I bought French Women Don’t Get Fat in 2005 when it first came out and everyone was raving about how revolutionary it was and how it was the best diet book ever written. I read it, I liked it, I put it on my shelf and went right on being 22 and eating ramen.
I reread it it this weekend so that I could summarize it for my mother, who wanted to read it but unfortunately it doesn’t come in large print and therefore I volunteered to be her own personal Kindle. What struck me this time around about French Women Don’t Get Fat, besides the shameless promotion of Veuve Clicquot, is that it’s a really sensible look eating and the joy of eating. I really do think this is one of the better “diet books” out there.
I’m not a Francophile, I know there are many out there, people that want to encompass the class and je ne sais quas that the French are known for. I’ve been to France, I think it’s beautiful, full of art and culture, and crepes but there’s not a single part of me that wishes to be anything more than the homegrown New York girl that I am. That being said, I don’t think the tips in FWDGF are all that French, just a reconnect to a more real, simplistic way of eating. A style of eating that I think many of us have lost or never been exposed to because we live in a fast paced society where time is money and we never have enough of either. It’s refreshing to know that there are people out there who take enough time out of each day to really enjoy eating, because let’s face it eating is just about the best thing ever.
If you haven’t read it here’s a simplistic look at what’s inside:
- Eat meals. Real meals, big enough to sustain you until your next meal. Meals that are thought out and savored without the aid of outside entertainment like the television, a magazine or your computer. Put your fork down every few bites, talk, think, take your time eating. Meal time should be an event not just something to get done.
- Walk. Take the stairs. Move a little more in your daily life. Exercise doesn’t need to be a painstaking endeavor for those that hate the gym. Opting out of the easy way is often a way to get in exercise.
- Don’t obsess over the pounds. Weight loss is a slow process. Easy off, easy back on (that’s my theory not hers). Let how you feel dictate your success not the numbers staring back at you.
- Indulge. Learn how to balance. There’s no reason to never eat cake again, or avoid happy hour with your colleagues. Learn to balance your meals. If you know you’re having dessert perhaps skip the second glass of wine or order a lighter entree. If you have a heavy dinner, perhaps tomorrow it’s vegetable soup for lunch for you. No extremes just a balancing act.
- Buy fresh food regularly. Nix the processed foods.
- Take a day off. We can’t all be amazing everyday and knowing you have some time off for good behavior can be a great motivator.
- Yogurt is the best stuff on earth. Plain yogurt is a nutritional powerhouse and a great way to crave those snack cravings while getting your dairy and protein requirements filled.
- Water. It’s good for you, you know that so why not add a couple more glasses a day.
I think the first part of French Women Don’t Get Fat is arguably the best. The further chapters are full of recipes and a breakdown of why certain foods make life more pleasurable, but really all the info worth reading is in the first 50 pages. I am well aware that chocolate is the bomb-diggity, no lecture needed. To be honest none of the recipes really struck me as amazing. Apple tart in cabbage leaves-no thanks, I’m cool. But, the basic philosophy is reassuring. I’m a fan of anything that doesn’t promote going to extremes and anything that says it’s okay to really love food and love eating and you don’t have to live on protein bars and cauliflower.
All in all it was a refreshing reread. I think I’ll go for a walk and daydream about croissants.