We Spaniards think we eat well, but in reality we don’t

Are we clear about what it means to eat well?

The changes that have occurred in our lifestyle, whether due to an increase in the pace of work or the transformation of family structures, have had direct consequences on our feeding. If we add to this the rise in prices in the
shopping basket
the problem becomes even bigger.

According to the report ‘Perception vs. reality in the eating habits of Spaniards’, carried out by Vivaz, people with lower incomes have more problems accessing healthier food options. To try to solve this, the industry introduces changes that appear more comfortable and profitable, but worse from the point of view of health.

A poor diet can bring with it different types of diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes (with Spain being the second country in Europe with the highest incidence) and cancer, closely related to unhealthy lifestyle habits.

But the aspect that makes the problem of food in Spain more visible is the obesity, which has tripled since 1995. In fact, according to this report, in our country there are more people who are overweight or obese than with the right weight. And things are not looking good for future generations either, since Spain is the country with the highest percentage of overweight children. This is not surprising if we take into account that sugary soft drinks and alcoholic beverages represent 7% of our diet, while legumes occupy only 2%.

The nutritionist Juan Revenga indicates the three factors that we must take into account to understand what a healthy diet is: «It must include seasonal vegetables, as well as fresh meat and fish; absence of ultra-processed; and the element of union between both that is the kitchen”.

And it is that the ultra-processed are our main threat. This study shows that 64% of the products found in large stores belong to this category. This may be one of the reasons why up to a third of the calories consumed in European diets come from these types of foods.

Perception of Spaniards about their diet

Spanish society has an optimistic view of their diet. This is what this study shows, since 76% rate the quality of their meals as notable or outstanding. In addition, 80% of those surveyed affirm that they cook at home.

However, when the subject is delved a little deeper, a third of the adult population admits to consuming ultra-processed foods three or more times a week. Even 66% of those surveyed affirm that they eat pre-cooked dishes, being only 28% who cook with fresh foodwhich as the nutritionist Juan Revenga mentioned, are essential if we want to eat in a healthy way.

By autonomous communities, in the Balearic Islands (73%), Madrid (72%), Catalonia and the Canary Islands (71%) is where pre-cooked dishes are consumed the most compared to the national average (66%). Meanwhile, Galicians (39%), Cantabria (52%), Asturias and the Basques (55%) are the least likely to opt for this type of product.

In this sense, eating poorly affects the health of Spaniards, since 57% of the population is diagnosed with a disease linked to bad eating habits. The excuse of the majority is the lack of time or the ignorance nutritional and culinary.

But the reality is that introducing small changes in our diet, such as the one mentioned by Revenga, of eating five servings of fruit or vegetables a day, can help reduce the risk of developing diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.

In addition, the nutritionist gives some tricks for cases in which you have little time to cook: the use of preserves, because these are not an ultra-processed product. «They are a very good option when we do not have fresh food, as long as they do not contain added sugars, fats of dubious origin and palm or coconut oils; better with sunflower or olive oils.

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We Spaniards think we eat well, but in reality we don’t