Dear fellow travelers,
It’s been one year, three months, and 28 days since I said Adios to my American life and moved to Spain. During that time, I’ve been Spanishized! My hair, my clothes, my personality, my lifestyle, my diet, almost everything about me has changed in some way. Perhaps the most significant changes have been related to my lifestyle and my diet. Adopting the Spanish lifestyle and Spanish diet has made me much happier and healthier. Here’s how:
Three ways Spanish living has made me happier and healthier:
Hobbies are the key to a healthy work-life balance. First, let me clarify something. There’s a stereotype that Spanish people are lazy or that the Spanish lifestyle is relaxing. While it is true that Spain shuts down between 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm and everyone naps, this nap does not make Spanish people lazy. This nap makes Spanish people super energized so they can go about their day doing all their hobbies. It is completely normal for Spaniards to work all morning, come home at 2:00 pm, eat, take a short nap, go back to work from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm, and then go to a crossfit class, or an English class, or a book club, or a roller blading club event (whatever that means) at 8:00 pm! Spaniards fill their spare time with hobbies and activities that make them happy. That’s the key to a healthy work-life balance.
Eat five small meals a day. Eating five meals a day as a part of a healthy lifestyle is no big secret to the world. It’s good for the metabolism and it keeps energy levels high all day long. However, living in America, where the norm is eating a small breakfast, a small lunch, and a big dinner, it’s difficult to stick to that five-meal diet plan. In Spain, that diet plan is the norm. Eat breakfast when you wake up, have a mid-morning snack on your break at work, go home and eat your lunch at 3:00 pm, have an afternoon snack at 7:00pm, and eat your dinner at 10:00 pm. It’s so normal that if you don’t bring a snack to work, you’ll probably get a lecture about how you really should. After a year in Spain, I always eat five meals a day. And, as a result, I have enough energy to do those hobbies! (Photo caption: Snack time. Gazpacho)
Eating the right foods at the right times. All cultures have norms of eating certain foods at certain times. In America, it’s normal to eat eggs and bacon or cereal in the morning, sandwiches or salads for lunch, and spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Why do we eat salads for lunch and spaghetti for dinner? It’s backwards! It makes more sense to eat spaghetti earlier in the day so you can burn off those carbs and to eat a salad at nighttime so you don’t go to bed with a big heavy stomach. Spaniards, in general, know what foods to eat and when, and they have no probably letting you know when you’re doing it wrong. So, after one year, I have finally learned to eat my brown rice for lunch and my salad for dinner. Let me tell you, I wake up feeling GREAT. (Photo caption: And for dinner, a giant plate of vegetables!)
So, there you have it. Spaniards know what to eat, how to eat, and when to eat so that they have incredible amounts of energy to pursue all their hobbies and interests. And now, so do I.
(Photo caption: I even use my dinner to ice my legs after a boxing workout.)
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