13 November 2011

French Women Don't Get Fat

French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano

Last week-end, I was on a business trip. Which meant work, but also lunches and dinners at restaurants with my collegues.

On the last dinner on Saturday night, one of my collegues asked me the following question: "How do you manage to stay fit? I mean, you eat a lot - well, normally - but you are very fit. Do you practise some sport or something?"

I was somehow surprised by that question. First, because I don't feel especially "fit", I believe to have an average body for my size and age. Second, because I didn't feel like eating out of the ordinary portions of food.

Then it made me think of that book my UK aunt offered me a couple of years back: French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano. In this book, the author explains how French women, through their lifestyle and customs, can enjoy food and life without getting fat.

Her advice goes from drinking water everyday to walking from the station to the office, finding and trimming down "offender" food, eating at a proper table with nice dishes, diversifying the food and enjoying new spices and tastes...

Why did that question make me think of this book? To be honest, as the reading was refreshing and pleasant, I found most of the author's tips obvious and couldn't fathom why one needed to be told these basics about food and lifestyle.

When my (non French) collegue asked me that question, it made me realize that what is obvious to me might not be to other people from different cultures.

I thought I might share my point of view as a French woman...

Of course, we happen to want to lose weight, like any other woman might. Fashion and skinny beauty stereotypes have as much power on us as anyone else.

I think the difference lies in how we consider food in our everyday life. Food is not an enemy, it brings moments of pleasure, from sharing a meal with family to eating a treat alone after a long day at work.

Enjoying a moment of pleasure at work: a weekly lunch with collegues at a small restaurant near the office

Why don't we put on weight in the process? Like Mireille Guiliano says in her book, everything is about balance. Is it a teaching from our mothers? Is it our French culture of "bon sens" like the author says in her book?

I do believe that food has a particular place in our culture. So it might be true that we have some unconscious reflexes that help keep this balance between pleasure and fitness. Here are a handful of hints I can think of when it comes to that question "how do you stay fit while eating so much?"

  •  "Am I still hungry?" is the first thing I ask myself when I am about to eat another mouthful of the dish
  • When I am thirsty, I drink water. Soda, juices and alcohol are reserved for special moments (party...)
  • I like diversity: I always eat seasonal fruit and vegetables, and try to accomodate them in different ways with herbs and spices
  • I always make a special moment out of my meals, from breakfast to dinner, alone or with family and friends, whatever the setting
  • Whenever I eat too much, for a special occasion, at a restaurant, I compensate the next day with lighter meals

"I always make a special moment of my meals": on a plane

However, I also think that French women, as time passes, tend to forget these basics and put on weight like any other women. I think that most French women also have been or still are on a diet nowaydays. And I think that, like any other woman, a French woman can be lured by the models from fashion magazines and forget that food is a friend and not a foe.

So my opinion on this book as a French woman, is that French Women Don't Get Fat might be a good reminder for all of us. "The secret of eating for pleasure".

No comments:

Post a Comment