The REAL Reason French Women Don’t Get Fat…
Wouldn’t you love to indulge in croissants with butter every morning and never gain weight?
People are largely under the impression that the French do just that… and to an extent- they do!
Just a few years ago, several authors began a “French Revolution” in the American pop culture scene when they wrote such books as “French Women Don’t Get Fat”.
From all appearances, the French eat high-fat foods, don’t avoid carbs or calories, and still stay trim!
Why is this?
Well, when I lived in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon in France a few years ago, I took copious notes on what people ate, how they ate, and even where they ate.
Read on to discover the REAL reasons French women don’t get fat…
1. Parents Teach Children About Nutrition…
This may seem pretty… well… “no, duh!”
But seriously, most parents allow their kids to get their nutritional guidance, and even their meals, from schools, television, and advertisements for fast food.
The French train children to love all kinds of food, and spend time making sure that they don’t just eat their vegetables, but understand WHY it’s important.
What’s more, the French don’t play ‘short-order cook’ to fussy children.
Your child won’t refuse to eat anything but mac-n-cheese or hamburgers.
Because if he does, he may just go without dinner!
2. Society Bans Together to Fight Obesity…
The French abhor ‘le snack’.
I remember how incensed my friend Didier would get when his daughter would sneak to get Turkish kebabs with “French” Fries with her lunch money.
But it goes beyond that…
Advertisers who promote unhealthy foods must pay a fee of 1.5 percent of an advertisement to the National Institute for Health Education.
Plus, the advertiser must comply with having one of four ominous disclaimers on the advertisement, sort of like you see on cigarette packages in many countries.
The French Health Minister, Xavier Bertrand, regularly changes up these messages so that people don’t become impervious to them from overuse.
This was done largely to educate not children, but to remind ADULTS that packaged, processed, fast foods are bad.
With the obesity rate in France soaring in recent years, the society has banned together to retain their historically healthy habits.
Some of these include: “For your health, eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day” or “For your health, undertake regular physical activity.”
3. The French Sit Down And Eat. Slowly. In Community.
Perhaps you’re in a situation where you and your family are far from one another, or have different work schedules, or even travel schedules.
This is NOT meant to judge – every family has a season and sometimes the very best you can do does not allow for time around the table together.
But in France, no matter if your children are at your house or a friend’s, you sit and eat as a family.
This is where the French eat slowly, talk about the food, savor flavors, identify nutritious merit, and train children healthy eating habits.
This is also why you don’t see French children acting like hoodlums in restaurants! Just sayin’ 😉
Another benefit to eating as a family or community is that people don’t sit and take down snacks and fast foods all day.
You don’t stop for a pretzel at the mall and an ice cream on the way home from softball.
Cars don’t even have cupholders, in most cases!
You don’t mindlessly munch in front of your TV or iPad, and when you’re eating it isn’t a race to finish your plate.
They don’t graze between meals and find that feeling hungry is totally OK, not an urgent matter you must fix immediately.
4. Dieting Is So Passé…
The French would probably get a good chuckle at the amount of restrictive diets we have invented in the U.S.
No carb, no protein, no fat, no seeds, no legumes, no nuts… it’s actually quite nuts to them!
The French believe in eating a variety of foods for optimal health.
The idea of a yo-yo diet is foreign.
If they do lose weight, it’s generally lost over months, not weeks.
And they are pretty comfortable buying clothes knowing that they’ll fit not for a season, but for decades.
The French don’t restrict calories and maximize their metabolism with a balanced diet.
5. The French Don’t Overeat…
The French don’t snack every two hours on a granola bar or pile of chips.
What’s more, you won’t see the French binging at all-you-can-eat restaurants or at football parties with endless food.
(Did you know that Americans gain up to 8 pounds during the holiday season, and are likely not to lose at least three of those pounds?)
The French, however, know their limits.
A good rule is to stop eating when you stop feeling hungry, but aren’t ‘full’.
And certainly don’t keep eating when you’re full!
What’s more, the French eat lighter portions at night.
Dinner with my French friends always included a pile of greens with every meal.
And dinner was generally light. We ate a lot of soups, stews, and casseroles.
Dessert was a yogurt, which wasn’t full of sugar and the size of which was miniscule compared to the massive yogurt cups we eat in the U.S.
Periodically we had pears or other fruit instead of yogurt. But dessert certainly didn’t look like a banana split every night!
Plus we slept a LOT better with satisfied tummies vs. full ones!
6. The French Don’t Put Emotions Into Their Food…
We all do it, right?
I can’t lie; I love to drown my emotions with salty popcorn. Others use chocolate. Some binge on fast food.
The French are not likely to sit on the couch in front of Rom-Com’s eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy with Nacho Cheese Doritos sprinkled on top.
The French eat bread, butter, rich sauces, chocolate, cream, and tons of fat.
They eat moderate portions and have immense satisfaction.
Instead of foods that have been processed and packaged, you’ll often eat foods straight from the Farmer’s Market or food that is locally grown.
Americans, in contrast, eat 40% MORE food, and all the wrong kinds of foods.
If you like something, don’t gorge yourself with it.
Rather, enjoy moderate portions and savor each bite.
If you’re feeling emotionally unstable, don’t turn to the fridge.
Try taking a walk or immersing yourself in a good book.
7. The French Don’t Drink Their Calories…
I’ll never forget the first time I went to a Jamba Juice with a friend of mine and checked out the ingredients of one small juice…
It was packed with more sugar and calories than I needed in two meals- maybe a whole day!
And people drink this as a snack!
Well, the French don’t mindlessly snack on 700 calorie smoothies.
And they certainly don’t waste their daily calories on drinks!
The most popular beverages to drink are coffee, tea, and water.
You will often drink still or sparkling water with your meal.
And if you drink wine, you don’t drink the whole bottle in one sitting!
Did you know that tea is also a big deal in France?
When I lived there I loved visiting Paris and buying high end loose leaf teas; it really helped me fall in love with tea!
When my friends and I would get together to talk or watch a movie, we’d make delicious teas instead of guzzling hard alcohol.
Tea is one of the world’s BEST drinks for weight loss.
It raises your metabolism and boosts your natural energy levels.