So, if you haven’t read French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano, and you don’t know the secret, I’ll let you in on it.
You see, the top obese countries in the world are all English speaking. Why is that, you ask? Experts think it is because they are adopting the American diet.
I was certainly not the typical American consumer. While living in the US, I was addicted to Self and Women’s Health magazines, I ate mass quantities of hummus and greek yogurt, and I checked the labels on everything. I would describe myself as the typical American twenty-something-health-conscious. When I didn’t have time to eat (between class/late night bartending/meetings/etc) I would have an apple and a nutrition bar. I often found myself having five small meals a day rather than three. I ate because I was hungry and needed fuel, not for enjoyment.
Here, my attitude towards food has change completely. French people eat a small breakfast with a hot drink to “warm the body,” a long and lunch around 1 pm, and a big dinner with yogurt, fruit, or cheese for dessert. Never, ever, will you see a French person eating a Luna bar for dinner. In fact, energy bars are hard to find; you might see them only in organic food stores. Never, ever, ever, will you see a French woman eating a “snack”. My host mother used to tell me, even if you are really hungry, it’s better to wait. At first, this shocked me; when I’m hungry, I eat! Silly American girl, my host mother would shake her head in typical French disapproving fashion. Yet another reason French people think Americans take, take, take, without thinking about the consequences.
Nowadays, I never check the labels on anything. I grab full-fat cheese at the marché, put fromage blanc in my oatmeal, and never skimp on the extra helping of baguette (no, not whole wheat baguette, just baguette). Does my diet include a much higher fat content? Yes. Do my pants still fit? Yes. If they’re any tighter, it’s because of French pastry. But that’s another story for another time (French people don’t eat dessert – but as I am on a mission to try every pastry France produces, I haven’t adhered to that rule so much).
The point is, food is a passion, something to be enjoyed and savored. I am much happier here eating food that I truly enjoy, than in the US constantly worrying about calories and feeling guilty after I’ve eaten something “bad”.
How can you eat like a Frenchie? Make a bigger effort to include other people in your meals. Live alone? Invite a friend over once a week for dinner. Don’t skip your lunch hour. Try and cook everything yourself, without substituting anything “instant” or “frozen”. Don’t be afraid of butter, cream, or cheese. It keeps you full longer! Stop fighting against the food industry and start eating for pleasure.