How could it be that a nation who dines on cheese, wine and chocolate can boast some of the smallest waists in the world?
When the notion of the ‘diet’ first arose in the 1920’s, the French, alongside most Western nations took up the practice for weight loss. One hundred years later, we are still zealously devoted to these meal plans and fads. The French, on the other hand, quickly dismissed the idea of going on a ‘diet’ because they found it to be unproductive and unhealthy.
To the gym junkies and health food fanatics who believe that deprivation, starvation and slogging it out on the treadmill are the only ways to have stay slender- take a leaf out of the French book.
The French Paradox is an irksome phenomenon where having French blood allows indulgence in pain au chocolat, red wine and brie yet leaves the indivual as thin as the baguettes they consume. We counted down nine culinary and food habits of those effortlessly lean Frogs that contributes to their slender silhouettes.
1. Source Local Ingredients
Farmers markets are very popular in France. In many towns there will be a market each morning with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables from neighbouring farms, as well as gourmet butchers, fish mongers and bakeries. In buying locally sourced produce, it is more fresh, less tainted by chemicals and pesticides and is in general much better for you.
2. Eat Wholefoods By The Season
The French keep it simple with bread and cheese, fruit and nuts, always ‘real’ food over processed and packaged snacks filled with added fats and sugars. Many French people only have access to what is in season. Produce that is in season not only tastes better, but also has a much higher nutritional value. There is no doubt that this is the most natural way to live.
3. Watch Portion Sizes
Many people have the misguided mindset that more equates to better. We all want value for our money, however the French understand that quality is always more important than quantity. Indulging in a beautifully hand-made dark chocolate truffel instead of an entire packet of malteseres will leave you feeling more satisfied and less stuffed. A useful tip is to leave the table feeling as though you could eat more.
4. Don’t Fear Fat
Full fat is undeniably better for you than ‘diet’ or ‘low fat’ products. Low fat foods contain more sugar and chemicals than full fat, even if they are less calories. Furthermore, fat makes you feel more satiated and therefore prevents you reaching for all those unhealthy snacks later on.
5. Make Your Own Food
Not only is homemade food much cheaper, it is also healthier and teaches you better food habits. You are much less likely to overeat on something that took time and effort to prepare. Be creative and celebrate the freshness and high quality of your ingredients, after all, food is art.
6. Taste Your Food
Inhaling your food will never do you any favours. Take the time to enjoy the delicious, fresh meal you have prepared for yourself. Eat mindfully, noticing characteristics of each ingredient and sharing your experience with your company. If you take the time to actually taste what you are eating, it will also last longer.
7. Know When To Stop Eating
The French have a reputation for turning their nose up at things. When it comes to food, this is a blessing. If a meal is poorly cooked or not to their standard, a French woman simply won’t eat it. Likewise, as soon as she is full, she will stop eating. There is no need to finish things for the sake of it.
8. Be Social
In France, a meal is so much more than just eating. Fresh food is combined with entertaining company to create a core cultural tradition of ‘the meal’. For example, at lunchtime, all shops close, school is let out and a two-hour meal is eaten with the family. Likewise, once the sun sets, friends will organise a rendez-vous that will last all night. The food is always accompanied by brilliant conversation, and even more brilliant wine.
9. Get To Know Hunger
Hunger is a natural instinct that you need to be in touch with. We often reach for food the second we have a craving or hunger pang, without considering whether this is due to stress, emotion, thirst or a genuine need of food. The French have a healthy relationship with hunger, they aren’t afraid of it because they have three wonderful meals a day to look forward to. They know that waiting to eat until the next meal won’t kill them and soon they will feel satisfied.