I was in France this past weekend, celebrating my 10 year wedding anniversary with my husband. We stayed at the same chateau in which we were married and ate in the same restaurants where we hosted our rehearsal and wedding dinners. We enjoyed our favorite French foods and drank our favorite wine. It brought back so many magical memories!
Being there reminded me of a book I read years ago called, Why French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, by Mireille Guilano. I have always been fascinated by other culture's approach to eating. The French way has always been of great interest to me. Despite a diet that invites full fat cheese, foie gras, and regular wine consumption, they are far healthier than Americans. This contradiction has come to be known as The French Paradox. How can a population that eats so much saturated fat and cholesterol have such a low incidence of obesity and coronary heart disease?
Mireille's book opened my eyes and helped me to understand this contradiction. Though the French allow for high fat foods in their diet, they have a much much more balanced approach to eating than we do in the US. We tend to restrict, restrict, restrict, and the lose all self control once our will power is completely wasted. We end up on a weight cycling roller coaster, that studies show, almost always results in weight gain over time. Not to mention, that is a very stressful and unenjoyable approach to eating!
Don't get me wrong, the French don't eat whatever they want, whenever they want it. They have very defined rules around food and eating. French women in particular, do watch what they eat, but nothing is off limits. They enjoy their favorite foods and have dessert on occasion. They don't overdo it. There is no need. They know they will get to enjoy those foods again. It's all comes down to moderation and eating mindfully. Below I have listed my favorite take-aways from the book.
Eat with all of your senses. Don't just taste your food, but also, smell it, feel it's texture in your mouth, notice the sound it makes as you chew, and enjoy it's visual presentation. When you have a fruit and yogurt bowl for breakfast, do you take the extra few minutes to make it look pretty like the picture up top? Trust me, it makes all the difference!
Drink lots and lots of water. Start first thing in the morning and sip throughout the day. Avoid sugar sweetened beverages and drinks with artificial ingredients.
Move naturally and regularly. No need to kill yourself at the gym. Spend more time on your feet, walk, take the stairs, and make sure to stretch. Move a bit more on days when you have had a treat.
Honor mealtimes and don't eat while standing or completing other tasks. Definitely don't eat while watching the television.
Make your meals delicious by using spices, herbs, and citrus juices. None of those flavor enhancers add many calories. Also, select produce that is seasonal, of high quality, and local when possible. It tastes better and is often higher in nutritional value.
Moderation is key! Enjoy cheese, wine, and dessert, but just enough to satisfy you. Eat your food slowly, that way you will register in time, that you have had enough to eat. The first couple of bites are the most delicious anyways!
These are all concepts that I cover in my Weight Loss and Mindful Eating programs. If you would like to learn in a step by step fashion, how to take advantage of this French wisdom, so that you can enjoy delicious foods and still lose weight, consider enrolling on one of these programs. You can reach me through the contact form here on the website or email me directly at email@example.com.
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