Perspective: Mediterranean Diet Or Mediterranean Lifestyle?

Jan 3, 2019

If you follow health news, you have heard about the Mediterranean diet. Full of vegetables, fruits and fish, it promises health and longevity. Nevertheless, recent studies have challenged this golden health rule. 


As someone who has lived in Spain, I too have questions about whether the key to living well into your eighties and nineties is based on diet alone. As Dr. Losada, my art professor in Barcelona, quipped: "Yes, we eat lentils, but then we throw in a fatty chorizo". 


What strikes me as the key to understanding how Spain has the highest life-expectancy in Europe is the symbiosis of diet and lifestyle. Thanks to climate and urban design, Spaniards spend their free time outside, since strolling and socializing are seamlessly woven into daily routines. Despite the encroachment of technology, a three-course lunch is shared with friends, colleagues or family on a regular basis. Grabbing something to go and eating in a hurry is not the norm. 


Of course, modern conveniences have invaded Spain just as they have everywhere else, but there is still pride in regional foods and home cooked meals. More importantly, people make time in their busy schedules to meet with friends, to move during the day and to avoid couch potato temptations and isolation. No one would ever dream of skipping summer vacation, and during other holidays most people take a break from their regular routine. So, is the key to their success diet or lifestyle or both? 


I’m Frances Jaeger and that’s my perspective.