Thursday, February 12, 2009

French Women Don't Get Fat

As I mentioned last month, I need to lose weight, because my knees are unhappy about carrying around this much weight. I was weighing over 160 most mornings. Now I'm averaging about four or five pounds less, and I'm not dieting. My oldest, Margaret, has an extensive collection of books on nutrition, and I noticed she had French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.

Being in bed the last two days, I've had a chance to read most of it. My husband and I have also been reading Michael Pollan's latest book, In Defense of Food, and he repeatedly mentions the French Paradox -- how can the country with the world's best food and wine have so few people who are overweight? On this point, Guiliano and Pollan agree -- Americans have a bad attitude about food. We almost think of it as an enemy. Guiliano says French women never talk about "guilty pleasures." They enjoy food and they never feel guilty about it. They also don't stuff themselves with large servings. And they only eat the best food.

I already figured out most of this on my own, but it's nice to know that someone thinks I'm on the right track. I quit eating bad food about five years ago. Huh? Bad food? Yes, I quit eating at fast food restaurants and those buffets where they serve warmed-up, canned green beans and frozen foods that have merely been dumped into a deep fryer. I discovered exactly what Guiliano says -- I didn't feel satisfied after eating at those places, right down to the canned pudding for dessert.

I always thought that the French didn't drink water all, but apparently they don't drink tap water. It hadn't occurred to me that a lot of bottled waters started in France. So, Guiliano says to drink lots of water, including a glass of water first thing in the morning before your coffee, since caffeinne is a diuretic. It's easy to mistake dehydration for hunger, so if you drink enough, you'll eat less -- as long as you're eating to satisfy hunger.

Guiliano basicaly tells us to pay attention to our food and what we eat. She starts by telling the reader to write down everything you put in your mouth for three weeks. Then she has these suggestions:

  • Always sit down at a table to eat.
  • Don't eat while driving.
  • Use a smaller plate, so you don't feel the need to have a larger serving.
  • Have several small courses (soup, salad, entree, dessert) rather than one large course. It takes longer to eat, and variety is more satisfying.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season because they taste better.
  • Eat high-quality dark chocolate, rather than the super sweet milk chocolate that is more common.

In addition to advice about becoming friends with food, she also has some recipes that I'm looking forward to trying. I am most excited about the zucchini blossum omlette. I know a market grower who sells zucchini flowers to a chef in Chicago and always wondered what to do with them. I'll be sure to let everyone know how it goes when I try it this summer. Guiliano also provides recipes and encourages readers to make their own yogurt, fresh bread, and croissants!

The subtitle for the book is "The Secret of Eating for Pleasure," and she definitely delivers on that promise.


Anonymous said...


The croissant recipe is absolutely amazing. I refuse to eat store-bought croissants now. And I love how describes the creation of them as "growing" the croissant.

I've tried the tips she suggests, and they have served me well.

I hope you feel better soon! I can empathize as I've thrown out my back twice and have bad feet.

Be well,

Deborah Niemann said...

Thanks for the thumbs-up on the croissant recipe. I thought it looked heavenly. Now I will have to make time SOON to try it! I'm starting to drool like Pavlov's dog just thinking about them!


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