Book Review: French Women Don't Get Fat

Updated: Mar 15

Recently, I've become very intrigued with French living. In anticipation of our newborn arriving, I just finished reading the book, Bringing Up Bebe before starting this book, French Women Don't Get Fat.

I grew up in the midwest where heavy meat and potatoes and casseroles are key staples of the daily diet. We were taught to clean our plates and the bigger the appetite, the better! At the same time, many people I knew were trying out some trendy diet to drop the pounds whilst still going to the bars and drinking tons of beer and having "cheat days" which typically included large portions of cheesy fries.

Since moving to Colorado, I have become much more conscious of what I eat and I find it much easier to stay leaner here due to a seemingly health-conscious culture that is pervasive here. The word I would give many common Colorado eating rituals is "extreme". Most everyone I know here is or has recently embarked on some intense diet regimen, from high fat and protein and no carbs to vegan, and everything in between. Each diet promising to make us leaner and healthier. I've tried pretty much all varieties of these "healthy" diet trends as well but I can't seem to maintain any of them to the extreme that is "required" in order to get the full benefits.

Since the pandemic, I've spent a lot more time reading and thinking about moderation in all aspects of my life. I started reading books about the ways others live in cultures around the world. I began with reading and trying to practice ayurvedic methods (from India) and then really became interested in French living. I find the commonality between these two being moderation and listening to your body.

Unlike ayurvedic methods of eating, the French seem to very much value thinness and aesthetics. From this book and others I have read, they do seem to have a well-accepted culture that not only accepts fat-shaming but also encourages it. This is something I personally take issue with as I believe fat-shaming can be incredibly harmful to individuals. So, I wanted to acknowledge this before moving onto what I did learn and like from this book.

I enjoyed this book and it was a fast read for me. Here are the key takeaways that resonated with me:

  • Variety is the spice of life! Eating the same foods over and over creates boredom and may contribute to overeating.

  • Fruits don't need to be refrigerated.

  • The French rarely "eat on the go" and not in the car or in front of the TV.

  • The French walk a lot.

  • The French typically think about good things to eat. Americans typically worry about bad things to eat.

  • The French eat smaller portions of more things. A small appetizer, a small starter, a small main dish, and a small dessert. Americans eat larger portions of fewer things.

  • The French eat a lot more fruits and vegetables than most Americans do.

  • The French love bread and would never go carb-free.

  • The French don't eat "fat or sugar-free". They just eat these in moderation.

  • The French don't often weigh themselves. They just notice if their clothes are feeling tight or loose.

  • Most French people eat 3 meals and one snack (around 4 pm) each day.

  • The French rarely snack throughout the day.

  • The French stop eating before they feel stuffed.

  • The French tend to drink wine or champagne only with meals and rarely drink hard liquor.

  • The French tend to drink water all throughout the day.

  • The French tend to shop for their groceries daily and buy mostly fresh food.

  • The French take great pride in the presentation of their food. Food that looks nice is savored.

  • The French often eat soup as a starter before they eat their main meal.

I already do some of these things already and I plan to try to implement as many other ones as I can. I don't think my husband would be fond of having a 4-5 course meal every night but maybe we can try to do that on weekends. I would like to try eating a small soup before the main course and see if that helps me eat a little less.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please share below in the comments!


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