Spanish Cuisine

Eating Out on a Diet: Spanish Food

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

While plenty of costal areas cater for British tastes and specialise in fish and chips and full English breakfast, Spanish dishes may be kinder to your waistline.

Many bars offer tapas – tasty nibbles traditionally served free with drinks. If you’re going to ‘go local’, order enough tapas to make this your main meal – going out for dinner afterwards will pile on the pounds.


This can be a great choice as portions are usually small, but large amounts of olive oil are often used, pushing up the calorie content.

The secret is to eat small amounts. Lower calorie choices include Setas alhomo (mushrooms in garlic sauce) and pimiento relleno (stuffed pepper).


Spain’s most famous national dish takes its name from a paellora – the round, flat pan it’s cooked in and combines rice with vegetables, seafood and chicken.

Carb-rich rice has a medium glycaemic index making it a good choice for staving off hunger later in the day.

While a tapas-sized portion contains around 200 calories, a main course serving can easily provide 700 calories.

Cut the calories slightly by removing the fatty skin from chicken before tucking in.


A rich source of the antioxidants beta-carotene (which the body uses to make vitamin A), vitamin C and lycopene, tomatoes play an important part in Spanish cuisine.

Try gazpacho – chilled tomato soup – which is packed with nutrients and is very filling.


Tapas tend to be salty but quenching your thirst with Spanish beer, which contains around 200 calories a bottle or sangria with 100 calories a glass, isn’t a great idea. Drink water instead.

Spanish Food Calorie Content Chart

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