So for the last several months, I’ve been researching and mediating upon the topic of “how do the French eat” and other topic lines such as “how to French women stay so thin”. It’s been a rather fascinating subject, especially reading it through my American eyes. I own the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat”… although I can’t find it. It may still be in that box of books still at my in-law’s house. oops. Anyway, the author Mireille Guiliano has a website where basically you can find the same information. Check it out here: http://frenchwomendontgetfat.com/. Truly an interesting read. But I’ve also been looking at many other sources as well. There’s lots of stuff out there on the internet.
I’ve not only been reading up on this topic… I’ve also been trying to implement it. And slowly but surely I am seeing it work. I haven’t stepped on the scale in a little while, but my pants are definitely getting loose and I’m going to have to get some smaller sizes when I go Spring clothes shopping. Yea. This is a good problem to have!
Now obviously I can’t get my hands on all the fancy-schmancy stuff those French folk can easily get at their corner markets. But there are some definite lifestyle actions they do that I can attempt to replicate in my own life.
So here’s what I’ve been doing (and tweeking along the way):
1) smaller portion sizes. Now, it’s a difficult thing indeed to find what a typical French meal portion looks like. From TV and whatnot I see those tiny portions the fancy restaurants serve. But I have no idea if that’s how they eat typically at home. So I’m guessing here on my end. If anyone can find Google images or Pinterest pics or stuff on Instagram or whatever that shows day to day, meal by meal pics of the estimated actual *amounts* the French eat, please let me know, cuz I’m having a hard time finding it myself. BUT… just in general, even though I don’t know specific amounts, I have cut back considerably on my daily food consumption. I eat every meal off of smaller plates and bowls, which helps make my portions seem bigger than they really are. They’re not getting lost on a huge dinner platter. I seriously eat what I want, just smaller portions. No *diet* at all like low-carb or low-fat or whatever. I seriously eat whatever I want. Just *small* amounts. This has been the best part of eating French-like. I can’t STAND restrictive diets because all I can think about is what I *can’t* have. Eating what I want but just watching portion sizing, doesn’t seem restrictive to me at all.
2) three meals a day, maybe one snack in the afternoon with the kids after school. Definitely no snacking after dinner.
3) drink lots of water. This one’s hard for me. Not sure why, but I’ve always struggled to get my daily H2O quota. This one is definitely one I’m having to *work* on on a daily basis.
4) I start my mornings with hot lemon water (I add a bit of honey for sweetness). Boil hot water, pour over a wedge of fresh lemon, let steep for a few minutes. Drink before any coffee or food intake. It’s supposed to cleanse and wake up your digestive system for the day. And I find it quite tasty.
5) incorporate more natural movement into the day. Apparently the French are not big into fitness. There are definitely some people that are into it, but finding gyms all over town is unheard of. Physical activity is something they just add to their day… in street clothes. Lots of walking, riding bikes, gardening, etc. They sure know how to sit and relax but they are also quite busy on their feet throughout the day. So I’ve been doing similar. I’ve not been doing my 1hr long fitness videos like I used to. Instead, I’ll rough house with the kids and wrestle them, or play ball with them outside, or go for long walks with them. I’ll run up and down the stairs several times. I’ll garden and work outside. I’ll do what I call “Potty Push-ups” where every time I visit the restroom I’ll do 10 push-up. Oftentimes I’ll just do some squats or leg lifts or arm toning exercises with 5lb weights off and on all throughout the day when I get a few minutes break. All in my normal every day clothes.
6) back to food… s.l.o.w. d.o.w.n. when eating. This has been tough for me as well. I normally scarf my food because with kids, it seems to be the only way to get a hot meal. But I’ve been making EVERYONE slow down. Yes, meals take a while over here at our home. But it’s actually proving to be a really nice time as a family. We really talk and discuss and enjoy one another. We all wait for each other. We actually *taste* the food. And when you take time to eat, it gives your belly time to communicate with your head that, yes, it’s full.
7) actually, we don’t use the word “full” anymore. We say “are you not hungry?” There a big difference. The French don’t eat until they are FULL. That means too much was eaten. They eat until they are “not hungry”. This actually hasn’t been too hard of a thing to adjust to. It just really requires you to slow down and ponder… do I really need more??? Oftentimes, no, more is not needed.
8) food is meant for sustenance and pleasure. The French don’t just fill their bellies with whatever is cheap and filling. They try very hard to produce YUMMY, satisfying meals… not just to the palate, but also to the eyes. I’ve been trying to do this as well. A lot of time is spent in the kitchen because of this, but thankfully our dining room is connected to the kitchen so I can still be with family and friends while working. AND my kids help too. They really enjoy being a part of the cooking process and making something beautiful and yummy to share with the family. So… we work together.
9) stress less. French don’t seem to fill every moment of every day with activity and “to do’s”. They really know how to relax, go slow, enjoy life and relationships, travel… you know, stop and smell the roses. They not only slow down at the table, but they also seem to know how to slow down in life (in general). It’s hard to take pleasure in life and find beauty when you are running so fast you pass it by. With this “less stressed” mentality, it aids in digestion and SLEEP. It sounds like (for the most part) they get the sleep that the body requires. Good for the mind, body, and soul.
Well… that’s all I can think of right now. If I think about anything else I will be sure and include it in this list later.
The biggest take away from all of this is to slow down and really enjoy food and life. America tends to be a super-size me/get ‘er done fast kind of nation but that sort of mentality is incorrect and unhealthy. I’m having to un-learn a lot of things as it pertains to food and lifestyle. But it’s been a fun process and I’m liking the results I’ve already been seeing. Still got a lot of tweeking to do, but changing one’s lifestyle just takes time.
Life is a process… enjoy the process…
**By the way… totally unrelated… I’m on Instagram! Come find me at momma_duck_mel!