French women are known for their style, zest for life and the ability to indulge in creme filled pastries while maintaining an effortless physique. What’s their big secret? How about forgetting calorie counting, “forbidden” foods”, and hours slaving away at the gym. Dieting as we know is not always sustainable, and takes the enjoyment out of one of the life’s greatest pleasures. Instead of choking down a stale protein bar between meetings, Parisian ladies take long lunches that include luscious offerings from creamy cheeses to fragrant regional wines which they savor slowly, and mindfully. Julia Child said it best, “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”
Meals aren’t super-sized. Yes, the food is indulgent, but moderation is everything. Most of us have been trained to look at chocolate, or ice cream as special occasion fare and let’s be honest when we partake, it’s often a portion much larger than we planned. What the French teach us is it’s ok to have some gelato on Monday or have a croissant for breakfast instead of a green smoothie. They don’t label foods as bad, but rather enjoy it when they crave it, and in smaller portions.
French women don’t just eat mindfully, the also move mindfully. Europeans, in general, are known for walking everywhere whether it’s to work, the market or just a casual stroll. They enjoy a walk after meals, and yes that might include a walk to a local patisserie for dessert! Exercise is spread out throughout the day, and actually, burns a surprising number of calories compared to spending an hour on a treadmill. Most of us eat haphazardly at a desk, or in front of the television, and continue sitting rather than getting up and about, unlike our effortlessly slim European counterparts.
The French live by the mantra “count colors, not calories.” They eat whole foods, they eat seasonally, and cook most things from scratch. Instead of preservative filled, processed foods, French women eat a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, and where better to find locally sourced animal products than the pastoral French countryside? These girls enjoy natural foods, and don’t stress about counting points, or obsessively weighing themselves.
Do you have to move to France to find your happy weight? No, but these ladies can certainly teach us that food isn’t the enemy, it’s meant to be nourishing, but above all, it’s supposed to be enjoyed one cream filled chocolate eclair at a time.