Viva La French Diet- Live to Eat and Lose Weight

15999751-french-iconssetAmerican women have long envied svelte, sophisticated French women who indulge in forbidden culinary pleasures yet remain slender. The French, who savor high fat chocolates, high cholesterol cheeses and high priced wine, to boot, should be role models for the rest of the world. Ironically, the society that lives to eat could set health trends. French focus wholeheartedly on food.

A French dinner party conversation is a lesson in verb conjugation. The discussion revolves around what is being eaten in present tense, what was eaten in the past and what will be eaten at the next millennium. Mealtime is still sacred. So much emphasis on food makes one less likely to eat anything, any time of day. Snacking is limited to once a day at 4 pm sharp. La gouter, which means taste, not gobble, not gorge, gives one permission to sample a sweet or savory treat.

French females remain lean by running the country, flitting from one chore to another, while balancing precariously on high heels. Not only do they work full-time, they collect the children from school, buy baguettes daily, and pick up fresh produce in open markets. They take time to fondle tomatoes, pummel melons, and squeeze nectarines testing for ripeness. They wait in line to order fresh cut chops, but butchers beware. No wrath is greater than that of a French woman’s who has been sold poor quality cuts of meat. French women are never more demanding than during transactions dealing with food.

The French savor foods with full flavor that pack a punch, pungent cheese that singe nose hair, Dijon mustard that puts hair on the chest, and coffee, so strong, that hair spikes straight up.10127676-cheese-composition

It is not so much what the French eat, but what they don’t eat. Deep-fried meats and fish, chips and crackers and our beloved sandwich are taboo overseas. Serving size does matter. Crackers, sold in tiny, palm-sized mini boxes are nibbled, but only at the aperitif. Petit fours, pinky sized tarts, éclairs and cakes are served in bite-sized pieces for dessert.

Petit aptly describes the French and their serving sizes. Food is served in mini courses on plates ascending in size from doll-sized saucers to starters to entries on full size dinnerware. Then the plates shrink again up to the grand finale, a sculpted dessert that leaves most of the plate empty for artistic effect.

Serving food in courses forces the diner to slow down. The traditional French meal lasts hours. A dozen plates will have been used for each place setting. By the time the first courses have been eaten, the brain will have hit the snooze button and no longer send those subliminal messages calling for cookies, cakes and ice cream.

The French are also major producers and consumers of yogurt and milk based products. Laitage is a standard dessert and there are 100 different varieties of puddings and yogurt products. The French got it right again. Recent studies prove calcium consumption reduces weight.

Chocolate, too, has gotten a bum rap in the past. Now the propensities of chocolate are being tooted for health benefits. The darker the chocolate, the fewer calories and more of those mood-boosting endorphins. French women adore chocolate, but rather than devouring the whole bar, they only indulge in one piece of rich, high calorie, ultra dark chocolate from a fancy box that costs more than my mortgage.

Another anomaly, whereas beer-guzzling Americans put on beer bellies, French wine drinkers remain lean and studies show that imbibing improves health. Red wine is beneficial for the heart, helps lower cholesterol and aids digestion.7992041-assortment-of-baked-bread-on-wood-table

Darned if those cultivated, French connoisseurs haven’t gotten the best of us of again.

Their savoir-faire and appetite for pleasure “à une bonne table” created a lifestyle where wellness is assured by living to eat right.

Posted in food, health, humor.

24 Comments

  1. This is all oh so true Pat! I’ll never forget the culture shock when I returned from Paris to the Denver airport to find that everyone around me had been SUPER-SIZED! So that’s how they do that! – LLC

    • Laura, one of the greatest things about the American dining experience is the doggie bag. With the super serving sizes I can live off my dinner out for a week. ha

  2. I’ve been to Paris and its environs several times and I am crazy about their food (though my arteries weren’t!) With all of the walking, walking, walking I hope I countered the eating, eating, eating we did. The variety and presentation of food is exquisite. Lovely post, Pat!

    • Oh yes, that is part of the France’s secret diet plan…they tend to walk off all those calories. Let me know if you ever get back across the Big Pond.

  3. Thank you for not posting too many photos! It would ruin my breakfast here. I fondly remember and savor my memories of chocolate croissants for every breakfast, a light lunch at a cafe, and a fresh baguette with raspberry jam for many dinners while in Paris a few years ago. I have blocked the sore feet from the miles of walking while on the Chris Pollard tour of France. Something worked; I lost 5 pounds in those 2 1/2 weeks in France and Geneva! Lovely memories–thanks for reminding me!

  4. Thank you for not posting too many photos! It would ruin my breakfast here. I fondly remember and savor my memories of chocolate croissants for every breakfast, a light lunch at a cafe, and a fresh baguette with raspberry jam for many dinners while in Paris a few years ago. I have blocked the sore feet from the miles of walking while on the Chris Pollard tour of France. Something worked; I lost 5 pounds in those 2 1/2 weeks in France and Geneva! Lovely memories–thanks for reminding me!

    • Oh yes, Nan, I also love the pain au chocolate. Everyone who comes to visit marvels about the food consumed and then the magic of losing weight instead of gaining. Walking is the key. Will you be visiting Edinburgh soon?

  5. Pat, this reminds me of my Aunt Glenna’s 90th birthday celebration at a French restaurant—many courses served in small portions leisurely over about three hours. It made for a delicious and delightful dining experience!

    • I bet you can still remember what you ate at Aunt Glenna’s dinner party. The French are experts when it comes to food, but the Italians are tops too, as you well know.

  6. Pat, this reminds me of my Aunt Glenna’s 90th birthday celebration at a French restaurant—many courses served in small portions leisurely over about three hours. It made for a delicious and delightful dining experience!

    • Move it and lose it. Can you think of any more pleasurable way of walking off those delicious calories than strolling along the streets of Paris?

    • Move it and lose it. Can you think of any more pleasurable way of walking off those delicious calories than strolling along the streets of Paris?

  7. A beautifully crafted piece of writing from a lady who knows firsthand how the French love to eat. I remember your stories about queuing up for fresh meat/fruit and veg every day in Paris with kids to look after and places to go and things to do… I also remember you saying to me that you wished someone would manufacture a dinner pill as you could not be fussed with all the paraphernalia of meal preparation and delivery. I have found myself quoting the latter on many an occasion as I resent even the thought of food making day in day out. I think I should have married a Frenchman to teach me about the joy of ‘la cuisine’! Now I’d better run as it’s time to eat some of my homemade English trifle… Lots of love, Rach xx

    • Oh Rach if only I had invented that nutritional dinner pill, I would be rich enough to retire. ha ha I will never feel at home in the kitchen, but I am blessed with a live in chef and I sure do enjoy good eating especially when I don’t have to cook.

  8. Pat, this is just fascinating! Besides eating all the wrong things, Americans also are seeing greater tendencies on the part of restaurants to “super-size” meals. What used to feed an entire table is now placed before one diner (and the prices are ridiculously high, too!). And since many Baby Boomers were raised by the “Great Depression” generation — the ones afraid of going hungry — and therefore taught to clean our plates, well, you can see the recipe for disaster!! Thank you for pointing out the differences — may we in the States emulate our friends abroad, especially the chocolate-part, HaHa!

    • Like most Baby Boomers, I was taught to clean my plate, but that was back in the day when the size of a serving was sensible. The mega size meals of today can’t be good for one’s health. The French spend more of food, eat less and savor it more. I guess their motto is quality over quantity.

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