Ahhh… the iconic ‘French woman’. She’s trim, fit, fashionable, and… eating a croissant?! Wait… what?!
In America we think that in order to maintain a slim figure and a healthy life style, we need to restrict our favorite foods and live off lettuce, celery, carrots, and other ‘rabbit foods’… Well, I’m NOT about that life! And if you want to be healthy AND happy, you shouldn’t be either. You see, these French woman, they’re on to something!
After reading the book, “French Woman Don’t Get Fat” (more than once I might add), I figured I HAD to do a post about what we can learn from the French diet. The French have mastered the art of balancing nutrition and their favorite treats with an over-all, holistic approach to food. One saying I absolutely HATE is, “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips.” While it’s true in regards to major over-eating, it should never be applied to small indulgences. That’s because if I eat a few squares of high quality, dark chocolate (and thoroughly enjoy them), then I’m much more satisfied than if I had skipped the chocolate. It is this ‘satisfaction’ that actually prevents over-indulging.
So here are just a few lessons I’ve learned from the French!
1. Focus on balanced meals. When I used to eat in an unhealthy way, I often found myself snacking (which often lead to OVER-snacking) because I never really felt satisfied. But these days I focus on filling up on healthy- balanced meals, which naturally leads to less snacking. Sure, I may grab a snack if I’m hungry… but now it’s something Mireille Guiliano (author of ‘French Woman Don’t Get Fat’) refers to as an ‘en cas’ -basically just a little something to keep me going, like gluten-free crackers or fruit… for me I have a bit of a “system” that seems to be working. I aim to eat balanced meals and listen to my body if it needs a snack. I aim to fill approximately half my plate with a garden salad, a fourth of my plate with a healthy source of protein (like chicken or a salmon burger) and the other fourth with a source of carbohydrates (like a sweet potato). And don’t forget a piece of fruit on the side (like an apple). This usually fills one plate and I very rarely take seconds.
2. Eat fresh, local, quality foods. We may not be able to shop at a local french market every morning… but that doesn’t mean we can’t eat fresh! I make sure to eat a fresh garden salad with eat lunch and dinner. I always eat a piece of fresh fruit at every meal and try to make sure that my food is good quality! If it’s nutrient packed AND delicious, then you’ll find that you need less to be satisfied!
3. Eat slowly and at the table. This is a huge tip! It’s all too easy to waste tons of calories on snack-y foods while watching TV, browsing the computer or even doing school work. But if you prioritize food and make sure to eat 3 balanced meals every day, you’ll end up eating way less and feeling way more satisfied! Make yourself a healthy plate, take a good 30 minutes to eat your food and enjoy some company while sitting at a table. I guarantee you’ll feel better than if you scarfed down the same about of calories in the form of chips or cookies.
4. Watch your portions. Just because you’re sitting at the table longer doesn’t mean your meals have to be loaded with unnecessary fat and calories… Try filling up one healthy, ‘balanced plate’ and enjoying that slowly. Often times when you go to a restaurant you end up eating WAY more than a portion… but if you follow my ‘system’ and fill half of your plate with fresh veggies you won’t have much room for the typical ‘trouble’ foods (like pasta) because they’ll only take up a fourth of your plate! This allows you to eat anything (in moderation)… which I’m ALL about! You’ll soon find that you’re so satisfied with your ‘balanced plate’ that you don’t even want seconds!
5. Treat yourself! This is my favorite part of “eating like a french woman”. I always remember to ‘treat myself!’ I’ll grab a piece (or two) of dark chocolate (or another special little treat) after lunch and/or dinner. Since my meals are so balanced and I’m ‘listening to my body’, I don’t feel guilty enjoying my treats! I love to “have my cake and eat it too!”