I’ve just returned from an extended family trip throughout Spain. It was terrific, from Barcelona to Seville. On any trip, I’m sure you are like me, and “people watch.” On this trip one thing really stuck out: I saw virtually no people who were overweight.
I saw people eating everywhere. The Spanish love their cafes and restaurants and their tables project into sidewalks everywhere. There are pastry shops, sandwich shops, tapas bars. You can eat your way through the day.
So where is obesity? Is it because you see more people (and unfortunately teenagers) smoking? I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s that you see everyone WALKING.
Their culture is not one built around freeways and suburbs. It has much higher density urban areas with sidewalks, lots of public transportation, slow elevators (so people take the stairs), and in many cities, bicycles anyone can use (for a small fee) around town. Spanish people MOVE.
Beyond that their diet is not one filled with fried foods and their portions are reasonable too. While I have no way of knowing if a doctor would say they are universally more physically fit than those us in the United States, they certainly are trimmer.
And by the looks of families strolling together at Christmastime, they seemed happier and more at peace too. While we read about their economic problems and 22 percent unemployment, they just didn’t seem that stressed.
Stress ... Maybe that’s it! Our lives in the United States seem to manufacture it as we rush from place to place. The Spaniards don’t. They still try to take siestas mid-afternoon. (Maybe we should too).
So that brings me to emotional eating. While we should be able to control how many calories and unhealthy foods we put in our mouths, and how much exercise we choose to get, many of us let this get out of control -- hence, weight gain.
Take a listen to my interview with Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s clinical psychologist Howard Farkas. He has tips for you on how you can break the cycle of overeating. http://goo.gl/u7CS4/
I know you may have a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, go to the gym more, and relax. Good for you! You can do this.