Healthy eating in Spanish restaurants

Healthy food campaign for luncheon voucher users

More than 26,000 restaurants in the whole of Spain which are part of a luncheon voucher system called ‘Ticket Restaurant’ have joined the Government’s fight against growing obesity among the Spanish population and will participate actively in the ‘Gustino’ programme. The ticket restaurant system is implemented by many big companies, banks and organisations in Spain’s largest cities where employees are unable to go home for lunch because of the distance and time involved and so receive daily luncheon vouchers from their employers which they exchange for a set menu in restaurants which participate in the system.

According to this new initiative in the fight against obesity, these restaurants have committed themselves to fulfilling a set of requirements such as offering at least one option of vegetables or pulses out of every three starters on offer in set menus, ensuring that fish is always available as a main course option and guarenteeing that one out of every three dessert options includes either fresh fruit, fruit juice or nuts.

This initiative is part of the NAOS strategy against obesity in favour of a balanced diet developed by the Ministry for Health and Consumption working with the Spanish Agency for Food and Nutrition Safety (AESAN).

The ‘Gustino’ programme is also aimed at educating people on how to live a healthy lifestyle by providing information on diet and physical activity and the basic ingredients in a Mediterranean diet, considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. It will also help more than 175,000 people who use luncheon vouchers in Spain everyday to improve their eating habits.

Once it has been verified that the establishments which are part of the scheme meet the set requirements attending courses which will look at guidelines for a healthy, balanced diet will be compulsory.

The Gustino Guidelines:

  1. At least one out of every three first course dishes must be based on vegetables or pulses.
  2. Vegetables or pulses will be offered as a side dish to main courses.
  3. At least one out of every three options for dessert will be fruit (whole pieces of fruit or prepared fruit dishes such as fruit salad), fruit juice or nuts.
  4. Fish will always be available as a second course option.
  5. Dishes that do not require a large amount of fat will be available and healthy cooking techniques such as grilling, boiling or steaming will be used.
  6. The possibility of choosing half a menu will be available – either a first course or main course and dessert (also half rations will be available).

  7. A bottle of water will be offered and alcoholic drinks will be served in single units rather than by the bottle.
  8. Extra virgin olive oil will be offered for salad dressings etc.
  9. Brown bread will be offered as an alternative to white bread.
  10. There won’t be salt cellars on the table and menus low in salt will also be available. Alternative condiments such as pepper, herbs and spices will be used.

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