When I returned from Spain, I liked how I felt from the diet I was eating. Therefore, I continued it and discovered that what I thought was a thing of the past has returned (i.e. a flat stomach, more energy, less exhaustion, etc.)
The people of Spain are not large people. Oh yes, you have a person here and there, but Northern Spain abounds with size 6s, 8s, and oh my, on the heavy side - 12s! And this is why.
See the photo to the left? In every restaurant or cafe that we visited in the 40 days there, that is all they placed on our table. Oil (probably olive), vinegar and black pepper (yes, I know it's showing a salt shaker, but pretend it's pepper). There was no butter, margarine, salt, salad dressing, gravy, syrup, peanut butter, and 100 other things we Americans use to hide our food. Spain is not a third world country and they are very competent in serving a good meal, so we can't go there.
Bread is eaten in abundance but loaves are more of the french bread variety and eaten plain. Tear off a piece and pass it on.
Once in awhile you actually got a dollop (not the entire jar) of mayonnaise which I dipped my french fries in as a treat. No, we didn't have catsup.
What to drink? Red wine, water, or a 12 ounce bottle of Coca Cola. And not an abundance of it either, unless you wished to pay for each bottle. They don't supersize anything and they don't "keep it coming." But what they served was delicious.
Meals were served in three courses, no matter the income bracket of the restaurant. Salad, main entree, and dessert. Yes, they had dessert but it was not served in a cereal bowl.
The small markets for grocery shopping basically served those things found in the dairy, meat, and veggie aisles in American stores. Cut out all the middle man foods in the middle of our stores (90% of the processed foods) and you'll get the picture. Until I reached Madrid, there were no Wal-mart type super centers.
And here was the one thing that really got our attention! Walking. Oh my...the country of Spain is filled with people who believe in walking. They walk to work, church, the restaurant, and the neighbor's house across town. Every evening and weekend (in good weather) they are out for "a stroll" in order to visit with their neighbors. They move and walk no matter their age. They walk the hills, the stairs, and no, they are not forced to. They walk.
Simple, simple lesson from one country to another. Some will have to work more than others in this regard, but what a difference!