I’m French, here is what French women eat in a day. In this post, you’ll learn exactly what French women eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Plus, the ten rules to follow to eat like a French woman wherever you live. But first, here are 10 ways to eat like a French woman wherever you live. For more, you can check out my previous article on the 8 diet tips to eat like the French and lose weight.
- Exclude all processed foods which contain ingredients such as salt, sugar, and fat to make their flavor more appealing. If you’re not sure how to spot unhealthy high processed foods, always read the nutrition label.
- Religiously visit your local farmers’ markets at least once a week to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and/or fish.
- Cook every single meal (or as much as you can) and try to avoid takeaway food.
- Avoid snacking between meals.
- Avoid all soft drinks (even diet ones), and processed fruit juices, and limit your alcohol consumption to a maximum of two glasses of wine per week.
- If you’re craving sugar just bake cookies or a chocolate cake. That way, you can control the amount of fat and sugar you add to your preparation as well as the quality of ingredients by choosing dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao.
- Avoid processed bread (like this one which contains added sugar). Instead, go to your local bakery or bake your own bread (with just wheat, olive oil, water, and baker’s yeast).
- Avoid all diet foods such as fat-free cheese, fat-free yogurt, sugar-free ice cream, or sugar-free chocolates. Instead, prefer whole plain food as you’ll feel more satiated and you’ll eat less.
- Keep in mind that health is a matter of balance. If French women have a sugary snack during the day, it’s automatic for them to eat something lighter for the next meal.
- From time to time have little pleasures. Mines are croissants and pains au chocolat that I’m buying at my local bakery every Sunday morning. Or my guilty pleasure is the French madeleines that I buy at the supermarket 😉
I’m French, Here Is What French Women Actually Eat In A Day
Eating breakfast is a staple for French women, we never leave the house without having something to eat and drink. In France, we don’t eat salty in the morning, except maybe during the weekend. French people usually prefer sweet and sugary foods to start their day.
First, always start your day with a glass of water (not too cold and not too warm) with fresh lemon juice. Not only does it promote hydration, but lemon juice is a good source of Vitamin C, it supports weight loss, improves skin quality, aids digestion, freshens breath and it helps prevent kidney stones. It’s probably the best way to start your day!
Then have a cup of coffee or tea, as you prefer. French women usually prefer to have coffee in the morning, but personally, I like to alternate every other day between tea and coffee. If you’re more a coffee person, French women use a French press or a Moka pot that brews a premium cup of coffee in just 5 minutes by simply adding ground coffee and hot water. My favorite French press is the Bodum Chambord and I have also this Bialetti Express Moka pot. There are both very easy to use and super easy to clean as well. French women always drink their coffee black without milk and without sugar. If you’re more a tea person, French women love the French tea brand Mariage Frères. My favorite one is the Mariage Freres Marco Polo (one of the best sellers of the brand).
For breakfast, French women do not eat croissants and pains au chocolat every day. Those pastries are mainly eaten for special occasions and on the weekends as they are considered by the French fatty and sugary meals. Instead, the french breakfast is made of fresh bread with (salty) butter, jam, yogurt, and fresh seasonal fruits (ideally from your local farmer’s market).
If you’re more a salty person you can eat instead some turkey slices, organic eggs, or even cheese with whole wheat bread. The French never eat processed bread which is usually full of added sugar and preservatives. Instead, they prefer to go to their local bakery to buy artisanal bread, or to bake their own bread.
If you want to lose weight, avoid all processed foods for breakfast such as cakes, cookies, and breakfast cereals. Those foods are just full of sugar and refined carbs. Starting the day with a high-sugar breakfast cereal will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. A few hours later, your blood sugar may crash, and your body will crave another high-carb meal or snack — potentially creating a vicious cycle of overeating. Remember that excess consumption of sugar may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Did you know that the average lunch of the French is around an hour to an hour and a half? French people usually stop what they are doing and take time to eat with their family, friends, or colleagues. And even during weekdays at the office! Lunch is a real tradition in France and for the French, it’s unimaginable to just have a sandwich for lunch in front of their computers.
In France, lunch is usually a three-course meal with reasonable portions: a starter, a main, and a dessert. The starter is usually a salad of crudités (raw vegetables) with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and some herbs. Main is often made of cooked vegetables with a portion of fish or meat. Dessert is usually fresh fruit or plain yogurt. Finally, the French love to finish their lunch with an espresso (without milk and sugar).
For the French, dinner is the lighter meal of the day. During wintertime, homemade soup can be the starter or the main. And the French usually eat it with a generous piece of bread and some cheese. I usually make a big batch of soup on the weekend that makes it through the week. My favorite soup is a vegetable soup made of leeks, garlic, onions, potatoes, shallots, and carrots with some lardons, olive oils, and herbs de Provence. During summertime, the French usually have a fresh salad or some cooked vegetables. Dessert is usually fresh fruit, yogurt, or a piece of cheese with bread. The French usually finish their dinner with a piece of dark chocolate (minimum 70% of cocoa) with a French tisane.
What do you think about the way French women eat? Are you going to adopt the French diet? Please add your comment below.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. When you purchase through links on the site, I may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. I only recommend products I genuinely love. Here’s why you can trust me.
Leonce Chenal is a modern lifestyle platform created and curated by a French woman for lovers of everything French. What started in 2018 as an online space to share French beauty tips has since evolved into a destination for fashion, beauty, and the French art de vivre.
Yes, I was lucky enough to visit and spend time in your fab country last year, just before all this madness and Covid 19 struck us all.
Here in Auckland NZ you have to travel to find good quality farmers markets, but it’s so worth the effort for good food.
I love how you eat to please the palate and don’t eat for boredom as we tend to here.
Thrilled I found you and look forward to each new post
Thank you so much Dee for your comment <3 Yes, I really think that good food worths the effort 🙂 I'll keep on writing everything French!
Thanks for sharing. I love all the ideas.
Is there a ways that you can share more of French breakfast options that you ate so I can make it at home. Thanks.
Love this! It really is true, when you focus on whole unprocessed foods you feel so much better. My question is do you ever feel hungry after just eating bread in the morning? Thanks for writing, I love your blog 🙂
Thank you for your comment <3
It depends on the quality of the bread.
I mean if I eat whole wheat bread I never feel hungry just after. However, if I eat industrial white bread (which usually contains a lot of preservatives, and added sugars), yes I can feel hungry just after 🙂
Hope that helps! xoxo
I just read your blog . I will try your way of living . I love it . Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Denise <3
<3 your posts. Looking forward to start eating this way.
Thank you Debbie <3
I do believe Americans eat all wrong. I’m an American with bad habits
(could be worse, I must say) but the French way, and probably much of Europe’s, really resonates with me. Not eating between meals is probably the hardest, especially around 430 or 5 pm before dinner is ready. But it’s inspiring to read blog posts like this!
Agree. BUT if you are Italian, 5PM is aperitivo. Light antipasti, a handful of crackers with a bit of cheese, some fresh fruit, olives/crudite, a glass of wine, or an Aperol spritz or at least a glass of flavored sparkling water. Pick one lite bite, and one drink. It’s not a ‘meal.’ Dinner at 8-9PM or later.
Small meals manage blood sugar and hunger – 4 or 5 of them, so you eat every 4 hours. Breakfast of fruit/nuts, oatmeal, toasted bread with cheese, or fresh fruit with a small handful of granola 6-7AM. Eggs are a big “weekend” breakfast. Mid-morning coffee/tea with a biscuit (ONE) or one small piece of bread with jam/butter 10AM; “French lunch” at 2PM- vegetables (raw or cooked) with small portion of fish/poultry/meat; aperitivo at 5PM, “French dinner” at 8-9PM. Carbs and meat in small portions. Vegetables should be 3/4 of the plate. ONE glass of wine will always do. Staying for two drinks? Make them Spritz’s – half wine/half soda water. Alcohol is empty calories and a twice a week guideline is a good one.
I can drink tea black or with lemon, but coffee requires creamer and sugar for me. More often it should be tea. I drink water with a slice of lemon or lime in it all day long. I am absolutely entitled to at least one piece of dark chocolate per day.
Your blog is amazing. Please make all of this into a book!! I love how authentic all of you advise is.
Thank you very much Natalynne <3 It's the best compliment ever! I would love to write a book about all things French, maybe one day 😉
There’s a book I read years ago called French women don’t get fat. It’s a guide and recipe book based on this exactly
I teach my children to study the ingredients list. The best advice I found on this issue: if it contains anything your grandmother would not recognize as food put it back. Also, if the list is too long I don’t even bother reading it.
No diet proucts, no low fat (which inevitably means high sugar!)
What I am missing on your list are fermented foods. The French eat a lot of raw milk cheeses containing healthy bacteria that promote a good gut microbiom. However I understand that you can’t get raw milk products in the US.
So eating good (quality over quantity) sauerkraut, kimtchi, plain yogurt that hasn’t been heated, kefir.
Read up on gut health and overall well-being- including depression.
When u mention the yoghurt, how much ? And what kind? Is it just normal full fat like Jalna plain yoghurt? And what are the general meal times? Thanks also do u have a recipe section? Thanks
Bonjour Emma! Thank you very much for your questions 🙂 Yes, just normal full-fat plain yogurt. When it comes to quantity one portion equals 4/5 tablespoons of yogurt and I’ll suggest one portion a day. The general meal times in France are the following: breakfast until 10 am, lunch between 12 pm and 14 pm, dinner from 6 pm until 8 pm. I don’t have a recipe section yet but I’ll create one soon! I hope that helps 🙂 xo
Thanks also how much butter is on the toast?
The French way of not eating between meals is probably the most important part of maintaining a slim figure. In America, we live on “snacks.” Years ago, “snacks” were almost unknown as a term. We ate three meals a day, and if you got hungry before a meal, you might get an apple. Food was for mealtime. Kids were allowed dessert but as part of dinner sometimes. After dinner, the food thing was over. We didn’t think about going back in the kitchen for more food. The kitchen was also a separate room from the rest of the house, and the light was kept off unless you went for a glass of water. Homes now have the kitchen in open floor plans not very separated from the living area. The refrigerator is always in sight, along with food items on the counter. I believe this was by design, to keep us eating long after dinner was over. Dinner plates also got bigger, as did saucers, drinking glasses, and the size of mugs. Returning to how we used to eat (mostly at home and cooking from scratch) has got to be a valuable way to get and stay healthy. Thank you for the article.
this is a good meal plan – one followed in England by people who have bothered to learn how to eat propertly – i would not say it is exclusively french. the main thing in any diet is to avoid processed foods although i have noticed there are more available on the supermarket sheves in France and people are getting bigger. i love the french attitude to life and eating but i feel it is disappearing and needs renewing. with spandemic i have got out of living well – but intend to start today soring my food and clothes to start life again.
I have been eating this was for more than a year. I feel great and have slimmed down slowly. I feel so much better and the cravings of other foods don’t exist. I’d rather have good dark chocolate than almost any other “dessert.” Things I used to love to eat are too sweet.
my fiancé and I eat similar to this diet already, fresh food and cooked.
just need to learn to cut out more pastry/unhealthy dessert. I would have this 2-3 a week and we drive everywhere. its a good read and interesting to hear how French people eat.
Hello Leonce, thank you for your article! I am going to start eating this way from now on. I have struggled to keep my weight stable for most of my adult life because here in the UK we are encouraged to eat big meals in the evening. My nan was very much like a French woman. She ate cream, French, Italian, Spanish and Swiss cheeses, ate bakery bread, never pre packed, French butter, meat (but always small pieces). She also adored Gratin Dauphinoise! She always ate like this but stayed slender all if her life. Her secret? She only ate small portions and ate very slowly, and always at a table. We were never allowed to sit on the sofa with our food at her house!
I look forward to reading more of your articles!
Thank you very much Carol for your kind words! xo
OMG! I fell in love with your blog!
This is Sanaz, from Iran, and I’m so happy to find you. I’m so into French culture.
After reading this, I maid a French meal plan and I will follow it for the rest of my life.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Looking forward to your new posts on all social medias.
Thank you very much Sanaz for your kind words! Merci beaucoup <3
Thank you for this information! I’m going to try it!
I love your blog!! can i have more details about your soup recipe?? it sounds divine and makes me want soup!!
Bonjour Ally, thank you for your comment! Yes, sure! Here is the link to the French peasant soup recipe (with leeks and potatoes), I hope you’ll like it! xo
Bonjour,Leone. I enjoyed your article and will always miss France! Looking forward to reading more French articles from you, merci!
I so enjoyed reading your blog and am excited to adopt the French lifestyle. You’ve inspired me! The snacking between meals will be the hardest to stop, but I am wanting to fine tune my habits. tHIs I’ll be fun! Thanks for the inspiration!
Hello Ms. Chenal, thank you for your thoughtful article. I am from Canada of Italian heritage and have been eating in a similar way to you for some time. I was raised with the Mediterranean love of eating good, local, well prepared food. To me, a plate a well prepared rapini is better than candy. keep up the great work! Bien fait!
Love your article! I’m not only American, but Texan, where everything is bigger. My husband has a terrible sugar and barbecue addiction, making this way of eating very difficult. I’ve always loved simple, quality food from fresh ingredients. I think a challenge we have in America is finding quality foods that are truly fresh. Our USDA and FDA guidelines on food safety make finding raw and fermented foods challenging . You can buy raw milk and cheese, but you must travel to get it, as it is not allowed to be sold in the markets at all. Even eggs must be washed and chilled. The other issue we have is our 40+ hour work week and often lengthy commutes. It make it difficult to source and prepare food when you spend 10 hours a day going to and from your employment. Most homes require both adults to work now, with the inflation and housing prices being so high. It’s much easier to pick something up on the way home than to fix food. I enjoy cooking, but to everyone even knows how anymore. Your article has given me just a little more inspiration to find simple, wholesome meals to get my expanding middle in check. ❤️
Fellow Texan here! I agree with everything you say! I do sometimes find raw cheddar at HEB. I’d love to live more of a French lifestyle, but the realities of life make it difficult.
Hi! I really enjoyed this insight. Would you please share how you make your own bread? I would love to do it.
Bonjour Kelly, thank you very much for your comment! Yes, of course, here is Éric Kayser’s authentic French baguettes recipe. I hope you’ll enjoy it 🙂