I recently shared my past struggles with food, and how my decision to quit dieting changed my life 7 years ago. But that was 7 years ago. Some may be wondering…then what? Today I want to talk about the CORE of my approach to food. I must confess, I’m not really French, but I like to think that I eat like I am. 🙂
Once I began to overcome ‘disordered eating’ I wanted to figure out which style of eating to embrace. I wanted it to feel natural, but I needed more structure than just intuitive eating at that point. After all, I had spent years of my life over and under eating. I needed guidance. And I craved freedom.
Growing up I always had a little obsession with France. My 8th grade birthday party was Paris themed. My bedroom was “French” (although it’s doubtful that REAL French women have that many pictures of the Eiffel Tower in their bedrooms). I had Eiffel Tower note cards, Eiffel Tower earrings, and Eiffel Tower Christmas ornaments. Yes, I.was.obsessed. So I guess looking back it makes sense that I was drawn to ‘the French approach’ to eating. I read the book French Woman Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. Then I bought her cookbook… and another one of her books. Her approach (which she claims is the traditional French approach) is one that I’ve embraced for YEARS. It’s my key to weight loss and sustainable weight maintenance. Here are 5 essential aspects of the French style of eating.
- Don’t diet. I knew this approach to food was one I’d like as soon as I read the book! If you read my last post, you know that I quit dieting a long time ago. The French approach suggests avoiding diets, which are unsustainable… and just plain awful. It promotes REAL food (fresh produce, fish, quality meat, dairy products, bread, etc) and avoids processed “diet” meals and processed low calorie snacks.
- Choose meals over snacks. You all know I’m a meal person, and this is mostly why. The traditional French approach looks at meals as an essential part of ones day. In France lunch hours are typically far longer than they are here in America. Instead of snacking on unsatisfying mini meals, the French approach considerss meal time an event. Time to connect with loved ones, slow down, and enjoy delicious food. By eating full balanced meals you become much more satisfied, unlike snacking in front of the TV mindlessly!
- Treat yo-self. YES. This is KEY for me. I eat a treat (sometimes 2) everyday. A few nibbles of high quality, organic dark chocolate after lunch keep me satisfied and nourished! The French aren’t afraid to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or a slice of bread with a sliver of brie cheese, or a little piece of cake after a balanced meal. When you consider treats an essential part of a balanced diet, you don’t feel deprived. When you don’t feel deprived, you don’t feel the need to overeat!
- BALANCE your diet. While treats are essential, they aren’t everything! What I’ve learned while studying the French diet (as well as through my own experience) treats taste better when you eat them in moderation. As much as I crave dark chocolate, I also crave fresh salads, lean protein, nourishing fats, and juicy fruits. Big lunches mean lighter dinners (and visa versa). The goal of the French diet is to feel your absolute best!! And nobody feels good on a diet of bread and cheese (even if you’re not gluten/ dairy free!!)
- MOVE! Another thing I LOVE about the French approach to wellness is that they don’t promote extreme exercise. As someone who doesn’t like the gym, I love that going for a walk counts as fitness 🙂 That’s a lifestyle I can get behind!!
So there you have it! The French approach to wellness in a nutshell. Of course, not all French people eat like this. But you certainly don’t have to be French to embrace this style of eating! I’ve embraced this for years. It’s sustainable and enjoyable! Oui Oui!