The French Way Of Eating: How To Eat Well And Not Gain Crazy Weight

   French food is amazing. Coffee, French fries, croissants, chocolate, ice cream... everything was delicious and way better than in Germany. Even the sauce from a French fry cart was made and not from a bottle. I ate a lot, drank more wine than ever, and came back with slightly loose pants. What?!? One one hand the French elevate food to holiness and have long and satisfying meals. Yet I was struck by how slim everyone was, especially as a contrast to the people in Germany (it must be all that beer, the French told me). Most of the overweight people in France seem to be immigrants, whether due to different eating habits or different beauty standards I cannot say.

   Statistics show that less French are overweight than many other nations. And most of the overweight people seem to be immigrants, whether due to different eating habits or different beauty standards I cannot say.
   Now, I'm not going to glorify thinness or judge a woman's worth based on her BMI. Only, I was impressed to realise that the French slimness is not the effect of denying oneself or fighting with one's body, rather it is the result of really valuing and appreciating food.   The importance attached to food means people don't eat whatever whenever, they almost always eat something nutritious and healthy at regular intervals. I have family in France, and I drilled them with questions of how the French do it. How do they eat so much and not gain crazy weight?

   It's mostly about how the food is cooked, I was told. Fresh and unprocessed ingredients, often steamed, rarely fried (and even then with very little fat). They don't use cream which seems to be omnipresent in Germany and Poland. They use a lot of vegetables, and they are usually very simply cooked, and often Al dente. Although the bread is always white, it is only a small addition to the meal; if fact white starches (whether in the form of bread or pasta) is never the bulk of the meal. The food isn't salted so much as in Germany, nor is there sugar in everything. The French like to use quality ingredients, whether it is cheese or wine. I saw lots of small independent cheese stores and bakeries in France (these are dying out in Germany, replaced by chains with dubious practices -- I know someone who works in a big bakery chain and the stories I hear are disgusting).

    Then, it's the way things are eaten. Everyone eats at fixed times, they stop whatever they are doing and eat a proper meal, whether they are hungry or not. Absolutely no snacking between meals, and no soft drinks either. People cook a lot at home, and eat out only once in a while. And rarely eat on the go. There was very little street food, and not many people running around with sandwiches in their hand.

  Breakfasts are tiny, usually a croissant or tartine, a coffee and an orange juice. Lunch and dinner is usually made up of a couple of courses, which includes a cheese course, a salad, and a dessert (apart from the main course). Portions are small, I could easily down a three course meal, and still feel comfortable afterwards. In Germany I often have trouble finishing a single course meal in a restaurant. Taking time to eat means you will probably not overeat. The French rarely take second helpings of anything. Desserts seem to be a part of most meals, but they are small and often sugar-free, like cottage cheese

Obviously all this doesn't represent what every French person eats in all parts of France. If you want read more about how the French eat, I recommend this piece from Garnace Dore,
   So what am I going to take away from my two weeks of eating like a French girl? I don't believe in orange juice that is not fresh pressed, but I will be adding an orange or two into my morning smoothies. I also want to eat more regularly (although I have been trying to do this in the past couple of months), and I definitely want to stop snacking. I have also developed a espresso habit that I am not particularly proud of.

  I know a couple of you are French, I'd love to know how you eat! And those of you that are not French -- what do you think of French food?

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