How do they do it? The question has probably crossed everyone’s mind at one point or another. How is it possible that the French stay slim when their diet’s packed with so much saturated fat? The French diet is culturally rooted in so many high-fat foods like foie gras and rich cheeses. It’s just overall confusing. We’re over here eating kale and experimenting with weird diets just to shed a few pounds, so it would be AMAZING to know what their secret is.
The longest living people in France come from a region called The Gers. The cuisine is on the indulgent side with plenty of fatty foods, but the interesting part is that the wines from this specific region have some of the highest levels of procyanidins, which in a way counteract the saturated fats. There’s a catchphrase called the French Paradox, which basically says that despite their eating habits, the French somehow manage to live longer lives, have healthy hearts and maintain their lean bodies.
On average, The French make meal time more of an occasion than Americans do. They see eating as a pleasurable activity and a time to spend with their family instead of a means of survival. Usually, they eat three meals a day and don’t really snack too often in between. One of the biggest differences in French versus American eating habits is that in France, lunch is the main meal of the day and dinner is seen as more of an afterthought. French parents don’t load up their kids with junk food. Instead, healthy eating habits are reinforced from an early age. Frozen foods are less of a thing over there and cooking is seen as the healthier and more obvious option, compared to premade foods, because you’ll know exactly what is in your food and where it comes from.
We can’t deny the fact that portion sizes in America are unlike anywhere else in the world. We can learn about portion control from the French. It can be difficult to take a step back and look at the amount of food that we eat in comparison to the French since we’re so immersed in a culture of excess. This goes way beyond the super-sized sodas at McDonald’s or the jumbo popcorn at the movie theater. It’s part of French culture to eat smaller portions, whether it’s at restaurants or with ingredients at the grocery store. Americans have become so used to unnecessary portion sizes that having leftovers is basically the norm.
The French drink a lot of water. Still or sparkling water tends to be the drink of choice at the dinner table instead of sugary juices or sodas. It’s also more common to drink a glass of red wine over the course of a meal instead of guzzling down a few glasses just to get a good buzz.
Here’s what to take away from these French eating habits: try to cook more with fresh and high-quality ingredients (if you can) instead of diet foods, eat three meals a day with more reasonable portion sizes and try not to snack in between, eat slowly so you’ll fill up on less food, drink a glass of red wine with dinner (it’s filled with antioxidants plus it’ll help fill you up) and opt for water with your meals.