaniards almost exclusively drink mineral water, coffee, and, of course, wine.
When you can enjoy an exquisite café au lait at a train station, why hang out at Starbucks?
Their diet is low in sugar but one of their special treats is a warm cup of thick liquid dark chocolate. Yum!
Changes you can make to stay young like the Spanish:
- Eat fresh, flavorful whole food.
- Enjoy fruits and vegetables ripened on the vine.
- Eat portions served on small plates. Spanish people are known for their small meals called Tapas
- Savor your food in a slow relaxed manner with friends.
- Don’t sit idle. In Spain, you don’t see gyms on every street corner where people sweat and feel the burn. Instead, they walk everywhere, make love, dance, and socialize.
- Drink red wine in moderation. 1-2 glasses per day
You’ll find food and lifestyle similarities in other areas of the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean diet is mostly plant-based with animal/fish protein consisting of only about 8-10% of the meal. The majority of the meal is made from fresh vegetables, whole grains, and some fruit.
Spanish people stay young because they eat well, walk everywhere, and take time to relax. Eat and live like a Spaniard and you’ll stay young at any age.
What lifestyle changes do you need to make to stay young like the Spanish? Please leave a comment below.