Betrayal of the Mediterranean diet: not even half of the Spaniards follow

As in Spain, it is not eaten anywhere. It sounds topical... and it is. Spain has olive oil, is one of the main European producers of fruit and vegetables, its gastronomic culture allows to cook almost anything... but the Spaniards eat just as bad as in so many other countries. At least as far as health is concerned. Because, however much we presume the Mediterranean diet, the truth is that less than half of the Spaniards follow. Exactly, 45% of the population, according to the data of the Mediterranean Diet Foundation. Eating at a beach bar, although one of the great pleasures of life, does not count as a Mediterranean diet.

It is true that Spain has been a reference of this food plan since the physiologist Ancel Keys defined the term, in the 1960s. But it is also that, half a century later, we may have to ask ourselves whether the new generations know what it is. "It refers to a series of food patterns that were described in Mediterranean geographical areas sixty years ago, and which were characterized by high consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, natural nuts and olive oil, as well As for a moderate or low consumption of fish, red meat and dairy, "explains the professor at Isabel I University and member of the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Tara Rendo.

"In general, the foods that make up the Mediterranean diet are poorly processed foods, which have a fat profile that we can call healthy," the expert says. But now that's harder than ever. It is not easy to follow the PAT the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, the guide to nutritional recommendations that indicates the healthy foods that we should put on the plate, and how much, but we are not doing it. Instead, "We are consuming many foods that are at the top of the pyramid, such as pastries, sweets and sausages, and those that should be the basis of our food such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains do not We are eating with frequency or in the right amounts, "explains Rendo.

Neither chia nor quinoa, the good are the chickpeas

We eat less vegetables than 54 years ago. An investigation of the Spanish Nutrition Foundation (NFPs) reveals that we take about 269 grams of vegetables per day, which would correspond to 1.3 rations, 40% less than in 1964. With regard to fruit, although its consumption has increased in recent years, with 1.5 rations a day we did not reach the recommendation of the World Health Organization, which is 5 between fruits and vegetables.

Some nutritionists bet on going back to Grandma's recipes, for copying her cooking and her bet on proximity products, which included few dairy and little red meat because there wasn't much money to buy it. It is not a question of forgetting these products, but the meat must be eaten sparingly, two or three times a week if it is white meat, and one or two a month if it is red. For many it is not easy, so Harvard University has developed a list of tips to reduce consumption.

But what you have to do above all is to opt for fish like salmon, anchovies, sardines, tuna... and we are doing it backwards. According to data from the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and food, we consume more than 50 kilos of meat per person a year compared to 25.5 fish.

Another usual mistake is not to eat enough legumes. Its consumption has declined by 60% in the last decades, with an average of 3.1 kilos per capita a year, well below the three recommended portions per week. Instead, new developments have been opened, such as chia and quinoa, which, as Rendo points out, are not foods that are more or less healthy than chickpeas or beans. "So-called superfoods can be considered healthy and beneficial to health in the same way as fruits and legumes. They are compatible with the Mediterranean diet and can always be consumed in a healthy and balanced diet, but we must be aware that they do not have superpowers and that the simple fact of including them in the diet will not improve our food. "

Optimistic with our extra kilos

The undeniable proof that we have forgotten the Mediterranean diet is written, black on white, in the National Health Survey 2017, which reveals an alarming fact: 17% of the adult population of our country is obese (has a body mass index Equal to or greater than 30), a figure up to 62.5% of men and 46.8% of women if added to overweight persons (when BMI is equal to or greater than 25). Being pessimistic does not help, but the truth is that experts say that if you do not put a remedy to generalized fattening, the thing can get worse. At the rate we are going, and according to a study carried out by the Hospital del Mar de Barcelona, in 2030 there will be 27 million of Spanish with overweight.

As if it were not enough, that every year that passes we are fatter does not prevent the optimism from spreading; Looks like we don't see the michelins as a problem. A study carried out by the Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity (Seedo) indicates that 82.2% of obese people are not recognized as such, and to realize that excess fat is fundamental to be able to eliminate it. For the same reason we also find it hard to understand that our children have a problem when, according to WHO data, they are among the fattest in Europe. The Spanish children's population registers a 40% obesity rate compared to 10% that have countries without Mediterranean diets such as Denmark, Norway, Ireland or Latvia. Only 30% of them eat fruit every day and only 10% eat vegetables, the lowest percentage of the continent despite being Spain one of the largest producers.

And is that, if the statistic does not fail, we like the insane. The products rich in saturated fats, sugars and salt are the ones that the Spaniards consume more assiduously; That's 20% of the daily menu. It is a very negative data, and it is always preferable to opt for fresh and unprocessed foods, but it is also true that not all the processed are the same and currently can be found on the market some that we can consider healthier than others. "Such as fresh salad bags, oat flakes, canned legumes or frozen vegetables and fruits. We can identify these processed foods relatively easily and at a glance, simply by checking the list of ingredients in the label, "says Rendo. What if these products were the Mediterranean diet of the future?

Tuppers and freezer, the keys to the 21st century

Let us not deceive ourselves, the Mediterranean diet needs to be planned. Sometimes we know what to eat but, with the hustle and bustle of working and family routine, we lack time to follow it to letter. The fresh produce does not appear to one in the fridge by magic and the stews are made in 5 minutes. We are not perfect parents, and sometimes we give our children dishes that are not. It is understandable, but you should look for options that allow us to follow a pattern of Mediterranean diet and, at the same time, is a quick way to prepare food, says Rendo.

The expert warns that we must "lose the fear of cooking, that we can cook the fresh food and freeze them to go creatopia during the week; If you eat at work, prepare tuppers with fresh food, where vegetables and legumes predominate, and always opt for fruit as a dessert and for natural nuts as a snack, for example. "

For children, the best for recesses and snacks are fruits like the apple, which can be eaten with the skin, and like banana and tangerines, which are easily peeled. Snacks, with whole-wheat bread and a healthy filling such as hummus, fresh tomatoes or cheese. Yoghurts, which are unsweetened in nature, can be added nuts or pieces of cut fruit. And the master ingredient: Never forget that, more than a diet, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle, and is totally incompatible with sedentary lifestyle.