I'll be backpacking all around Spain for 6 weeks in June and July, and was wondering if anyone has an idea of how easy it will be to maintain a primal type diet. In particular gluten free as I am celiac.
Thanks for any tips and recommendations :)
asked bygeorgiapeach (90)
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on May 06, 2012
at 09:52 AM
I am from Spain (Sevilla), and I can tell you that, though it is quite easy to get "real food" made with olive oil in this country (most restaurants and bars will have some good plates, and salads at least), you will most certainly struggle with cross-contamination. Flour and gluten-containing products are in every of those restaurants (even seafood or meat specialized). My cousin suffers celiac desease, and has had to locate a few "celiac desease aware restaurants" around every city she goes to (I believe there are spanish forums of celiac people with this info), since most are not at all aware of the problems with the preparation methods (which is a pain in the ass). It will all come down to how sensitive you are, though.
However, if you are staying in a hostal and have somewhere to cook in, there is one supermarket chain (in practically every town, and definitively in every city) called "Mercadona". They have loads of gluten-free products marked with a big "Sin gluten" stamp. Be aware of proccessed meats (minced meat, for example): not good in that supermarket (or any other). You will find, however, "Huevos camperos" (free range eggs), free range chicken, and ib??rico pork (which lives freely and eats mostly acorns). Grass fed meat will be difficult to find, if not impossible.
You might also want to take a look at http://www.backpackingchef.com
Hope it helps!
on May 06, 2012
at 03:21 AM
I spent a week in Spain several years ago and the food culture there is wonderful. I don't think you'll have any problem. Tons of great seafood and meats, lots of olive oil, and plenty of vegetables. In fact, I'd say there's a chance you'll have an easier time eating "real food" there than in the U.S.! Unfortunately, most of the rest of the world seems to be following our lead regarding processed foods and all manner of fake stuff, additives, etc. But relatively speaking, the food landscape in Western Europe seems to still be significantly better than it is here.
As for the gluten, I'm not sure how meticulous you'll have to be in terms of cross-contamination, but I ate like a queen when I was there and generally avoided bread, pasta, etc. (I was low carb at the time, but not as much focus on food quality.)
I once heard Robb Wolf say that in Italy they're very conscious of celiac and other gluten intolerances, and that if you go to a restaurant and say "sono celiaco," they know how to prepare your food. I don't know if a similar awareness exists in Spain, but maybe look up the translation for some of the phrases you might want to use in terms of avoiding wheat.
I don't know how strict you are with Paleo regarding wine or cheese, but if ever there was a time to indulge, I'd say a trip to Spain is it. :)
on April 17, 2016
at 09:31 AM
I think the diet of Spain is one of the best in the world from a paleo perspective at this point, still largely eating the traditional diet, and also little grains. And they seem to be rewarded by having now #2 of centenarians/capita (according to wikipedia) and also according to one ranking also #2 life expectancy as of 2015. Behind Japan in both cases. This is particularly interesting as there´s typically a strong correlation between gdp/capita and longevity, yet the GDP/capita of Spain is lower than most western European countries and approx half that of the US.
One intriguing fact is the very high intake of vegetable oils, and based on my calculation the per capita ingestion of sunflower oil is approx 40 ml/day. Additionally the commonly eaten cured ham (jamon iberico) is made from acorn fed swine, very high in n6, but absent in n3. So the diet has a vastly higher n6 to n3 than for example the US. This may decline going forward as new varieties of sunflower oil which resembles more olive oil with less polyunsaturated fat is used. Sunflower oil is also very much used in Italy at this point.
According to one article the LA:ALA ratio in Spanish breast milk had gone from 19.1 in 1985 to 27.5 in 1998 (http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v56/n12/full/1601470a.html), likely as a result of increasingly substituting sunflower oil for olive oil. Anyways this is much higher than in the US. As I´ve understood US obtains about 80% of its vegetable oils from soybean oil with a 7:1 LA:ALA ratio.
So the Spanish eat a lot of fried foods in vegetable oils (olive oil and sunflower oil), but also a lot of high quality foods like vegetables, making up for it. I doubt they would have lived longer if they had used soybean oil instead of sunflower oil for the frying.
on July 24, 2014
at 08:09 AM
Staying gluten free will be a challenge for you in restaurants. I'm sensitive to gluten and I've found that if I stick to very basic dishes I can get away with it, but anything outside the basic usually will give me symptoms (e.g. sauces, or anything that looks like has been processed).
A good rule in restaurants is to go for grilled (a la plancha) fresh fish. If you're near the coast, which you most likely will be, it has come straight out of the sea without any additional treatment.
I've been in Malaga, Costa del Sol, for last few months and have hacked how to find all the typical 'upgraded paleo' and paleo items I eat - see the details here:
Note: I'm more strict than basic paleo compliance, following a Wahls like protocol.
on May 06, 2012
at 05:35 PM
lots of jamon serrano/iberico (cured ham)
lots of olive oil
lots of eggs, tortilla espanol is traditionally with potatoes and topped with sauteed onions, but is possible to find with little potatoe. cheese is optional
lots of fresh veggies
lots of tapas (mushrooms, asparagus)
lots of fresh fish (but probably fried)
lots of really really good red wine!!!
paellas are mostly rice but full of proteins (sea food to chicken etc.-depending on the type) with evoo
the pastries and fresh bread are temptingly good, so be careful (cuidado!)
they aren't as 'fast food' or processed food oriented yet (but they do sell it). Obviously very european so you will like get more real food there than if traveling in the USA.
I lived in Madrid for 2 years, LOVED IT!!!
on May 06, 2012
at 06:18 AM
I live in Spain. Plenty of restaurants offer simple meals of grilled or fried meats with vegetables.