Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why French Women Don't Get Fat

It seems like a paradox that French people eat all this wonderful food and drink wine, and yet they are so much healthier than most Americans. But it’s precisely because of the way they eat that they are so healthy.

I recently spoke about that with Mireille Guilano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat and the new French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook. She shared these tips for maintaining a healthy weight:


Avoid processed food.

Eat small portions.

Eat three meals a day that include a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Drink lots of water. Mireille recommends starting each day with a glass of water. Specific recommendations depend on the individual. For instance, if you drink a lot of caffeine, you need to increase your water intake.

Eat at the table. This is a key element. Americas are rushed, and most of their meals are gulped down. But it takes at least 20 minutes for your brain to tell your stomach that you’ve had enough food, so it’s important to eat slowly. Eating should be about making a connection—a connection between food and pleasure and connections with others as you share food together. Mireille says: “Most people don’t realize what cooking together and sitting and eating slowly can bring. It’s a social act’ it’s conviviality; it’s laughter; it’s conversation; it’s ritual. When we sit at the table, it’s much more than just sitting down to eat.”

Use wine as an accent to the meal. Mireille says that people often tell her that they don’t drink during the week, but on the weekend, they might consume an entire bottle of wine. Mireille discourages this because when you drink too much wine, you negate the good effects. A glass of wine (men can sometimes have two) is all you need. For the French it’s an element of the meal--the music part of the meal. Who wouldn’t want to have some music in their meals?

Cooking is the key to good health, but simplicity is the key to good cooking, Mireille says. No one really cooks like Julia Child. Mireille focuses on simple, fast, easy and affordable recipes. Most of her meals take between 10 and 30 minutes.

“It’s quality over quantity,” she said. “If you buy good ingredients, you don’t need to do that much to them. That’s why most of my recipes only have three to five ingredients, plus the herbs and spices that you pick according to your taste.”

For more information on Mireille Guilano, see her website.

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