French Women Don’t Get Fat – Book Review
French women seem to enjoy bread, desserts, and wine, but then don’t gain weight. American women, on the other hand, just think about snacking and magically put on ten pounds. In her bestselling book, French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure, Mirelle Guiliano reveals the secrets that French women have at staying healthy and trim.
French Women Don’t Get Fat begins with the account of the author, Mirelle Guiliano, growing up in France. By a stroke of luck, she was sent to America in her teenage years as an exchange student. In America, she was introduced to brownies and cookies – which quickly became favorites. In no time at all, Mirelle put on twenty pounds. When it was time to return home she was a little nervous about what her family and friends would think of the “new” Mirelle. The story of seeing her family for the first time after being away is funny and heart-wrenching at the same time. I can’t do justice to this story, so I would recommend buying the book and reading it on your own. Later, her mother set up a secret meeting with their family physician, “Dr. Miracle”, who helped her to shed the extra pounds, and more importantly, taught her how to live like a French Woman.
This book is not a miracle diet. In fact, French Women Don’t Get Fat isn’t a “diet” book at all. What it does is suggest ways to help you live a balanced, healthier lifestyle. The first thing the book suggests is to take an inventory of what you eat for a couple of weeks. By looking at your food journal, you should be able to see what your “offenders” are – meaning what foods you are overeating. For example, Mirelle’s offenders were sweets. Once you recognize what foods you are eating out of balance, your next step is to identify why you overeat in this category. For example, if your “offender” is bread, you might notice that you are eating a lot of bread when you go to restaurants. You could then decide to only have one slice before your meal comes. The book also discusses changing the way you think. You aren’t skimping on the bread because you are depriving yourself of something you love, you are merely saving room for other things. The pleasure of most foods is in the first few bites, as French Women Don’t Get Fat points out. After that, we are just eating on autopilot. If you can avoid eating without thinking, you can avoid eating excess food. French women eat with their heads and do not leave the table feeling stuffed or guilty.
Another secret of the French this book points to is drinking more water. We all know that water is good for us, but how many of us really drink as much as we should? The secret is to add water to your daily routine. Drink a glass of water before you eat your breakfast. Once you have established this as part of your routine, then add another glass before going to bed. French Women Don’t Get Fat reminds us that sleeping is a very dehydrating process. When both of these are routine, make it a habit to drink water each time you pass a water fountain. French women drink water all throughout the day.
Once you are drinking more water, you will probably feel healthier than ever. Since water has no calories, no preservatives, and nothing extra added, you might find that you are interested in the ingredients of the other foods you are consuming. Have you ever read the list of ingredients in a frozen dinner? What is all of that stuff? Why are we consuming things we can’t even pronounce? Another key to eating like the French is what the author of this book calls “Ritual Preparation.” While she lived at home, Mireille’s mother prepared almost all of the food that she consumed. None of it was filled with preservatives, and most everything was fresh. French Women Don’t Get Fat recommends going to the market several times a week, and selecting the freshest ingredients. By market, the book is referring to a farmer’s market, and not the supermarket. Quality ingredients equal quality food. When you are eating quality, you won’t need the quantity to make up for the lack of taste. Also, set the table like you would find at a restaurant – real napkins even. The extra attention to detail will help you remember to savor your food. Also, sit down as a family, and turn off the television. Make mealtime a ritual.
According to this book, you also need to move like a French woman. We aren’t talking about hours of grueling exercise at the gym. What we are talking about is adding more movement to your daily routine. Walk to work, or if you work too far, then get off the train one stop early and walk the rest of the way to work. Or, add in a daily walk before eating breakfast. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when possible. French Women Don’t Get Fat advised to not avoid precious steps: think of ways to add in more movement to your daily routine.
This book also includes recipes for foods such as Grilled Spring Lamb Shops, Asparagus Flan, Cauliflower Gratin, Grilled Chicken with Rosemary, Egg Omelet with Mixed Herbs, and Ricotta Cheese, among many others. Since the French enjoy bread so much, recipes for Baguettes and Croissants are included too. The book has menu ideas as well.
If you need a good book to inspire you to lose a little weight so that you feel good about yourself, then French Women Don’t Get Fat is where you should turn. Because the focus of this book is not about depriving yourself of good things, but about making focused choices to help you accomplish something even better, you will be motivated to change a few of your bad habits into good habits – and therefore live a more fulfilled and slimmer life.