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How To Eat Like A French Woman Wherever You Are

How To Eat Like A French Woman Wherever You Are

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Here is everything you’ve always wanted to know about the French diet. I’ve listed below the best French diet tips to eat like a French woman and lose weight wherever you are. In this post, you’ll be able to better understand what do real French women eat in a day and what is the typical french daily diet.

It’s really funny to see how Americans seem to be fascinated by the French diet; there isn’t just one book from a French perspective professing to help Americans lose weight; there are handfuls. The most well-known are certainly French Women Don’t Get Fat or The French Diet: Why French Women Don’t Get Fat. In this post, I just wanted to share with you my personal opinion on the French diet and the French diet tips that allow me to be healthy and thin without dieting or exercising.

8 French Diet Tips To Eat Like The French And Lose Weight

1. Exclude All Processed Foods

One of the most important French diet tips to be healthy (and to lose weight) is to exclude all processed foods. Processed foods are any food that has been altered in some way during the preparation. Not all processed foods are unhealthy but some processed foods may contain high levels of salt, sugar, and fat. Examples of common processed foods to avoid include breakfast cereals, bread, snacks (crisps), microwave meals or ready meals, cakes, biscuits, and finally drinks such as soft drinks.

Usually, ingredients such as salt, sugar, and fat are added to processed foods to make their flavor more appealing and to replace ingredients that are more expensive. Thus, buying processed foods can lead to people eating more than the recommended amounts of sugar, salt, and fat. As they may not be aware of how much has been added to the food they are buying and eating.

If you’re not sure how to spot unhealthy high processed foods, I recommend always read the nutrition label. Indeed, nutrition labels can help you between products and keep a check on fat, salt, sugar, preservatives and additives. In addition, it was proven that the consumers who read food labels stay thinner compare to those who don’t. Indeed, a study from the University of Santiago de Compostela has found that female consumers who consult food labels weigh nearly 4 kilograms less (around 9 pounds).

2. Emphasize On Whole Foods

Instead of eating processed foods, the French value traditional preparation, whole, and real food from the local farmer. And I think the real secret of the French diet is that the French still eat whole foods. This means the French tend to avoid foods such as fat-free cheese, fat-free yogurt or sugar-free ice cream or sugar-free chocolates. Why? Because you’ll feel more satiated when you eat whole food, and you’ll probably eat less. French women also have no guilt when it comes to eating. They never constantly count calories, fat content, and carbs, so they will never be left feeling unsatisfied.

It’s easier to eat slowly when your meal actually tastes good. So the French diet shuns processed foods in favor of anything fresh and real. Breakfast is small: bread with butter or jam, cereal, or yogurt with fruit, and coffee. Lunch and dinner include small portions of meat, vegetables, and some type of starch, with a piece of cheese or coffee to finish off the meal. Foods that are a staple of the French diet include full-fat cheese and yogurt, butter, bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, small portions of meat, wine, and dark chocolate.

3. Shop At Local Food Markets

Usually in France, wherever you’re living there is always a weekly outdoor market close to your house. When I was living in Paris in the 17th district, I used to get my fish at the local fish shop, my meat at the local butcher, and all my fruits and vegetables straight from the farmers at the organic Batignolles market (that occurs every Saturday). I religiously visit local farmers’ markets once a week. Indeed, I like to ask farmers which ingredients are the best, what is new and what is the best way to cook their products. If you’re living in the United States I will recommend shopping at Whole Foods Market to get the best fresh and organics foods.

In that way, each meal is freshly baked with the foods from the local farmer that I bought the day before. It takes work to do food groceries the French way as you have to go to different places to get your meat, fish, bread, fruits, and vegetables. However, I truly believe it makes all the difference.

4. Think Quality, Not Quantity

Most of the French people know the price of quality food and is willing to pay more for quality. At least French choose quality over quantity wherever their budget allows. For the French, it’s a way to prevent illness and to stay healthy as quality food means pleasure in the short-term and health in the long-term. The French always demand high quality from every one of their ingredients: opting for a square of fine dark chocolate over a massive bowl of mediocre ice cream for example. The philosophy of the French diet could be summarized by the well-known quote from Hippocrates:

“Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food”.

I think the French love their food but not the way Americans love food. In America, enjoyment of food means over-consumption whereas in France it means to savor the finest foods and flavors. Each meal is freshly baked with the foods from the local farmer bought the day before and truly elevates every single flavor. And this is maybe how the French diet will never leave you feeling unsatisfied: less quantity, more quality.

5. Cook Every Single Meal

Every day your body needs a high number of nutrients. Indeed, six basic nutrients are required for good health: carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and finally water. Your body will find all of these nutrients in fresh and unprocessed foods. That is why in the French diet, it’s important to start cooking with fresh whole foods.

I grew up in France, and in my family, we have always been used to cook every single meal. Growing up, I kept this healthy habit. A typical weeknight dinner in my house would be a vegetable soup (leek, garlic, onions, potatoes, shallots) with some lardons, olive oils, and herbs de Provence, with whole wheat bread, or some fresh vegetables cooked with olive oil and herbs. I usually make fish once a week, when I buy it fresh from the market. And, I’m eating meat maximum twice a week, most of the time organic free-range chicken filet from Whole Foods Market. Dessert is whatever fruit in season (this winter: apple, kaki, clementines) or homemade cookies, cakes and brioche.

6. Eat A Wide Variety of Foods

Because the French diet focuses on local and seasonal foods, it encompasses a wide variety of ingredients. French people prefer to shop in small markets and specialty stores than in grocery stores, they have much more choice. Instead of choosing between light and full-fat cheddar, they choose between hundreds of artisan cheeses at the fromagerie. A wide variety of ingredients means that meals are exciting and provide a range of nutrients. And as I said previously your body needs a huge number of different nutrients. So if you shop your food locally and you change your diet by following the seasonality, you should eat enough variety of food to cover all the nutrients your body needs.

7. Eat Everything In Moderation

The French diet is not about “dieting” and the word “diet” is a terrible misnomer. Healthy food in France comes from moderation as there are no forbidden foods but only the excess is looked down upon. Instead, the French diet is part of the French lifestyle: preparing and sharing food is one of the essential pleasures of French culture.

The French diet is just common sense. It’s all about consuming smaller portions, not snacking, and avoiding processed foods. And by just following those principles, French people balance out those rich, high-quality desserts and moderate amounts of wine. So forget low-fat, low-carb, low-taste, and low-calorie; the French diet is full of flavor and high in satisfaction.

8. Stay Thin Simply By Living Your Daily Live

It’s not a myth. Instead of doing exercise programs with high intensity and high-frequency -which are often unsustainable and lead to failure-, French women stay thin simply by eating healthy and living their daily lives. Indeed, French women move around regularly, using stairs, bikes, and public transportation. And it’s especially true in Paris, as most of the Parisian women walk or bike where they need to go. French women walk because they enjoy it, not because it’s something they have to do to stay fit.

An American study found that people who exercised to lose weight spend about 40% less time exercising than those who exercised for reasons beyond dropping pounds. So do a sport that you love whether it’s walking, tennis, dancing, or biking, instead of slaving away at the gym!

View Comments (10)
  • This is so helpful, I have always wanted to adapt to a more quality lifestyle !

    Love french culture overall ! x

  • What a wonderful post! I think the USA is the only Country where millions of
    people sign up for gym memberships. I’ve never understood that. The grocery store is a mile from our home, but I walk there every day for fresh
    fruit and veggies! Dieting is not in my vocabulary.

  • I’m confused. You say they don’t eat processed foods like bread then you say they have bread for breakfast. So which is it?

    • Bonjour Shannon, thank you for your question and sorry for the confusion! There are two types of bread: the industrial/commercial one that you can buy in your supermarket and which usually contains additives, sugar, excessive salt, and many other preservatives. And the homemade/artisanal bread that you can make or shop at your local bakery and which is generally made of whole grains and that just contains 4 ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. If the first one is definitely to avoid, the second one is great to eat for breakfast with butter or jam.

  • Could you share what dinners look like on non-meat days? I see beef and chicken and fish are each once a week, so what does dinner look like the other 4 days?

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